Maurizio Casella (aka Mao), our featured designer of the month, tells us about his path from advertising creative director to scuba diving instructor to creator of 3D printed do-it-yourself models.
Pinshape: Your 3D designs tend to be a lot of great DIY miniature models. What inspired you to create these types of designs?
Maurizio: When I was a child, I used to love those Airfix and Revell assembling boxes, and I spent all my free time assembling planes and tanks. Now, it’s hard to find those kind of toys, but everyone has a computer.
How do you decide which models to create next?
The last models I made were cars. For the moment, they seem to interest people, but I don’t know what will be next!
What’s your process like for determining how the model will be built and designing the parts for that?
It all starts with blueprints. There is a huge selection of them on the internet. They are basically drawings of the objects from the front, the side and the top.
Once I have those drawings, I start modeling with my 3D software. I go point-to-point to carefully follow the shape of my object. Once this is done, I have the general shape of my model. Next, I go ahead with details or internal objects like the engine, seats and cockpit (that normally are not indicated in the blueprints), which I generate from pictures that I have selected from the web. Googleis a big help. Then I have to think about wall thickness, polygon intersections and boolean operations, which are the parameters that define a good, easily printable manifold and a watertight .STL.
Where did you learn how to create these types of DIY 3D models?
I started 3D modeling and learned all that I know by watching tutorials on my own.
You’re Print photos are always extremely well done. How do you go about staging the photos of your models? What kind of camera do you use for those?
In my previous “life,” I was working in advertising. That’s why I have photographic skills, and I use a Nikon with a 14MM wide angle and a 50MM. From the early 1980s, I worked in Milan, Italy. I started out as an assistant art director, gaining lots of experience with such agencies as Young & Rubicam, Euro RSCG, Leo Burnett, B Communications, Studio Nuovi Prodotti, Saatchi & Saatchi, up to creative director. In 1992, I opened my own “creative boutique”, Casella & Forlin. In 2000, I decided to leave Milan and the fog to follow my inner passion: the seas and oceans. As a diving instructor, I travelled around the world and then settled in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
You also have some great images of your printed designs in your portfolio. Do you have your own printer or do you usually order your 3D prints commercially?
I have my own printer, it’s an FDM kentstrapper Volta Beta, made in Firenze, Italy.
Do you have any tips for people who are printing your or other designs on their own at-home printers?
Print as slowly as you can and use PLA – ABS fumes are not healthy.
What initially got you into designing for 3D printing?
It’s an evolution… In 1980, I was using Adobe Dimensions (a 3D software of that age). I bought the printer to print toys for my child, but I came to understand that all the 3D designs that I had created up until that moment for rendering purposes, were not printable, and discover how to change that.
Do you have any advice for other designers who are trying to get started in 3D printing?
It’s hard to give advice. Most of the 3D modeling software has a hard learning curve. Don’t give up in the first month, and don’t be afraid to learn, that software takes years to master!
What design tools do you use most often?
All 3D software are very similar – Maya, Studio 3D Max, Rhino , Blender, Cinema4d – work basically the same. The best one is the one you know better.
What are your favorite blogs, tutorials, magazines, and other resources to help to keep you up-to-date on design and 3D design?
I watch all the tutorials I can for 3D modeling, unfortunately there are not a lot for 3D printing. There are no blogs or magazines, just a couple of Facebook groups to share opinions.