Modelling Seashells Shapes and Pigmentation Patterns: Experiments with 3D Printing

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Francesco de Comité: Modelling Seashells Shapes and Pigmentation Patterns: Experiments with 3D Printing. In: Bridges 2017, Pages 189–196.



This paper describes the method I used to generate realistic 3D printed seashells, from the point of view of their general shape and of the patterns that decorate them. The method, and the associated program are general enough to cover a large range of existing seashell specimens. Examples are given. Comparisons with previous works are made, limits are highlighted, giving directions for future works.

Extended Abstract


 author      = {Francesco de Comit\'{e}},
 title       = {Modelling Seashells Shapes and Pigmentation Patterns: Experiments with 3D Printing},
 pages       = {189--196},
 booktitle   = {Proceedings of Bridges 2017: Mathematics, Art, Music, Architecture, Education, Culture},
 year        = {2017},
 editor      = {David Swart, Carlo H. S\'equin, and Krist\'of Fenyvesi},
 isbn        = {978-1-938664-22-9},
 issn        = {1099-6702},
 publisher   = {Tessellations Publishing},
 address     = {Phoenix, Arizona},
 note        = {Available online at \url{}}

Used References

[1] Modelling seashells (David Bachman blog). (accessed 07/04/2017).

[2] R. Chirat, D. E. Moulton, and A. Goriely. Mechanical basis of morphogenesis and convergent evolution of spiny seashells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013(110), 2013 Mar.

[3] Deborah R. Fowler, Hans Meinhardt, and Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz. Modeling seashells. In Proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, SIGGRAPH 1992, Chicago, IL, USA, July 27-31, 1992, pages 379–387, 1992.

[4] H. Meinhardt, P. Prusinkiewicz, and D.R. Fowler. The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells. The Virtual Laboratory. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2003.

[5] Hans Meinhardt and Martin Klingler. Pattern formation by coupled oscillations: The pigmentation patterns on the shells of molluscs, pages 184–198. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1987.

[6] H. Moseley. On the geometrical forms of turbinated and discoid shells. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 128:351–370, 1838.

[7] David M. Raup. Computer as aid in describing form in gastropod shells. Science, 138(3537):150–152, 1962.

[8] D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. On Growth and Form. Cambridge University Press, 1945.

[9] A. M. Turing. The chemical basis of morphogenesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 237(641):37–72, 1952.

[10] C.H. Waddington and Russell J. Cowe. Computer simulation of a molluscan pigmentation pattern. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 25(2):219 – 225, 1969.

[11] S. Wolfram. Cellular automata as models of complexity. Nature, 311(5985):419–424, 1985.


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