The 3D

Semantics
FORMS
of 3D Form
Serina Liu
1 5
Actual Starfish Actual Mouse

2 6
Foam Starfish Foam Mouse

3 7
Clay Starfish Hybrid Form

4 8
Conservation Conclusion and
Board Starfish Reflection
NATURAL
FORMS
Seeing and translating a
natural form, a starfish,
through three different
medias: foam, clay and
conservation board.
1
When I got my actual starfish, there were some
immediate differences between mine and the ones
that people at my table had.

Some Key Characteristics:
- relatively flat with slight curved edges
- a bit larger than most of the starfish
- legs are pretty much equal in length

Actual
Starfish
Sketches
Attempting to Understand Form Through Drawing

To be quite honest, when I first saw my starfish, I was completely intimadated and
clueless on how I would go about creating the form out of the three given mediums. It
seemed nearly impossible to figure out.

However, I created some sketches in hopes that it would help me understand the
form better and be able to see it within the different materials. For the actual starfish
and the mouse, I did a lot of measurements to get a sense of it’s physical persona.

In addition to the other work in my
sketchbook, I had notes from the
first crit that we did. We lined up our
models and Q, Wayne and Andrew
came around to leave comments on
them. It was definitely important to
get other people’s opinions on the
forms, especially on materials that
are foreign to me.
Foam is incredibly difficult to work with in my opinion.

2
It requires a lot of patience, diligence and careful/well
planned consideration. Like a lot of people in my class, this
was the first time I was ever working with foam. The way I
went about this was first tracing my starfish onto a piece of
foam and working it down until to the general shape. I left
some space for leeway in case I messed up. I drew in the
spaces where I needed to have my horns cut out from so
I could have a general gist of where everything would go.
My next step was cutting out the spaces around the horns
so I could shape them better and flatten out the other parts
of legs.

One of the big problems that I had was rushing through
it. I talked to Andrew about this issue and we agreed that
I needed to slow down a little bit in order to minimize the Foam Starfish
amount of errors I was making. It was starting to become
counter-intuitive because if I made a mistake, I would have
to restart the whole process or sand it, which was also bad
because it eventually became too small or too flat.

The box cutter was good for big chunks while the xacto-
knife is a lot nicer for smaller extraction. I used two types
of sand paper, a 1200 grit one and an 800 grit one. The final
stage was refining through careful sanding.
Iterations
Attempting to Understand Form and Improve Craft

My first starfish (pictured on the right in the first two photos
and on the left in the third photo) was more about me
figuring out the general shape of the starfish, but obviously
there was not enough height to it. I got some good advice
from Q to flip over the actual starfish in order to get a sense
of the height.

Some problems that arose with the first one that I needed
to solve was over-sanding or rather forcing the foam to do
things that it didn’t “want” to. After talking to my peers who
had a better time with the foam, some advice I gathered was
to cut more when you can, sand to refine instead of relying
on it to create my form.

My second starfish (pictured on the left in the first two
photos and on the right in the third photo) focused on trying
to get a grasp of the middle height mostly and trying to
better my craft by cutting more. This one looked a bit better
in comparison to the other one in terms of craft, it just
needed a bit more refining through sanding.
Final Form
This is the final. In comparison to my earlier two iterations,
this one turned out a lot better. My craft could still be further
improved and my foam starfish itself could use some more
careful sanding, but I think it captures the essence of my
starfish. I had to make some slight changes like getting rid of
some of the horns because it visually wasn’t adding anything
to the foam and made it difficult to get the surface smooth. In
addition, the cutting technique worked out pretty well.

Foam just requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. It
was important for me to take a step back and not rush through
the process because it ended up causing me to mess up even
more often.
My clay set-up
3Clay
Starfish

Bottom of clay

Working with the clay was a lot easier in comparison
to the foam. The clay can be manipulated and because
there are many ways to keep it damp and malleable.
One of the biggest challenges with the clay is mending
things together. Even though you have to do additive
work, you don’t want it to look like you physically added, In terms of tools, they were really helpful to have. The brush was really
but rather have it smoothed out to look like it’s growing. helpful for keeping small sections wet and also blending out small areas
In addition, since it is so malleable, there are also that are hard to manipulate with your fingers. I also enjoyed the carving
times where nails get in the way and any small scratch tools because it made subtracting the clay much easier and did a much
requires a lot of resmoothing. more even/consistent job in comparison to doing it freehand. They were
also helpful with creating incisions in the starfish.
This was my first clay starfish, but
unfortunately, it got crushed. It was
in it’s plastic bag, and someone put
their sketchbook on it by accident.

By the time that I had realized
that it was crushed, it had already
hardened a bit, which made it a lot
less desirable to put back together.

In a sense it is for the better
because during the crit, I talked to
Q, and he had said that the form of
the starfish was a little off because
it was a little too thick. The legs
needed to be thinned out and the
“ridge” wasn’t as obvious as it
needed to be. The horn sizes were
also a little off, the middle is too
big and the leg horns are too small
to be proportionally correct to one
another.

Thankfully, Supawat gave me a container to keep my
starfish from getting crushed again. It also allowed me to
“attempt” to revive it and make it damp again. However, I
ultimately decided that it would just be better if I redid the
entire clay form because it would give me more freedom
and start anew instead of attempting to fix errors.
Final Form
This is the final clay starfish. I ended up thinning out the
legs a lot more and emphasizing the curvature upward.
In comparison to the crushed form, the middle horns and
the leg horns are much more proportionally sized and
are more slender in shape. I think this is a much better
translation of the actual starfish because it emphasizes
key characteristics of it. I kept the bottom very simple by
just concaving the middle part and incising a line where
the legs are. Overall, it sits nicely on a table as the legs
all curve upward and captures the general essence or
form of a natural starfish.
4
Conservation
Board Starfish
After getting critted on my first conservation board (in the second photo
bottom starfish), the main feedback that I got was that it was a little too
boring. It didn’t really capture the essence of the starfish because it was
almost too plain to represent any of the starfish’s complexity. The main
problem was that the starfish doesn’t completely just converge in one
spot, but rather there are more elements to it.

The top image and the bottom image are indicators that I was beginning
to pay more attention to the details that the starfish had to offer, like the
subtle tapering of the base layer.
First things first, I planned out what I wanted to do with my starfish. Drawing it out
really helped me map out my ideas and also gave me some sense of what I needed to
do or what steps I needed to take in order to get my ideas out there.

Ultimately, I made a paper template version of my conservation board starfish. I started
a draft in bristol paper (which served as my template) before I moved onto the actual
conservation board. I tried to get the arms to generally resemble the horns that are on
the starfish. I wanted to layer the starfish because I think underneath the outer “skin”
it is made up of multiple layers. I wanted to stay true to the shape of it going downward
towards the middle and kind of upward and outward on the sides and legs.

The pentagon like shapes are meant to serve as some type of structural indicator of the
center of the starfish form. The whole thing is kind of elevated and is meant to highlight
the multi-layered structure of the starfish.
Final Form
In terms of working towards this final form, I think the best tip is
to practice and try to attempt things in order to see things. One of
the big things that I had to consider was which type of glue best
suited the conservation board. I ended up thinking that gluestick
worked the best, but I would have to take an exacto knife in order
to get it both clean and accurate. Overall, I think the paper turned
out pretty well and I am glad that it took a big step towards a
more complex direction.
MAN MADE
FORMS
Seeing and translating a
man made form, a mouse,
effectively through one
medium, and creating a
hybrid combining both a
starfish and a mouse
5
I order my mouse off Amazon for a pretty cheap
price. It shipped here quickly, but just like with my
Starfish, I began to notice some key differences.

Some Key Characteristics:
- bottom is smaller than the top part
- the curves of the mouse are rather ambiguious
- ball clicker on the front of the mouse

Actual
Mouse
Sketches
Attempting to Understand Form Through Drawing

I created a similar sketch for the mouse component of this project. I
kept it simple and decided to just draw a couple different views and
then place in the measurements of it in context of the sketches. By
doing this, I can more clearly visualize the general size and feel of it
without actually having to physically have the mouse in front of me.
6
Foam
Mouse
In order to get started on
this, I worked in a way
similar to that of creating
the foam starfish.

I started by tracing the
general shape and then
worked my way down to
get the general shape.
After I did the knife work,
I just began to sand to
get a smoother transition
between the front of the
mouse and the rounded
part or rather palm part
First Iteration of the Mouse of the mouse.
Final Form
The foam mouse was a lot more fun than the starfish
one. The shape almost felt weirdly more nature to me
as opposed to the starfish. I think something about the
mouse being ergonomic made it feel more “right” when
making it and trying to understand it’s form as a whole.

In terms of actually making the final, I wanted the mouse to just
be very simple and communicate only the most dominate parts
of it. The clicker ball is obviously an important characteristic of
this mouse. I subtracted a part of the foam mouse with some
measurements and made the clicker ball by sticking it within
the whole. Everything was eventually sanded in hopes to get a
smooth surface.

Although I have not added the line under and above the clicker
ball, I think it still does a good job communicating the mouse and
keeps true to the actual entity.
For the hybrid form, I began brainstorming ideas. The first
thing that I thought of were those gaming mice. They already
somewhat have this form of mixing curves with angles.
7
Hybrid
Form
However, I did know that a lot of people in class were going
to do something along those lines. I also wanted my hybrid
to be a lot more abstrasted, subtle and conceptual. I was
inspired by what Q had basically regarded this part of the
project as: a sculpture. Therefore, I ended up picking the
bottome left corner one because it would lightly resemeble,
but most get inspired from, the arm of a starfish with the
ride and the curviness of the mouse to get a natural form.
The back looks identical to a mouse with the slope. I almost
like the slight dual-persona that it has.
Final Form
This is my final hybrid form. I didn’t have much time to
photograph it while it was in progress. I think it turned out
pretty sleek and it feels good under the hand as well. I like
the fact that it’s much more subtle in comparison to some
of the other hybrids where you can see the heavy influence
of either the mouse or the starfish on it. I wanted this to be
closer to some sort of artistic sculpture piece with simple
lines and movement. I think the clay was the best medium
for an idea like this because it allowed me to focus on the
curves and to see the create a really smooth surface.
8 Reflection
Overall, this project was just a rollercoaster of emotion in the sense that I
was frustrated one second and content the next. I really enjoyed making
these forms because there was something so satisfying about getting a
physical thing as an end result opposed to printing out an Illustrator file. I
think the foam was the hardest for me to grasp and hardest for me to feel
like I had control over. I think with more practice, my craft and interaction
with foam will get better. I enjoyed the clay and the conservation board.
The conservation board forces me to draw things out in order to see what
it would look like. It is interesting to see how each medium calls for a dif-
ferent set of approaches and handling techniques. Each medium also has
a stage of resolution and is something that needs to be considered while
making it. I am glad that I got to experience these three different mediums
and have the ability to attempt both a natural and a man-made form.

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