Philadelphia artist Levi Buffman, also known as Doctor Octoroc, has already made a name for himself for building out of Legos a complete model of his home city. As impressive as an achievement as that was, however, Buffman wasn’t completely satisfied with his work: the restrictions of the medium he chose to work in led to inaccuracies in color and scale that he felt compromised the piece’s integrity. To fix this, Doctor Octoroc has once again set out to recreate his city on a smaller scale, using a medium that will allow him to finally capture every detail of it in miniature: 3D printing.
Rebuilding a City
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, 3D printing is a tool that is gaining in popularity among architects, engineers, and artists alike. Thanks to continuous new developments in the quickly developing technology, users are now able to create increasingly detailed and sturdy end products from nearly any material imaginable. This has led to the creation of plans for 3D printing to be used for everything from building bridges in Amsterdam to constructing affordable housing out of sand, and has even caused some to speculate that 3D printers could be used to build subterranean structures on Mars.
While Doctor Octoroc’s plans for the 3D printer are much more modest than building houses on another planet, they are still impressive. Starting with the 1600 block of Market Street, the artist plans to capture as many of Philadelphia’s skyscrapers, houses, and stores as possible, recreating them in full color sandstone. According to Octoroc, he has already printed the “block” containing Liberty Palace and the Westin hotel, and says that he is thrilled with the quality. More than that, he implies that he will be making his designs available for purchase to the public, along with the finished models.
Art and Computer Aided Design
To capture all the minute textures of a miniature urban landscape, Octoroc required a way to create highly detailed digital models of the city that could then be used as the basis for the final product. As such, he turned to CAD techniques pioneered by Ed Catmull, a pioneering computer scientist and the sitting president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. The method Doctor Octoroc is using calls for creating full texture maps of the landscape he wishes to recreate, followed by using vector painting to add the finished details. This process allows Octoroc to capture small details that, in his miniaturized version of Philadelphia, can be as small as one tenth of a millimeter.
In addition to making his designs available for sale, Doctor Octoroc is also updating the progress of his project on his Facebook page, allowing fans and onlookers to follow the project to completion and get a glimpse inside the creative process.
Here at Q-CAD, we have been using 3D drafting to create highly detailed architectural models for decades. To learn more about our process, contact us today at 800-700-3305.