In this post, I am showing a quick walkthrough the process of making a model. There won't be much reading- just a few notes after images. I will be making a sword ready for use with a character...
This is the concept image (with apologies to actual concept artists) for a slightly battle worn, bulky weapon such as might be used by an Orc or other evil creature...
Firstly, I build a base mesh outside of Zbrush- for this I will use Blender...
I build a fairly basic base mesh- no detailes, just enough to capture the overall shape of the sword. This is enough to get cracking in ZBrush...Zbrush modelling has a lot of stages, but luckily it allows me to capture a timelapse video, so here is the next few stages...
After processing in Zbrush, the final sword is ready to send to print or use on a character project. Here it is! Hopnefully, brief as this is, some light has been shed on the basic process of creating a model in 3D for miniatures, as opposed to using
In the previous entry, I talked about the process of getting useable data that a 3D printer can work with to create a physical model.
In this entry, I will look at some of the software and considerations involved in creating a model ready to send to the stl stage.
Also, with the Officer model, the miniature must be split into several pieces for casting. All moulds are a two part assembly. This means that any miniature must be planned with this in mind. There can be no places where the mould would trap itself, no severe undercuts that could lock the miniature into the mould and nothing that sits too far off the axis of the mould line. In the image below, these issues can be seen:
The solution here, and with most models, is to separate these parts and make them into a sprue of additional pieces. This has the effect of increasing the production cost of the model, so there is always a trade off between dynamic poses and how much the mini will cost to buy!
It is worth noting here that there are not many guides to this process; most of the 3D modelling tutorials that you can find online have a VFX and videogame focus. Consequently, there is much written about animation, texturing, normal mapping and edgeloop topology which doesn't have any relevance to making minis. Digital Tutors, Gnomon and others offer many excellent tutorials and artist masters such as Ryan Kingslein have astonishing material available, but you need to be ready to pick, choose and adapt it to suit miniatures sculpting. In fact, some tutorials come with a potential health hazard:
Solutions for generating cool textures and maps for gaming can produce unusable files for printing!
Generally, sculptural tutorials and tutorials on core functions of programmes such as ZBrush are excellent. Tutorials about making the 'high res' models from game pipelines can also be helpful. However, much of the information about baking maps and fooling the eye in games, or setting up models for animation in VFX, can lead to adopting processes that make a mesh impossible to print- one example would be creating game efficient models by using double sided polygons to create blades or deleting unseen faces from the backs of pouches. Two common practices found in tutorials that creates the dreaded non manifold (real world impossible) mesh!
For a different take on things, the miniature sculpting tutorials at Miniature Mentor, whilst having nothing to do with digital sculpting, can offer some great insights into the miniature process for traditional mediums, which can be translated into the digital world.
Also, most computer and VFX targeted 3D models are proportionally different to the average miniature. Whilst sites such as Turbosquid offer great models for a price, an artist planning to make miniatures must be ready to make significant alterations to any model that is purchased.
That's all for this post. Next time, I shall detail making a simple weapon from scratch to show the full 3D process from concept art to finished file.
Thanks for reading!
Before I begin: Congratulations to my friends at Clockwork Publishing, Modiphius Entertainment and Chronicle City...
The Space 1889 Kickstarter is roaring to its conclusion with funding achieved for all sorts of great stuff, including miniatures!
Achtung Cthulhu is an ENNIE award winner for its 'Three Kings' adventure supplement, and the team are having a great time at Gen Con!
Last time, I talked through some of the materials and processes involved in printing a virtual model into a physical reality. However, regardless of what print method you use, the printer will need the model in a data format it can use. This blog entry is going to briefly summarise how this works and why it's not as easy as you'd hope!
The most commonly accepted file format for 3D printing is the STL (standard tessellation language) file. This format converts a 3D editable mesh (OBJ, MAX, DWG, etc) into a non-editable set of geometry data that a printer can use to create its print layers. The printer software will take any model and 'slice' it into individual pieces that each represent one print layer. If you're familiar with card 'sculpture puzzles' then you will appreciate the process.
Although many 3D programmes can export in STL format, they cannot fix these issues themselves.
Some of these issues can be fixed when making the model, which I will talk about next week. Some of them can be fixed after completing the model using 'mesh checking' software such as meshlab, magics or netfabb. These programmes use algorithms to check for inverted or missing faces and holes, and weld together loose shells. They then write the file as the STL the printer needs, from whatever 3D format was imported. They cannot alter the model too much and some of their fixes can be destructive to details, so it is better to prepare the model for printing as it is created. They cannot do anything about detail from textures- this is a sculpting concern!
Prepping a model for print is about more than just the technical hurdles- there are other concerns to do with casting limitations, material limitations of pewter, resin and plastic, and getting a crisp and paintable miniature too!
Next entry, I will look at how I created one of the Acthung Cthulhu miniatures, what decisions I made and how this helps the process. I'll also return to these example images- they have more to reveal! I will also talk about why much of the VFX training and Video Game modelling techniques that are found online can actually hinder the process of creating miniatures!
Thanks for reading!