I finally sat down and painted a group of my Gnome miniatures. One of the things that I was pleasantly surprised about, was how well the micro details showed up even at 28mm scale. I put in a level of detail that enables you to print my designs at different scales and have them still look good, whether as a tabletop miniature or as a figurine.
I am not a professional miniature painter, but I was very happy with how they turned out. I used craft acrylics and a wash to bring out the details (as described in a previous post about painting Guardin’ Gnomes). The wash brought out details that I couldn’t even see when holding the miniatures! Similar sized miniatures that are injection molded cannot hold the same level of detail… These are printed on a SparkmakerFHD which is pretty low resolution compared to newer printers, so I can’t wait to see what they will look like on a 4K printer!
If you would like to print your own, they are available individually on Cults3D or you can get access to ALL of my models when you join my Patreon!
I had a few comments about my paint job on these gnomes, so I thought I would post some step by step pictures of the process, in case that would be helpful to you as you paint your own…
If you have any printing errors, the first thing you will do is fix them if you can. Sometimes you might have partial print failure (if a support gets knocked over) and it could leave you with a missing portion of your model. If you have something like a layer shift while printing, you can separate with the putty knife and glue it back together. I have even used a wood-burning tool to weld PLA pieces together or smooth out a rough print!
Sometimes rather than fix it, it might work even with the print failure–This Gnome had a support fail, which left a portion of the shield missing. Rather than try to fix it, I thought that it looked like it could be battle damage, and decided to just go with it!
The first step that I did with these gnomes was to apply a surface primer. I don’t know if it is really necessary, but since my silver metals will be drybrushed over it, I decided to use a black primer.
The chainmail texture printed very cleanly! All It needs is a little metalic paint drybrushed across the links. The goal here is to not have much paint on your brush so that it will only hit the raised areas, and leave the black showing in the crevices. This paint is Folk Art metallics–the other colors that I will use are Apple Barrel and Deco Art–It is about 50 cents for a 2 oz bottle at Walmart.
I will go section by section and paint a solid color for each item. Often I will go over an area with two coats to try and get an even coverage.
After the base colors are dry, I mix up a wash of black and brown thinned with Acrylic thinner. I think that using acrylic thinner gives a better result than just thinning with water. After the wash was dry, I painted the dark parts of the eyes with a tiny brush.
The next coat of paint is done with the same colors as the first coat. You can also add a couple of drops of glaze medium into your color to thin it, if you want to build up the color. In this step, I want to bring the color and saturation of the original color out, while leaving the recesses dark. Don’t paint over all of the wash that you’ve done, but let your bright color blend into it. You can use wet blending to soften the transition into your recesses. Even the armor and other metallic areas will get a second drybrush coat.
When I’ve finished the second pass of colors, I will go into the details like the eyes, and add the iris color and specular highlights.
The last step is to add a gloss varnish to the eyes and lips. And maybe a satin varnish to other shiny areas.
After Painting, your Gnomes are ready for the Garden!
If you would like to 3dprint and paint your own set, you can get the STL files at Cults3D
Sometimes you will wait all day for your 3D Print to finish, only to find that some areas of the geometry where parts are long and thin are weak and liable to break… In this example of my Guardin’ Gnome, the first print, though it looked great, was fragile at the sword blade. The the layer cross-section of the blade is weak because the bonds between layers are not as strong as the perimeter. [This was printed on a Creality Ender3, an FDM style printer]
The second time that I printed this model, I oriented the blade so that it was horizontal to the build plate. As the layers are build up, the extruder lays down a perimeter of plastic that outlines the entire blade. This will make the sword very strong and not prone to breaking.
The second print turned out much stronger for the sword. Though, because the back side had to be supported, there is a lot more cleanup and sanding required. On both versions, there were some details that failed, (due to partial support failure) that I will have to fix with a little Green Stuff (modeling putty)….
Below are some other Gnomes (The little ones (28mm scale) are printed in resin on a SparkmakerFHD).
I hope that this tip will be useful for you, if you have a long thin part that you are worried will break.
One of the most intimidating things for new users about 3Dprinting resin miniatures is adding supports. But actually it is pretty simple!
There has been a few requests on Facebook groups that artist should provide the models pre-supported, but I will try to explain why that is not a good idea and demystify the process….
When you are 3Dprinting in resin, the model is printed upside down. The build platform dips into a vat of UV light sensitive resin, and the layers are exposed from underneath.
So the trick with supports is to keep them small enough that they are easy to remove (usually with tweezers), but strong enough that they don’t break during the lifting process between layers.
If the supports don’t hold, you may find the build plate with only supports, while your miniature is just a silhouette at the bottom of the vat of resin!
The first thing that you may think is that the supports are too thin, and that you should use medium or heavy supports, but that is not the problem…
The reason that the support failed is the exposure setting!
The default exposure for this printer is 8 seconds/layer. But on the bottom layers on the build plate it is much higher–that is why the support raft is successfully printed, while the model was dropped. The resin was not cured enough to pull the next layer off of the FEP film (at the bottom of the vat).
Not all printers and not all resins have the same exposure settings. In this case I was using Anycubic Grey resin with a SparkmakerFHD. The default settings for exposure are calibrated to the resins that are formulated for it.
I found a table online for Anycubic resins with the proper exposure settings, and changed that setting in the Chitubox slicer.
In this example, the supports are the same. But the successful print on the right had two more seconds of exposure per layer. That made the supports strong enough to hold on to the model.
Editing “Auto Supports”
Adding supports is as easy as one-click! But after Chitubox generates supports, you need to look at the result to see if you like it. There could be areas that still require support or there may be supports that are not needed.
Though I have set this to Light Supports, I have modified the diameter of the supports to be even smaller… The default diameter is .8mm with .3mm contacts. This is still too heavy for 28mm miniatures, so I have been experimenting with .6 (or .5) diameter with .2 contacts!
There are some heavy pillars running between the arms in this example. for some reason, there is no taper, and they are going to be difficult to remove without damaging the miniature… So, I have selected the removesupport button and selected them–clicking the button again removes them.
After deleting the supports that I didn’t like, I used the Add button to create some new ones. If you only click the same spot, it will give you the same result as Auto… Instead, Add the new support to an existing support pillar–then use Edit support to drag it to a new spot, adjust the height, and drag the tip to a new target!
With this delicate balance between resins, support diameters and exposure settings, calibrating your printer requires a few experiments to get it “just right”. But once you have figured it out, supporting a model is very simple.
Here is an example of a miniature printed at different scales. One size is for tabletop play, and the other is for display. If the model were pre-supported, the supports would be much thicker and heavier when scaled up! In my opinion, it is better to scale the model and support it in your slicer. It also gives you the freedom to print with FDM or SLA style printers.
A couple of users have asked me for a guide to laying out their PuzzleLock Sewers to match the example in the product video. I can see how it could be a little confusing until you have enough tiles printed out to be able to play with it and see how you can configure it.
In the video, you can’t really see all of the puzzlelock connections. This is a good thing–unless you are having to freeze frame to figure it out… So here are some call outs for the pieces you need to configure the large area that I show leading to a large arch inspired by the “Cloaca Maxima” of the sewers of ancient Rome.
The normal passageway through the sewers is 6″ across. The “wall” sections (3 types) have a 1″ wide ledge that would be the walkway when the sewers are full of water. Between the walls is a 2″ square tile. There are bridge tiles that can cross the entire span, and “end” tiles that can cap off a passage:
The Sewer_Column_A and Sewer_Column_B should be places symmetrically across from each other on a passageway to create the impression of an arch across the passage (though the height of all pieces is cut off at 70mm).
I hope this is helpful! If you have not purchased the .STL files they are available here for only $19.95
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.
I’ve been working out some techniques for creating a graphic novel on my iPad Pro. One of the things that I didn’t want to do is go back and forth between my iPad and computer just to do lettering in Illustrator…
So I did a little research, and found that you can install comic book fonts to your iOS devices using an app called AnyFont. Now I can simply format my script in Pages using the font that I want for my balloons.
I’m doing the artwork in Procreate. I import a screenshot of my Pages document into a new layer, and use select and transform to move the dialog into position.
My template document is 2100px x 3150px so that I can create 7″ x 10.5″ @300dpi. The trim size is 6.75″ x 10.25″
This is a technique that I’ve been experimenting with on my iPad. Using Procreate and an Apple Pencil I start with a basic charcoal sketch over a 50% gray background.
Working with only black or white I refine the light and dark values on a layer set to “hard light”. This means that everything that is darker than 50% gray is multiplied while everything lighter than 50% gray is screened on the layers beneath. Switching to color with an airbrush, I fill in the color values on a layer beneath my hard-light layer.
The values that were painted in grayscale interact with the color to give the final result.
So I broke down and purchased my own 3D printer, when I discovered some amazing new materials that are 80% powdered metal. They are Bronzefill and Copperfill, created by a company called ColorFabb in the Netherlands. This is like creating cold-cast bronze, but directly printing it instead of casting it in a mold.
My first print using Copperfill turned out great. The material cools a little slower than regular PLA, so it doesn’t warp at all. I did increase the temperature on my extruder to 215C instead of the default 208C. I’m using the Printrbot Simple Metal, which I am very pleased with (that’s an affiliate link, so if you are in the market…). Below are the steps I used to finish my print:
Clean up the print using needle files, sandpaper, and even a soldering iron! This last tip is a great way to weld different parts together! Use steel wool to buff the surface and expose the metal particles.
Apply traditional cold patina (I’m using Mahogany from Sculpt Nouveau) with a brush or spray bottle. You may want to warm up the print with a hair dryer before applying. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then reapply until you get the darkness you want.
When the print is dark enough, use the steel wool to gently buff the raised areas to bring out the metallic luster.
Seal the print with clear wax. I used floor wax!
That was all there was to it. I hope this inspires you to do some 3D printed bronze yourself!
My Zandoria YouTube Channel got accidentally deleted! So I will have to rebuild…All of the subscribers, statistics, etc. lost. I will have to recreate the playlists for the Siggraph Animation:Master tutorials, which may take me a few days. But I have re-uploaded the First Episode of TAR of Zandoria. Share it!