Thursday, January 22, 2015

Armature Nine review

I recently picked up a 3d printed Armature Nine reference figure and thought I would write up a review. I had the first gen of these and wrote a review but those are no longer available and the new model is entirely different. I'll start by showing you what the A9 looked like nearly two years ago.
An aside: Look at that crazy stage lighting creating those red and blue shadows.

Below is what the latest version looks like. I can't do a side by side comparison but the new A9 is much taller at 12 inches. This also means it matches the scale of other reference figures you purchase so that's handy. The added size means the new figure is $120 (after this figure DD had a price drop down to $100). I will probably use this for my bigger budget projects where I will actually add clay to the armature for creating complete sculpts and will remove the clay when I'm done. I'm hesitant to do that to my other figures as I think they'll be difficult to clean. The A9 completely comes apart so I expect it to be easy to clean. So I expect this figure to save me some time.
So the knees and shoulders are the only things that stayed the same. There's a lot more articulation in the new figure. The feet are a big improvement and I'm glad they got rid of the blades on the feet and the stand with grooves as it didn't work very well on the old one. You will need to use the stand they sell or bits of clay to get the figure to stay standing which I don't think is a big issue. The elbows are a lot less bulky than in the previous model.

The A9 isn't as intuitive as other reference figures but it's quite easy to pose once you've messed with it for a couple hours and sort of learned how to pose it. Digital Double actually has a tutorial video that goes over everything . The stand also takes some practice. I've mostly just used it to prop up the figure but I can see on their site where it can be put to better use.

While neither of my photos here show me using them, the points in the middle of the thighs and calves are very useful points of articulation.

The hips are probably my favorite re-design. You can get a greater range of motion but it also allows you to change the anatomy on the fly by being able to control how wide the hips are.  Most other reference figures have women with narrow hips so it's nice to be able to adjust these and stick some clay in to hold the hips in place. It's a really inspired design that let's you start to put some character into the figure. It also makes me excited about what they might do with future figures. Could they design it so that the shoulder could roll forwards or backwards or even something to make the shoulders even broader,etc?

The way the neck attaches to the head is also new and I think it's pretty clever.There's something nice about the point where it tilts being at the chin. Be warned that if you take the head off of the neck, it can be pretty hard to get back on.

The flexibility/range of motion between the ribcage and pelvis is great.

I don't really understand the advanced forearms of the new A9. The extra ball joint is supposed to be for ulnar flexing but it feels too high on the arm like it's too far from the hand. It's also such a limited range of motion in real life that I would rather use the simple arms version with more realistic hands that you can purchase.

FUTURE FIGURES
 After receiving mine Digital Double made a bunch of announcements so I should let you know if you're interested in this figure. From now on Digital Double bakes all of the 3D-printed figures. Just the head and abdomen of mine are baked. That means that all of the parts will pop into place smoother now and the figures will be more shiny. I prefer the matte finish so in the future that will cost me $15 to have a figure buffed to a matte finish. But they also dropped the price by $20 so it's kind of a wash and I might go with a shiny one just to save money. In the same announcement they also said there will be a universal peanut joint that connects the rib cage and pelvis that can be tightened and loosened with a screw. They also mentioned that they are going to try to bring that innovation to the neck as well at some point in the future. So that's pretty neat and it's nice to see they are constantly trying to improve the model.

OTHER FIGURES
According to their website, they have plans of making a horse armature! I'm super excited to see what that looks like and am far more interested in picking that up than any other figure right now.



You can check out their store here: http://store.digitaldouble.net/collections/a9

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Future

Quick update and promotion of my Patreon.

2015 is going to be crazy.

I was recently haggling over prices and the nitty gritty of a contract for work that has been very typical of my career when I realized how silly it was. I was trying to haggle my way into being moderately poor rather than severely poor. This has been typical of the last couple years so despite negotiating a rate higher than Paizo I decided to walk away rather than continue to repeat myself. It's time to shoot for the top this year and get out of the RPG/boardgame market. I won't be doing anymore characters on white backgrounds as I don't think it advances my career any. I've queued up a massive number of e-mails to video game companies and book publishers and the like for when my schedule opens up in early February. I'm putting together a simple website of the UI and 3D work I have done. I've bought my pass to GDC and will likely go to some other conventions where I've never ventured to pursue work. I plan to even visit some game studios' offices outside of GDC even. I didn't apply for a table at any conventions this year. I cut most of my work with a major client. I'm finishing my short comic this month and I'll be doing a seminar in February.

Some of this comes from wanting to make a better living but some of it comes from a conversation I was having with an AAC student. I was offering advice, good advice, and knowing that I do not follow that advice and the thought of it makes me uncomfortable. Well it's time I start following my own advice and ignore that part of me that justs wants to focus on the work in front of me and be comfortable and not risk failure.

A part of my moving forward is my Patreon which may become even more important than I realize if I fall flat on my face trying to move fully over to this other industry. Here are the thumbnails that are currently up for voting. Pledge to get a vote and support me. http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=1472619 .