So, in our studio class on Saturday, we were presented with an idea: make $1000 in three weeks. We have until the final presentation on Saturday, October 19th to create and ideate on a business plan and then hustle up $1000 in a very short amount of time. We were encouraged to go outside our comfort zone, and urged to use the resources we had at our disposal.
I am relatively certain that the words that first ran through my head when I saw the assignment don’t belong here on the blog. However, after the initial shock, I realized that the $1000 wasn’t going to make itself, so I became determined to work through this assignment and push myself.
I took the idea to my partner in life and in crime, Matt Kaemmerer. As we talked about our skills, we decided on a constraint to narrow down our options: the object that we create must be a physical one. I am a former illustrator, and Matt is a 3D character modeler, but neither of us had worked with physical objects, so it was a new territory that both of us were excited to explore. Below are some of the things we’ve done so far into Day 4 of the project.
THE TARGET AUDIENCE
So, what was a community with which I already had connections and rapport? Who would be interested in buying our physical product? As some of you may already know (and to those who do not, I am immensely sorry) I am very interested in ball-jointed dolls, or BJD’s for short. They are made of resin, metal hooks, and elastic string, and stand about 60cm tall for the larger dolls.
These dolls cost around $300~$400 for the cheap ones, ending at around $2000 for very limited-edition dolls. They’re highly customizable, and owners such as myself take pride in modifying their hair, eyes, face and skin to express our creativity.
That was when we decided that BJD owners would be our target audience for this project. We felt that they’re an enthusiastic and creative audience with the desire to spend big on things they find artistic and attractive.
I started talking to some of my BJD friends and researching online at a forum that BJD owners often frequent. There seemed to be a trend with doll users who would customize or modify their dolls—there was a sense of anxiety and fear around first-time modifications. By “modify” I mean sanding, etching, or piercing the resin. The anxiety was present because these are $500 dolls—their parts are not easily replaceable nor cheap. So, if someone wanted to modify their doll to have some kind of futuristic pattern on them, they would have to permanently etch the resin. This not only has a high probability of not being done right, it also decreases the value of the doll. A non-modified doll will sell quicker than a modified doll.
So, what if owners could swap out body parts on the doll? The new body parts would be modified, but the original doll would remain intact. If owners got tired of the modification, they could just switch back the doll’s original parts. The owners would have less anxiety and more creative freedom with their dolls.
Resolving this anxiety is how we came up with The Crimson Project: Innovative Limbs for BJD’s (My handle on BJD forums is “Pristine Crimson,” and we wanted to play on that). We would create a model of a doll’s arm, modify it to look cybernetic (we observed that many users wanted cybernetic or steampunk arms on their dolls), and print this model out in 3D. The new cybernetic-looking resin part could be swapped out for other limbs on a doll, thus making the process of customization easier for the end user.
GETTING THE RIGHT SCALE
In order to make an accurate 3D model, we needed the scale of the arms. We initially borrowed the arm pieces from one of my dolls and dropped them in a measuring cup of water to identify their volume.
We then measured the arms with some measuring tape and created a rough outline of the arm in Blender, a 3D modeling program while using the volume and the measurements of the arm.
We now have a base arm for our modifications. It’s starting to shape up nicely!
So far, we have sent this model above to 3~5 different places that do 3D printing. Initially, we were thinking of doing the product in full 3D printing, but some of the price points on 3D printing resin were completely unrealistic with the profit that we hoped to achieve.
Today, we’re excited because we checked at a resin casting company, and they will cast our arms in resin for a far more affordable price than the 3D printing companies have quoted us. Not only that, but they can make metallic resin, which would achieve a great effect if we went with a cybernetic arm. It might take some sanding to remove the seam lines (when resin is casted, it produces some seam lines around where the lines of the mold were), but I have the sandpaper and the ceramic knives in my workshop, since I already modify dolls.
Our next steps in this project are to do some contextual inquiries with BJD owners, talking to them about the customization process, and how they go about doing it. We’ll be modifying our product based on these inquiries.
I’ll also start sketching out the concepts of what we want the cybernetic arms to look like. Look forward to the next blog post where I’ll be posting some sketches for the arms!No Comments »