Cloudswimmers Alphabet, the Process

Posted by Jan Vantomme on 04 April 2012.
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In January this year, I launched my new design studio Cloudswimmers. For the identity of the studio, I designed a custom 3D font with Processing and Hemesh. The individual characters were printed at Shapeways. The 3D prints are 40 x 50 x 20 mm in size. This is what they look like in real life.

Cloudswimmers says hello

The word “Hello” is used on the home page of the website to greet visitors. There are about ten different images, and they are randomly displayed. One of the images is also used on the business cards.

Cloudswimmers businesscards

In this article, I’m going to show you all different steps in the design process to give you an idea of how the alphabet was created. More pictures of the final characters can be found in the “Cloudswimmers portfolio”:http://www.cloudswimmers.com/work/alphabet/.

The Process

I’ve started with designing a pixel font. The characters are four by five pixels.

The pixelfont of four by five pixels

Next up was Processing + Hemesh. I’ve started with a HEC_Grid of four by five units, the same resolution as the characters from the pixel font.

A HEC_Grid of four by five units

The white pixels from the font were removed from the HEC_Grid so it starts looking like a character.

Faces removed from the HEC_Grid so it looks like a character.

The next step was extruding the mesh into the third dimension.

HEC_Grid extruded so you'll get a 3D version of the character.

I’ve added a copy of the HEC_Grid to the back to close the mesh..

Added a copy of the mesh to the back.

And I removed white pixels from this one too.

Removed faces from the copy.

Next thing was copying both meshes into a new mesh. I had to flip the faces of the back mesh so the normals were in the right direction.

A new mesh created from both other meshes.

Apparently, there were still some unused vertices inside the new mesh, these had to be removed.

Some vertices had to be removed to create a valid mesh.

After removing these vertices, the mesh was valid, and could be subdivided. I’ve used the Catmull-Clark subdivision algorithm to create the smooth shapes.

The character subdivided with the Catmull-Clark subdivision algorithm.

The next step was using the HEM_Lattice modifier to create a more open shape.

A Lattice was applied to the character.

Final step in the process was applying the Catmull-Clark subdivider again to create a really smooth surface.

The final shape of the object, smoothed with the Catmull-Clark algorithm.

Finally, this shape was saved as an STL file and printed at Shapeways.

Final render of the character, without the edges drawn to the screen.

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Oldskool Comments (2)

Gravatar for Thomas Vanhoutte

From: Thomas Vanhoutte
Date: 09.04.2012

Okay you did it: you made me jalous. That's some nice 3D-effect you created! Looking forward for more of your projects. Regards

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Gravatar for patrick

From: patrick
Date: 12.07.2012

dude this is such a rad process thanks for sharing! super inspiring, I've been wanting to have some of the 3 dimensional type work I've done produced with shapeways and seeing this did nothing but stoke that desire.

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