Buttons here, buttons there

Lately I’ve been surrounded by buttons. I have sketched, modeled, printed, adjusted a millimetre and printed again. It all started a few weeks ago when my colleague Jyri and I started planning our first pack of quests.

The quests are a fun way to learn how to use the Tinkercad. A quest is a design task, where the user designs an object according to the given instructions and learns how to use the app at the same time. When learning something, the last thing you want to do is to open a manual. Video tutorials are more illustrative, but why not have something even more engaging?

I started the quest design process by searching ideas. I looked for things to model at home and did some serious googling. Then, I chose some ideas which I thought were simple enough to teach the basic functions of the editor.

My first try was to model different capital letters, but soon I realized that most of them were too complicated. Some of the letters looked simply stupid. No wonder there’s a whole research area called typography. 🙂 I threw the letter idea away and figured out something else.

I found out that buttons are universal objects, simple enough to model and there are numerous ways to modify them. First I sketched many ideas on paper, chose the ones with most potential and modeled them.

The whole quest pack consists of five different buttons. It starts with the Basic Button, a quest that teaches you the basic functions of the editor. Next one is the Flower Button, where you rehearse the skills learned in the first quest. The third one is the Skull Button that challenges you to use the sub tool in various ways. The fourth one is the Duffel Button where new tools are introduced and finally in the Heart button you learn more about working in different workplanes.

Sometimes it required quite a many attempts until I got the design right.  Here’s an example of the Heart Button prototypes. I got frustrated, because a couldn’t make the shape perfectly symmetrical. Fortunately Jyri suggested to me that I model the heart on a skewed angle. Hurray!

I had three goals in the quest pack design:

  • consistent progress in the quests
  • good looking buttons
  • good printing quality

Often, it required four to five prototypes and prints to have right kind of design and consistency between the models. My motivation for designing something is strongly related to real life, so I wanted the buttons look nice so that you could easily wear them. For instance, I moved the place of the nose on the Skull Button by only a 0,5 mm for a nice and clean printed surface.

After the modeling phase the fun part really began. I really enjoyed sewing the buttons and taking photos for the quest pack page. You can find the quest menu in the upper right corner of the editor page. I hope you like the button quests and I would highly appreciate any feedback that you might have!

P.S. Greetings to Stephanie who gave me a hand with this post!

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