Welcome to Giraffe and Elf

With this site we endeavour to share with you some of the projects were working on, and give you the opportunity to get some in depth knowledge about them.

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Molding the Bride To Be

3D printed and cast lego minifigure parts primed

Giraffe and Elf was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to create a large pair of Lego Bride and Groom Minifigures. Having developed molds for these in the past it sounded simple enough, follow along as we take you through how these figures were prepped as a gift for the big day.

Having already made a set of molds for a 10:1 XL scale Lego Minifigure the most difficult part of replicating the little plastic models was done. However the RVT silicone molds of the minifigure parts had been in storage for a while and weren’t optimal for repeated casting. When used in the past each cast part required a lot of clean up and fixing. Along with the casting both the bride and groom figures needed additional custom parts to be able to stand apart.

The custom parts were modeled in Maya using LEOCAD geometry from the Lego Minifigure library. With details added, cleaned, and prepped for 3D printing, the Grooms Hair, Brides Hair, and Brides Dress/legs were all additionally 3D printed for this project.

lego minifigure groom hair 3d model

With the unique parts being printed, the next task was dusting off the silicone molds and casting the rest of the common minifigure parts. The cast parts all came out well with some flashing and only a few air bubbles, getting these parts ready for painting wasn’t going to take long.

lego minifigure parts cast in silicone with flashing and sprues

The XL minifigure molds were the first two-part silicone molds made in our workshop and as such had some errors in their design, with air getting trapped and undercuts. The most difficult parts to cast were the arms, the arm mold consists of four shallow halves sitting side by side with the pour spouts on the face of the mold, rather than in the seam or separation. This mold has two pour holes per arm half and requires allot of rocking to get the air out as the resin hardens.

lego minifigure parts cast with two part epoxy unfinished

The result of the poor mold is lots of trapped air bubbles, lots of flashing, and general mess as the casting polyurethane leaks out everywhere, however this all happens on the insides of the arms and isn’t seen once the parts are glued and assembled. As the molds have been sitting in a box for nearly four years and the rough handling it requires to get the cured parts out, it is a good example of how good mold design makes it last longer. Three of the molds we used tore as we were taking the casts out meaning this may be the last time we make any new XL Minifigure castings.


Hyo Neko Priming and Sanding

hyoneko cats undercoat primed prototype models

Every rapid prototype requires some sort of clean up or finishing process if the intent is to use it as a finished piece. While this may not be necessary for every 3D print, it was a requirement for Hyoneko's process testing. How best can we quickly achieve a smooth and finished model without resorting to hours of sanding?

Unfortunately for this time around we needed to test the method requiring hours of sanding. After all the best way to get a smooth model and perfect finish is to involve allot of elbow grease. While this isn't ideal we will have a baseline to test other methods against and know if the results and time are comparable.

With a back and forth between spray filler and sanding at various grits this takes time and for Hyoneko it was a layer of spray filler then sanding once dry. We started with 80 grit to remove most of the Z layer lines, then applied another coat of spray filler and used 180 grit. This process was repeated until the bumps were smooth and gaps filled. With the final layer of spray filler 250 grit sand paper and then 400 grit was also used to remove the sanding scratches.

hyoneko cats prototype models gloss coat chocolate and vanilla

To further help a smooth finish, the models were washed clean and then had a few coats of glossy spray paint added. These weren't sanded between coats and were applied very carefully and repeated every 15 to 20 mins. This took some practice and won't work with every spray paint or colour, as different brands and colours within the same paint brand have different properties. The glossy paint would apply slightly rippled but slowly smooth out as it dried, we re-sprayed before the recommended time on the can to build up the layer and keep it smooth but not so much that the paint started to run. In the end we had a very chocolate and vanilla looking pair of Hyoneko. While this was successful it was a very time consuming process that also took about two weeks for the glossy paint to finally cure.


Hyo Neko Rapid Prototyping

hyoneko cats 3d print prototype models mk1

By splitting up an object when 3D printing you allow yourself more freedoms with its design. But what is the best way to divide and re-assemble it.

When 3D printing an object that is bigger than the build plate the only option you have is to split it up into different parts. While doing so it is also wise to think about what orientation those parts will be printed in and where the split should occur.

hyoneko cat 3d printed parts rough rapid prototype

A few things we've learned about rapid prototyping small detailed objects is that while you can print with an undercut and support, it is best to avoid them as it reduces the Z resolution on those areas. You will also get the best Z resolution on the parts of your model facing up. Lastly if you must separate your model into parts make sure the seams are in easy to reach places that can be sanded flat, or filled if it creates a gap after assembly.

For Hyo Neko the end model was to be sanded smooth and all remnants of the rapid prototyping lines to be removed. The model is also static, with the areas that are to be glued back together having directional 'keys' printed into them to ensure the same orientation when assembled. The keys were simply bumps on the end caps of the separated parts. While this was intended to help it would have saved time to have all the end caps flat, as the glue mixture melted the ends, making any orientation possible anyway.

hyoneko cat rapid prototype model figure assembly

To create a welded bond between parts a mixture of acetone, ABS shavings, and plastic glue (ATA acri-bond 110) were mixed together and applied to both sides of the model. As Hyo Neko was printed in ABS plastic the acetone melts it slightly to help create a stronger bond. While the acetone and ABS shavings are enough for strength the plastic glue helps reduce drying time and makes the process faster.


Website Launched

giraffe and elf logo banner

Giraffeandelf.com is live and we'd like to welcome you to our corner of the internet. It has taken some time and behind the scenes development to get the page off the ground and we look forward to showing you more of what Giraffe and Elf Design has to offer.

Let us know your feedback and comments by following our social media channels and sharing our project and development content.

Hyo Neko Toy Concept

Hyo Neko concept design illustration

Research and development is an integral part of any conceptual product. In an attempt for better understanding designer toys and action figures, Hyo Neko was created as a way to experiment with the processes involved.

In itself the concept of Hyo Neko was straight forward, and using a cat for the basis of the figure wasn’t given any second thought. The project development cycle is ongoing and each iteration of the model is to improve upon the last using the knowledge gained collectively across all Giraffe and Elf developments and projects.

Hyo Neko 3D model figure render turnaround

The initial model is an example of rapid prototyping (also known as 3D printing) and finishing. The model while static will be cut up into components for printing, will be smoothed using acetone vapour, and then further refined with filler primer. The end result is to trail the process of finishing rapid prototype Z resolution artefacts to look and behave like a proper master model.

Hyop Neko 3D model rapid prototype parts seperation

As Hyo Neko continues to develop and go through iterations we will be posting updates with information about the success and failures learned along the way.


College Study Planner 2019

published spiral bound college study planner

The Kardinia International College study planner and study planner junior 2019 were published in January 2019. Giraffe and Elf had a hand in the layout and design work of both versions with a lot of work put into the cover illustrations.

The theme of the Study planner Junior cover was based on the idea of the electronic devices a child in the 1980’s would carry around with them to gain a similar experience to a modern day mobile phone. The insides of both planners were printed using a two colour spot process with converted versions of the junior cover illustration.

concept study planner cover design

The senior school cover was a muted version of abstract bright and vibrant coloured shapes, of which the original concept is shown above. The end result was darkened down to better match the official college colours for whom the planners were to be published. The original concept was to match the 80’s theme with more abstract imagery suited for senior students.

college study planner inside page examples

Together a total of 2,100 copies of the study planners were printed and distributed to the college. Five different covers were designed and created before the final two were chosen, with the junior cover originally intended for the senior book. Further information on the variations and the processes behind the cover illustrations can be found at


Designing a Custom Arcade Cabinet

Custom Arcade Cabinet Plans with arcade button

Very few projects evoke the multitude of skills that personify the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none. But always better than a master of one.” better than designing and building a custom arcade cabinet.

A project that has been talked about since before Giraffe and Elf was established has finally moved into the development stage with a very big project scope and allot to do.

The outcome of this project has also expanded to become a extracurricular course for a high school. The plans, methods, and components used to create the cabinet need to be easily followed and replicated by a small class of students with clear directions. This differs from a regular build in that plans need to be referenced and instructions followed by a group of people rather than from notes scribbled on scrap paper intended for a once off piece.

Custom arcade cabinet plans isometric illustartion

Currently the project is in the pre-production phase as plans are drawn up and problems with production are addressed. As the project continues we’ll be sharing more updates, including specifics about some components, the hurdles we encountered, and solutions that were used.



Website Launched

Giraffe and Elf Design Logo

Behind the scenes developments are well and truly underway. With allot of help and support, the cranks and gears are turning, ready to get projects started. First and foremost was this website.

Well and truly into 2018 the site is up and waiting for all the news and content Giraffe and Elf can throw at it.
To start us off on this journey, welcome to our humble corner of the net. We cannot wait to show you what we have in the pipeline. While initially progress may be slow, each project needs to pass a few checks and clearances before we can post about it, a few may only be announced upon completion, however we'd love to share all the hints and tips on the process discovered along the way.

Thank you for taking the time to visit, if you do have an interest in creative design and development, we'd love to more. Please connect with us on facebook.