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Recently, I had to face a challenge: building a full figurine in less than a week (from tuesday afternoon to monday night). If it is at a full time job, it is doable, but when you already have a full time job which takes all yours free time, it becomes problematic. But I love challenge.

For the Wonder Festival 2016 Winter (Japan) where I will go, I’ve been notified that we will be able to use the Shidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) intellectual property. This is originally a manga created by Tsutomu Nihei. An anime has been released in two seasons by Polygon Pictures, that I visited in Feb 2015. It’s a manga I started to read a while ago, then it was a good opportunity to read it again and finishing reading it!

Then I decided to go with this version of Ena Hoshijiro, found in the manga. It is an Alien “Gauna” who take the apparence of a pilote which has been “absorbed”:


I’ve be lucky to receive the 3D model of Ena from Polygon Picture, but except using it for reference and more importantly, sticking to the proportions of the character, I didn’t use it for my model. I’m sure they closely work with the Mangaka to do refinements. I spent quite some time on the face sculpting since it is very difficult for us “westerners” to design real Japanese style characters. Working with the manga itself has been difficult since it’s very monochromatic (I mean black and white, not really toned..) then I turned to the anime where having the characters in the movement was more helpful. Then the 3D Data from the studios helped me refining the last details and making me flattening, even more, the face.

Here is a simple history move of the head, you can see how much the beginning has been painful. The sculpting time is not so long, but the full process has been very long since I spent my time looking at the manga and anime.

This is one of the first iteration of the head and the beginning of the body. Because I was very short in time, I reused the last body I did for Vitessa model and reshaped it since the proportions are totally different. At this stage, again, the anime 3D model has been helpful to stick to the good body proportions… but to be honest, not so much since it was overlapped with the “Placental”, making its reading difficult.


The following step was to start doing the pose and adding all the needed parts (tentacles, etc.) And again, just one image of reference made the process difficult, but well, since I have only one image as a reference, everybody has the same. Then I took some freedom to interpret some parts.

Also, her crotch was not visible on the reference image, but from another view in the same chapter of the manga, it seems she was totally naked in this area. Since I’m representing my company, I decided to cover the “strategic areas” with some placental. Too bad.. 🙂 Even without the details creation, I started to mark all the areas which will be covered by the Placental, it will help me to work faster this way.


My idea was to make her weightlessness like in the manga. To do so, I used the tentacles to create a support for the body. And it was the time to start thinking of how I will print that and cut all the elements.


At this stage, the sculpting was done. Same as the pose, I took the freedom to design some parts since reading the manga details was difficult and the anime is even worst because of the cell shading style. The 3D model has been designed for this purpose, then it was far to be detailed (mine is x1000 more detailed).

And then the cuts and preparation for 3D printing. This part took me 7 hours, because I had to think deeply of the cuts, where to put them, eventually modifying some parts of the model to hide better them, creating the joins, doing boolean stuff while keeping the details and such.
Then decimating, exporting…




At this stage, the work is not done. Each model goes through NetFabb basic to do some STL clean up and the last step is to inject them in the Form1+ 3D printer software to organize the build platform and… the supports. This operation is quite long because you can’t trust at 100% the software when it generates support and because of that, you need to inspect each layer one by one… and correcting the supports. But doing such painful task has to be done if you want to have a successful print.

Below, on the left, the first set of prints, with a regular resin and on the right, all the models which will support the 3D print, printed with a Tough resin (first time using it).


And let’s go with the 3D printed parts! Below is the result of the tentacles and one leg printed with a special resin which is stronger than other. Since these parts will hold the whole figurine, I had to take care of the resin resistance and avoid to have these parts breaking under the weight. To be honest, it was not needed, the final weight was not that much. It has been printed with a resolution of 25 microns.

For the other parts, I used a non “official” resin, but one from MadeSolid which was quite nice. At the time of this project, I really enjoyed it. As you can see below, the model straight out of the printer, just after removing the support is not that sexy. It is mainly due to the little bit of resin which comes from the support suppression. After some cleaning, it’s perfect.

Here is all the parts before doing the assembly, with a layer of primer grey painting. Some parts have been printed at 100 microns of resolution like the left leg because of a failed print at the last minute. I had to reprint it at the last minute. For the little story, I finished the figurine just a couple of hours before leaving to the airport…

And here is below the first prototype I presented in Japan. I was very happy by the result and more important, that all the parts fits perfectly together.

Finally, I decided to reprint it after quite some time, because I’ve been able to upgrade to a Form2 printer. The improvment of quality made me wish to rework this figurine and printing it even bigger. Then I did multiple edits on it to improve the shape, the details, changed a little bit some parts.

Look at these test prints! They are straight out from the printer! I did almost no sanding at all on the final model. It’s just so perfect !

And here is below the final model. I just applied some quick paint effect on the “alien” parts. I had no time to paint it with color (yet!) but I already like a lot the final result: