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Toy Design and Character Creation Using AI and 3D Printing

Hello, I'm Jesse Barratt (Better known as JB) founder and creative director of Canopy Creative. Today, I'd like to share with you how we're investigating the use of AI to design 3D characters and toys in a fraction of the usual time, bringing about a revolution in the industry in terms of rapid prototyping and design.

At Canopy Creative, we've always been passionate about harnessing the power of technology to bring creativity to life. Our mission is to deliver stunning, high-quality 3D models and immersive interactive experiences, tailored to the specific needs of each client.

We work across a broad spectrum of applications, from games and film to education and visualization, using cutting-edge technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), for developement, we are always looking at the latest and greatest pipelines.

The Genesis of an Idea

Creating a 3D character or toy begins with the birth of an idea, a concept that will serve as the foundation for your creation. This initial idea is often a spark of inspiration that ignites the creative process. It's the first step on the journey from imagination to tangible product.

The genesis of this idea can be derived from a multitude of sources. You might be inspired by a character from a beloved book or a movie, drawing on their distinctive traits and attributes to create a 3D representation.

Alternatively, you might have a concept for a new toy in mind, one that fills a gap in the market or brings joy and entertainment in a unique way. For this exercise i saw this truck and instantly made it miniature in my head, gave it a personality and made it my best buddy. Probably a result of too much BD01 exposure from Jedi Survivor.

Abstract forms can also serve as a source of inspiration. This could be a shape, pattern, or structure that you find particularly intriguing. Abstract forms offer immense creative freedom as they don't have to conform to pre-existing character or toy designs. They can be molded and developed into meaningful characters or objects that bear your unique creative imprint.

The key aspect of this initial stage is your creativity and vision. It's about allowing your imagination to roam freely, envisaging what you'd like to bring to life in 3D form. You're not just thinking about what the character or toy will look like, but also considering its purpose, its backstory, and how it interacts with its environment or with other characters or toys. This will form what becomes a detailed and accurate description for our AI Generator, Midjourney.

This stage may involve brainstorming sessions, sketches, or even mood boards, where you collect images, colors, and other elements that inspire you. The goal is to create a strong concept that captures your vision and provides a solid foundation for the design and 3D modeling stages that follow.

Remember, at this stage, there are no wrong ideas. This is a creative exploration where the most important tool is your imagination. So dream big, and let your creativity lead the way. I like to just start with a rough idea, make some lines, add to them, dont be hard on yourself, we arent looking for perfect here. Just grab an idea.


Crafting the Initial Design with Midjourney

Once you have a clear idea of your character or toy, the next step is to translate this idea into a concrete design. Midjourney is a platform that allows you to create detailed designs easily.

With Midjourney, you start by generating a frontal view of your character or toy. At this stage, you don't need to worry about the 3D aspects. The focus here is to capture the essence of your character or object in a 2D image with far more detail, this is where we start to iterate and explore.

  1. Clear Idea of Your Character or Toy: This is the starting point of your design process. You need to have a vision or idea of what you want your character or toy to look like. This might involve brainstorming, sketching, or just imagining the features of your character or toy. This stage is important because it sets the foundation for your design as should be completed in step one prior to moving into Midjourney.

  2. Translate this Idea into a Concrete Design: Once you have a clear idea, the next step is to make it a reality. This is where Midjourney comes in. This platform allows you to take your idea and create a detailed design of it. The goal is to translate the idea in your mind into a tangible design that others can see and understand. Use key words and adjectives forming multiple sentences.

  3. Midjourney: Midjourney is a digital platform that aids in the design process. It allows you to create detailed designs easily. While it's not specified in the statement you provided, platforms like this often offer a variety of tools to help with the design process, including digital sketching tools, color palettes, layering options, and more.

  4. Generating a Frontal View: The design process on Midjourney begins by creating a frontal view of your character or toy. This is essentially a 2D sketch that captures the main features of your design from the front. This could include the face of a character, the front of a toy, etc. Ensure to include in your prompt " On white Background" This will result in a cleaner image for converting to 3D.

  5. Don't Worry About the 3D Aspects: At this stage of the design process, the focus is purely on the 2D design and representation. You're simply trying to capture the essence of your character or toy in a concept. The 3D aspects of the design, such as depth and perspective, are not a concern at this point. This allows you to focus on the basic shape and features of your design allowing Kaedim the next AI engine to generate model data celanly.

  6. Capture the Essence: This means that your goal at this stage is to communicate the core attributes and character of your design. You want to capture what makes your character or toy unique. This could be a specific facial expression, a unique shape, a special accessory, etc.

After multiple iterations and combinations, I have landed on this design, a cute and approachable 4 legged character.


Bringing 2D to 3D Quickly with Kaedim

Kaedim is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered platform that enables creators to transform their 2D sketches or designs into 3D models. This technology can be a game-changer for industries such as animation, game development, product design, and more, where creating 3D models from scratch often involves time-consuming and labor-intensive processes. The AI technology used in Kaedim, through its machine learning algorithms, aims to reduce these challenges.

To use Kaedim, you start with a simple 2D sketch or design. The image can be anything you've drawn or designed, from a cartoon character to a piece of furniture or a detailed product design. It doesn't need to be in a specific format. However, clear and well-defined drawings with good contrast between the lines and the background usually yield better results.

Once you have your design, you upload the image to the Kaedim platform. The interface is user-friendly, usually featuring an "Upload" button or similar where you can select your 2D design from your files.

After uploading the image, you will typically select the "Generate" button. At this point, the Kaedim AI gets to work. It uses advanced machine learning algorithms to interpret your 2D design, understanding the lines and shapes, and how they might translate into a three-dimensional space. This includes inferring depth, which is not present in the 2D design, based on patterns it has learned from training data.

Once the AI has processed the design, it outputs a 3D model. Depending on the complexity of the design and the capabilities of the AI, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. However, it is generally far quicker than manually creating a 3D model from scratch.

This 3D model will appear in your Kaedim interface once it's ready. You can then download it, often in a variety of formats to suit your needs. You can also edit the model within Kaedim or import it into another tool for further refinement, if necessary. This model can be used for a wide range of applications, from 3D printing a prototype of a product to creating a character for a video game or animation.

While this process greatly reduces the time and labor required to create 3D models, it is worth noting that AI tools like Kaedim are still tools and rely on the quality of the input and the user's knowledge for the best results. They may not always interpret a design perfectly, so some manual adjustment may still be needed, this is where the iterative prompt tool in Kaedim comes into its own, to iterate on the model simple edit via the iteration tool and use prompts such as "Mirror Rear leg" or "Add more detail to head".

By using AI-powered tools like Kaedim, creators like us can focus more on the creative process, letting the AI handle the laborious task of turning their visions into tangible 3D models that are useable in miniutes instead of hours or days.

Now we have our 3D model generated, all we need to do is to prep this geometry to be able to be assembled once 3D printed, to do this ill quickly jump into maya.


First off, we're going to need our model. Assuming you've got your modelled robot ready in Maya, let's proceed.

Start by breaking down the model into parts: head, legs, and neck. Now, the goal here is to create interlocking joints, or male and female booleans, so that each part fits seamlessly into the other. Let's start with the head.

1. Prepping the Head

We're going to be creating a male Boolean for the head. This means we're going to add a square pin to sit into the body section through the neck.

Start by creating a cube in the position where you want the neck to be. Align this cube to the base of the head. Make sure it's slightly larger than the neck part of the robot.

Once aligned, duplicate teh cube to create the female intersection in the body, select the head first, then shift select the cube and go to Mesh > Booleans > Combine. This will add the cube shape to the head. Feel free to clean the geometry manually or use the Cleanup tools in Maya.

2. Prepping the Legs

Much like the head, we'll create Booleans for the tops of the legs where they connect to the robot's body. For the female Boolean on the body, use the same method described above but this time you're creating a hollow rather than a protrusion.

It's essential to ensure these fit perfectly into the female Boolean, a good tip is to make the female boolean sections slightly wider and deeper than the pins, allowing for 1mm to 2mm of glue and play when it comes to assembly.

3. Prepping the Neck

With the neck, depending on your design, you might want a male Boolean at the top to slot into the head and a female Boolean at the bottom to attach to the body. Again, use the same method as before to create these interlocking joints.

With my design i used a "Collared" intersection allowing the body and head to clamp together holding the collar/neck section in place.

4. Refining the Model

After the Booleans are done, it's time to refine your model. Check all parts of the robot to ensure they are watertight. This means there should be no holes or open edges in the model, as they can cause issues during the printing process.

Use the cleanup and fill hole tools in Maya to fix any issues that persist.

To create a high-poly model, you can use the smooth function in Maya. It's under Mesh Tools > Smooth. Remember, the higher the poly count, the more details your print will have. But also, the more resource-intensive it will be to print. Alterntavely use Zbrush to create further surface or edge details in a high poly model before using the Decimation master tools.

Once you're satisfied with the high poly model, it's time to export your character. Make sure each part is a separate OBJ file. Go to File > Export Selection, and ensure you're exporting as an .obj file.

5. Sending to Lychee Slicer

After exporting, open Lychee Slicer and import your .obj files. Lychee Slicer is a slicing software that prepares your 3D model for printing. It will slice the model into layers and convert it into a format your 3D printer can understand.

Position and orient your robot parts correctly on the build platform in Lychee. Then, go through the settings, making sure to set the layer height, speed, and other factors according to your printer and material specifications.

Once you've checked over everything, it's time to slice the model and save it as a .pwma file. This .pwma file is what you'll feed to your 3D printer to start the print when printing on a Photon Mono 4k or any other Photon Resin printer.


JB's Top Tips for operating a Resin 3D Printer

Here are some general tips and tricks for operating a Resin 3D printerive picked up from years of operating some of the smallest and largest printers. Note that results vary depending on the printer model and the resin used.

For Reference im a huge fan of the Anycubic Photon Series, from the 4k to the bigger bois, the bang for buck is unmatched in my opinion, i tend to print with straight white Eco Polymer resin as im 9.9/10 times painting or prepping the surface of a print.

  1. Level the Build Plate: Before starting any print, make sure the build plate is level. An unlevel build plate can cause failed prints. The Photon Mono 4k has a relatively simple leveling process, but it should be done carefully and with precision.

  2. Shake the Resin: Before pouring the resin into the vat, shake it well. Resin components can separate over time, leading to inconsistent results if not properly mixed before use.

  3. Keep the Vat Clean: After every print, make sure to clean the vat. Tiny bits of failed prints can cause problems for future prints. Filtering the resin after a print can help remove these tiny bits.

  4. Post-Process Properly: After printing, your models will need to be cleaned and cured. Cleaning involves washing off excess resin, typically with isopropyl alcohol or a similar solvent. Curing involves exposing the model to UV light to fully harden the resin. Don't rush these steps.

  5. Use a Quality Slicer: The slicer software you use to prepare your models for printing can have a big impact on the results. Anycubic provides their own slicer software, but there are also third-party options available. Experiment with different settings to see what works best for your specific models and resin.

  6. Use Gloves and Safety Glasses: Resin can be messy and potentially harmful if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes. Always use gloves when handling the resin and the models before they have been cleaned. Safety glasses are also a good idea, especially when cleaning the models or the vat. DO NOT USE SILICON GLOVES, Silicon as a natural rubber will not protect your skin underneath from severe chemicals such as PLA or PLE based UV Resins, Use Nitrile based Gloves only.

  7. Proper Resin Disposal: Resin should not be poured down the drain. Unused resin can be cured with UV light and then thrown away. Alternatively, many local waste disposal facilities accept liquid resin.

  8. Monitor Print Progress: While it's not necessary to watch the entire print process, it's a good idea to check in periodically to make sure everything is going smoothly. If you notice a problem, it's better to stop the print sooner rather than later.

  9. Keep Your Printer in a Well-Ventilated Area: Resin printing can produce fumes that are unpleasant and potentially harmful. Keeping your printer in a well-ventilated area can help mitigate this.

  10. Maintain Your Printer: Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity of your printer. This includes cleaning the vat and build plate, checking the FEP film for damage, and replacing the LCD screen if it becomes damaged or worn out.


Assembling and Painting Your 3D Printed Character

After your character has been printed, the next step is the assembly and painting process, which adds colors and enhances the physical presence of your character, bringing it to life in the most expressive way. Here's a step-by-step guide to doing this:

  1. Inspection and Cleaning: Start by inspecting the 3D printed parts to ensure that there are no structural issues. Remove any excess material or support structures left over from the printing process carefully to avoid damaging the model.

  2. Assembling: Depending on the complexity of your design, you may need to assemble multiple parts to create your character. This could be as simple as gluing a few pieces together or as complex as connecting multiple parts with joints and hinges. It is crucial to align the parts correctly and ensure a solid connection for the stability of your model.

  3. Sanding and Priming: After your model is assembled, you can smooth out the surfaces by sanding them. Start with a coarse sandpaper and gradually move to finer grits. After sanding, apply a primer to the model. The primer will not only improve the paint adhesion but also highlight any imperfections in your model. If necessary, sand and prime multiple times until you're happy with the finish.

Painting: Now comes the most creative part – painting your character. This process gives your character its final appearance and can significantly enhance its visual appeal. You can use acrylic paints for this step as they adhere well to the material of the 3D print and offer a wide range of colors. Use a good set of brushes, ranging from larger ones for broad strokes to smaller ones for fine details.

For a realistic look, start with base colors, then gradually add shadows and highlights. Also, consider using techniques like dry brushing to emphasize textures or details on the surface of the model. Remember to allow each layer of paint to dry before applying the next.

Remember, the key to a successful 3D printed character or toy is patience and attention to detail. Take your time in each step to ensure the best results. And most importantly, enjoy the process!

This is your creation, so make sure to have fun along the way. I Threw on some quick color for the purpose of this demo but take time with your paint, its the final layer to your masterpiece so this is step to take your time and invest.


The process of creating a 3D character or toy has been dramatically simplified and accelerated through the implementation of AI-based tools. It begins with the germination of an idea, where creativity and vision take center stage.

The design journey continues through Midjourney's easy design platform and Kaedim's AI-powered conversion from 2D to 3D, making the transition seamless, Easy, Fast and Cheap.

Further refinement of the 3D model, thanks to the capabilities of Maya, enhances the character's realism and individuality, adding nuances that breathe life into the concept. Finally, the 3D character or toy is actualized through Lychee Slicer's meticulous preparation of print files and the high-resolution Photon Mono 4K 3D printer, culminating in the creation of a tangible, fun, physical piece.

The brilliance of AI is that it bridges the gap between creativity and technology, making the creation of 3D characters and toys accessible to anyone with a vision.

It not only streamlines and expedites the process but also slashes the associated costs, democratizing the ability to bring dreams and ideas to life. The marriage of creativity and technology is an empowering testament to human ingenuity, and we are only beginning to see the possibilities it brings to the world of design and play.

Now, it's your turn to transform your creative vision into reality with the help of Canopy Creative. Dive into the universe of 3D character and toy creation. We believe in the power of your imagination and, with user-friendly AI-based tools, we are excited to provide a process for your ideas to materialize.

Join us at Canopy Creative and explore the future of creativity and design.


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