As a fan of monsters and 3D printing, in that order, I was intrigued by Autodesk’s new iOS app, 123D Creature. Aimed at beginning 3D modelers, the app allows you to build cute (or scary) monsters right on your screen by pinching, grabbing, and rotating a lump of virtual clay hanging on a skeleton.
The $7.99 app ($1.99 for a limited time) is the latest in Autodesk’s line of free 3D apps. The company sells much more expensive and complex 3D solutions like Maya and 3ds max but these 123D apps are designed to allow users with little experience to build objects, paint them virtually, and output mesh files that can be used on 3D printers. You can even order 3D prints of your creations right from the app.
Given the perceived difficulty of 3D modeling, these are an interesting way for Autodesk to sneak their tools into the hands of younger designers who could go on to use the company’s more lucrative tools.
How does it work? Fairly well, to be honest.
I tried the app briefly today and was able to design a pointy-headed little man and print him on my home Makerbot. Sadly his arms didn’t quite make it through the print process but his tiny legs and pin head look just fine. I’m no 3D artist, to be sure, so it was fun to be able to make a cute little being and then pump him out of my extruder in a few minutes. Not only does this give 3D novices the chance to experiment with 3D design, it makes folks with 3D printers happy because of the seamless system for making and outputting mesh files for quick prints.