"Do what you love for those who love what you do"

The Question

Is the hobby doing the 3D printing or what is printed?

Is the hobby using the table saw or the cherry cabinette?

Is the hobby casting the silver or showing off the silver ring?

Is the hobby building the radio station or logging the contacts made?

Is the hobby building the model tain layout or running the trains?

Is the hobby building the aircraft or flying it to Oshkosh?

Is the hobby playing the game or the score at the end.

The answer to all is yes. There is no right or wrong answers.

But for me, it's mostly the DOING that's the hobby with the end result being the evidence of the effort. It's why I wrote the questions in the way shown.

Purchasing and Collecting painted figurines is definately a hobby.

Making painted figurines from scratch and collecting, displaying, or selling them is the crafters definition of hobby.

Not everyone is a maker or a craftsperson. Most hobbies do not have firm rules like sports. A hobby is anything someone does simply because they enjoy doing it. The process and rewards are as varied and personal as the hobbyist desires.

Unleashing My Inner Artist

Kamvas Pro 16I committed to some computer tech. A Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 graphics drawing tablet. It’s a computer screen upon which I can draw. It’s like an iPad but is tied to a computer. It’s larger (16”) with more available features and applications. It functions like an iPad but must be tied to a separate computer like a monitor.

I wanted to do this for years. I have a Wacom Bamboo pad, but one has to look at the computer screen as the hand is drawing on a small area of the desktop. I prefer the pen-on-screen iPad experience and that is how the KAMVAS pro operates.

My new 12 processor Intel-NUC10 4.7 GHz computer should be a good match. Well, that’s to be seen. I am sure the speed/quality of the connected computer affects the drawing experience.

One of my goal applications for the drawing tablet is with Pixologic Z-Brush. I bought Z-Brush so I could design 3D models like sculpting clay. I have produced a few examples using the mouse and the Wacom Bamboo while looking at the monitor. A 16 inch draw-on screen is going to be a huge improvement in fun and comfort.

I am also itching to do all the other graphic things a graphic tablet can do. It may bring back the drawing and painting artist in me. The Senior Dan Kautz, my grandfather, taught me some of what he knew and I produced several water colors. My son has one in his home. But I never took the time to fully get involved. That was fifty years ago.

I use the Bamboo for photo editing with Adobe. That is another one of the good applications. The Bamboo still works but is no longer supported by Wacom. I think mine is at least a decade old. And it is small and so are the hand drawing movements. The 16" Kamvas Pro should be a great upgrade.

I will receive it next week and will be posting more here.

Pixologic,Inc. ZBrush

Johnny Rampant 01Fired up my copy of ZBrush software a few days ago. I bought the full version 2, maybe 3 years or so back. Gosh, maybe longer? Time files. Kept it up to date and have “played” with it from time to time. I also bought a Bamboo Wacom pad way before ZBrush to compliment Adobe Photoshop editing process. The Bamboo is also nice to use for ZBrush editing. The Bamboo pad is now at least two versions out of date. Still works.

The professional work done in ZBrush is mind blowing. (Example shown is drawn art, not a photograph) I do not aspire to reach that level. Only possible if that was the only thing I like to do. It’s not.

I do like the organic art that can be produced in ZBrush. I want to use it for 3D print models that are well…, more organic.

ZBrush is a two dimensional graphic arts program that added a third dimension (The Z in ZBrush).  The user interface is like the rambling old houses in New England (USA) that just have one addition after another added.  Sometimes one has to go through the kitchen to reach the bathroom. 

The interface can be learned but it is not an easy task. A lot of “shortcut” keys are available and many times a “tool” or “brush” can be found in several different locations.  The interface is extremely configurable to the users preference and that too makes it much more complex.

As I mentioned the artwork produced by professional users is inspiring as it is intimidating. I can only guess at the time spent on the vast displays of what has be done within ZBrush.  I am sure these artist may also use the ultra-expensive software like Autodesk Maya, one of the top rated. There are literally dozens of others. This is not a review of all options. Just my experience with ZBrush.

The good/best 3D graphic programs are very expensive and equally complex. Not intended for the non-committed artist and casual user hobbyist. Me.

There are reasonably good free software as well. Blender is one.  I just explored the Blender application once again.  I had “looked” at Blender a quite a few years ago in Linux and have noticed recent reports that Blender has now vastly improved in the last few years. The sculpting section looks and works almost exactly as Zbrush. I will say it looks like an excellent “free” starting point. Perhaps all that is needed.

ZBrush interface is based on a clay-like sculpting environment. That is what attracted me to the program. ZBrush is also highly “slanted” to the 3D printer printing artist, and that too is an attraction. Many “tools” included with ZBrush are intended to help the 3D print artist.

ZBrush has hard surface tools as well as the sculpting. It is also very good at color application and surface finishing. It just requires a huge commitment of time to master all the tools available. “All tools” is probably a very distant goal.

One fairly serious issue for the engineer in me is the total lack of measurement (dimensional) tools in ZBrush. It is foremost an art program, not CAD software. All sizing is by “eyeball” not ruler. There are tricks, like a drawn ruler, created in a CAD program and imported into a work-in-progress for reference. ZBrush is an “Art” program, not a substitute for CAD.  However, both can be used together. 

An .stl or .obj (and other) files can be imported into ZBrush for additional “organic” style editing. A basic dimensional base of correct size, then use ZBrush to add organic style decoration. This is one of several ways I see myself using this graphic tool. Not dimensional engineering, but applying organic details. 

Many ways to work with almost unlimited options. It may be this freedom that is intimidating to a beginner like myself. 

The Zbrush application is sure to pop up in future posts, especially when I have produced something worth printing. Probably before I have something worth printing… Ha!

Something of Value

IMG 2292A common human desire is to have a personal sense of value. A purpose in life. There is no one answer for what that requires or how it is achieved. Value probably has an infinite number of manifestations. It can be tangible or intangible (emotional).

I have no internal struggle with my sense of value. I am generally comfortable with who I am and what I have done. I do ask myself the “what value?” question when making more than minor decisions. Major decisions are judged on the value it creates. 

I try my best to stay on the positive side of the value judgement. I may not always make the “right” decision. When I don’t, I call it a learning experience.

Enough Philosophy.

My current life goal is to spend time on being creative and making quality “craft” items that will be my “having lived” legacy for family and friends. Those items need to be of sufficient “value” to endure the test of time. The value can either be emotional or tangible.

I set course a couple of years ago to explore a new “making” system, commonly called three-dimensional printing. At the hobby level, it soon became a major part of my time and effort. It is a very fascinating process to master. I have mastered the process and have made (printed) a considerable number of things.

But I soon realized, most of what I make in on the junk (Junque) side of the value curve. That’s the lowest end of the scale…

I have produced items of value which are accessories to other creative processes and tools that I use. Holders for my wax carving tools for example. Not going to itemize them all but certainly valuable to me. Just not items to be cherished keepsakes.

Three-dimensional printing has proved considerable value in refining my CAD (drawing) skills. But very little value in the Items I have been making. The output material is PLASTIC. Therein lies the quality and value issue. 

There is a lot of WOW! value because it is a new high tech process. But the same item made from conventional materials have far more intrinsic value. So, 3D printing has a definite place in my skill set. Just not in producing high quality and valuable heirloom class items.

Decision time. A time to refocus on how and where I spend and create items of quality. 3D printing remains a useful tool. It’s not going away. But…

My focus and time will return to making high value items with conventional materials like wood and metal. Automated machinery including 3D printing is certainly part of the process. 

Bottom line:  A lost wax cast Sterling silver jewelry pendant far outclasses (more enduring value) than the same design in layered extruded plastic. Plastic is a great choice for the mundane items of everyday use. I see more intrinsic value when plastic is not the primary or sole material.

Vectric Aspire Update

vectric logoI realize I haven’t posted here for a while. Mostly because I have a lot of other artsy/crafty blogs where I spend time. I like to think of those other areas as all one big happy family and this is a sibling of the others. Just different URL’s.

If I put or consolidate everything here for example, there would be just as much “stuff” and harder to stay on topic.

So anyway, I’m Back! The topic is Vectric CNC Software.

Most everything I create needs a 3D CAD drawing. That’s because I make a lot of things using 3D CNC subtractive machining and more recently 3D additive printing. That does not imply that I don’t do a lot of old fashion hand work or assembly of parts.

I have several powerful software options from which to choose. I write about the others as I continue to use them. My all-around favorite for 3D CAD and CAM is Vectric Aspire. I have every version of Aspire since it was first created. The newest version just released is Version 9.0. (Actually 9.008) Update! 11/19 (Now at V.10!)

Originally Aspire was the combination of several other programs from Vectric and its strong heritage seemed to be toward the CNC overhead router, sign carving venue. That is a strong niche, but far from the only use and purpose for Aspire.

I use Aspire to design and carve wax masters for lost wax casting of jewelry items. An application almost never mentioned in their forums. It works very well for that purpose. I also use it for a lot of wood carving projects as well. Recently I have designed items for 3D printing as Aspire outputs very clean Stereolithography files (.STL). Again. A use not much mentioned in their forums.

I just pulled the trigger on the update from version 8.5 to 9 (to 10) as there are some significant updates. They at last moved automated double-sided carving from their lower cost program Cut3D in to Aspire. Not 4 axis 3D, but “flip-over” 2-sided 3D. I am thinking a great feature for some pendant carving.

There IS extensive 4th axis support with a wrap/unwrap very well implimented. Either X or Y axis is transfered to the A axis which is the S.O.P. Way 4th axis is implimented. 

Purchasing the program outright, no upgrade, is a bit pricey at the $2K region. My upgrade was $400. However, I am making money from what I can design. So, the cost is easily justified. Some people may not want that level of expense in a hobby, but even hobby use can create a payback over time. It all about how much you use it.

There are individual programs at much lower cost. The Vectric moto is “Passionate About CNC” If that describes you, then you should be looking a Vectric CNC Software. Highly recommended by Dimensional Art Org.


Most of my tangible "Dimensional Art" starts with a concept sketch. sometimes that's all that needed for a conventional woodworking project. Sawing up boards and assembling. A far greater number of dimensional "objects" projects are created with the aid of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and requires a digital art drawing produced on a computer.

This category contains posts on by artistic efforts with Computer Assisted Design (CAD) Fusion360, Rhinorcerous, Vectric Aspire, DeskProto, others; and 2 and 3 dimentional computer graphics software such as Blender, ZBrush and others.

These working drawings are a form of 'Dimensional Art" in their own right!


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