SparkmakerFHD for Miniatures

SparkmakerFHD was a Kickstarter that I backed last year, for a low cost resin printer. Though I had vowed never to pledge on another 3d printer kickstarter again, I couldn’t resist… I worried when it didn’t ship when anticipated, but eventually it arrived!

My first print on the SparkmakerFHD

I had never used a resin printer before, so I was a little intimidated. I read through the manual a couple of times before I began. I bought nitrile gloves and lots of isopropyl alcohol, and watched some YouTube videos. Eventually, I overcame my fear and turned it on!

For my first print, I loaded up some of the miniatures that I had sculpted for my Patreon into Chitubox (the slicing software), used “Auto supports” and clicked SLICE.

I assumed that I would get some failures, and that I would use that experience to learn how to improve my prints. But when I came back and checked on it a couple of hours later, it was done printing and everything came out perfectly!

After removing the supports

When I had first shown these designs on Facebook, someone said that the weapons would be too thin, and these same models uploaded to Shapeways got flagged as unprintable, because the blades and crossbow strings violate their minimum feature sizes…

I have had some experience with Shapeways, because I was one of their Designers-For-Hire and had done some contract modeling for them as part of their Design with Shapeways service… Their minimums are put there to make sure they they never have a problem (and have to reprint or refund), so they are meant to play it safe (for Shapeways)…

But as you can see, the blades and crossbow strings printed just fine.

The Cimmerian printed at 120mm

My next print was to see how big I could go, so I scaled up Conan the Cimmerian to 120mm and let it print overnight. I added some more resin to the tank before I went to bed (I was paranoid that it would run out).

The Cimmerian at 120mm

I was totally impressed with how this turned out! This is on a resin printer that was only $250 on Kickstarter (it is $349 on their website)

Now that I’ve got this printer, I am thinking that I can use it to produce physical miniatures for sale. The level of detail that can be achieved is far superior to what can be done with injection-molding. There is no tooling cost, and no inventory, everything is print-on-demand.

I’m weighing this idea vs just selling .STL files, since even though it is pretty simple to do, there are many more gamers and painters who would rather just buy a mini, rather than printing it themselves.

The Problem of Miniature Scales

3D printing is enabling everyone to create their own miniatures, rather than buying mass-produced ones. This leads to a problem with scale, when all of these miniatures are on the tabletop.

Andrew Loomis “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth”

Like most artists, I learned proportions using “heads” as a unit of measure, and the human figure as the reference.

Most of the Ral Partha, TSR miniatures that I have in my collection are 25mm scale–which for traditional wargaming, means that the figure is sculpted so that it is 25mm from the bottom of the feet to the eyeline. The actual height of the miniature might be 28-30mm depending on the headgear….

Games Workshop and others started making what is called “Heroic Scale“, and others have started use the term, but it is not consistent between companies, and with the dozens of artists creating 3D printable miniatures, the scale and proportions seem more confusing than ever….

Hero Forge Scale

This is a sample model from Hero Forge, A company that lets you configure a miniature and then order a print or download the .stl file to print it yourself.

Though this is a nominally a “28mm” figure, you can see that it is 32mm tall (28mm being the distance to the eyeline). I have heard some people give the advice to a new sculptor (wanting to make miniatures), to just base it off a 32mm figure, But that is not enough direction…look at the proportion of the figure based on HEADS–it is only 5-1/2 heads tall!

Normal human proportions, compared to “heroic scale”

When you look at a normal human figure at 32mm tall, the head is much smaller compared to the “Heroic Scale”. It is only 4mm, compared to 6mm. So even though the figures are the same height, the normal human figures look tiny….

This is true, even when you put this same figure on the table next to the old 25mm metal miniatures. The average size of the head on those old minis is 5mm.

5mm HEAD height

At 5mm head height, a normal proportioned human would stand 40mm tall (if standing upright), and the Hero Forge model would be a dwarf (as far as proportions go), but at least they would look right on the tabletop.

Since I am beginning to make miniatures myself, I needed to figure this all out and create a template for my figures that will work for my miniatures and look good even next to someone else’s miniatures…

5mm Head, 7 heads tall

A 7-HEADS figure with a 5mm head, is 35mm tall (standing upright). But when posed in an action pose, will stand a little shorter (28-32mm). This is the template that I came up with, after trying variations in proportions, that I believe will look good on the tabletop, even when mixing between traditional miniatures and 3D printed ones from different artists.

If sculpting smaller races, such as Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings I will alter the proportions (4-HEADS) appropriately, so that they are shorter on the tabletop, but keep the heads 5mm.

It may be a non-issue, since whenever you are 3D printing, you can scale a model however you like… Whatever proportions or style of miniature that you prefer, if you are mixing and matching sculpts from different artists or companies, if you keep the skull sizes the same, they will look better on the tabletop.

Hand-Painted 3D Printed Figurines

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I know that there is a market for mass-produced collectible statues, and I know that there is a market for resin-cast “garage kit” sculptures.  As I have been 3D printing the past few years, the quality of those prints has increased to a point where they are as good or better than what can be reproduced through casting. So, is there a market for 3D printed statues?

I hand-painted this print of “Tusk” to showcase the model, because I have the .stl file available for sale on Cults3D for $9.95.

But what if you don’t want to print and paint the model? You would just like a cool statue, hand-painted by the artist who sculpted it!  That seems like an work of art, right?

Photo May 12, 5 44 20 PM

I put this Statue of “Tusk” on eBay for auction, to get an idea of how it might sell. It had 15 people bid on it and sold for $60.

So that makes me think there might be a market. What I will need to do is print out about 10, so that I can paint them as a group. Then sell as a limited edition!

PuzzleLock Playsets

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In February, I debuted the PuzzleLock Caves and PuzzleLock Dungeon at Con Nooga in Chattanooga. The response was very good, so tomorrow we are launching a Kickstarter to fund the creation of more PuzzleLock playsets!

These playsets are 28mm scale terrain for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. They help create an immersive gaming experience. They are printed on a $200 home 3D printer, and I printed the entire dungeon on a $20 roll of filament!

Unlike other systems, PuzzleLock doesn’t require any clips or magnets. It goes together like a jigsaw puzzle!

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The Caves are 100mm point to point and about 35mm tall. The sides of the hexagons are 50.8mm (2″) and can connect to any other PuzzleLock playset.

PuzzleLock Caves

There are 24 tiles including entrances Tiles are ~100mm point to point and ~35mm tall. The sides of the hexagons are 50.8mm (2").

$19.95

The PuzzleLock Caves are available NOW at Cults3D:
https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/game/puzzlelock-caves

Also available at DriveThruRPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/267106/PuzzleLock-Caves

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The Dungeon set includes a “stair jack” for placing minis on the steps, and also a couple of “grid-painting” jigs for gamers who prefer a 1″ grid on their tiles.
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The dungeon tiles are 50.8mm ( 2″) square, and about 35mm tall. They work with all other PuzzleLock Tiles.

PuzzleLock Dungeon

There are 58 files including working doors and portcullis, torch sconces, trapdoors, stairs, pillars and dias Tiles are based on 50.8mm squares (2") with 32mm walls, ~35mm tall overall.

$19.95

Dungeons are available NOW
on Cults3D:
https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/game/puzzlelock-dungeon
on DriveThruRPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/267145/PuzzleLock-Dungeon

All of the PuzzleLock playsets are delivered as .STL files, which are 3D models that can be printed on a home 3D Printer.

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The Kickstarter was 857% funded! Stretchgoals for Traps & Secret Doors and Sewers & Undercity were unlocked and will be available on DriveThruRPG and Cults3D after they are sent to backers.

Dark Lead Sketchbook

I have been keeping a series of sketchbook/journals for over 30 years now. These are kept on those thick black hardbound sketchbooks that you see in art supply stores. The kind that have acid free archival paper that is supposed to last for years and years…. I went through the collected books and scanned and cleaned up the drawings. Some pages were a little smudged from years of friends thumbing through them. I’m glad that I took the time, since even on archival paper these drawings might eventually be lost to time…. I hope that you will enjoy this uncensored collection of drawings and that you will enjoy this chance to explore a little bit of my imagination… over 200 pages of pencil and pen and ink drawings–Fairies, goblins, fantasy characters. Some of the work is explicit, so keep on the top shelf.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Zandoriacover

Games are not protected by Copyright

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Warhammer 40K

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark ma­terial involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

This is the opening paragraph of FL-108, from the US Copyright Office… There is some confusion that I have run into on online forums regarding 3D printed miniatures for games, where there was a concern about being sued for violating the Intellectual Property rights of companies such as Games Workshop or Wizards of the Coast by creating miniatures for their games without a license.

IP rights are Copyrights, Trademarks, or Patents. There isn’t any other type. You can’t copyright a game–only the art or text within it. Ideas are not protected by copyright, only their artistic expression in fixed form. Some people think that the rules (game mechanics) are protected since they are within the copyrighted rule book, but that aspect of the work is specifically not protected by copyrights:

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work

This is from a ruling on a cloned tabletop game, where the judge ruled summarily that there was no infringement. The artwork and story can be protected by copyright–The rules cannot.

This issue came up in 2011 when an artist created 3D printable versions of pieces for the game Settlers of Catan and made them available on Thingiverse. The 3D printed tiles are not based on the printed tiles from the game (which could make them derivative work), so are perfectly legal in regards to copyright.

Trademarks are a different type of intellectual property, that identifies the source of a product or Service. Games Workshop has a trademark on the term “Space Marine” as the name of a product:

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The Trademark (word mark) identifies “Space Marine” as a product of Games Workshop. This trademark identifies the source of the product–specifically the tabletop wargame. It does NOT mean that Games Workshop owns the word, except as the name of a game.

The actual  miniatures and illustrations from the many Warhammer Codexes are protected by copyrights. To create your own version of these pieces, if based on them, would be to make a derivative work–a violation of copyright.

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Games Workshop “Space Marines”

However, there is nothing preventing an artist from creating miniatures intended to be used as space marines, which is why you see miniatures from 3rd parties such as Scibor Miniatures:

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As long as your sculpture is original and not based on a copyrighted drawing or painting, it is not a violation of anyone’s intellectual property.  As stated above, games are not protected under copyright.

There is an “Open Gaming” movement, which I have an issue with–The copyright holder granting you a “license” to use their rules to make your own content! Wizards of the Coast started this with their D20 System, to encourage 3rd parties to create content that was compatible with their game.

But  game rules are not protected by copyrights, there is no need for permissions at all. The OGL license does not grant the right to use any of Wizards of the Coast’s copyrighted artwork, so it is essentially granting a license where none is required. Maybe this is a way to relieve 3rd party creators concerns that they could be sued, and to encourage them, but it also creates an illusion of “IP Rights” that don’t exist….

In this new era of 3D printed tabletop games, an artist could not only create a line of miniatures for 3D printing, but also publish stats (warscrolls) for playing them in Warhammer 40K, Hordes, Warmachines,  D&D or Pathfinder!

Another possibility is to create standardized tabletop rules, where players can bring in their armies that they have bought, built or printed and play them against any army–regardless of the setting they were originally created for–A Multiversal Wargame™

 

 

Drawing with Light

The pages for the graphic novel are coming along nicely, and the illustration technique that I talked about on my last post is helping me achieve the “look” that I have in mind for “The Scroll of TAR”.

In this battle with the Stone Monkey, I have added an additional layer set to “ADD” mode, where I have drawn highlights from the distant fire in orange using a charcoal brush in Procreate. It gave it just a little more pop!

I had worried about the illustrations in this section, because it is at midnight in desert ruins–I thought I wouldn’t be able to use much color, and it would be boring… But the orange and blue contrasting colors make it seem more exciting!

I have a Patreon page for this project, if you would like to see more and help fund the production of the book-for only $1 per finished page.