Magic Missile d4

Here's another design for a 4-sided die, this time marked from 2 – 5 for use with the D&D Magic Missile spell.

The file is on Thingiverse at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3115258

Romanesque D4

These are some 4-sided dice I designed a while ago and just got around to printing. I've stripped them off their supports, but haven't done any more cleanup than that so far.

I wanted them to look Roman-ish, so apart from using Roman numerals, I've tried to echo elements of Roman architecture in their shape.

They seem to roll adequately randomly, from what I've seen so far. I'm working now on refining some "baked in" supports (see below) so that I don't have to rely on Cura's occasionally inexplicable support placement.

They're a fraction more foot-friendly than the caltrop-tetrahedral d4s, but they've still got some pretty stabby points on them

There's a printable STL file available for download at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3115170 . The fin-like structures at the bottom are supports which will need to be stripped away after printing. I had to enable "Print thin walls" in Cura as they're only 0.4mm thick, and with my 0.4mm nozzle Cura wouldn't slice them reliably without that setting enabled.

Ganging Up

When I'm printing things like the Printable Scenery ruins I've mentioned before, I first create and re-size the assemblies I want from the individual component STL files, and arrange them into a compact group, using Blender. Then I export a single STL of the whole group.

When that STL goes into Cura to be translated into a gcode printer file, I'll fill up the platen with as many copies of it as I can fit, so I'm printing multiples at once rather than having to restart the print job over and over. Laying out several models for the same print run is called "ganging up", it's a very old term that comes from 2d printing.

Of course, with an FDM printer this increases the printing time in a 1:1 ratio; twice the models means twice the printing time. It doesn't really save me any actual time, just the faffing about between print runs. On the other hand, a DLP resin printer, which uses an LCD screen to project and expose each layer sequentially, the amount of stuff on the platen has no effect at all on the print speed; it runs at a set rate per millimetre of height, so it pays off, in terms of printing efficiency, to cram things together.

The down-side to ganging up on the platen is that if for any reason the print fails, then you've lost  at least twice as many models and wasted twice as much filament (or resin).

In this picture, I've got two iterations of the STL I exported from Blender. That pretty much fills up my platen, though I could possibly have put some other smaller models in the corners. Not this time.

More Corporate Gouging

Well, bugger.

It appears that PayPal now want me to pay a seven dollar fee on each and every single transaction I make using them. That seems rather excessive to me.

They used to be a convenience, but I guess now it's time to look for other means of transacting business online.

Paint Test — 3d-Printed Ruins

This is my first painting test for the ruinous bits and pieces I've been printing, from elements by Printable Scenery.

My focus has been on speed of production, to get them on to the gaming table as fast as possible, rather than creating gorgeous diorama-quality miniature models. To that end, they've been painted pretty much entirely by means of washes and dry-brushing over some zenithal priming.

At this standard of painting, they will suit my needs fine. I'm hopeful of having a table-covering mass of urban ruins within the relatively near future.

I have been tossing up whether or not to mount the individual pieces on some sort of base. They are sturdy enough as is to take some fairly careless handling, so they don't actually need basing. So any basing would be more for aesthetics, rather than for structural stability.

Having some debris scattered inside the ruinous shells is appealing, as without it I suspect they'll look more like obstacles on a paintball range than an actual town that has had the shit knocked out of it. The trick will be to make it look enough of a mess without compromising the ability to move troops around inside.

Later.....

I added an internal base to a complete building assembly, and as I suspected it does look much better.

It does add considerably to the preparation time, but it doesn't need to be done at the same time as the painting of the shell. I can do the basing progressively as I have the time.

The Heartbreak of Change

Experimental Chaos Blob Thingy
Blender 2.8 is peeping over the horizon, and I've been playing with its Sculpt mode in an Alpha daily release.

I can see that, if I can get used to it, the UI could be an improvement. However, many of the keyboard shortcuts I've come to know no longer work, and finding stuff that used to be right there on the tool-bar is proving to be rather a trial.

The new render engine, EeVee, looks like it will be amazingly useful, but again things have changed enough that when it comes to basic lighting and rendering I'm completely lost now. I couldn't even figure out how to grab and move a light; I had to transform it using the tool-bar. I couldn't figure out how to light and render my Thingy at all, and ended up just taking a screen-grab of it. On the plus side, it's a much better screen grab than I would have got before. I think.

More fiddling with it, and
another screen-grab
I don't think I'll persist with it until it's actually in Release Candidate status. Things are changing around enough that time spent relearning how to operate the program will most likely be largely wasted until things are set in stone. Once it is released though, then all the multitude of YouTube mavens can set to work teaching us Ignorant Ones how the New and Shiny is better than the Old and Busted.

Printable Scenery Scenery

Printed at 0.2mm in PLA. This model took a couple of hours.
There's a company called Printable Scenery who sell... well, printable scenery. For tabletop gaming.

One of the many sets of models they offer is the one this came from (actually a combination of two of the pieces from the set) — their Modular Town Ruins.

They're designed with sockets to be able to clip together with OpenLock clips, but I prefer to just combine the models during printing to create a single piece. Being able to mix and match bits on the table is fine and dandy, but I'm just as happy to print a whole new ruin if I need one in a specific configuration. There's also the issue that I wargame primarily in 15mm, so the models need to be rescaled from their base size to fit in with models and figures of that size — the clips might still work, but it's an added complication I don't care for.

I've resized these two bits to 60% in Cura, and arranged them to print together. They seem to fit pretty nicely with the 15mm figures I've photographed them with. I could maybe have taken them down to 50%, and I'll give that a go, but I suspect they'd then start looking a little small relative to the figures and what-not.

You get a good few different bits for your nine yankeebucks, and with these I should be pretty well set for 20th century building ruins for the foreseeable future.

The main feature that's missing is floors, for creating two-storey sections. However, that's not something that would be terribly difficult to create myself, if need be.

Later...

15mm figures from Battlefront, PaK36 and crew from PSC.
Shown here to the right is a more ambitious assembly from the same collection of pieces.

This one took about eight hours to print, which seems like a long time, but I can put something like this on the go in the evening and have it waiting for me to pick up off the printer when I wake up.

One thing that I've noticed from this exercise is that one does have to take note of which side of a wall segment is an inside or outside face; the piece in the top left, for example, should probably have been the other way around so that the fireplaces were actually inside the building, where they could have done some good when it was whole and inhabited. However, many of the pieces are fairly ambiguous, and you could get away with putting them either way around.

Filament Reel Roller

I wanted to get the weight of the filament reel off the frame of my printer, so I made this proof-of-concept reel holder, using Wood™, and the Power of Magnetism to hold it to the filing cabinet next to my workbench. I originally intended to use it as a test-bed, and make a better-finished one at a later date, and that might still happen, but I suspect inertia will take hold and I'll end up just using this one forever.

It works very well, except that I failed to take into account that although the magnets I inset into the back of the frame cling very strongly to the steel cabinet, they slide very easily on its smooth surface. At the moment I have it propped up on a cardboard tube, but I'll screw a little tab to its top to hook over the top of the cabinet, and that should secure it without any other outside aid.

The 3d-printed spool runs very freely on a pair of skateboard bearings, and they should take a load off the extruder gear. I haven't noticed any issues with the reel just running on a fixed axle, as is supplied with the printer, but there's no harm in relieving any potential stresses when one can.

I built the reel-holder so that it could also be set down on the table, and the reel mounted on top, on what is now the front edge. Whether that will ever be necessary, who can say, but the option is there if I ever need it.

I suppose I could have 3d-printed the whole thing, but that would have taken considerably longer than it took to knock this up out of scrap wood.

Half-Finished Howler

This is a free giveaway model from a game Kickstarter, the Motleyverse. It's called a Pit Howler.

It's an OK creature design, but the model is ridiculously over-engineered for printing. In its downloaded form, it weighs in at over 800,000 faces, and about 45 MB. About five minutes work on the .STL by me in 3d Builder reduced that to 66,914 faces and 3.14 MB without appreciably affecting the level of detail that would be printed.

3d Builder also identified, and fixed, a large number of structural issues with the original model. It's not impossible that it would print properly without fixing those issues, but it's a matter for concern that they were still there in a commercially released model.

I'm not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, and this model was free after all. But the issues with it do not inspire me with confidence for the rest of the models in the Kickstarter.

Stone Bridge

I finally got around to printing and painting the stone bridge I designed a couple of weeks ago. The STL is at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3061573, this is the version with the cobbled road-bed.

I printed it at 0.2mm in eSun PLA+. I got a bit of underextrusion here and there; I suspect the filament might have been getting a bit moist and/or dirty.

The bridge is intended for 15mm wargaming, and in that scale it's just large enough to take a truck or a light tank. Certainly nothing larger than a Panzer II.

Fleshwalker

Here's another 3d print from a model by Duncan Louca. This one's called the Fleshwalker, and it's huge — I've printed this model at 50% of the base size.

I printed it at 0.08mm in some grey no-name PLA, and mounted it on a 50mm fender washer.







Bare-Nekkid Hill Giant

Here's one of Duncan Louca's hill giants, all finished up.

It's been re-scaled to 66% of the base model size, and printed at 0.08mm in eSun PLA+.

I'm never really very comfortable with painting vast areas of bare flesh, but overall I think it turned out OK.

Bases

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3079180

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3079275
I designed some round bases, intended to be combined in a slicer with a baseless figure to be printed as one, though of course they could also be printed separately and be glued together. The links in the image captions will take you to the Thingiverse page where the files are located.

So far, the diameters available are 25mm, 36mm, 40mm and 50mm. They're available either with a simple generic undulating texture, as shown to the left, or with a rough paving texture, like that on the right.

The average thickness is about 2mm, I guess.

I neither know, nor much care, what the official critter-size bases are in D&D 3 to 5, but if that actually matters to you it should be a simple exercise to resize one of the existing bases to the exact size you need.

Note that in Cura, if you're combining a base with a figure model, you will have to go into the program preferences and turn off "Automatically drop model to baseplate", or else any figure you put on top of the base will be buried up to its ankles. Be sure to zoom right in and make sure that the soles of the model's feet (or pseudopods or whatever) overlap with the surface of the base so that they do actually print as one piece.

Unusually Tough Supports

With Cura's tree supports
This is one of Duncan Louca's models, a hill giant, printed in eSun black PLA+ at 0.08mm. It was about an eight hour print.
After support removal

I re-scaled it to 66% of its base size, as it was originally much too large for my existing 28mm roleplaying miniatures, and I added a 36mm diameter base. It's still taller than an official D&D hill giant should be, but at a true-scale 10' tall, they just don't look giantish enough to me. This guy is more like 12' or 13'.

I used Cura's experimental "tree" supports, which I favour for miniatures like this because they tend to leave less mess behind than line or zig-zag supports, and normally they're easier to remove. In this case though, removal was a real chore. The trees are usually hollow, but these ones were filled with zig-zag infill, which made them very, very strong. Too strong. I've clearly checked a box or changed a parameter some time in the past and neglected to change it back, and I have no idea now what that parameter might have been. There are a lot of options in Cura.

Tiger (P)

When the German military put out a call for designs for a new heavy tank in 1942, this is the chassis that Ferdinand Porsche submitted, designated VK 4501 (P). The turret was supplied by Krupp. The chassis was not adopted for use as the tank that became the Tiger I, but it was used for the heavy tank destroyer Ferdinand (later Elefant).

Only one of these went into service, as the command tank for a Ferdinand unit. It was lost in July 1944.

This model has been printed at 0.08mm in black PLA+. The 15mm figures are from Battlefront.

TOG-II

Fresh off the printer in 1:100 scale (15mm) is another in the series of Pointless Stupid Tanks No Wargamer Really Needs, the British TOG-II.

This is the beast's final form, mounting a 17 pounder in a turret quite similar to that of the Cruiser Mk.VII Challenger. It never went into service; by the time it was completed there were other, better tanks available to do the job. Its main function seems to have been to keep a bunch of crusty old WW1 tank designers out of everyone else's hair.

The Tank Museum at Bovington have an example, but I don't believe it runs at all.

Being able to print this sort of thing for a few cents is great. The TOG-II is already available commercially in 15mm from elsewhere, Battlefront make one for about a bajillion monies. However, it's such a stupid thing and so generally useless in a wargaming context that I'd never spend those bajillion monies on it. Getting it for nothing more than a few cents worth of plastic and electricity and some time makes it much more worth while.

Blender Doodling

I've been trying to come to grips with Blender's Sculpt mode, and to that end I've been doodling around in it, starting with a simple cube and ending up with this Cthulhu Cube.

I think I'm beginning to get a bit of a handle on it, though it still does the occasional unexpected thing. This has just been built up without any sort of plan, obviously, so there's not much rhyme or reason to it, and I shall have to move on to more considered modelling.

Although I guess it could be possible to build something entirely within the Sculpting interface, I think it would be a lot better to create the initial forms via box-modelling and the like, and just use the sculpting interface to refine the shapes and add surface detail.

Here it is the next day, printed at 0.2mm in grey PLA, along with Sergeant Measureby for scale.

Now I've slapped a bit of paint on it.

Hopefully, this should inspire a certain degree of disquiet amongst the players.

Bad Hangover



This guy just came off my printer, after 22 hours and 22 minutes of printing. I have no immediate use for a hideous rot-riddled chaos-racked three-headed abomination, but they'll always come in handy.

Size is about 100mm tall by 150mm from hand to hand. Printed at 0.12mm in PLA. The file was created by Duncan "Shadow" Louca, it's his Fleshwalker.

The masses of the model are bulky and defined enough that I think it could probably be resized as small as 25% of its base dimensions and still print pretty reliably on an FDM printer, and a SLA or DLP resin printer would be able to take it smaller still. I'm printing another one right now at 50%, which would make it about ogre-sized as compared with my other roleplaying miniatures.

A few hours later...

Here's the new print at 50% scaling, along with Sergeant Measureby and his Spear of 5mm Increments.

I haven't done any cleanup on it other than removing the supports, but as I expected, it's printed pretty well, and I'm quite happy with it. It took about 7 hours at 0.08mm.

Footbridge (terrain WiP)


I've made a start on a new piece of scenery, a foot bridge crossing a narrow stretch of river.

The tile is sized to fit with my other river pieces, but I'd like it to be an attractive little standalone model in its own right. We shall see.

The bridge is one that I 3d-printed from a model I found on Thingiverse; I thought it was bigger when I started printing it, but it will do OK as a foot bridge. The base is 3mm MDF, sealed with black spray primer. The rock formations are DAS air-drying clay, press-moulded into Woodland Scenics rubber rock moulds, and the rest of the groundwork is SculptaMold plaster/paper goop. The steps and flagstones are just pressed and scribed into that once it had firmed up.

Stage 2

All the groundwork and the bridge's stonework has been painted.

Everything is painted in very loose blotches of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and raw umber. The paint is quite liquid, so it spreads through the plaster of the groundwork and creeps into cracks and things. At this stage it looks pretty lurid and awful, but not to worry.

Next everything is covered in a black wash, which tones down all the colours and ties them together harmoniously. Hints of the original blotches still show through, so you don't get a monotonous grey overall.

Last, everything gets a dry-brushing in pure white, which delineates the highlights, and also gives the effect of stone in the process of being weathered over centuries by water, wind and frost.

Stage 3

The river. That's just painted, with varying shades of green to indicate depth, and then varnished with a high-gloss oil-based polyurethane. I choose that over a gloss acrylic, because it gives a smoother, harder gloss than any acrylic varnish I've found. The down-side is that it takes a very long time to cure, at least 24 hours to be safe.

I wanted the river to look deep and quite fast-flowing, so apart from some areas at the edges where I wanted to suggest shelving rock, it's all in quite dark tones, with bright highlights to suggest patches of white water.

I think that possibly I should have included a bit more blue to the green, but I think it's probably too late now unless I want to repaint it from scratch. I'll live with it for a while and see how much it bugs me.

Stage 4

Now it's time for some vegetation to bring the scene to life. The grass is a mixture of several shades of sawdust and foam flock, and the bushes are just bits of clump foam soaked in diluted PVA.

This will probably do as a finished piece now. I may revisit the painting of the river, but probably not.

Gnome Wizard (I think)

Reaper 89023: Balazar, Iconic Summoner by Bobby Jackson
I assume this figure is meant to be a gnome; he's very short for a human, and he's lacking the beard of a dwarf.

I find painting yellows and oranges very difficult. They tend to be colours with very low opacity, and getting an even coverage requires several coats.

Magic Missile d4

Here's another design for a 4-sided die, this time marked from 2 – 5 for use with the D&D Magic Missile spell. The file is on T...