Sharky Rail Rod

Here’s a look at a work in progress. I’m planning to publish this by the end of next week, then you’ll be able to download and print this yourself. This design is what I started out doing and ended up with Santa’s New Sleigh, since it was Christmas after all. So now I have time to go back and do this design again without getting Santa involved, and this time without so many parts. The design is inspired by the those retro ‘Weird Ohs’ models that were so cool in the ’60s. I always loved the way the zany characters morphed into the hot rod.

I plan on printing the head, eyes, pupils, helmet, teeth, tongue and gums as separate pieces in the appropriate colors and making the pieces slide together. The head will also be pose-able on a small double ball jointed neck.

This is the result of a few nights work in blender blocking out the design. One more session and I’ll have all the elements filled in. Next all I have to add the guides for easy assembly and make changes as needed to make everything printable.WIP1

WIP2Here is what the project looks like after a few more sessions. I added some materials to help get into the spirit of the design. I added the final level of detail to the wheels, tires, and much of the frame. I made hands for sharky posted to hold the shift level and steering wheel. Of course I can adjust the pose later as necessary. It should start to go a little faster now. Maybe I can use a few parts from the Santa Sleigh.WIP5.jpg

The design is all done, except for a few details like pipes coming out of his helmet, a parachute backpack, smoke coming from the tires, and the stand. I don’t want to add too many parts. I’m may make some customization kits with a few more cool extras.

WIP7WIP8WIP6I got a little bogged down making cool flames and burnout animations.

It turns out that the smoke and fire in Blender Cycles [the render engine used for these images] is still a little buggy. It uses volume rendering and particle physics to simulate the smoke and fire effects, and is still under development. I found out there are a lot of settings that have to be just right for it to render properly, and you can’t use GPU rendering to speed it up, so its very slow. When it works you don’t just get a still image, you get an animation like in the examples above. It took a lot of work to actually make it work, but it does produce fantastic images. In the image below I got the burnout smoke and exhaust fire working together.

The fire is a light emitter as well, illuminating the rear of the vehicle. The burnout smoke casts and receives shadows, and is partially transparent.DesignComp2DesignComp4 copy

Next I’ll make the parts 3D printable. I want it to glue together so you can print the parts in different color plastic or paint them separately. I’ll try to make it slide together without glue for the most part, so this means adding guide tabs and slots. I made all the parts manifold from the start, so there shouldn’t be any problems.

Here’s the first sample print of the head. Now I’m sure the model will work, since that was the hardest part. I have a few minor tweaks to make, but that is normal.

Printed a few more parts. I almost have a full draft print.


The draft print is complete. It ended up with over 50 parts. I organized the parts into 9 build plates by color. You need black, white, flesh, transparent red (for flames), transparent white, silver, car paint (helmet and chariot) your choice, three accent colors, again your choice, I used yellow, orange, red, and pink for tongue. The color print will be ready in about a day.

It took almost a month, but its totally complete now and ready to be published today. I’m still working on the assembly video, so that will have to wait a few days. Here’s what it looks like:


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