Going 3-D (9-12)
by Hilda and Henrietta
So you thought the days of assignments that involved anything other those flat pieces of paper that you write or print on were over. Now those days are suddenly back as you try to come up with ideas to make a model, mock up, or some other display that involves one more dimension than two. Well dont despair, your computer is there.
Wait a second you are thinking - arent things that come out of a printer flat?
Sure they are. But here are a couple of secrets for going 3-D with your computer:
- You can print on things other than paper in your printer. (Well be telling you what and give you some ideas how they can be used in this article.)
- Just because something comes out of your printer that doesnt mean its DONE. It could just be the beginning!
While we cant cover in this space all the 3-D things you may be asked to make for an assignment, we can give you some ideas for:
- How your computer can help
- What you can use besides plain paper for your project and where to get it
Your Computer, Your Assistant
Because you are probably reading this online we wont say much about the computer as a research tool. Obviously for most any information you already know its a good idea to head straight to the computer for help. But this time around you need to do more than just research. You should think of your computer as a brainstorming buddy. Consider it an idea- generating machine that can show you what other people have built, invented, constructed, designed or cobbled together to stimulate your thinking about what you want to build or model.
Maybe your assignment is to build a mock up of an invention that you thought up for a car or building of the future. Look around online for ideas. Make note of the details colors, textures, features, size, materials and more. These are all things that will make your model special no matter what it is that you are supposed to be building.
Your computer can also help you draw up the plans for what you need to build and help you create the parts. Cant draw a straight line? No problem, the computer can do that part for you as well as draw circles, squares, rectangles and other shapes. An art program, even something like Kid Pix that you may have used as a kid or maybe a younger brother or sister uses, can be helpful but dont forget features to do even these simple things are available in Microsoft Word. (Never used Word for that? Look under Help for Drawing Objects.) These tools are good for doing a preliminary drawing of what you want to build as well as actually constructing parts.
Lets say you are using a milk carton for the foundation or base for your building of the future. Dont just glue construction paper with your awkward drawings on the sides. Draw what you want on the computer and attach it to your model. Remember, though, that just because a drawing has been through the printer it isnt necessarily done. Add paint, markers, beads, toothpicks, feathers, pebbles, twigs, or any other small objects to your building to give it dimension and details.
Beyond Plain Paper
You may know a lot about computers and computing, but have you ever thought about sending something other than paper through your printer? Your local craft and office supply stores are full of paper alternatives. Here are a few ideas:
Cover paper: When it comes to 3-D display making, plain paper just doesnt cut it. (No pun intended.) At your local supply store they sell something called cover paper or card stock. This paper is about the thickness of an index card and comes in standard size sheets. Its extra weight makes it able to stand up when you crease or bend it into the shape you want, and it still can go through your printer. For best results, put one sheet of paper at a time into the printer tray and print it out. Youll find it comes in white as well as a multitude of other colors (including an array of neons), so let your imagination run loose.
Photo paper: Photo paper can get expensive, but if you are looking for a glossy look for model or display even the cheapest grade will do the trick.
Pre-designed paper: There is a scrapbooking craze going on in this country. The upshot for you is that there are now a wide variety of pre-designed papers available with all kind of designs on them. Whether you are looking for paper that looks like hay or straw, water, rough gravel, steel complete with bolts, animal hides, or most anything you can think of, your local craft store may have exactly what you are looking for. Remember that this paper can also go though your printer so that you can add your own special touches to your model or display, or you can print cutting lines on the back so you can print shapes and cut them out more precisely. Tip: Some of this paper may be larger than standard printing paper just cut it to fit!
Clear plastic: Once upon a time lots of teachers used a device called an overhead projector in the classroom and put clear plastic sheets on the projecting surface to write on with markers. Fortunately some still do and it just so happens that those clear plastic sheets can also go through a printer. Would the clear look be an asset to your model or display? Pictures, for example, look great printed out on clear plastic with a light shining behind them. Look for these at your office supply store.
Fabric: At the end of this article is a set of directions for making fabric that will go through your printer. You can also buy it at office supply and craft stores, but if you need a quantity of it, making it is much cheaper. Fabric can be stretched over surfaces for a cool look as well as just printed out and even fringed. Printing out pictures on fabric can be an interesting medium to work with. The cheapest fabric to buy to make into printer fabric is muslin a 100% cotton fabric with a tight weave, but any cotton cloth can be made into printer fabric.
Instructions for Making Computer Printer Fabric
Anything you design on your computer can be printed out on fabric, just as easy as paper.
Heres What You Need
- A computer with an ink jet printer attached and working
- A ruler
- A pair of scissors
- An iron (ask an adult for help with this)
- A roll of freezer paper from the grocery store ( Reynolds brand works quite well)
- 100% cotton fabric with a smooth weave ( for best success use muslin with a high thread count)
Heres What You Do Ask an Adult to Help You! Dont Try This on Your Own!
- Wash and dry the fabric to get rid of any sizing. Iron flat.
- Cut the freezer paper to match the standard size of paper the print uses a regular piece of paper measures 8 and 1/2" by 11". You can use a regular piece of paper as a template.
- Cut a piece of fabric just slightly smaller than the freezer paper 8 and 1/4" by 10 and 3/4 "
- Set the iron on high heat and let it warm up. Iron the fabric to the paper until they stick together. Now the fabric will be stiff enough to run through the printer like a piece of paper.
- Before you load the fabric/freezer paper into the printer, make sure you know which side needs to go in face up or face down so that you print on the fabric side. If you dont know, write "front" on one side of a regular piece of paper and write "back" on the other side of the same piece. Do a test print of this paper through your printer by just printing some simple type on it find out which side really is front or back.
- Select the image you want to print on to the fabric on your computer.
- Load the fabric/freezer paper into the printer so that it will print on the fabric side. (Tip: Make sure the leading edge of the freezer paper is not folded or curled and that no fabric threads are poking over the edges.)
- Set the printer for "best quality," and press Print. (The print quality setting is usually in either the print or pages set up dialog box that comes up just before you print.)
- Let the print set for an hour to let the ink dry thoroughly. Then peel the freezer paper away from the fabric and use it in your project just like any piece of cloth. For best results, keep water away from your design.
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