The first step in this project was to look at as many trilobites as possible and choose one. I've always loved these fossils, but the moment they turned from fossils into living organisms for me was when I saw the new generation of preparations displayed at Chicago's Field Museum. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. In my mind, trilobites were flat, if beautiful, primitive creatures. Seeing those preparations made it clear how not-flat and not-primitive they were. I'd previously made a 3D-printed model that took an often flat subject and brought it into three dimensions with all the little details. Trilobites were even better, something that, with a few (enrolled) exceptions, we will never get to hold in our hands, free of the substrate.
Many of these mind-blowing trilobite species (like Dicranurus) sport delicate arrays of spines that don't hold up well to the rigors of 3D printing. Many, too, are a bit too simple and rounded to benefit much from 3D printing over simple sculpting.
But Ceraurus is ideal: long yet substantial genal and pygidial spines, complex thoracic armor, gorgeous curves, unmistakable trilobite form. Enough detail to warrant 3D printing, enough structural solidity to survive it.
So I looked at as many ceraurids as I could find, and made 2D drawings, first in pencil, then in Inkscape, to provide guides for the 3D modeling. The initial goal was not to model a specific species, but to capture the organism in a recognizable way. The eyes are larger and more stalked in the drawings, and present model, than in Ceraurus, among a huge number of features that are just wrong. At the same time, any knowledgeable person can identify the genus immediately. Over time, I've been pushing the model closer and closer to identifiable species, influenced in large part by the folks on FF who can identify species instantly from details of an isolated hypostome. No pressure!
A few features in the drawings are worth noting. This trilobite has features that are rightly prized by collectors. It is "inflated," which is to say it has not been flattened. It is complete -- what a luxury! And it has curved its body in a way that suggests it can roll up, a well-known putatively defensive posture for a wide range of trilobites. These features, I hope, make three dimensions a bit more interesting than a bas-relief flattened rendering.
Edited by dadrummond, 17 October 2015 - 11:58 PM.