Swedish design firm FRONT is pioneering a rather unusual method of developing 3D furniture models. They use 3D motion capture techniques to trace the movement of a sketch artist's pen in three dimensions. The sketch artist, in this case, is drawing life-size furniture in empty space.
Once you have a 3D model, what might you do? Print it, of course! And this is what they have done. From freehand 3D sketch to actual furniture.
The video, available here, is almost disturbing as their actions seem unreal. Then the furniture appears, gradually emerging from a 3D printer in a spooky manner.
While this technique seems totally amazing, we see a few issues at this very early stage.
- It's hard to understand how the artist can properly keep track of the movements already performed. Without being able to see the trace, they must do it by memory. We suspect they could be observing their own motions on a 2D monitor that's out of view. Ideally they would use 3D viewing headset to show precisely what they are designing in 3D.
- Editing of a sketched object could also prove difficult. How do you go back and erase something you messed up?
- The models produced are astonishing, yet they are somewhat awkward-looking. We believe this is because the artists are operating completely with free hands, and have no digital assistance. Consider how difficult it is to draw a straight line with a pen. Now try that in 3D without being able to see the line. Hmm.
Problems: certainly. Potential: tremendous.
Who's going to create the first 3D Photoshop-like air-sketching tools?