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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 19, May 11, 2008, Article 10

DANIEL CARR ON COMPUTER SCULPTING PROGRAMS

[In response to Dick Johnson's article last week about
computers and sculpting, Daniel Carr submitted the following
comments on computer sculpting programs. -Editor]

In some ways I find it a bit odd that many mint's artists
are still called "Sculptors/Engravers" when, in this day and
age, most coins and medals are created by sculpting a model
(the "sculptor" part), but the engraving is no longer done
by hand, but by machine (a reducing lathe or similar).
And these engraving machines are often run by someone other
than the sculpting artist.

I agree that computerized engraving is the way things are
headed. I noted in particular one paragraph from the article:

 "The advantages of computer engraving, as noted by Jim
 Licaretz, are its speed and versatility. As such it is
 ideal for simple images, as graphic designs, most trademarks
 or logos, and images of buildings. Where it falls short
 are very complex or highly detailed designs, but most
 notably, with portraits!"

There are several reasons why many major mints have not
successfully utilized computerized engraving for portraits,
most notably:

1. Most of the programs were not written or constructed in
such a way that allows real-time sculpting to be performed
when a very large quantity of data is involved. It takes
less than one-one-thousandth of an inch (<0.001") to make
a huge difference in a facial portrait or facial expression.
And to have that kind of resolution covering the entire
medal surface requires several million data points.

2. Most artists are not yet accustomed to using this
type of tool.

As you may know, I wrote my own computer sculpting program
several years ago and I've been using it for all my design,
sculpting, and engraving work.   It is the only such program
in existence that was designed and programmed by a single
person - that person being an artist who uses the program
daily.

I believe that I have been able to achieve results with my
program that can equal the quality of work done using any
other techniques.   My program does provide sufficient
resolution to do quality life-like portraits.

A major benefit of computerized sculpting not mentioned
in your article is that designs can be reviewed by clients
in digital form and then approved before any patterns, molds,
or dies are cut.   At many mints around the world, designs
are reviewed and approved as pencil sketches.    But
subsequent to the approval, there can sometimes be undesirable
deviations between the original concept drawing and the final
product.   This is due to the inevitable changes that occur
when transforming a 2-D drawing into a 3-D clay model by hand.

But with the computerized method, there are no deviations
because the approved rendering and the mold/die engraving
are both generated by computer from the same source data !

Below is an example of a medal that I was recently
commissioned to do.

Here is the original rendering I made from my digital
sculpture:  This rendering was prepared and approved by
the client before any other work was done.
designscomputed.com/coins/russo.html

And here is a photo of an actual medal struck from the
dies I engraved:
russo_gold_600.jpg

The original photograph used as a guide for the design is here:
russo1.jpg

Last year I put together a side-by-side comparison of
the two different approaches to creating a coin/medal:
designscomputed.com

I have personally experienced a strong resistance to my
techniques and tools by some people in engraving and
sculpting fields.   If the discussion linked below is any
indication, it may take a while before these new tools
get any respect:
www.igraver.com

In the discussion above, I offered a challenge to any hand
engravers.   The challenge would be to have a hand
engraver/sculptor produce a portrait medal.   I would do
the same using my techniques.   The results would be posted
on the internet for everyone to view and comment on.
Nobody in that engraving forum accepted my challenge.

[Daniel adds: I am currently working on setting up a new
workshop.   When I get everything in order, I would be happy
to host visitors and show computerized sculpting and engraving
in action and in person.]

 WILL COMPUTERS REPLACE ENGRAVERS OF COINS AND MEDALS?
 esylum_v11n18a09.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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