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3D-printed skeletons for your mythology museum

Painstakingly designed, these 3D-printed skeletons take their inspiration straight from the pages of a mythological bestiary.

© Brian Richardson. Used with permission of Brian Richardson.

Animal skulls, dinosaur skulls, biology specimens -- all of these are wonderful things, but they leave a serious gap in the skeletons-as-art market: unicorns. Also jackalopes, fairies, chupacabras, centaurs... well. You get the idea.

That's where artist and designer Brian Richardson comes in -- and to fill this gap, he has created his own collection of skeletons, called Mythic Articulations, taken straight from the pages of myth and legend.

"About a year ago I decided I wanted a bird skeleton, for no particular reason. Just something neat to have," he explained to CNET.

"I had just learned about 3D printing, so I learned 3D modeling over the next few months and printed one. After that I made a few other 'real' animal skulls and a few plants, and then decided out of the blue to make a Chupacabra Skeleton. I've always had an interest in cryptozoology, and mythology, so that's where the idea came from. I had opened my Shapeways store and was starting to get sales, so that got me motivated to keep making more, since they were now funding themselves."

The work of creating the skeletons themselves, however, is a lot more painstaking than previous 3D-printed skeletons we've seen. Unlike Fire & Bone and Primordial Profiles, Richardson did not have base skeletons to scan in and work from, so he had to work from scratch.

"I use the program ZBrush to sculpt each one," he said. "I start from a virtual ball of clay, and push, pull, cut, and move it around until it looks like whatever part I'm making. I use lots of reference photos of actual animal skeletons. I'm to the point where a lot of the parts for new creatures are already made (skulls, wings, spines, etc.) and I can just mix and match them with a few adjustments to have a new skeleton. After that, it's off to the printers and a week later I've got the skeleton."

The results -- as you can see in the gallery showcasing a small selection below -- are nothing short of fantastic, in every sense of the word. At the moment, the collection includes 17 different mythological skeletons and a selection of skulls, available through Shapeways and Etsy, but Richardson has plans to keep adding to it. Next up: Cerberus.