I was inspired by the mechanical elephant at Nantes. I wanted to create my own steampunk styled elephant but I had some different ideas about how to do my own version.
I started by using Jeff2207’s African Elephant mode on Blend Swap.
I made various changes like making the design manifold (watertight), changing the position of the eyes, and thickening the legs. I also widened the tail since it was too thin to be printed. I also removed the ears and replaced them with my own design that was thick enough. Another issue was the tusks which had to be shortened and widened since they ended in a sharp point that would not be printable. Even with the changes, unsupported parts that are so thin could still break off during the printing process. I made various other adjustments to make the animal appear more bulky.
I wanted to eventually open up the body of the elephant to show an internal steam vessel inside. But first I had to make the model solid so that it can be printed. Doing this now would be easier since I was going to have several holes in the model. Unfortunately, the Blender solidify modifier usually has issues with handling some details of a model. In this case the holes for the eyes and the tusk did not solidify correctly. The same happened for the bottoms of the legs. I had to manually delete parts of the internal mesh created by the solidify modifier and then fill up the mesh again to make it solid and fit inside the outside mesh.
The next step was to create large gears which would be placed at the joints of the legs. Then the body was hollowed out and ribs were added to expose the inside of the elephant.
I wanted to break up the trunk and legs into sections so that I could create a walking stance. Each of the sections were connected with short cylinders.
Lastly I added the steam vessel and mechanics into the body of the elephant. The body was then decorated with rivets. Once the design was complete, I modified the colors of the various parts based on my sandstone color references.
There are several interesting aspects of this design that might be problematic for the 3D printers; so I will have to wait and see if it will be printable.