After creating my base low poly penguin model it was time to take it into the PePaKuRa Designer, which is software that reads and unfolds 3D models, as well as also adding in fold directions and tabs, allowing you to print out your unfolded design and be able to assemble it into a 3D paper model. I plan to do this for each of the animals which will be featured in my project, so I am able to physically create the textures on the paper models, then scan in these textures and apply them to my models, giving them a much more physical look, I will however probably also enhance them in photoshop, but still want to keep them looking hand drawn and painted, as I really love the effects of watercolours and think the freely expressive nature of the medium will be great for this project, plus its always been something I've enjoyed using in the past.
Also, there is an add on program for PePaKuRa that works with Silhouette Studio that I also got, for use with silhouette cameo machines, which I very handily already happen to have since buying one for personal and business craft use about a year ago now, so I was really pleased to see PePaKuRa had compatible software which allows working with this machine. The silhouette cameo is in essence a CAM cutting machine. The cameo model as oppose to the smaller portrait model is the larger and more advanced machine, with a cutting mat area of 12"x12" and can also cut projects up to 10 feet in length. It uses a small blade to cut and can be used with over 100 materials, ranging from paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric, however for this project I'll just be using thick artist grade paper , so that it can support both pen and watercolour media.
First thing you do is export your model as an .obj file, so its compatible to use with PePaKuRa, then open the file and make sure its brought it in correctly. Then unfold the model.
Also you can manually input what size you would like the physical model to be.
This made my unfold mesh larger meaning it spreads over several pages.
Also it hadn't divided it up enough to fir on an A4 page, so I went ahead and split the mesh myself a bit and re positioned it all to fit better on the pages.
Then you go into the PePaKuRa 4 for Silhouette Cameo and open the unfolded model file. First thing is to set your registration marks, these are the small printed marks on your sheets that the silhouette uses to ensure the paper is positioned correctly on the cutting mat so the blade is able to cut the design accurately. Next you print your design, and also export as a DXF file to take into the silhouette studio software to use with the cameo.
Next you open your silhouette studio software and ensure your preferences are set correctly for importing the DXF file, ensure its set to import "as is" and unit lengths are set to millimetres, then go ahead and open your file/s (if your design takes up more than 1 page, as mine does where I specified the size, then you'll need to open each page separately. You also need to ensure in the pepakura software its set to export and print as an a4 sheet, and match this setting in the silhouette software.
Next up is to set up your registration mark settings, you need to turn the cut inset thresholds right down to 10mm/1cm to match what you put earlier in the pepakura software, and also make sure its inverted as the registration marks from the pepakura software are opposite to the usual positioning for silhouette marks.
The final step is to set up the cut settings, you need to go into advanced settings to ensure only the black outline is cut, and not the blue and red fold lines. This is where you also need to tell the machine what kind of material its cutting, and the time you would do test cuts to determine what blade settings, depths and speeds you will need, if you're using a new material. For this first model test I'm using plain printer paper so the pre-programmed copy paper cut setting will be fine, but when I come to my actual models Ill be using a thicker artist paper so I will need to experiment with these settings to find the right depth and speed to properly cut through the paper, but also not go too deep to damage the cutting mat underneath, or too fast that it rips the paper or doesn't cut small details correctly.
However when I tried cutting mine (after quite a few registration mark issues!) my silhouette ended up cutting the design in the correct place, but 0.8cm too small (either side). I wasnt sure where I went wrong as I followed the tutorial on the pepakura site as well as I could given the basic instructions, however I thought of a quick fix of trying to use just the silhouette software to both print and cut. I also played around with line styles and colours, making the fold lines grey to not stand out as much and dashed to differentiate easily between them and cut lines.