How 3D Printing Turned Art Into Income

Scott Denton has spent years creating art for film and TV, and it’s made him very good at making digital art look tangible. For him, there was nothing like the moment he first held an actual piece I’d designed in my hands, as a 3D print. Aside from seeing pieces IRL that might have never left the screen, 3D printing has allowed him to combine the spontaneity of creating his own pieces with concrete results — and income from selling prints. As a hub for printing as selling, Shapeways has made all of it possible.

3D printed works by Melissa Ng, Vijay Paul, Artur Dabrowski, and Scott Denton

He opened a free shop on the platform focused primarily on jewelry. Jewelry can succinctly translate an artistic concept into a compact, meaningful object. It’s a fantastic way to combine artistic practice and practical applications. The ease of prototyping and printing with Shapeways enabled him to experiment with fairly elaborate design elements. When he has decided he landed on the best combination of intricacy and 3D-printability, he orders 3D prints in precious metals, then adds the finishing touches to them before sending them to customers. The Mermaid’s Offering ring is a great example of such a piece.

The design for the ring started with an obsession with Art Nouveau. Denton had always been interested in the era and its organic, decorative forms. After doing his research and buying a few books on the subject, he decided to make something. Not as much asymmetry was incorporated in the piece as exists in many works from the era, but there are hints of it in the stone setting.

He realized that once he found his inspiration, creating the piece was a happy accident. During some quiet hours at work, he made a ring back and started moving things around with the Clay Tubes brush in ZBrush.

“When I’m creating a new piece, I generally start by sketching in 3D. I used to sketch extensively on paper and would love to get back to doing that, but ZBrush, Maya, and the 3D space are where my mind resides now. However, I think a traditional art background is an extremely important launching point,” shared Denton.

From Art to 3D Printed Object

For Mermaid’s Offering, the model was prepared for 3D printing by modeling the size to spec from the start. In the past, he explained he would just start from a cylinder and work from there, not caring about the size until the very end.

“This isn’t a terrible approach, but I’ve found it helps to size correctly right away. When you’re dealing with stone settings, you won’t have as much back and forth when you get to the printing phase.”

What Denton loves best about 3D printing is that final product reflects that balance between aesthetic and technical efforts.

After uploading and ordering a print of one of his designs, he was instantly hooked. Selling a few prints in his shop fueled his desire to keep designing. Denton always recommend that other artists print their own work and open Shapeways shops. “Holding something tangible, created in a nonreal space, was and always will be fascinating to me” he explains.

If you’re ready to try it, you can upload a 3D model to Shapeways and see what it will look like and cost in any of the 60+ materials and finishes they offer. Opening and maintaining a shop is also free and very easy. Visit Scott Denton’s Shapeways shop and ArtStation portfolio to see more of his work in 3D modeling and printing.

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