3D Printing Yourself – How to Print a Mini You!
At 3DSourced we’ve covered everything 3D printing and 3D since 2017. Our team has interviewed the most innovative 3D printing experts, tested and reviewed more than 20 of the most popular 3D printers and 3D scanners to give our honest recommendations, and written more than 500 3D printing guides over the last 5 years.
Self-portraiture has been an art form for as long as art has existed. Sketching, painting, and photography have all been used to capture the self from their inception.
This practice eventually came to the modern age with selfies, and the step beyond that is finally here: 3D printing yourself!
Making a 3D model of yourself for printing is a fun and exciting prospect, from making mini tableaus of your friends and family to even making workable 3D action figures of yourself. I guarantee even your best selfie won’t be as cool as having a mini model of you!
There are a few ways to get a little 3D you up and printing, and here we’re going to look over a few of the best ways to make a 3D model of you and your friends.
We’re also going to look at some of the coolest uses and ideas for 3D printing yourself to maximize the fun of being mini!
Why Make a 3D Model of Yourself?
Let’s be honest, all of us are at least a little vain, I know I am. This is why self-portraits have been a staple of just about any art form since time immemorial.
When it comes to 3D printing yourself, there are a few fun and creative uses for having a tiny plastic you.
Making a small scene of you and your family to decorate the mantlepiece is a simple yet novel way to keep treasured memories close. Think of it as a 3D family photo.
Wedding Cake Toppers
An even sweeter way to use a 3D model of yourself is on a wedding day or similar occasion.
Having the figures on top of the cake that are the actual likeness of the newlyweds is a really nice way to make the day a little bit more special.
Action Figures and Toys
For more fun reasons, you can even make 3D printed action figures of yourself. With a little extra work, you can print a 3D model of yourself with posable limbs like a real action figure.
With fun and games in mind, tabletop and board games that use figurines like Monopoly and Arkham Horror will be made all the more fun by using 3D printed models of you and your friends as the game pieces.
Before You Start Printing
There are a couple of ways to make a 3D model of yourself, and which method you choose will depend on both what equipment you have access to as well as just how artistically experienced you are.
The most common, easiest, and most accurate way to get a model of yourself to 3D print is through 3D scanning.
3D Scanning Yourself
We’ve already discussed 3D scanning and its uses, from dental practices to full-body 3D scanners and their uses. In the latter, we’ve even briefly discussed 3D selfies.
3D scanning is the process of using structured light or lasers to scan a 3D object ready for upload to rendering and modeling software. Think of it like scanning a document or photo onto a computer, but in full 3D.
Handheld scanners work great for this, but you will need another person to help you so you can get a good scan of your whole body.
How to Get a Scan of Yourself
The scanning process itself will require preparation.
Like taking a good photo, there are things to keep in mind to ensure top-quality results. Correct lighting, reduced background clutter, and stillness to avoid blurring are all crucial to getting an accurate model of yourself ready for 3D printing.
There are a few routes to take to get yourself 3D scanned.
Some scanners can be printed and made at home. Some are fairly cheap, while professional-grade scanners will set you back a little more.
To really get a sense of which scanner is right for you, you can check out our article on 3D printed scanners in all price ranges. And that’s not even mentioning the different kinds of 3D scanner software out there.
The Revopoint POP 2 is a good low-cost choice for home scanning. You can check out our review of it here.
Ensuring Scan Quality
For a really high-quality 3D model of yourself, your scan will need to be as clear as possible.
While the home-based scanning options mentioned above are handy, there are also professional scanning services that use high-end equipment in studios for the best results.
Which of these services are available to you will naturally depend on your area.
A quick search should get you in touch with professional 3D scanners so you can be confident you’ll end up with a 3D model of you that’s a perfect likeness.
All-in-all, it will take some time, research, and money to know exactly what hardware you’ll want and which software to use, but it will be worth it when you’re holding a tiny you in your hands.
Alternatively, you can always go hard mode and make an entire model of yourself from nothing.
Alternative Option: Model Yourself From Scratch
Of course, the most basic method is to simply make a 3D model of yourself from scratch.
Much like how painters will often have a photo of their subject matter by their easel, you can use differently-angled selfies to make a model of yourself using your preferred 3D modeling software.
Naturally, this requires a deft artistic hand and good experience in 3D modeling. But if you’ve got the skill, you might find it to be a worthwhile project that’s a lot of fun as well as rewarding.
3D Printing Yourself
Now that you’ve got your model, it’s time to 3D print yourself!
There’s not much point in making models of real people if they’re not as accurate and detailed as possible, so you’re going to need to have the right machine for the job.
No matter how good the scan or clear the model is, a lesser 3D printer will make your resulting model look generic.
With your model loaded into your preferred slicer, you’re ready to double-check the accuracy and resolution before sending it to be printed.
You can 3D print yourself in just about any material, but for the best results, we recommend resin.
Resin printers are known for more high-quality prints than their FDM counterparts, so it’s better to use one if you’re really going for accuracy in your models.
Particularly high-end or reliable resin printers are excellent for getting models that really look like a little you!
If you don’t have access to a resin printer, or any printer that you trust to get the results you want, it’s worth noting that many professional scanning services will also offer printing as an extra. These services may even be able to print in ceramic or metal.
After printing, it’s time to post-process.
How you’ll do this will depend on what materials you’ve used and how you want your model to look in the end.
If FDM printing with ABS filament, adding a sheen with acetone or carefully painting the model are both good ways to get your desired results.
Just be sure to have your materials ready. If painting, you’ll need the right colors to get your models exactly right, for example.
If you’re new to 3D printing or just want to make extra sure that your models turn out right, you can check out our guides on improving your finish and post-processing your 3D prints.
Make Yourself as an Action Figure
Making static 3D models of yourself may be cool enough as it is, but you don’t have to stop there if you don’t want to.
With a little extra engineering and time, you can even make yourself into a 3D printed action figure!
Once you’ve got a 3D model of yourself, you can use your preferred slicer or editing software to split the model into individual parts depending on where you want your points of articulation.
By modifying these parts with holes to fit together with hinges or screws, you can print them all separately and then combine them to make an articulated action figure that looks just like you.
Of course, this only needs to be as complicated as you want it to be.
If you only want the head to turn, it’s as easy as printing it separately with enough of a connection to hold steady but with enough space to turn.
Joints on the shoulders and elbows will make it so you can put yourself in different poses like a real action figure, same with joints at the hip and knees.
For the best results, make sure you get a scan of yourself standing straight. Different poses and leaning positions may make for cool 3D selfies, but they will limit how your action figure self can be manipulated.
The most important thing is to make sure the points of connection match.
Having CAD software that can run simulations of moving parts is useful for this, but making careful notes when measuring the holes will do.
If you’re feeling extra zany, you can size up the top of the model and attach it to a small spring to turn yourself into a fun bobblehead!
Hints and Tips
We’ve already gone over some of the more important things to keep in mind when 3D printing yourself as a model or action figure, but here are a few extra hints to make sure you’re satisfied with your tiny you.
Always Scan in an Ideal Environment
There are a lot of ways to make sure your 3D scan comes out as clear as possible. Professional scanning services will know what to do, but if you’re scanning yourself at home you’ll need to be mindful of a few things.
Correct lighting and good background colors will stop your scan from being too ‘noisy’. You should also be mindful of your clothing, posture, and chosen pose. All-in-all, just do what you would when taking a good photo and you should be fine.
Taking photos of yourself in the clothes and poses you have in mind makes for a good test run before scanning so you’ll know what looks and works best.
Get More Than One Scan
Again, this is a similar rule to photography. Getting scans of yourself in different poses or in different clothes will give you many more options when it comes to printing.
Even if you’ve got a good one, there’s no harm in getting the same again for safety, it could even end up being a better scan than the first.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Printing yourself out in different poses or testing out some scans as action figure material can take some trial and error. Considering the time and effort 3D printing yourself can take, you probably won’t want to settle for second-rate.
Experimenting with sizes, infills, materials, and post-processing methods is part of the fun of making a model of yourself.
It will not only help you get a better idea of what to do next time but also make for a good learning experience for getting great 3D printing results in the future.
3D Printing Yourself FAQs
Can I print a 3D model of myself?
Yes. With 3D scanning, you can upload a 3D image of yourself to your preferred slicer and 3D print a model of yourself with ease.
How much does it cost to make a 3D printed figure?
3D printing a figure is fairly cheap if you do it all yourself.
Renting a scanner can cost anywhere between $250 – $500 on average, while professional scanning services generally cost up to $1000, with an added cost for printing that varies depending on size, detail, and materials.
If you like, you can also buy and keep a good low-cost scanner like the Revopoint for around $500 – $700.
How do you 3D print a statue of yourself?
With either an accurate 3D scan of yourself or a model you’ve made from scratch, you can use any high-resolution printer to make a statue of yourself that looks as much like you as possible.
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