nelson treehouse charm experiment in zbrush

Oh, these are the kinds of things that I do when I’ve been watching too much HGTV and Animal Planet!

I’ve long been a fan of the show Treehouse Masters and a really fascinating guy named Pete Nelson who—with a crew of extremely talented carpenters—build the most amazing treehouses. Not treehouses like the kind you had as a kid, but true works of art that just happen to be up in the air.

So tonight while watching I started thinking about my dream job building treehouses with Pete Nelson. Since they’re in Washington State, I’m guessing that dream will probably never happen.

But I could still make a treehouse charm! Inspired by Pete’s wonderful Fall City treehouse, I created a little charm in ZBrush. I haven’t really paid attention to the castability…this was more of an exercise.

It involved a lot of subtools, and a custom chain. The main treehouse was created out of a Cube3D primitive, trimmed using the Clipping function. The deck was extracted from another cube, drawn freehand with a lasso mask.

I’ve kept all of these subtools separate…for example, I may resize the trees to make the volume of the two trees on the left more closely match the tree on the right so it would sit correctly.

Still not sure how I would sprue this puppy for casting, but it may make its way to my printer in the next few weeks.

And who knows? Tonight’s episode featured Pete and the guys here in Texas building a treehouse near the Frio River. I’d even volunteer for free if he ever needed help here in the Lone Star State. I have tools and a tent and a ukulele!

Pete, call me!

A proof-of-concept charm based on  Pete Nelson’s Fall City treehouse

A proof-of-concept charm based on Pete Nelson’s Fall City treehouse

adventures in zbrush

It's been a few months of working to master a program called ZBrush...literally the most difficult program I've ever worked with. It's a program primarily used for the creation of amazing creatures for the movie industry, but flexible enough it's being used by jewelry artists.

I've been fascinated by CAD since my senior project at the University of Texas in the early 1990s, where I made a ten-second video of a prickly pear cactus losing a fruit that bounced off a table and onto the floor. It was primitive, but took months of work. And at this point, I have no idea how models make their way out of ZBrush and into an actual movie, but the modeling is just downright amazing.

My goal is to be able to design jewelry and send it out eventually to a casting house while sitting in a beach cabaña on an island somewhere, but for the time being I'll be 3D printing the models and casting them myself. I am optimistic! 

I am also in the process of creating instructional videos in ZBrush for jewelry artists, and hope to be teaching others in the near future.