Pre-Order and Part Overview

September 28, 2014 Leave your thoughts

I want to give more detailed information about my pre-order, why I am doing things the way I am, and the current state of the doll. It is important to me to always be completely transparent about everything.

Where Things Stand

sitting1I currently have an incomplete 3D-printed prototype. The 3D printing company I use was having problems keeping track of all the parts, and some parts should get to me Tuesday (and some are only half printed, like the shoulder). For the, rest they want me to make a new order for (which I will be refunded for). So, it may take another week and a half for me to get everything, but most should be here early this week. Everything that I have been able to test either works very well, or will work well with some small modifications (mostly just increasing some elastic space on inner joints, or adding small locks). I will take more pictures once the parts get here. What they are sending me now should be enough that I can get her to stay together and stand (right now I am missing the feet and part of the thigh which prevents her one leg from staying together).

Once I get the remaining parts I will make sure they work, modify them if I have to, and then do a final print.  Most parts will be printed in a material that is expensive but it easy to work with and shows a high level of detail. The modifications are small so this shouldn’t take too long – I can make them all in a few (long) days. The main part that may affect the time line is waiting for the prints to ship.

When I get the final prints, I will double check to make sure everything works perfectly, then make all of the parts perfectly smooth before I mold and cast a resin prototype. Only after I have this resin prototype to show is any payment due. I do have experience molding and have never had a problem with getting good casts, but I’ll admit I have not yet done something on this scale. I am confident that I can get high-quality casts, but I still do not want anyone to have to commit to buying until there is hard proof and I can show exactly what they final product will be. If for some reason I am unable to cast her, I will find another solution, but the timeline will change.

So, you may be asking why I am even taking orders before there is a resin prototype. The biggest reason is that I just need to be sure that I can get enough orders to fund the rest of production, and gauge what commitment I am going to make to this in the future. I recently graduated college (with a degree in computer science and math, but I also took a few mechanical engineering courses), and I decided to give this a go full time before I look into getting a programming job. My dream is to keep this going full time, but if there is not enough interest I will have to go get a normal job. I have just enough savings to fund the rest of the prints I need, and the materials for the first order. But, if I do not get enough orders, I won’t have the money to pay rent and other living expenses while I am working on the order, so I just need to be sure I can get enough orders before I buy everything else I need to. I understand that there is still risk – I might buy everything and it might just not work out, or everyone could cancel, but that is a risk I am willing to take as I am confident I can produce dolls that live up to expectations.

My intent is to make all of the risks my risks, and not a risk for any potential customer. That is why I don’t want the deposit until I have a final cast to show. I also understand that it is a lot of money to risk on a doll that is not yet proven by the community, so for this first order I will be accept returns if anyone is unhappy with what they get. Since these are each customized, this is a risk for me, but I have faith in my doll and I believe everyone will be happy with her.

Overview of Parts

headHolderHead

The headcap is only half printed, but that was enough to test. I have to change the shape of the inside just a tiny bit because the face is a bit difficult to get on. It is a super small change (and does work as is) so it won’t be a problem.

headHolder2Head Holder

The head holder works great – I actually did this 4 or 5 ago. My goal was to make it easy to take the headcap off, and easy to restring it, but not be at any risk of coming off unintentionally – I think I achieved that. To put the head on, you simple rotate the part that holds the elastic up, push the headcap down onto it, and the piece will rotate down. Then, you just push it back and it will lock into place – the tension of the elastic will keep it down. To remove it, you just pull it forward (the new piece will have grips – this is an old print) and pull the headcap up. To restring, you pull the elastic holder forward, rotate it upside-down, and pull it up. That takes the elastic holder out of the other piece, and you can just slip off the elastic. There is no risk of it happening accidently, but it isn’t hard to do it intentionally (and no s-hooks that could dent the resin!).

torsoChest

The chest moves fine, but I am currently missing the part that goes inside the waist that keeps the chest’s pivot in the right place. The elastic goes from the head, down to a ball that is inside the top of the waist in the center of the joint. That ball keeps the elastic straight at all angles so she won’t want to snap into any position. Once I get that to test, I will see if the chest is good as staying in positions, and then determine if I need to make any internal locks. I think I have an idea that will keep it locked just enough in the default positions, but still give the fluid motion and keep it stable. It is important to me that she isn’t floppy, so I will make that top priority.

Shoulders

My goal was to make each arm is strung separately so it could be removed without restringing. I originally had something that worked but was over complicated, and now I have a mechanism that works but is pretty annoying to use. I did worry that this new idea would have the problems that it has, but it was so simple that I decided to try it. I have another idea which I think should be much better that I am going to try it out next. Worst case she will just be string wrist-to-wrist, but I am going to try hard to make them easy to remove but still very secure.

Since the elbow doesn’t allow for any rotation, I made a rotation joint on the top of the arm. This is simple so it works well. Since the cut was there anyway, I decided to get more movement out of it by allowing it to bend so she can reach across her chest. It isn’t the best looking joint, but it works well and I consider it more of a bonus joint.

Elbows

The elbows are almost perfect! It is a single joint but has 150 degrees of motion. One of the inner pieces on my print broke (which is making the right arm not line-up right), but for the resin version I am going to be casting steel pins inside so that doesn’t happen. The only problem right now is the cover in the front moves up fine when you bend the arm, but doesn’t move down well. I tried to use a small loop of elastic to keep it down, but that is a pain. I am pretty sure that just by sanding it down a bit to reduce the friction it will work better, but if not I have a few ideas. It is really close to working perfectly so I am sure I can get it. The elbow itself works great is is very stable.

hands Wrist/Hands

I wanted a more wrist-like shape so I made up for the lack of rotation under the elbow (which stays in place perfectly). I also made the hands magnetic and removable, but I think I can improve that mechanism from what I have now. Otherwise the wrist works well and has a good range of motion. The hands will be printed in a very detailed material – they are currently in a cheaper, stronger material for testing.

sitting2Hips

A lot of the hip pieces are missing. I was mostly able to test the front cover, and right now I just didn’t cut enough material away on the inside of it so it doesn’t go from the standing position where it is perfectly inline with the body, to the sitting potion where it moves up in the torso. It moves in when the leg is about 45 degrees. I can still test by just putting it in the sitting position and it seems to work very well. I am fairly confident that when I just cut out that extra material it will work exactly as I intend it, but worst case it will always have to be inside the joint a bit and won’t give that perfectly smooth line in the standing position.

None of the butt-plates got to me, so I was unable to test that. That is probably one of the more interesting parts, but I feel good about it. This could be the biggest problem if it ends up not working, but I should be able to think of something if it comes down to it.

Since the ball for the tip of the thigh has a lot of surface area where it fits into the hip, it is very stable even without elastic. The leg won’t spin around in any odd positions, or want to snap into any position.

The gaps you see in the picture will be filled in by the front cover and the butt-plate.

Thighs

The top of the thighs allow for rotation and some extra bend. There is a piece in between the thigh and top of the thigh and holds the leg in place when bent, and that piece rotates too so you can choose which angle it bends at. Right now the bending doesn’t work well because I should have cut the elastic hole more. This material is annoying to dremel, but I am going to cut that to see if that solves it – I think it will. It is also annoying because when you try to bend it, that piece inside moves with the thigh. This is another simple fix – I just need to make a grove so it stays aligned to the top of the thigh.

lowerLegKnees

The knees work well for 0-90 degrees. The rest I just have to make the elastic hole in the back bigger. I figured I would have to, but I was hoping with the locks it would be enough. The inner knee part also wants to pivot a bit at its full range (which is made a lot worse by the elastic hold problem). This should be an easy fix too, I just need to make groves on the inside so it stays in place. I am also going to add a sort of lock that keeps the inner knee piece attached the the lower leg so it is easier to put the leg in position for the 90+ degree bends.

There are some gaps in the 90 degree range that I am hoping to improve. They aren’t that bad, but I think I can make things even better.

Ankle/Foot

Still waiting on the feet. The ankle is a separate piece – I get movement left to right where the ankle meets the lower leg, and the foot does the up and down movement. From what I can test the ankle is incredibly stable, and I am pretty sure the foot part will be as well.

Summary

There are a lot of changes to make, but they are all very small. I think all these little changes will make her a very poseable, stable doll. If there are any flaws even after the changes, I will let everyone know exactly what they are and what I plan to do about it.

 

Box Render

Updates and Box Design

March 23, 2013 1 Comment

Sorry for the lack of updates!  I do not have much news – school has been keeping be busy!  I am still working primarily on the hip joint.  I think I have one more idea that I want to try, and if that does not work I am going to push aside the perfectionist in my head that is constantly yelling at me and just do are more generic joint that should still be acceptable (though that should still take me a while to get just right).  I feel like the hip is the most important joint on a doll so I want it to be prefect, but I obviously have to finish something at some point and I am not sure that it is even possible to fulfill all of my requirements.   I really want my doll to be able to bring her knee up to her chest (and ideally do a split), move her legs together enough to cross them, and move them as far apart as possible (like a straddle).  Getting this to work isn’t that hard – what is hard is getting these things to work while still looking smooth and not having huge gaps.  Her leg is not a perfect cylinder, so just sticking a ball on top ruins the curve of her legs and that is not something I am willing to compromise.  I have yet to see a doll with a natural looking hip/butt area and it is something that I really want to accomplish, but there is a reason why they don’t seem to exist.  The hip is also the most important part when it comes to stability, so that is another factor I have to keep in mind.  Once the hip is done the rest should not take too long.  I do want to see if I can create a natural elbow joint, but I think I have a design in mind that will work.

I know I am getting ahead of myself, but since the hip is making me angry, I have been having some fun designing my packaging, as you can see with my render.  I don’t know what is practical, since boxes can get very expensive, but I really want fancy packaging.  I am hoping to make them with a drawer that pulls out.  I tend to keep my dolls in their boxes, and opening these huge boxes with a typical lid is very annoying.  I figure a drawer would be much more convenient – the boxes could be stacked on top of each other and it would be super easy to open.  I also want to just line the box in foam instead of having a cutout to fit the body (the pink part in the picture).  This way people can store their dolls without having to undress them.  The dolls could be secured with ribbon/elastic at the neck, wrists, ankles, and waist (and probably also thighs and arms)  for shipping (I’d obviously have to test to see if this was safe).  I’d also like to sew black lace pockets on the sides to store small stuff.  The draw on the top would be for instructions and other paper stuff (probably certificates and stickers and what not).  The main reason it is there though it because I needed space for the top layer of foam anyway, so this just sits nicely there (the shelf part is halfway though the thickness, with the foam secured in the space on the bottom).  I’m also thinking the color of the foam (I’ll probably have pretty fabric over it) and the knobs could be changed for collection sets, and maybe even different knobs for people with multiple dolls to easily tell the boxes apart.

I also apologize for the speed of my site – it has been going very slow for me and I have yet to figure out the reason.  It seems to get a lot worse after I changed some things, but I am having trouble figuring out why.

New Prints and Computer

November 23, 2012 1 Comment

I have Ngaire and Mara (along with some tiny teeth) sent to the printer, along with my chest part and parts to make eye molds.  I am super mad at myself because I forgot to cut the space for the eyes.  What I do is make the space like in the tutorial, but then I take the actual eye model that I am going to be making eyes with and cut that area out so it fits perfectly – otherwise there would be some gaping.  It isn’t a huge deal, but little things like that can make a difference.  I am going to try sand down the space by hand but it is going to be hard to get right.  With it cut into the model I can make sure the eyes will be positioned perfectly.  I emailed Shapeways to try and change it (only 12 hours after ordering) and they said it was too late since it was already in production (since they don’t allow you to change your order, you have to cancel it and redo it).  I want to beg but I hate being an annoying customer.  I can’t imagine it is already being printed but I guess it is possible.  Edit: It looks like that part wasn’t sent to the printer yet so I might be able to have fixed after all!

Also, I finally ordered my new computer!! I’ve been stalking prices for the past couple of months and this was the lowest it has been for what I wanted;  I got some decent Black Friday deals so I am happy.  I’m excited – I’ve been doing everything on my (almost 5 year old) MacBook, and while it isn’t horrible, some things just take a really long time, not to mention my hard drive is almost full.  Now I will have 1 TB to work with, and rendering and some modeling functions should be much faster.  I may even make some videos if I can get past my hatred of recording my voice.

I’m debating offering my first three heads before I have the body done.  It would help me a lot to sell some now, but I’d also like to release them as finished dolls.  It also would be nice to gauge interest before I invest a lot more into it.  The heads also won’t fit other bodies as is though – I’ll have to make extra neck parts.. but I think that will work out pretty well.

Oh, and I’ve noticed some typos in my tutorial that I haven’t gotten a chance to fix yet.. I’ll do that as soon as I have time.

Old Work and Other Ramblings

January 24, 2012 Leave your thoughts

I’ve been looking through some of my old screenshots/pictures, and wow, some of it is bad  :-P .  It has been a few years since I started, but it feels like much more.  I spent so much time on my clay model; every day I would wake up early before work and sculpt, then after my classes I would go home and sculpt all night.  I guess I got pretty close to finishing, but no matter how much I did it always felt like there was a ton more to do.  Once I decided to go with the 3D modeling I finished pretty quickly.  I probably rushed it a bit but I couldn’t help it; I was too excited.  The body actually isn’t too bad for my first attempt, but my first couple heads are just horrible.  I wish someone would have told me how bad they were at the time, but I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway.  I have no idea how I thought those were good though.  I hope am not as delusional this time around.  more

Marketing Ideas

January 22, 2012 Leave your thoughts

I’ve been trying to think of ways to sell/market my dolls once I get that far.  I should probably focus on getting them done first, but I like thinking about this stuff. I’ve been planning a choice doll system for a while, but I am not sure what to do with limited dolls and stuff. I think the purpose of resin BJD’s is the customizable aspect, and limited dolls kind of take away from that, especially when what is special about the doll is just the faceup and the outfit. I definitely want to do special fancy sets, and they probably should be limited from a marketing and just a practicality standpoint, but I still want people to have options, because that really is what this hobby is about. more

Some Plans

January 22, 2012 Leave your thoughts

It has been so long since I have started this journey.  I really hope to have something to show for all my work soon.  The plan is to get a company to cast my first doll, which I will call PulkiDoll V1, as soon as I can.  I’ve been putting it off because it isn’t cheap and pretty risky for me.  I guess I am a little put off after my previous plans fell apart – I am worried that I will again be disappointed.  I am very scared that I will not sell enough to meet a minimum order, or that a lot of work will need to be done that will cost me.  I think she is pretty cast-able as is, but there are some parts that are pretty thin and awkward to mold that may need to be modified.  I really don’t care much about money or profit, but I’ve already sunk a lot into this and I need to make back some money if I want to eventually get my newer doll printed.  I am not too good at all this businessy stuff :P I hate dealing with money.

I plan on only doing one order of my V1 doll, unless there is a lot more interest than I expect.  She should be very limited – I am hoping to sell 50.  If I manage to sell those 50 dolls quickly, I will do more, but I don’t know how much interest there will be.  The doll companies really stepped up their game since I started and she isn’t really that special anymore, and she has her flaws (though probably not as much as I think – I tend to be way over critical of my own work).  I feel like a few years ago I would have had more luck, when it was harder to find artist dolls and before the amount of companies really expanded.  I am worried I missed my chance, but hopefully I can still squeeze in there and make something of all this.

After I am done everything with my V1 doll, I hope to move on to my current project, which I’ll just call my 65cm girl (or V2).  This doll will hopefully be more innovative (though I use that word loosely, since most of my ideas have already been done to some extent by other companies at this point) and more sturdy and structured now that I’ve learned from my mistakes and I actually know what I am doing.  I’ve learned how to to better deal with the more mechanical aspects like tension and all that so this doll should hold a pose better.  I’ve also figured out a lot of modeling techniques so I can better execute my ideas.  I am really looking forward to finishing her and getting get printed, but it might be a while.

Welcome!

January 22, 2012 Leave your thoughts

Hi!  My blog is finally back up.  Sadly, I lost all of my old stuff, but I am planning on recreating some of my tutorials once I start molding and casting again.  I have a bit of work to do to get this back to the way I want it, so please bear with me.  Also, if you see problems or anything that looks weird let me know since I will be messing with the code a lot.

As always, feel free to comment and I apologize for typos – I tend to make a whole bunch and become completely blind to them (feel free to point any out if you see them).