May 12, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing is in every way a futuristic technology that enables us to look forward, it’s always important to remember how long the road of scientific progress really is. That’s why its great to see that 3D printing can also be used to travel back in time to the nineteenth century, when people didn’t even have access to electricity. That’s exactly what London-based artist Mat Collishaw and 3D design specialist Sebastian Burdon (from London-based Creative Not) from have created, and not just a simple one. Instead, they have created an intricate and stunning masterpiece inspired by the seventeenth-century Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens.

Now for those of you who don’t know what a zoetrope is, it is essentially one the first animation devices ever created and was an exciting attraction at any carnival or fair in the late nineteenth century. In a nutshell, it consists of a large number of detailed frames or miniatures placed on a spinning cylinder with a light source in the middle. When powered by hand to make the frames spin around too quick to see with the human eye, but when viewing them through a small slot or through special goggles, the light, successive frames and spinning movement create the illusion of animated models in your mind. While it might seem like a lot of trouble for us, you can imagine how it amazed the nineteenth century onlooker.

As Sebastian Burdon explained to, this zoetrope was designed by artist Mat Collishaw and was based on the famed Rubens painting ‘Massacre of the innocents’, which depicts the biblical narrative of the same name. It tells the story of how King Herod ordered the execution of all young children of Bethlehem to protect his throne. As such, Collishaw’s models depict soldiers grabbing babes out of their mother’s arms, beating them with whips and clubs and throwing the children out of windows. All of those intricate and impressive models are placed around a stunning set of classical architecture.

As Burdon explained, he was responsible for creating the 3D models for all the characters and architecture, as well as for the creation of the animations. ‘The zoetrope consists of 18 slices which determined the length of each loop-able animation (18 frames). This constrain was very important because each character had to finish it's movement in the same pose as it started. Therefore the movement itself had to be carefully planned to avoid fast motions that would not look natural,’ he says.

As this is quite a challenging task, close cooperation with artist Collishaw was crucial. ‘We discussed many options of character clothing and movements to make the most out of the 3D printed medium and at the same time create unique and intricate artwork. We discussed character movements and tweaked and changed many times until the final animation was ready,’ he says. Throughout that entire process, he often relied on reference materials to baroque art, including photographs of clothing, paintings, pieces of architecture and a number of video animations.

The final, awe-inspiring model that can be seen in action in the clip below, includes a very impressive 400 separate 3D printed parts – that each took anywhere from 18 to 30 hours to 3D print. Burdon therefore typically left eight or nine machines (the Cube Pro 3D printer by 3D Systems) running at the same time. But the results are absolutely stunning. Have you ever seen such an impressive piece of 3D printed baroque art before? We suggest they put a call through to the Rubens Museum in Antwerp immediately.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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John Tregembo wrote at 1/19/2016 1:15:46 PM:

I reckon this is one of those moments when photography almost eclipsed traditional painting skills,wonderful imagination and dedication,well done.

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