Ok, so I picked up my first test print from Chris at ThreeD Pro who has done a great job on it. I’m waiting on 2 more copies of the same in different materials to try it out, but so far I’m impressed with the print quality that has been achievable.
Having said that, I’ve learned a few lessons from the print regarding my sculpts. I’ve always known that a 32mm model has to be hugely exaggerated to look right. If you were to scale a 32mm figure to a real height it would look like an abomination – out of proportion limbs and extremities and ridiculously thick clothing and armour.
There was also a lesson with regards to chopping the model up for printing. I understand the principles of mould making with the but there are other bits with regards to 3D prints that need additional consideration. Below is a pic of the model as it came from the printer – you can see all of the additional support material that needs removing – the whole model was orientated to preserve as much of the face details as possible. I have decided to separate the model into legs+Torso, Left arm+axe, Right arm+sword, head, alternative head. This combination means that there is less support material required, so less cleaning up required and consequently less interruption to the details.
Below are images of the 3D renders from Zbrush showing all of the detail and then I have the actual printed version, which I’ve given a light gradiated coat of paint with an airbrush (the graininess you can see is my fault with bad/rushed airbrushing). On the print image, I have highlighted areas that need improvement:
1 – The facial details haven’t quite come out as expected. I’ll try making the mouth cavity deeper to allow it to show up better, and make the eyelids thicker to give more definition to the eyeball (the focal point of the face). Also, the scar hasnt shown up at all in the print so I may need to widen/deepen that also to make it show up. The head will be separate in the final version with an alternative option with hair, beard and an eyepatch!
2 – I was having trouble getting all of the components of the model to show up on the stl print file – I lost the shoulder armour that you can see in the 3D render so that needs to be included in the final print
3 – for some reason I totally lost the leather belt around his waist! the buckle and the end of the belt however decided to make an appearance! bizzare!
4 – The bandage wrap around the right forearm is nowhere near defined enough – you can just make out some ridges, but I’m going to need to define that much better to get it to show up on the final model.
5 – The sword is a little on the thin side – I wanted this to look like a beast of a great-sword style of weapon, but instead it looks like a nice manageable longsword! not what I was after! thicken the whole thing and increase the blade width also and I think its there. Also, the hilt of the sword is a weak point! Stupidly I got over-excited about having my first print in and dropped it on the floor which broke the sword off entirely!
6 – The armour plates in the groin area are barely visible – again, a simple case of thickening the plates to improve definition.
7 – The harness around his torso is barely visible – this needs thickening significantly! The studs are showing nicely but it almost looks like theyre embedded into his torso!
8 – The rings at the centre of the harness blend into the body too much – I need a sharper line between the muscle and the ring to create a physical separation.
9 – Removing the model from the printing supports has left lots of little nicks and nodules that need to be removed better. The base material is a glossy black plastic/resin which made spotting them difficult until I’d applied paint. I cant afford for any of them to be visible on the final product if I want to maintain the high quality I’m aiming for.
10 – The axe is the same as the sword – a little too small and not quite as imposing as I was hoping for. Most of the nice detail on it was unsuccessful in showing up so I’ll have a look at enhancing that in some way to make it work better.
11 – Armour plates on the feet, in particular the heels are too thin and dont show up well on the figure. A minor fix but one that is consistent throughout. Also, you dont see it in the photo but the underside of the foot is hollow! it isnt in my 3D model, so I need to check my models more carefully to make sure that when they are fixed for printing* there arent any significant changes that I dont see.
*3D models need to meet a whole pile of criteria in order to be able to be printed. If there are problems then they need to be fixed before the print is viable. a program called Netfabb is used to identify any issues, and the program can run a simple fix routine to repair most of the problems – doing this though can result in some physical changes to the model which arent intended and as the sculptor, I’m really the only one responsible for this – I need to get my meshes in order!!!
One final thing I noted was that scale wise, when sized up next to a few figures from Corvus belli and Games Workshop is that he’s nowhere near as big as I was hoping. I need to increase his overall size by a few mm – I want him to be an imposing beast of a warrior, and thats hard when he’s the same size as a female Dark Elf!!
Overall, I’m very happy with the progress, and have found the test print to be invaluable in spotting problem areas. Especially if you’ve never sculpted a small scale model with putty, the learning curve for a digital artist can be huge! Exaggeration is key, and what looks awesome on screen may not even show in the end product. The test print allows you to pick it up and correct before you’re too committed.
Worth noting that the material that this version is printed in is great for an RTV mould but wont stand up to the temperatures that it would be exposed to in a vulcanised mould.
I should be getting the next few material samples in the next few days or so, and once I have all 3 I’ll review them all in comparison as I make my decision as to which to proceed with. Next update then – i might try applying paint to this one in the meantime and see how it looks then.