Buster: The Pothole Man

Case Study: Trade Show / Event Character Model Statue

Table of Contents


WhiteClouds was commissioned to create a 3D-printed trade show model of The Pothole Man, affectionately named “Buster”, who recently made an appearance at his FIRST ever trade show, the National Pavement EXPO in Charlotte, NC! The National Pavement EXPO “brings vendors and contractors together who make their living from asphalt and concrete paving, sealcoating, striping, sweeping, crack repair, pavement repair, and snow removal to network with other paving professionals and attend industry workshops”. Having Buster join them was vitally important, ensuring that there was someone there who could attract visitors and showcase their brand of Aquaphalt®.

Process of Design

Buster is quite unique because rather than going through an intense design experience, he was lifted straight off of the computer. No design format was given other than the company’s logo guide. Our designers took a look at the 2D image and designed their own 3D file for bringing Buster to life. The greatest challenge was in matching the logo’s ’cartoony’ look while keeping things proportionate and realistic but our designers certainly pulled through. 

Pothole Man 3D Character Mascot Statue Logo
We started our 3D digital model based on the customer's 2D logo.
Pothole Man 3D Character Mascot Statue Illustration
Feedback was given on the 3D digital model and corrections were made before 3D Printing.
Pothole Man 3D Character Mascot Statue 3D Digital Model
Final approval given on the revisions of the 3D Digital Model


Buster also features the most robust skeleton we have ever done on a character. He is composed of 63 individual pieces, taking just under 1,900 hours to print using about 45 rolls of PLA filament. After the printing was complete, he was given a steel armature frame on the interior, mounted to a steel plate for stability. Everything was then backfilled with expanding foam, which has now become a standard practice for our 3D character models. This step is vitally important because it provides additional structure and padding to an otherwise hollow statue. True to its name, expanding foam will ‘expand’, filling in all of the nooks and crannies so a bump here or there will not cause it to dent or crack. 

Finishing Process

To finish Buster off meant incorporating the iconic colors of the company, as well as the correct skin tone for Buster. We were given Buster’s color codes in the Pothole Man’s brand guide which our airbrush artist used to match exact shades. He does this by mixing various paints colors to achieve the right consistency. In principle, he follows the basics that most people learn in their childhood with watercolor paints (yellow + red = orange; blue + red = purple) but is able to do it on a much finer scale. This ensures that Buster comes out exactly as he should, almost as if he is lifted off the webiste into real life! 

Lastly, Buster was smoothed out using a polymer smooth coating, evening out any printing imperfections, then covered with an automative-grade finish and clear coat, adding that necessary layer of protection. The logos on the hat and bucket were then added using stickers, again using the brand guide provided by the company, to ensure that the model looked EXACTLY like the image provided by the company. 

Buster is 6’7” tall and weighs approximately 200 lbs, certainly someone who would catch attention if you saw them walking down the street. With a cheerful smile and welcoming demeanor, he is the perfect greeter to welcome guests wherever he is placed. After his debut at the National Pavement EXPO, he is all primed and ready to travel to visit even more trade shows!

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