Lickey church cross carving

Sometimes I think it’s a little sad that some of the best stone carvings have been made to commemorate the dead, but often languish unseen in cemeteries and grave yards. However, then I also think to myself that it’s a good reason for me to have a wander around an old church and find something interesting to scan. So while roaming the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Lickey, South of Birmingham in the English Midlands (over the road from the Lickey water trough), I came across this wonderful old stone cross. Dating from 1906, at well over a century old it has eroded a little. But, it’s still in good enough condition that it can easily be recognised as depicting Jesus with a crook and five lambs, with a couple of trees in the background. So, I decided to try to make a 3D scan of the carving in the central circle.

Lickey church cross carving
Lickey church cross carving

Quick summary of this 3D creation
Overview: A basic scan of the centre of a carved stone cross at Holy Trinity Church in Lickey, on the grave of one Jane Crump, appearing to depict Jesus with a crook and five lambs.
Location: Holy Trinity Church, Lickey, central England, United Kingdom [map].
Date/era: 1906.
Software used: Sony 3DCreator Android app, Nomad Sculpt Andoid app, Meshmixer.
Intended use: 3D printing, preferably in a resin printer at around 40mm or more in diameter, but should fused-filament print without support material too.

The dedication beneath the cross reads: ‘In loving memory of Jane Crump of Lydiate Ash, who fell asleep November 10 1906 aged 62 years. Come unto me ye weary and I will give you rest.‘ Lydiate Ash is a very small, but also very beautiful, village today, so was probably just a few houses in 1906. It can be found only a few miles southwest of Lickey, just outside Bromsgrove, which likely explains why Jane Crump came to be buried in a church in Lickey. And I tend to think she, and her family, would approve of the quality of her memorial, having lasted in such good condition for over a century. Maybe she would also approve of the fact that the carving on her memorial can now be saved for posterity using the modern wonders of 3D scanning.

The scan was made with the Sony 3DCreator app on an Xperia XZ2 phone, which I find easy and quick to use, and which often surprises me with the quality of the scans such a smartphone app can produce. Although that means there is some loss of sharp edges and small detail, it did a very good job of representing the original carving. It was then processed and rendered to the final model using a combination of the Nomad Sculpt Android app and Meshmixer on a PC.

Nomad Sculpt was chosen mostly because of the wide range of tools available for trimming, smoothing and sharpening the scan. As 3DCreator can lose some sharpness of edges, sharpening was very important and was achieved using Nonad Sculpts crease tool, set to a small radius, by moving the brush carefully around the outlines of features. That was made easier through using a Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet, as it has a pen/stylus compatible with Nomad Sculpts pressure sensitivity feature, making it easy to vary the strength of sharpening to suit the scan.

Meshmixer was chosen for final post-processing as a way to remesh to a smaller file size, using the sharp edge preserving setting to retain as much detail as possible. While file size may not seem all that important, for web use it helps make the Sketchfab viewer start quicker, and speeds up downloads considerably. You can see the finished model on the Sketchfab online 3D model viewer below (click the play button to load the model and view it in 3D).

The 3D model on Sketchfab

The print in the photo below was then made using a Monoprice Mini SLA printer with Elegoo water washable resin. Water-washable resin poses some extra challenges over standard UV-curing resin, including the need for careful mixing and a greater risk of voids from bubbles. However, the ease of washing, and the much-reduced obnoxious fumes, more than made up for the limitations. Also, while it can lose some details in sharp edges, it did an excellent job of printing the model. If you want to try 3D printing it yourself, click here to go to the MyMiniFactory page to download it.

Lickey church cross carving 3D print in resin
Lickey church cross carving 3D print in resin

I haven’t tried painting this model yet, as I wanted to use it mainly as a test of recreating carvings like the cross at Lickey through 3D scanning. However, based on past experience I think my inclination would be to use The Army Painter paints. As can be seen, for example, in my 3D print of the pilgrim sculpture in Droitwich Spa, it layers well and in conjunction with their wash medium can provide some very good stone effects: mostly through using increasingly diluted paint and some dry-brushing of details between coats of wash. A coat of matt anti-shine varnish (so far I’ve found Citadel Technical Stormshield to be the best for stone effects) would then leave it with a good finish and help respect the slightly rough stone look of the original carving.

So finally, in case you’d like to use the methods in this project for your own work, let’s recap on what was involved:

  • The Sony 3DCreator Android app was used to create a basic 3D scan on a smartphone, which provided a good representation albeit with some softening of sharp details.
  • The Nomad Sculpt Android app was used to tidy the 3D scan, including cutting away unwanted material, smoothing and sculpting poorly scanned areas, sharpening edges with the crease tool, and trimming to form a disc.
  • On a PC Meshmixer was used to solidify/remesh the model, to achieve a much smaller file size, and using the sharp edge preserving setting to help retain detail.
  • The finished 3D model was then test printed in resin and found to print to a very acceptable quality.
  • Due to the sharpened edges in the final model, resin printing is likely to be the best method of 3D printing it, although not to the extent that fused-filament printing should not be considered a good option too.

Please note that this scan is provided without any license for commercial use. It is intended simply as a souvenir you can have the fun of printing yourself. And of course it is intended to be a motivation for you to visit the beautiful Holy Trinity Church in Lickey yourself and, while walking around the grounds, have a look at this wonderful old stone carving: click here to see the location in Google Maps.