I have one of the coolest possible jobs, and part of it is checking out the awesome things our Community is doing with SOLIDWORKS each and every day. When I’m not working, you can find me online playing video games with my team. A couple of weeks ago, the best thing happened – my passions collided when I was introduced to cosplay artist Kirby Downy on Instagram. Kirby uses SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing to bring our in-game characters and their tools to life. When it comes to gaming, it’s all about your armor, and more importantly, your weapons. As a Guardian of humanity, you’ve got to be rocking some serious firepower. These are NOT your traditional weapons, they’re highly regarded as characters in the game, each with its own name and back story. And when I saw that Kirby had created a Raze-Lighter sword I could actually hold, I had to know more.
Who are you? Where are you from? Where’d you go to school?
I was born and grew up in South Africa. I studied Industrial Design at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. From there I learned my passion for creating 3D models and bringing them to life. In every project I had, my favorite part was going from a 3D model on a screen to holding it in my hands. After finishing my studies I decided to pretty much sell all I had to move to the UK to live in London.
How did you get started gaming?
When I was 7 I got my first PlayStation. From there I grew up with it. I got a PS2, a PS3 and now a PS4. Gaming has been a big part of my life. I found it a great way to unwind and break away from reality and have fun with friends. With online gaming I have the opportunity to play with the same old friends in South Africa. Gaming has allowed me to connect with people. It brings them together.
What was the first game you ever played?
The first game I remember playing was Crash Bandicoot. A classic game that most 90s kids played a big role in their life.
Why take this love of gaming to the next level with props and cosplay?
Playing games as a kid all I ever wanted was what was on screen in my hands. I wanted it in real life. Having the skills to create object in 3D and having access to the technology to bring them to life made sense.
Was this your first thought when you became aware of 3D printing? What was the first object you printed?
When I first saw 3D printing I was amazed. I could watch it build models all day. The first model I printed was a prototype for handles for garden tools. But this was done by a company so I just sent off a file and received the model. The first model I printed myself, operating the machine and maintaining everything was this mechanical character I created. I used SOLIDWORKS to its full here by using the assembly to test the gears and positions so that once printed it worked first time. Doing this opened a lot of doors for prototypes. I was able to test mechanisms before printing them out. This has saved a lot of time with a lot of my mechanical objects. One of my best mechanical objects was a hand-crank fan featured on Barnacules Nerdgasms YouTube Channel.
How were you introduced to SOLIDWORKS?
I am completely self-taught in SOLIDWORKS. In university we were taught another modeling program, but I found it too complex for what was trying to do. So I got a copy of SOLIDWORKS educational version and played around with it. Each project I learned something new, which made the next project slightly easier. I learned everything I know from the tutorials built into SOLIDWORKS and various YouTube videos. 6 years later, I am still learning new things.
As I was researching you online, I found an ad for a two-part live-stream you hosted on how to model one of your creations in SOLIDWORKS. Why did you choose to share this via a live stream? Have you met many other SOLIDWORKS users in this arena? Have you done any similar events? Do you plan to?
This was something fun I did. This idea of doing this live was to demonstrate creating a model in real time to a gaming community. Allow people to see inside my process and allow me to inspire others. Every time I post one of my models on Reddit or Imgur, people are recognizing me. I have been told that I have inspired them to get into 3D modeling and 3D printing. People could sit and watch the whole process or come in every hour and still see progress.
It was also a challenge to create a complex looking prop in real time. The total time from start to finish was 12 hours. So if I were to do this again, which I would love to at some point, I would do it in one sitting and try get some of the gaming YouTubers (like MynNameisByf, Arekks Gaiming, LeahLovesChief) I have made to get involved in some way and make it more of a show. This can allow the viewers to be more involved. I recently presented a live stream called the Biggest Destiny Community Giveaway with MyNameisByf, hosted on LeahLovesChief’s Twitch channel. This was a two hour stream where we recreated the Cryptarch decoding engrams to give away props in between playing the new Destiny: The Taken King content. Mixing this kind of live event with me modeling props could be something new and big.
As far as I’m aware, I am one of the first to use SOLIDWORKS live in the gaming side. It’s an area that has exploded and more and more people are contributing to this community. MyMiniFactory has a streaming service called MyMiniFactory TV I use from time to time.
What has been your favorite design so far?
I would say the exotic swords from the new expansion to Destiny: The Taken King. This is my favorite as it was a highly anticipated weapon in game and I wanted to create them before they were available in-game. I was able to announce the model during the Biggest Destiny Community Giveaway live stream. What was interesting about these was SOLIDWORKS allowed me to create the mode and the basic shape of the crystal. I then took the crystals and sculpted the fine detail in a Sculpting software. This allowed a model with sharp details and precise dimensions to have extremely organic shapes on them.
I post all my work to Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and if possible I make a short YouTube video. I always watch the comments and respond to them. A lot of people request a lot of the props they would like to see and I use this to judge what is next on my list. I also watch YouTube and reviews on a daily basis to see what is new and fresh with in the community. This allows me to keep up to date with the latest games and movies and gives me a forecast of what I should make next.
And finally, what advice do you have for young designers and future engineers who are looking for a way to combine their love of gaming with a real-world job?
If you are asked to make something, always say yes, even if you don’t have all the know-how. You will learn as you go. When I start a model I try do something new or challenging which will teach me new techniques. This will make the next model slightly easier. This will eventually compound and you will end up with a vast knowledge that can benefit you in many ways. Also, don’t be protective. Share your work with communities, take criticism, and use it improve yourself. Set challenges. Try push yourself with each model. Do something different every time. As soon as you get comfortable you get bored. Doing new things will always keep you on your toes.
As always, thanks for reading! If you or someone you know would like to talk about your SOLIDWORKS creations, please email Rachel Diane York at SOLIDWORKS.firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself! I’d love to hear all about your journey!