Approaching Tinkercad as a Graphics Tool

 

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I’m going to tell you all about what I call “Graphic Tinkercad” — the deliberate use of Tinkercad to create unique images. I’ve been experimenting since 2016 to try mastering new Tinkercad techniques for creating designs that are up to my own personal expectations.

First, let’s talk a little bit about Tinkercad history. At least four years ago, user n8lightfoot made a pretty faithful version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It was made with Adobe and brought in to Tinkercad in layers, but it showed that Tinkercad could be used for an analogous form of drawing or painting.

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Design by n8lightfoot.

If you look at my archived blogs you’ll find one where I talk about JoeChef’s massive contribution to Tinkercad — his random discovery of Wave-Duplication.

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Design by JoeChef.

Next, take a look at one of my first serious attempts at a dinosaur, a Plateosaur. Then take a look at my Diplodocus (shown below), a work that was done after Joe Chef dropped his Cool Wave on us. That should show you the advances in detailing and graphic presentation that grew out of Joe Chef’s colossal contribution.

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Design by KrasherOx.

Soon after Joe Chef’s innovation, Rooty JR demonstrated his technique for putting an entire design within a hollowed black sphere. He invited us all walk into the sphere to see a space environment with stars and planets via the 3D Viewer.

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Design by rootyjr.

This made us realize that we could create an all-encompassing mood for our designs — that we could present our designs as part of a total environment. Instead of simple, single entities, sitting on a blank white backdrop like lab specimens, our designs could be part of a dynamic story.

I had always made backgrounds for my designs, so that they would stand out and grab the eyes, but Rooty JR’s Globe illustrated that a more complete environment was possible. From then on I would always take screenshots of my designs instead of leaving them on a default white board.

After Rooty JR’s Sphere came our way, a very big development came from Samuel Tinkerer. He created a Shimmering Orb, which made use of Tinkercad’s wonderful graphic rendering code which allows for Z-Fighting. Samuel is an extremely intelligent kid, who likes to experiment, so when he took a globe and grouped tons of thin hole planes into it, then stuffed a duplicate of the whole globe back into the mixture, he set off an explosion of Z-Fighting zones that made the thing shimmer as if it were made of metal and light was hitting its surface. I could not contain my joy! It wasn’t until Samuel gave us the Globe, that I realized that I could deliberately use Z-Fighting to make a robot look like it was shining.

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Design by Samuel-Tinkerer.

As I experimented I realized that I could make my designs seem to pulsate, flash, explode, or spin like a cyclone! Out of all the users on Tinkercad, only ten or fifteen, have deliberately made use of what we call TinkerFlash.

A great aspect of Z-Fighting is that when you take screenshots of a design or backgrounds that are flashing, you get the illusion of light playing on a surface, which appears realistic. You can also get a beautiful fading of colors that make a background sky look like it’s reflecting the sun at different heights or depths, or you can make it look like the sun is hitting different ribbons of clouds. It has absolutely no value for the 3D printing of a design, but for the presentation of the design to the public in the Tinkercad Galleries, it’s an invaluable tool for standing out from the crowd of millions of users.

Speaking of alternate universes, two years ago my friend dragongirl1212 approached me with an intriguing bit of news. She had experimented with a technique that she called “TinkerFlare”. It was similar to SamuelTinkerer’s Z-fighting discovery in that it made a design shimmer, but she had added the element of precisely measured gradient coloring to the mixture. Her fantastic use of color added an even finer realism to her designs. She had blended transitions from one shade of any given color so smoothly to another, that it brought an incredibly rich dimension to anything she applied it to. Look up her designs and look at the wings of her dragons.

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Design by dragongirl1212.

Our friend A2Z, was the first user to ever experiment with making gradient colored objects. Three years ago he made a beautifully colored flower that showed a transition from light pink to white in the petals. What dragongirl1212 did differently was not just to do manual color inputs in the color tool and make them super gradual, but to use a larger bandwidth on the color spectrum. In addition, she got her gradient elements to “Flare” by duplicating them and inverting the duplicates to cause Z-Fighting on a micro-scale.

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Design by From A to Z.

I’d like any TinkerStaff or educators reading this to think about what Graphic Tinkercad allows for. I have spent the past 4 years trying hard to show what Tinkercad can do in terms of graphics, as well as 3D printing. I’ve tried to show people that Tinkercad is actually much more powerful than they had thought it was.

I see educators working really hard to get kids interested in 3D Technology, but it seems like the emphasis is on technical production, not art — art for art’s sake. To me, Tinkercad is like having the paintbrush of an illustrator and the chisel of a sculptor at the same time. I think out loud in Tinkercad, express my concepts there, just like I used to sketch with pencils or sculpt with clay.

Tinkercad has helped me become the artist I have always wanted to be. I am committed to helping other users see how Tinkercad can help them become the artists they were meant to be.