There are many statues and sculptures around the United Kingdom. However, many are old and often of a subject that means little to the people who regularly walk past them. In fact, it often seems to me that there are mostly just three categories of English art: Queen Victoria, some man on a horse, and some man without a horse. So I’m always happy to find one that transcends that belief on mine: a sculpture that can also be seen as a powerful work of art that speaks to the ‘common person’. That’s the case with the bronze sculpture on Monmouth Walk in Cwmbran town centre, South Wales. It depicts a woman and child atop a stone plinth and is a spectacular piece of public art. I felt it was a bit large for my smartphone app to scan, so I decided I’d make a basic scan of just the head for printing as part of my collection of artwork-inspired 3D prints.
Quick summary of this 3D creation
Overview: A basic 3D scan of the head of the sculpture of a woman and child at Monmouth Walk in Cwmbran.
Location: Cwmbran Town Centre, Cwmbran, South Wales, United Kingdom [map].
Date/era: Exact date unknown, but on or before 1982.
Software used: Sony 3DCreator Android app, Meshmixer.
Intended use: 3D printing, either in resin or fused filament, with resin being preferable due to details and overhangs.
According to the text on the pedestal it was erected in July 1982 by the Cwmbran Development Corporation. It also says it is the only replica of an original located in Hyde Park, London. And a small punched inscription set onto the small details at the base of the sculpture indicates it was made by A&A Casting from London. However, despite web-searching and looking through images of Hyde Park sculptures, there appears little other information available about it. I think that’s a shame as this is obviously a high-quality piece of public art that should have a provenance attributed to it that the people of Cwmbran can be proud of. And I should mention that, at first sight, the sculpture can look a little like it comes from another of those cliched sculpture categories: the naked female fantasy figure. However, look closely (such as around the neck, shoulders and knees) and you’ll see that she is actually fully clad ready for the cooler South Wales weather.
The scan was made with the Sony 3DCreator app on an Xperia XZ2 phone, which did a good job considering the uniformity of the metal surface, and the colour of the metal, make photogrammetry very difficult. It was then processed and rendered to the final model using Meshmixer on a PC. Meshmixer was used mostly to scale and rotate the scan to a proper orientation and size, as well as to cut away excess material. It was also used to re-mesh the head to create a sensible file size, using the sharp edge preserving setting to give a good surface topology with minimal loss of detail. The latter was especially important as the eyes and mouth (the mouth being poorly picked up by 3DCreator) are quite fine in terms of detail. You can see the finished model on Sketchfab below (click the play button to load the model and view it in 3D).
The bronze-looking 3D print in the photo below was printed in PLA using a Monoprice Mini printer. It did a very good job of making a representative model of the original, and I used bronze-effect PLA filament as an alternative to painting it. The other two were printed using standard photo-curing resin on a Monoprice Mini SLA printer. Obviously they came out well with plenty of detail compared to fused-filament printing. Even the smaller one showed little loss of detail, illustrating the quality of the Monoprice printer, even though it was a cheap Black Friday deal for me. However, it’s obvious from the photo that your choice of 3D printing method only needs to be based on what printer you own, how much detail you want, and how small a print you plan to make. If you want to try 3D printing it yourself, click here to go to the MyMiniFactory page to download it.
I subsequently decided to paint the larger resin version using a couple of coats of Humbrol bronze-effect model paint. As it has very fine metallic flakes in a dark medium, I find the Humbrol bronze to be very good for reproducing the look of many sculptures. However, to add more of a feel of bronze, I also used a little Pebeo green craft acrylic paint in the creases, to replicate oxidised metal and emulate the look of the original. I find that helps as otherwise the bronze-painted surface can look a bit uniform and samey. The painted 3D print was then given a coat of Pebeo craft varnish to try to hide the shine of the Humbrol bronze a little. And now it sits on a shelf in my home and I think it looks rather nice as a reminder of this wonderful work of art.
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 loss of sharp edge details.
- On a PC Meshmixer was used to cut away unwanted material and solidify/remesh the model to achieve a much smaller file size.
- The finished 3D model was then test printed in resin and PLA, and found to print to an acceptable quality with both methods.
- Due to the limited amount of detail in the final model, resin printing doesn’t have a significant advantage unless a very small print is required.
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 that advertises this beautiful sculpture. And of course it is intended to be a motivation for you to visit beautiful Cwmbran yourself to do a bit of shopping and view this wonderful work of public art: click here to see the location in Google Maps.