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If you want to model the compound curves on the front of a modern locomotive - you probably need a lot of training and skill development! 

If you get a flat image of a railway engine front, then surely you should be able to draw a line, with a curve that is set up before, in the line specifications without much trouble. Things like that have been around in 2d drawing packages for ages. However if software is set up by professionals they do not want anyone walking off the street to do something they have spent 10 years studying. So they set up such 3d software to keep the people who have trained in that way happy. However technology can de-skill a profession overnight. And 3D printing can do that. The Nerds loose in the end. And by the way NASA is full of Nerds. While the Russian system allowed (in theory) anyone to have a go at something.   


On that subject, one bit of a correction but important one, PLA is simply one kind of material you can use in a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer- and honestly Graham1960, not being pedantic - but one of the current and future developments is the range of material you can use in FDM printers.

What I said was "type" because PLA is cheap and commonly used most in FDM printers. I said that because many people (at least on RM web to me) some to raving to much about resin printers and putting FDM ones down. 


The reason I think many people are raving about 3D printers in generally as they really bring the cost of plastic based objects down. Who would go to a commercial supplier of say plastic ho scale figures (such as Preiser) and pay around £30 for 36 unpainted ones when you can work out that the plastic used is less than a pound on a 3D printer. It's all a question of design of the figures! 

And when one 3D software design actually sticks a 3D woman on the screen as soon as you load it. Then I don't see why it would not be a difficult task to size that figure to any scale you want and even alter the figure to a new pose. All they would need to do is load in the artist stick figure that painters have used for centuries. After that it simply becomes texture mapping, which is how the film industry designs things. And all you have to do is look at Video Editing software to see whatever the film industry use can come down to the home video editing market, with little or no skill involved to produce the same film effects as in Holywood. All of which could be easily transferred to 3D design software.  

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Getting back to rovex's chimney pot post - I'd say that personally I wouldn't buy hard copies but if you made the .stl files available on say myminifactory.com for a fee I'd  be interested. I've downloaded half a dozen or so files so far, some for a fee, some free and prefer this since I can print it to whatever size I want and can make slight modifications (hollowing out, adding mounting spiggots or whatever). Going back through your earlier posts I can say that columns and gothic details would be tempting too, again I'd want to have a file that I can resize to my needs rather than a hard copy. 


As to 3D software, I agree with JimFin regarding the fact that not all 3D software is fiddly and aimed at professionals. Its a case of horses for courses but for architectural modeling I find Sketchup completely adequate. It also has a large community of users who upload plug-ins to simplify almost any task you require. For instance I use one called 1001bittools which has a 'create windows' module. You enter the window dimensions, number of panes, whether frames are bevelled and so on and it pops up a window fully formed.:



I'm also having a bit of succcess with a free photogrammetry package for creating difficult to model items like ornate brackets, gargoyles and so on. You obviously need to have safe access to the original to get a photoset but the resulting file is quickly created in under an hour and satisfactory for the small scales we work in without needing any 3D modelling skills at all. To create the same from scratch you'd need a working knowledge of zbrush or blender or similar.






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