STENCILS! DIY Culture Mashup Digital and Analog

The stencil is both the image or pattern and object.

With this I wanted to explore stencil as both the process and a object/artifact.  Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface. The stencil is both the resulting image or pattern and the intermediate object; the context in which stencilis used makes clear which meaning is intended. In practice, the (object) stencil is usually a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, wood or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. It’s been a important form art and design for thousands of years. How can it be brought into the digital realm. This was what I am interested in laser cutting.

The concept of this project wanted to explore simple to intricate design that could be repeated and replicated. I tried to think what I would use the laser cutter for most often and thought back to how painstaking even a simple design to cut out when creating stencils and how laser cutting could make and enhance the design I could make. This an extension of my artifact exploration because stencils are a technique that dates back 35,000 years ago and their are many design that could be brought back through the use of the process. This would also be something that is easy for replicable if someone has the write instructions. 


The objective of this project is exploring DIY culture through digital means. Stencils are technique/tool that predates DIY culture but found a place with in it. I wanted do something that can be customizable by anyone but also useful for many applications. I also wanted to  I landed on stencils because as a student organizer we used stencils to create posters, banners and art to spread out message. It not only seen as utilitarian design tool its can easily reproduced for large scale ( military, public art, business) or small scale ( home decor, smaller scale art projects)

Japanse Textile Stencil , Engraving
Japanese Textile Stencil , Somali Window Sill , Artifact symbol noun project,

The main challenges I faced with this project was a technology barriers. During the design process I ran into few small issues with the thickness of the line and it reading it as engraving instead of cutting. I had to run through the process a  few times with the laser printer.  I ended having to lightly run through the lines with an Xacto knife to pop them out.  In the next few iteration I would maybe try a different laser cutter or thinner material Mylar plastic paper.



Adobe Illustrator

Laser Cutter

Recycled Cardboard Boxes

Xacto Knife

The design process was pretty straight forward. I took design that I already had from project one r ones I got from the noun project and bought them into illustrator and made sure that the lines were paths for the laser cutter to follow.  Saved them as SVG and brought  them into the laser printer.

Most of the iteration for me was tinkering around with setting in the laser cutter to make sure it was cutting all the way through.

Photo can be found here because unable to upload to blog

Simple Steps to Process

  1. Choose the design or image who want to work with.
    1. This can be hand drawn or made directly in Illustrator or inkscape. 
    2. Something simple that is a line drawing works best
    3. If it’s hand drawn you can scan it  into illustrator and use trace setting to make it into a vector shape.
    4. Make sure link as outline and remove the fill color
    5. Choose the Material you want the stencil to be made out of (Carboard, paper, mylar are few fine choices)
    6. Depending on the setting of your printer make sure you know the thickness of your material.
    7. Send the job to your laser cutter
      1. This is usually done by going to the file you are using and going to print and sending it to the laser printer or using a usb










VR headset



Link to Thingiver:

  • Design Concept

Recently I am learning Unity, an software the world’s leading real-time engine, is used to create half of the world’s games. Unity can also be used to create VR experience. Technology makes the virtual world blend with the real world and makes people’s life more colorful. The development of virtual reality technology greatly expands people’s vision and enables people to experience a richer world. As a head-mounted display device connecting the virtual world, VR glasses have witnessed explosive growth with the trend of virtual reality technology. This time i go back to my previous idea of 3d printing VR headset. For the first project, I didn’t have enough time to finish the vr headset.

Background of VR headset design:

Now, people are familiar with VR glasses, and they are full of expectations for future VR glasses design. After a long time of brewing and development, VR glasses design has penetrated into games, online shopping, movies, music and other fields, and has produced a wide range of influence, and is deeply loved by users. VR glasses allow people to enjoy the fun that is not available in the real world. As long as they wear them, they can enter the virtual world designed by them through relevant software. For example, with VR glasses in games, players can really enter the game world and feel like they are in the mirror instead of watching 2D animation. For gamers, VR glasses are a must-have weapon. Another example is online shopping. Through VR glasses, users can enter a virtual store designed by the merchant, view the goods in close range, try them on, and provide real purchasing experience for users.

Use more in line with people’s living habits. In order to let people have a more intuitive understanding of the product, VR glasses attach great importance to the sense of technology and future of the product in the appearance design, give people a sense of cool technology visually, and better show the semantic function of VR glasses. Although VR glasses design is still in the primary stage of development, and the popularization scope is not large, the great vitality and benefits it shows are obvious to all. With the advent of the virtual reality era, VR glasses will inevitably rise in popularity and have a profound impact on people’s lives.

The benefit of 3D printing headset:

  1. Lightweight:it is easy to carry around.
  2. Personalized:we need to pay attention to the size of the phone that VR glasses fit into — although the compatibility is very strong, but the screen size is wrong, there is no way to fit it. the VR headset is primarily for mobile phone users. One problem is that apple doesn’t have official version VR headset. And the size of the mobile phone is different, if we can take advantage of the printer, we can be customized VR headset for different mobile phone.


  • Objective


This is the final assignment, we will develop a project using a combination of digital and traditional fabrication methods. I want to take design challenge from my previous assignment making a VR headset. I had some experience of Illustration so I feel comfortable with laser cutting. So I want to spend more time on exploring the possibility of 3D printing and an open source project online. This time I go back to my previous idea of 3d printing VR headset. For the first project, I didn’t have enough time to finish the VR headset.

Object 1: Increase users’ experience and design a VR headset work for iphone 8 plus.

VR glasses designed for phone users have limited effects. At the same time, they are not picky about the performance of smartphones. The android and iOS systems are accepted according to the order, and the only thing they need is the phone’s gyroscope (gravity sensing) function. So my first object for this project is to design a headset work for iphone 8 plus.

Object 2: To ensure the accurate recreation of your product, test and improve the design.

In order to design a successful glasses, we need to deeply investigate the imaging principle of vr glasses, such as the distance between the lens and the screen, so as to give users clear imaging and better visual effect experience.


  • Challenges


  • Iterative design process


Work left from first project:

I designed a milk tea cup in first assignment. I ignore the fact that material 3d printing used are not food safe. It was an exploration printing the cup, but less practical considering how many 3D printed filaments are not food safe. I should have researched more on that. So I want to go back to my previous idea of 3d printing VR headset. I wanted to design a personal VR headset first. Since Apple VR headset doesn’t exist yet, there is a breed of headsets that are created by third party. There are a lot of options out there, but still cannot find a good one? Some VR headset made of cardboard are really cheap, which are so easy to break. Some VR well-designed headset but still not perfect fit your head. Without a good fit on your head your VR experience won’t be too enjoyable at home. I want to have a 3D printing customize VR headset made just for you. The biggest highlight of the headset is the enhanced comfort 3D printing technology can offer. That means, the headset is designed based on the shape of your head. Customer can also design the look and color of the headset and make it more personalize. Before I used 360 Fusion, I used tinkercad to have the basic idea of the VR headset. I divided the headset into two parts: top and bottom.



  1. Limited time: I spent my first week on tutorials and the concept. Then I started to design the headset on the last week before the due. Maker lab is closed on Friday. That is to say, I have to have the stl file before Wednesday or Thursday.
  2. Optical design: The core thing is whether the VR glasses lens design is reasonable. The visual Angle, focal length and optical parameter design of VR glasses are reasonable or not, and the material is reasonable or not. It is directly related to the visual Angle, focal length, video deformation, vertigo, and the size and light design of the body. So I think I have to a cardboard VR set and the take out the glasses.
  3. Software design:
  4. Measurement: I’d like to know how much difference can the design of headset shape change the comfort of wearing and influence VR experience. I also want to know the best way to measure the size and shape of people’s head.
  5. The most challenging thing is: when I finished the bottom, I don’t know what to do with the top. It is really hard to measure the size.


Design Process: 

Step 1: measuring size


At first, I only paid attention to measuring the size of the mobile phone, and then I found that the size of the mobile phone was not the most critical, and the display screen of the mobile phone was the key to the virtual reality experience.


So I designed the outer shape of the headset based on the size of phone.


Step 2: Design in Tinkercad

Create a solid box:


Use two roof to cut the shape of headset:


(Change those roofs from solid to hole)


(Select all and group)

Create outer shape of the VR headset.


(Copy and paste)


(Size down to create inner shell)


(Select all and group)

Create two rings to tie the VR headset on user’s head.


(Use two torus)


(Select all and group)

Create the space for phone:

screen-shot-2019-02-09-at-12-01-05-pm screen-shot-2019-02-09-at-12-01-40-pm

Create the round shape of the case:



Create space for eyes and nose:



Add the logo:


Download as stl


Open the stl file with cura:


It says “unable to slice” because I used the wrong printer setting. I used mini, which is very small. I cannot print this VR headset using this type of printer.


After I changed the settings, it work.



Choose the right material is very important. It is going to take 10 hours to print the VR headset.

  • Tools & Materials used

Software: Tinkercad and cura

Useful shortcuts:

D: down

Ctrl + G: Group

Hardware: 3D printer


  • Relevant research






Digital Fabrication DIY: Laser Map Making


Digital fabrication in art production is where a machine is controlled by a computer to create a product.

Common types of digital fabrication include: 3D printing, CNC milling, laser cutting, and robotic production. 

Today we will be looking at laser cutting and rastering on wood and acrylic. I wanted to see what different digital fabrication processes and materials might work in terms creating a visual map of an area.


If this is your first time working in this arena, you might benefit from some definitions:

Laser Cutting is a non-contact process which utilizes a laser to cut materials, resulting in high quality, dimensionally accurate cuts. The process works by directing the laser beam through a nozzle to the workpiece. A combination of heat and pressure creates the cutting action.

Rastering: Raster engraving involves the laser performing a printer-like function. It moves back and forth across the material while the laser engraves a surface image.


Acrylic Sheets/Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also known as acrylic or acrylic glass as well as by the trade names Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex among several others (see below), is a transparent thermoplastic often used in sheet form as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass.

So there’s no real difference between plexi and acrylic, it just goes by different brand names.

  1. What you can use laser cutting on: Plastics such as: Acrylic, Polyester (Mylar), Nylon (melts badly), Thin Metals such as: stainless steel, Foam such as: Depron foam (often used for RC planes), Other such as: Papers, Rubbers (so long as they don’t contain chlorine), Clothes (leather, suede, felt, cotton), Woods (birch, red oak, poplar, cherry) – to name a few.
  2. What you can’t user laser cutting on: Most metals, Any material containing Chlorine, Vinyl, Carbon Fibre, Fibreglass, Glass – to name a few.
  3. Software: At OCAD: Rhino, 3dsMax, Maya, Solidworks, Sketch-up, Illustrator, AutoCad


Materials/Tools used in this tutorial:

1x  16×20 Sheet or 1/8 in acrylic

1 small wooden box top approx. 3.5 x 8in

Laser cutter

Software: Adobe Illustrator

Here’s a quick video that shows what laser cutting looks like:

The project in this tutorial is pretty simple, we’ll print 2 different styles of maps on two different materials to see how the stack up.

  1. Gather map data. For this, I collected data from two sources. The first photo below shows the government of Canada’s map on communities with  long term drinking water advisories.









2. Pull a line drawing or simple image of the whole province from Google image search.

3. Open it up in Adobe Illustrator, Choose Object > Image Trace > Make to trace with default parameters. Illustrator converts the image to black and white tracing result by default. The defaults are pretty good for what we’re doing.

4. Using the elipse tool draw the circles where the data points on the map that you’d like to highlight are. I kept the Gov’t map up on one screen then another, worked in Illustrator.

Draw an Ellipse or Circle
  1. Select the Ellipse tool on the Tools panel.
  2. Select a Stroke and Fill Color from the Colors area of the Tools panel.
  3. Click and drag on the artboard, and then release the mouse.

The Second Map:

1.Go to

2. Type in the name of the town or address you’d like to map, you can also zoom in and out and choose fonts and some styling. This uses Google Maps data so you’ll get a much different look than our manually done map, including lakes!

3. When you’re happy with the results, take a screenshot of your map.

4. Open it up in Illustrator and run an image trace like before.

5. Save both files for laser cutting.

Final File prep, Using the RP Centre Adobe Illustrator laser-cutting:

kasercut1 lasercut

View the full tutorial here:

  1. The “Art board” size of the template is set to 48”x 27”. This is the size of the laser bed. Anything larger than 48”x 27”will not fit on the laser and therefore will not be accepted. Set art board to match the size of your material in inches Go to File -> Document Setup -> Edit Artboards -> Set width/height of your material.
  2. Make sure you are working in inches Select File -> Document Setup -> Units -> Inches
  3. Set art board to match the size of your materials Select File ->New -> Set width/height from the menu,
  4. Make sure your colour space is set to RGB


These colours are the four colour options for laser cutting. These are the only colours that the laser will recognize.

Use Black (RGB: 0,0,0) for everything you would like engraved. The laser cuts the colours in order. Starting with Red (RGB: 255, 0, 0) followed by Blue (RGB 0,0,255), and finally Green (RGB 0,255,0).

All interior cuts should be cut first and therefore should be red, with any further cuts being Blue, and the final exterior cuts being Green.

All laser cuts and engrave lines should have a stroke weight of 0.01pt

Make sure you pull up the Basic RGB colour swatch Select Swatch Library Menu -> Default Swatches -> Basic RGB Raster Lines and Fills All vectors you would like raster engraved must be indicated by a vector fill.

Set all fill colours to: Black: RGB: 0,0,0 The Rastering Effect is achieved by leaving your paths filled with black. However, different depths of rastering can be achieved by using several tones of grey. Black will always be rastered the deepest, with White not being touched. The darkness of the Grey tone will determine how deep the raster will be. However to achieve the rastering effect, the laser passes over an object hundreds of times removing one beam width per pass. This means very large rastering jobs can get very expensive. So use this technique wisely

In the second version of the map, where we used an online source image, I had some problems with linking within Illustrator. Usually when you bring something into Illustrator you don’t have to wory about the original file being linked as a “source” and therefore needing to travel with your AI file. In this case, it did, so watch out for that!

Final Outputs:

img_9369 img_9373 img_9371img_9378


  • Design Concept:


You don’t see a city, you feel it. I was inspired by “city walls” capturing that feeling and make it part of your home.


Inspired by the love of the travelling and the way it changes you, people always print out pictures, put them into frames and hang on the wall. However, people can never take a picture of a city or part of a city using their camera. That is crazy. When I go back to my country, I would miss Toronto and the life at OCAD U. So I want to laser cutting a map. Our modern art murals combine geographically accurate cartography with sophisticated design to create a unique feature. After I did some research, I found out that Laser-engraved or cut city maps are easy to create using laser cutting machine and Adobe softwares. It takes less time than 3d printing and will quickly become a great addition to the popular laser-engraved artwork displaying on the wall. With the help of web scouse such as google map, creating local city maps become easy. The possibilities and combinations of materials make laser-engraved maps on cutting boards marble tiles and small tables or create laser-cut version using paper wood and acrylic or hang on the wall are possible.


  • Objective:

It is my first time to do laser cutting. Compared to 3D printing, laser cutting is more straightforward. I got a sense of engraving and using different materials now. I wish I could have more time to work on the laser cutting file and jump out of engraving. I want to design an assembling a laser cut box. I want to learn how to assemble and glue together a laser cut model.


  • Challenges:


Challenge 1: I don’t know how to use Illustrations to create laser cutting file.


For laser cutting, your file need to use RGB color as instructions for machine reading.


Different color indicate the order of cutting. No fill and red outline.


For engraving, black fill without outline.

I also learnt how to trace image:


Go to window on the navigation bar at the top of the screen. You can find image trace.


I also learn how to group images using pathfinder, you can find it under window as well.


Challenge 2: I want to try different materials.


Challenge 3: I never use laser cut machine before, I don’t know how long it will take

  • Design process:



  • Visit to create a custom map for laser engraving.



Step1: click on the build a map button near the top of page.

Step2: create your own map.

Click on “choose a snazzy Maps style button” under style. In the search field, type epilog and then click the search button. Select the epilogue laser laser-cut Maps style. Click the size and location option in the build a map panel. In the size section change the height option to 100 percent. Then search for a location button below the latitude and longitude coordinates. Fill in the city name and press enter. (or you can select your city from the pre filled drop down options.

In the zoom level section set the zoom to 13 then click apply changes. This might be adjusted by the overall size of the city you are working with. These maps can be personalized to any location in the world.

Step3: I created a screenshot of the map I created. I saved it as png.



  • Open Adobe Illustrator template file to create a quick vector file for laser cutting.



Step1: image trace

Drag png file into Illustration, click anywhere else to place the image. With the artwork still selected, open window and select image trace. In the image trace panel, change the following setting. Change preset to black and white logo. This will change to custom when you start editing other setting. Set threshold to 150. Click on advance to open advanced options. (if we use image trace button on the top of the template file we cannot access to those advanced setting which I found are very useful). Set path to 100 percent, set corners to 100 percent, set noise to 1px and turn on ignore white. I found at this moment my map is the clearest. Then click the expand button at the top of the window. Then I have the live preview of the image trace. I double checked the engraving section. The fill is black and the no outline.


Step 2: create the frame that goes around the map.

I need to use the rectangle tool to create the frame. I drew a rectangle overlapping the city map(make sure the rectangle is just inside the outer bounds of the map. With the rectangle still selected change the rectangle fill color to none and stroke to black using the control bar options at the top of the window. I open the stroke panel, I select window stoke from the menu I changed the line weight to 0.75. Then I created another square at the bottom of this map. This rectangle will become the frame for the city text. I also need to create a frame for the city text. Select the Rectangle tool and draw a rectangle starting from the inside lower corner of the frame created around the city map. Then move the top of the text frame rectangle to overlap with the bottom of the map frame. This rectangle will become the frame for the text. I spent a long time looking for the typography I like.



I went to print shop first to ask advice for material. I told the guy what I want to do and show him my illustration file. He did a final proof read for me.

  1. I used the template file which is very big. If I laser cutting in that size would be very expensive. We need to create our illustration in a new file. We need to type in the width and height of the canvas we want when creating new file.
  2. For text, we need to create an outline for the it to make it readable for machine.

I went to wood shop and plastic shop to purchase the material.


Since I want to try different material. I designed a lamp. I designed a dog first then I choose to Disney cartoon character.



  • Tools & Materials used:

Vector drawing is essential to laser cutting project. Adobe Illustrator is an advanced vector-based software. So, unlike Photoshop’s pixel-based format, it uses mathematical constructs to create vector graphics. I used Adobe Photoshop more often but hardly use illustration for my projects in undergrad. It is essential to laser cutting.

  • Relevant research







Raised in the Arab world exposes you to a very different visual experience from the rest of the world. There is something specific about the visual culture of the Middle East and how people express their creativity within that culture, it comes from a long history of culture and art mixing. Religion also has played a big part in shaping that visual culture and moulding it to become something of its own, different, yet art. One of the main impacts religion had is the banning of representations of people whether in painting or sculpting. This was an important step because it led art in the region in a completely different direction. This led to the ruling powers, who commissioned most of the art, to look for an alternative type of art, which led to the growth of geometry and calligraphy in the art and developed to reach unprecedented stages in their complexity and beauty. As an artist who grew up in the Arab world and impacted greatly by that visual culture, I also find a lot of beauty in geometry and calligraphy, and so I wanted to use this experiment as an opportunity to create a DIY object that celebrates that form of art.

Left to right: 1. Window patterns from Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque in Iran. 2. Intricate geometric patterns in Imam Hussein Mosque in Iraq. 3. Arabic calligraphy from Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. 4. Arabic calligraphy from Al Hambra in Spain.
Left to right: 1. Window patterns from Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque in Iran. 2. Intricate geometric patterns in Imam Hussein Mosque in Iraq. 3. Arabic calligraphy from Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. 4. Arabic calligraphy from Al Hambra in Spain.

My object is an incense burner, that has an Arabic/Islamic geometry pattern laser cut, in order to let the aroma of the incense sticks spread in the room. The reason I chose an incense burner is the fact that it is used in so many Middle Eastern houses and has been for generations. The burner has a lot of significance; it can be for religious purposes as inviting good energy (or spirits), or it can be for health purposes since many aromas have health benefits if inhaled, or it can also be for simply perfuming the room. In any case, incense burners are usually very decorated with more or less traditional designs.


DIY File 

This will be the downloadable file which the user will be able to modify & send to the laser cut machine
This will be the downloadable file which the user will be able to modify & send to the laser cut machine
Open/Close Machanism
Open/Close Machanism



My aim for this experiment is to create a DIY project for anyone in the world to be able to replicate and celebrate a different art form. However, it is important for me for this object to be relevant to my background and almost be a tribute to the ancient art of flow and continuity. In addition to that, and as a message of support to the open-source culture, I want this project to be completely free and completely accessible by anyone in the world. So, bringing in these two cultures together allows me to re-explore the old art and the skills required to create it, and venture out in a more modern culture of sharing information and knowledge most inclusive way possible.

On a more technical level, I also aim through this experiment to start learning about laser cut machines and techniques and exploring the different outcomes that can come out of it. Since this is my first laser cut project that I perform myself, I had to try different tools and approaches to get to my final result.


Design Process

My first idea was to use Arabic calligraphy to create a visual artwork, which was to be laser cut. So, I started my research into finding a short text that communicates the kind of message I want on the incense box. After going through different texts and iterations, I finally landed on a short verse by an Iraqi poet that translates to “Aromas are types and mixes, some for murmur and some for prayer”. I really liked the text and thought it can relate to many people regardless of what they want to use the burner for. So, I started with my Illustrator drawings and through a mixed process of lettering and calligraphy, I created a calligraphic digital piece to be the face of the box.

Left to right: 1. Names of the most common incense flavours. 2. I tried to use letterforms as a pattern to laser cut. 3. A verse from a poem about perfumes & incense
Left to right: 1. Names of the most common incense flavours. 2. I tried to use letterforms as a pattern to laser cut. 3. A verse from a poem about perfumes & incense

So, the first attempt was using a calligraphy style called “Kufi”, which is very geometric, but once I completed my vector drawing of the verse, I exported an “SVG” file and imported it into Fusion 360 in order to perform a render with a ⅛” wood appearance. This gave me a pretty good idea on how this object will look once laser cut. So, through the render, I was able to see that the letters will be deformed because when the cut is made, the negative space inside many of the letters will be dropped also. So, I attempted to fix that with different calligraphy styles, the best option was called “Nastaliq”, which is based on more organic hand-made curves. The reason I chose this style is the fact that the loops of most of the letters are closed anyway and that might look better once laser cut, which the render showed was not the case even with this style. This is when I decided to explore another option other than Arabic calligraphy.

My initial attempts using calligraphy for laser cutting, which did not work because of the distortions in the letters
My initial attempts using calligraphy for laser cutting, which did not work because of the distortions in the letters

Arabic/Islamic Patterns
Traditional patterns are usually based on simple geometric shapes that are modified and repeated in a certain mathematical logic that ends up putting together an intricate design. For example, the pattern I decided to use is based on a 12-sided star, which is based on a 6-sided star, which itself is based on a triangle. From that simplicity, the same logic can be repeated for as many times and the results will reflect that.

From left to right is the process I went through to draw this pattern.
From left to right is the process I went through to draw this pattern.

I started my vector drawing with the 12-sided star and drew the rest using the pen-tool, then reflected a replica in order to create a perfectly symmetrical drawing. After that, I used an arch as a clipping masking to create a visual effect of a window, because arches are widely used in the traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean designs. Then I used the “Unite” tool in the Pathfinder to unify the pattern with the arch, which makes the object much simpler and more manageable.

DIY User Experience

This is my first attempt to create a DIY project for the others to use. I personally do have some experience following a few DIY instructions, which gives an idea regarding what sort of experience I want my users to have. So, after some considerations, I came to the conclusion that using a single file that can have all the instructions and the required drawings to replicate is most efficient because it’s easier to share online, easier to operate, and ensures people read the instructions rather than skipping say, a “Read me” file. So, working from that logic, for this file to be accessible people as possible, I cannot consider an illustrator format because not everyone might have the software, hence, I decided to use SVG, which minimizes the file size, is laser-cut machine ready, readable by most graphics software, and most importantly, customizable by the users. In the SVG file, I give the exact instructions needed to prepare the final file for the laser cut.

A graphic instructions guide for the DIY project
A graphic instructions guide for the DIY project


Tools & Materials Used

Vector drawing is essential to DIY projects because it is scalable and without it, the DIY project will remain limited. Vector and Illustrator go hand-in-hand in my opinion, and I’ve been an illustrator user for over 15 years now and still is my first go-to software for any vector related processes. Breaking down Illustrator to its most useful tools is an unrealistic feat because there are always many ways to do the same thing with Illustrator. So I’d rather discuss my personal favourite tools and how I used them in this project.

Pathfinder: In my opinion, one of the most useful tools offered by Illustrator and has remained almost unchanged for so many versions of the software. I use it to unify or split objects and to create die-cuts.

Clipping Mask: Another extremely useful tool offered by Illustrator. Its most commonly used to create a specific frame for another object or pattern.

Autodesk Fusion360
During the process of creating this project, a few tools came in very handy and were essential for completing this project. Fusion 360 has the ability to process an SVG file, customize it and then render it. That allowed me to test my designs before running them in the machine and allowed me to fix mistakes before performing the first prototype. In a way, Fusion360 gave me the opportunity to view a very accurate digital prototype, which was extremely useful.

Also, another useful tool that was introduced to me is MakerCase. It is a web tool that allows the user to create and download an SVG file of a box with customizable dimensions and edge joints. I was in the middle of the process of creating these edges manually, but MakerCase does this and within seconds delivers the file.

The interface of the MakerCase tool which makes the process of creating the edge joints super easy
The interface of the MakerCase tool which makes the process of creating the edge joints super easy


  1. Abdullahi, Y., & Bin Embi, M. R. (2013, June 18). Evolution of Islamic geometric patterns. Retrieved from
  2. The Divine Beauty of Islamic Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Badillo, S. (2018, April 04). First Islamic Arts Symposium in Texas. Retrieved from


Jaicyea Smith 3164525

January 16 2018

Digital Fabrication OCAD


Original Sample



Assignment one was created to get the class working with 3D Printers hands-on. We were asked to design an “impossible” object and materialize it. “Creating complex organic shapes, using symmetry, or perhaps even using the 3D printer to customize an item you already own.” I was initially considering reworking a failed 3D model attempt but then I felt the urge to do something challenging and completely new. I am an avid reader and a wildlife fanatic so following National Geographic is a must when it comes to my social media. I came across something beautiful the day I discovered this assignment and thought, why not! 

The Atlas moth, Attacus atlas, is also known as a “snake’s head,” due to the cobra-like design on it upper wings, which works as a defence from predation. It means they spend most of the day resting to preserve energy, only looking for a mate at night. The atlas moth is among the biggest insects on the planet, with a wingspan stretching up to 27 centimetres across.  The caterpillars of the species reach up to 12 centimetres long, spending every spare second eating.  Atlas moth caterpillars also produce silk similar to the product created by domesticated silkworms.It is secreted as strong, brown, broken strands called fagara, and is used to build a cocoon when the time comes to pupate.In some Asian countries, the abandoned cocoons are used as purses because they are so durable.Atlas moths only manage between one and two weeks of life before the energy to power their huge wings runs out.

The pressure is on the caterpillars to consume enough food before going into the cocoon to sustain the moth when it is reborn. In the wild, atlas moth caterpillars eat the leaves of cinnamon, citrus fruit, guava and Jamaican cherry trees. Native to China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, the moth shares a name with Atlas, the Titan god of Greek mythology. The moth’s Cantonese name translates as snake’s head moth, because the tips of its wings look similar to the head of a deadly cobra. When threatened, the moth will drop to the floor and writhe around, slowing flapping its wings to imitate snake head and neck movements and scare away predators.

What makes the moth so endearing is the natural snake-like artwork that exists on its skin as well as its natural ability to ward off enemies, literally in a deadly fashion. I wanted to communicate this beautiful but prominent feature in a new and exciting way. I began by outlining this image of the moth. Once that was complete, I went in and added details that I felt encapsulated the 2D image I was seeing (the snake eyes, pattern, body). I wanted the users/viewers to have a multi-modal and tactile experience while appreciating this work. I worked on creating levels and depth to the print. Subtle enough that someone who was low-vision would know it was an insect with cool snake-face wing tips! 

The challenges of the project were on-going. I am very new to digital fabrication as a whole. I created some small 3D representations of skate structures but they did not print the way I had anticipated. There is a big learning curve using these programs! Considering how long it was going to take me to get familiar with the process, I just went ahead and hired a tutor to walk me through the modelling process, especially since I didn’t know any of the keyboard shortcuts to program. It was a very successful session, I learned about Extruding and creating a mirror image, and other basics. After everything we worked on, once he left, I couldn’t figure out how to unlock the layers we had just spent an hour creating! In the end, I ended up scraping everything and used TinkerCAD. I found the software to be very intuitive and… fun! 

I expected the snake tips of the moth to be obvious in the print. I carefully planned out the depth of the eye sockets, the contour of the face and other details. In reality, they probably felt like random patterned elements of a symmetric design. This was a good learning experience that taught me about the application of tactile objects in day-to-day life. The intention is not always communicated through the designs function.

During the weekend I had a two-day training with 20 other young people just up the street from OCAD. It was a pretty fun and diverse group so I thought what a great time to grab my print and get some people interacting with it! I got the feedback that the print “felt cool” and a few people wanted to “break it”. These comments excited me because it wasn’t what I expected from the audience I presented it to. Almost everyone thought it was a butterfly, which is fair due to the fact that the Atlas moth is the biggest in the world. Glad I communicated something right!

Tools & Materials used

Hardware: MacOSX, Lulzbot 3D Printer, SD Memory Card

Web/Internet: Acquire image

Software: Rhinoceros, Lulzbot, OpenSCAD, TinkerCAD

Printing Materials: White Filament. 


Original Moth Sample


Initial drawings on Rhinoceros- a software I  was vaguely familiar with…


Moved from Rhinoceros over to TinkerCAD iterations for fine-tuning



Here is a screenshot of the OpenSCAD process.

screen-shot-2019-01-24-at-12-30-09-am screen-shot-2019-01-24-at-12-29-54-am





Here is the final sample

20190123_233703_hdr 20190123_233651_hdr 20190123_233640_hdr 20190123_233624_hdr 20190123_233615_hdr 20190123_233608_hdr 20190123_233545_hdr