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.

PuzzleLock Sewers & Undercity

Large RPG Cities, just like Rome or Paris, have sewer systems for the primary purpose of drainage–to keep their streets from flooding. The sewers channel storm water away from the city.

Whether your RPG campaign is set in Balder’s Gate, Calimport or Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms; Beneath the sprawling streets of Ravnica, or in the underground canals of Sigil in the outer planes, your adventures are likely to take you into the Sewers and Undercity….

PuzzleLock Sewers and Undercity is a 3d printable terrain for 28mm tabletop RPGs. The tiles connect like a jigsaw puzzle–there is no need for clips or magnets, and the tiles require no supports for printing.

There are 23 .stl files in the set, each one exquisitely detailed to create an immersive environment. The modular design will allow you to create an endless labrinth of Sewers and Undercity.

Only $29.95
on Cults3D
on DriveThruRPG
on Wargaming3D
on RenderHub
on CGTrader

No supports required!
Tiles connect like a jigsaw puzzle!
Create an immersive environment for your campaign
check out the video!

copyright ©2019 William Sutton.
For personal 3D printer use only. Files may not be shared, remixed, or redistributed.
May not be reproduced by other means such as molding and casting without written license. All rights reserved.

PuzzleLock Playsets

IMG_4738

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!

Caves_promo2

Untitled-2
Untitled-5

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.

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

Dungeon_promo2

Untitled-3
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.

Untitled-4

Untitled-6

The dungeon tiles are 50.8mm ( 2″) square, and about 35mm tall. They work with all other PuzzleLock Tiles. 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.

IMG_4469

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.

Puzzle-Lock

After working on my Caves project, I started thinking about all of the different “locking” options that are being used to connect the terrain tiles on the tabletop. I had an idea of interlocking the tiles with a jigsaw puzzle connection, which would be identical on every side. That would allow you to lift a tile from the table and replace it with a “trap” tile or “secret door” tile without disturbing the rest of the dungeon!

Puzzlelock_WIP_01

I started with a standard 2″ tile (50.8mm), and started working out the geometry for different polygons: 4-sided, 6-sided, 3-sided, etc. to allow the most flexibility for laying out a dungeon…

Regarding scale, I wanted  the walls shorter than the standard 2″ height, because terrain blocking line of sight for the miniatures was one of the complaints that I read in the Facebook group (3D Printing for Gaming Terrain).  I decided to design the walls about 32mm tall, which would be about 8′ tall at 28mm scale. This should leave enough height to detail the terrain, but give greater visibility to the miniatures.

Another thing that I noticed when I looked at other terrain systems, was that the details and the “dungeon dressing” of many props was not at a consistent scale. For 28mm miniatures, the scale is supposedly 6′ from the soles of the feet to the top of the head (for a human sized miniature). That scale (1:56) is 4.17mm per scale foot.

Puzzlelock_WIP_07

Using this as a guide for my measurements, I hope that this terrain will look better with the 28mm miniatures that players are using for D&D, Pathfinder or similar RPG.

Puzzlelock_WIP_02

The Caves system that I already designed, also works well with a puzzle-lock. And since the hexagon is designed with 2″ sides, the caverns will easily work with the dungeon tiles.

Puzzlelock_WIP_04

The puzzle-lock system should work with any type of tabletop terrain tile, such as sewers, burrows, etc.  My plan is to finish up my own set of puzzle-lock .STL terrain files, and then launch a Kickstarter campaign to sell it.  Part of the set will be the basic puzzle-lock shapes, which can be used to adapt existing terrain .STL files to this system using Meshmixer! So if you have already purchased .STL terrain for your game, you will be able to modify it.

I would also like to make the shapes available to other designers, so that they can offer a puzzle-lock version of their 3D printable terrain.

PuzzleLock Caves are now a part of the Caves terrain set available on DriveThruRPG:

Puzzlelock_Caves_Chart

Cave Drider

One of the strengths of 3D printing is the ability to create shapes that cannot be manufactured with traditional methods like injection-molding.  I want  to try and create miniatures that take advantage of this, rather than cut up the model as if it were going to be molded.

Since my last project was 3D printable Caves for tabletop gaming, I decided to create some miniatures to populate those caverns, and to design them for small SLA printers like Anycubic Photon and Sparkmaker to take advantage of the amazing level of detail that they can reproduce.

Drider_Archer03

Drider_Archer01

Drider_Archer02

Photo Dec 20, 5 20 43 AMThe “Drider” is a creature familiar to players of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. It is part dark elf and part spider.  Driders are often portrayed as a “spider centaur” with the upper body very human (or elf), but I decided that my cave driders were especially cursed–even their faces transformed into a spider!

Drider_AXE03

Drider_AXE01

Drider_AXE02

Photo Dec 20, 5 18 50 AM

I have 3 different weapon poses, and also a Dead Drider option–so that the Dungeon Master can switch out miniatures rather than tipping over the dead monsters.

Drider_crossbow1

Drider_crossbow2

Drider_crossbow3

Photo Dec 20, 5 20 06 AM

Drider_dead2

Drider_dead1

Photo Dec 20, 5 21 25 AM

Driders_1

This Bundle of STL files is available for only $10 at Cults3D

Games are not protected by Copyright

Miniature-gaming-fi
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:

x_67c90d95

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.

99120101066_SpaceMarines3NEW01
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:

img596e7a7bdaadc

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™

 

 

Caves of Chaos

KeepontheBorlderlands
Artwork from “The Keep on the Borderlands” by TSR Games

When I first played Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager,  the first adventure was the Keep on the Borderlands. The monsters were in an area of the map called The Caves of Chaos! I have a lot of great memories of those years, so when I started thinking about designing some 3D printable terrain for table-top gaming I naturally started think of those caves….

There are a number of kickstarted companies that are selling .STL files for 3D printing. I realized when I started checking them out, that the gaming community has eagerly adopted this technology, and there might be an opportunity for me in this area.

Before 3D printing, a company called Dwarven Forge was already making a very high-quality hand-sculpted and hand-cast resin terrain for gaming, but it is very expensive. What I noticed right away about the designs from these newer companies is that they were basically copying the designs of Dwarven Forge– The tiles were all 2″ squares, about a half inch thick, in all sorts of configurations to help you layout your dungeon.

However 3D printed PLA plastic is a lot lighter than Dwarvenite resin… So the 3D printed pieces have to be clipped or glued together so they don’t get scattered all over the table. I felt that the designers had failed to approach the problem from scratch with the strengths of 3D printing in mind. On top of that, the Caverns and caves were all rectangular and ugly….

I decided that I would start from scratch. One of the strengths of 3D printing is the ability to create complicated shapes that would be difficult or impossible to create through traditional manufacturing.  I wanted to build complete pieces that were ready to paint and play, with no assembly.  Instead of squares, I started with a hexagon and began to calculate the number of possible passageways that could come in and out of a 6-sided tile.

Photo Jan 27, 10 00 26 AM

The biggest tile that I can print on my Printrbot is 6″, though that is pretty small compared to a lot of FDM printers, which would be big enough to not get knocked over during play. Since it doesn’t have to attach to the other tiles for stability, That gives you the freedom to rotate the tiles and quickly reconfigure the game map.  Because the 3D print is starting from the ground, and there is no need for the additional structure to clip tiles together, I decided to make the floor 1/8″ thick–thick enough to be sturdy, but not wasting plastic.

I kept the 2″ standard for the openings of the passages, and the 2″ overall height (taller than that interferes with visibility of the miniatures).

My wife and I visited Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville Tennessee, which is the largest cave complex in our state, for some inspiration.

Once I was back home in the studio, I opened ZBrush and created a template for the tiles, ensuring that I could make all of the tiles mate up perfectly when printed.

Caves030

I ended up creating 22 Hex tiles, which could create and endless cavern across the tabletop. The tiles print with no support, and require no assembly.

Caves_set

Here is just a quick sample of the types of cavern layouts you can create:

Once I had the pieces sculpted, I decimated the models to create a high-resolution polygon mesh, and exported the .STL files.

Caves032

Edit: I have gone back an added some Cave Entrances as well as Hex rings with OpenLOCK and Magnetic connection (because people kept asking for it), and an OpenLOCK compatible dungeon entrance so that you can connect these Caves to the rest of your dungeon:

Caves_Entrance_C4

Caves_Entrances_3

If you are a gamer, and would like to print your own endless caverns and caves, you can get the set of .STL files here:

On MyMiniFactory:
https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-caves-77276

On Cults3D:
https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/game/caves

On DriveThruRPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/232472/Caves

On RenderHub:
https://www.renderhub.com/zandoria/caves