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Michael Defeo


Formerly head of digital sculpting for a major film animation studio, Mike Defeo is a freelance sculptor and 3D character artist whose work reflects an interest in ways that digital tools can enhance real- life objects, be they scanned busts or seashells.


“Passage” (2005) (figure 4) is a self portrait of how the artist envisioned himself at age 80, sunken into a spherical marble base. The work began when Defeo was given a scanned image of his face that had been created 15 years prior. He imported the scan into FreeForm, quickly enhancing it by removing artifacts and holes in the scan data. He then used the modeling software to sculpt the aging affects of an additional 50 years from forehead to neckline.


Defeo spent numerous hours refining the depth, angle and placement of the face in the spherical base, a lengthy “what if?” exploration that would have been essentially impossible without digital efficiency. When the design was finished, he used FreeForm’s design-for-manufacturing tools to prepare a digital file for custom cutting at the Digital Stone Project in New Jersey.


“Nautilus” (2008) (figure 5) uses an actual seashell around which the artist applied several nymph-like figurines, all created entirely in FreeForm. The high degree of intricacy in the fern detail and the curves and playfulness of the figurines – and Defeo’s ability to shape them as a perfect fit to the seashell – showcase FreeForm’s organic design capabilities.


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Top: Figure 4. “Passage,” (2005), Michael Defeo Bottom: Figure 5. “Nautilus,” (2008), Michael Defeo (photo credit: Michael Defeo)


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