Sculpting a mechanical, segmented tentacle?

Hey folks… I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips or maybe help me find some video tutorials to help? I’m pretty new to 3D modeling, mostly I’ve been messing around with the sculpting tools and getting some decent results. I’m trying to model/sculpt segmented mechanical tentacles, something like the back arms for Dr. Octopus. I’m just doing the modeling, this is going to be a 3D printed miniature. So I don’t care about textures or anything like that. I also won’t be animating it, but I will want to be able to move them around and change the positions and curvatures and stuff like that, and also get like 10 of them in a big clump to look like like a snake’s tail. Here’s a picture of the artwork for the model I’m trying to make… the bionic light mech.

The body part is going well, just not sure how to go about doing the tail section. Anyone have any thoughts on how I can pull this off, as a total noob? :slight_smile:

Not sure if this is something to tackle as a beginner. dupiverts might be an option if all the segments are the same size plent of tutorials for that.

I would recommend starting with a segment, and using the array modifier, then applying it and making it one non manifold piece, then rigging it with a spline IK modifier, then duplicating and positioning it/them. the thing i wonder though is if a tangle of cables like that will be digestible by the 3D printer. it might be necessary to retopo the whole thing.

There might be a way to not build a whole spline IK rig by using curve deform modifier and hooks. It doesn’t give as much control as spline IK but you might still be able to model and pose it with just those.

Here using just 3 curve handles and 3 armature bones as hooks. More would obviously give more finer control. Array takes care of building the thing and puts the spike in the end. Curve deform modifier makes the radius decrease and stretching.

tentacle_ja12.blend (106 KB)

Thanks! I think the curve and array will work good. Thanks for the file example too :slight_smile: I’m going to have a few different end pieces, like spikes or blades or saws or claws.

One other thing, for the 3D print I’m going to need to have 1 solid watertight mesh rather than having different parts flowing through each other. I was thinking I’d make a bunch of tentacles, clump them together and then use the boolean modifier to merge them all into 1 solid piece. Is that the best way to go, or is there another better way to merge objects together? In the end I’m going for a 2-3 inch tall mech, I want to have one piece that will be the tentacle “legs”, another separate piece for the body and then arms will be separate also. What I may try and do is have fewer tentacles and make them fatter, but I still need the clumpy look, where they all move together as 1 big tail.

That could be the only way to merge them in relatively short amount of time. Make a backup of everything and then start applying modifiers (push the apply button): Would be best to apply them from top to bottom, starting with array that makes the mesh real, then curve that freezes the pose.

You will have to try what subdivision level to use (if using it) for clean boolean result before applying. Perhaps try with one pair at first. Cap the ends for all meshes so that they’re manifold and then the usual in edit mode:

  • select all, W -> remove doubles
  • select all again if needed, ctrl+N to make normals consistent and pointing outside
  • select none and ctrl+alt+shift+M to double check if there are non-manifold parts. If there are problems, it should select areas where those are.

Great, thanks! I’ll try that