Tiki Don in 3D

Perhaps over time you have noticed the tiki in the header graphic for this site. In case you are wondering, his name is Tiki Don, just because I thought it sounded good and because he needed a name. You may also remember that Tiki Don turned up in a drawing several months ago:

The plan was also to include him in other things, such as as series of cartoons, but that never did go far. Yet. But he does turn up in places from time to time.

I have always enjoyed his design, and I thought about other ways to use him around the site here, so I came up with the idea of a 3D model.

Let me stop for a moment here to point out that I am very much an amateur when it comes to 3D anything. I can do some drawings either the old-fashioned way with pencil and paper or in a digital format on a computer. But those drawings are almost always two dimensional. Every time that I have tried to do anything in 3D, I have usually given up after a bit. But this time, I thought I might could do it.

I started out trying to draw Tiki Don in SketchUp, which you can download for free. I got pretty far with it, but I was having trouble getting all of the parts moved around and positioned just like I wanted them, and I was starting to get frustrated.

So after considering just giving up, I went back to what I know pretty well: AutoCAD. As an engineer, I use AutoCAD most every day, but just to produce two dimensional drawings. I have played around with 3D in the past just for fun, but once again I never did have much luck with it. But since I was just using basic shapes here, I figured I could get things where I wanted them to be. And eventually, I came up with what was to me an acceptable wireframe drawing:

You may notice some slight differences from the drawing above, but the main difference is that the “bands” at the top, bottom, and below his head are wider than in the drawing. This was because I thought he needed a little more texture to him. So I suppose I should go back and update my header graphic sometime in the future. I’ll add that to my list of things to do. And also, he doesn’t have teeth here, because I didn’t take the time to include them. I thought he looked just fine without them.

From there, I was able to import the AutoCAD model into SketchUp and produce some pretty good renderings:

He was starting to look like what I had envisioned in my mind here. Things were finally moving along. But bringing him into SketchUp was not just for the purposes of a color rendering. Instead, it was to create the proper model format to upload to Shapeways, a company that 3D prints whatever you upload to their website, for a price, of course. Because Shapeways didn’t take anything I could save from AutoCAD directly, SketchUp was necessary to produce something they could use.

A couple of weeks after uploading my model file, selecting my material, and placing my order, I received a package from Shapeways that had a sharp-looking model inside, in real life 3D:

You may not be able to tell from the photos, but Tiki Don is about 2.5" tall here. Next, it was time to apply some paint, so that Tiki Don wouldn’t look quite so naked. I kept with the brown and yellow color scheme that I have used all along.

I didn’t worry too much about getting the colors exactly smooth, because I thought it would give a more “weathered” look otherwise, especially where some of the brown shows through the yellow in places. If you have ever wondered what he looks like from the back, here you go:

Just some basic geometric shapes to keep him from having lots of empty space back there.

So now, Tiki Don is a real 3D work of art! Or at least I think so. What’s up for him next? Maybe I should try to figure out why he always looks so angry. But I think he was just born that way.

Overall, I was really happy with how he turned out, watching him to from an idea in my head to something I can hold in my hands. Pretty cool.

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.