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To be honest, part of me feels like this is cheating. My original objective was to do an accurate helmet but inexpensively (Blender being free and all, and everything else being mostly household/hardware store commodities easily and cheaply obtained). In some respects, I feel like I’m betraying that original goal in the interest of improving accuracy. But…new toy!
It’s much better, but still not quite right. The curvature is definitely right, thanks to the linear colorspace change, but I’m still having issues with the pieces not matching up (most notable in this image around the the “jowls”).
After a bunch of googling, comparing my heightmaps with the interpretation in the Designer software, and then looking at the result, I think the “problem” lies between the Designer software and the machine itself. Specifically, I think the machine is disregarding certain levels of black/white and just considering them flat, when in fact they should be subtly curved. This may be the result of using “Draft” quality and images where “1,1,1” and “0,0,0” color differences are really important. For example, look at the third “slice” up from the table: there’s a flat area around the bridge of the nose here that should not be flat at all. It’s not flat on my model, in my heightmaps, or in the Designer software’s 3D preview, yet it came out flat.
My next test will just be two pieces, but at a much higher quality setting, to see if this hypothesis proves true or if it’s something else after all.