In the last few weeks, friends have pointed me to a couple of different 3D modelling tools. These try to recreate the actual physical modelling process. While I’m generally pretty positive towards new technologies, I think that there is something fundamentally flawed in these approaches.

First off:

Mould Sculptures On An iPad App, Then Print Them With A 3D Printer

From the article: ‎”You can mould digital clay into whatever you want, then print it with a 3D printer…You’ll need a 3D printer, obviously – MakerBot’s Thing-O-Matic is the cheapest, at $US1225.”

You know, or you could, like, mould actual clay for $5.

 
 

Leonar3Do:

From the promo video: “[You can use Leonar3Do to] draw, model, make patterns, to shape objects, create games, build structures, and pursue a whole range of other activities that until now we only dreamed of, that seemed as unreal as a science fiction movie […] up till now we’ve all been using the 2d work environment provided by our computers, with the plain 2d mouse that can move the cursour in 2d on the screen.”

Only we haven’t. This is entirely in denial of reality; until now, we’ve been making models, building structures, drawing, modelling in the real world. The final 3D print of the child’s model reminds me of an early “Mad” magazine features, where children’s crayon drawings were reconstructed painstakingly in the real-world, with brutal accuracy (and broken perspective, etc.). How is this process easier or better than actually modelling, especially when the final model can be 3D scanned, and fabbed if it needs to get reproduced. There is no haptic element to the interaction at all. It is like modelling with numb hands.

 
 

For me this is in contrast to 2D sketch programs that pull into 3 dimensions. For example:

i love sketch

Using familiar tools for representation, but allowing sketching into 3D. The forced 3D modelling tools don’t actually make it easier to “sketch” an object, while drawing tools allow the user to create the impression of an object by creating significant surfaces through a few key lines; sweeps through space.