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First off, just a quick back ground. I'm new to Blender, but not new to modelling. I've have a go in the past with good results.

However, I'm trying to model a Helmet from the game Destiny but in high detail for 3D printing.

I'm trying to replicate the carvings on this Helm as seen here..

Goal

This is what I have so far..

What I have

Now would I be best selecting the faces of the plane, duplicating and modelling the detail as a seperate object, or subdiving the original mesh?

Cheers Steve

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    $\begingroup$ It's probably not worth the trouble adding it directly on the current object. Depending on the 3D printing software it might just be easier to add it as a second overlapping object so you don't have to worry about topology, and let the slicing software take care of the intersections for you. $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Sep 25 '16 at 18:25
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I'm familiar with two approaches that support 3D printed output: Subdivision with a height map or sculpting with dynamic topology.

With a height map, you'd need to subdivide the appropriate faces then apply a map you've prepared to define the raised areas on those faces. This might be attractive if you prefer working with bitmaps, but it introduces some inefficiency because you need to subdivide a lot to get certain details just right. Here's some information on using height maps in Blender: http://johnflower.org/tutorial/make-mountains-blender-height-maps

Sculpting with dynamic topology might be more efficient in this case because it adds vertices only where they're needed. Here's a video that introduces sculpting with dynamic topology (he talks about and demonstrates why dynamic topology is important for the first four minutes and then he gets into it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opsKPCCFbr4

Of course you could also hybridize between these options: start with the height map at some moderate level of subdivision, apply it, then switch to sculpting with dynamic topology to add detail.

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