Making the Tiles The final displacement map is put into a Processing program, which prepares it for the 3D design process by chopping it up into a series of square tiles, so that the tiles can be processed individually.
However, before the 3D design stage, the tile files go through a batch process in Photoshop. This is necessary, because the original images show the positive shape, but it is the inverts of those that need to be printed, so that the positive shapes can be cast from the 3D prints. A thin, black border is also added to the tile images, which is a shortcut to create walls for the sides of the models as opposed to having to make them manually later in Maya. In Maya, each part of the displacement map is converted into a 3D polygon mesh. I surrounded the models with walls, so as to create a container shape to allow for casting. The walls reach slightly higher than the highest point of each shape, which is to add an extra layer of thickness to the bottom of the final casts, so that they come out more rigid. Now the 3D mesh is ready to export to the Makerbot 3D printer's desktop software.