Tag Archives: creative commons

Printrbot Z-Axis Knob, Refined

I find myself adjusting the height of the Z-Axis on my Printrbot Simple with every print, sometimes during the print itself. Handling the leadscrew directly can get a little uncomfortable, so having a knob attached to the top of the axis helps a great deal.

Printrbot Z-Axis Knob

downloadThis knob is based off Bill Owens’ Printrbot Simple Z-Axis Knob which is in turn based on jridley’s Parametric hex head screw or nut knob. Circle of LIIIIIIIIFE

This version has some rounded edges for comfort because I’m a delicate desert flower that only blooms once a year and I must preserve my girly hands for stroking my Shih Tzu.

Did you hear about the new zoo that opened in Chicago? It’s only got one animal: a dog. It’s a Shih Tzu.

This knob also has some transitional elements between the two major volumes, and a graceful inverted flare on the shaft. These are completely unnecessary aesthetic changes to the perfectly-usable model made by Bill Owens, but since complexity is free in 3D printing, why not.

Here’s a perfect demonstration of how the Creative Commons license fosters creativity. First, in need of a knob, jridley throws together a parametric design and shares it on Thingiverse. Now anyone can adjust a few numbers and get a printable knob.

Standing on the shoulders of that giant, Owens refined the basic design until he got a knob he could use in his particular situation. He puts it up on Thingiverse where dozens of Printrbot Simple owners download and start using it.

I don’t know much about OpenSCAD, the software jridley used to design the original knob. But I can take the output into software I’m familiar with and edit the geometry to fit my needs.

All legal, all free, no ethical quandaries or patent fights. All we have to do is give each other credit where credit is due.

I found Owens’ knob to be a little loose given the crop of nuts grown in my part of the world, so this model might be a little tighter or looser for you.

You will need a pair of 5/16″ nuts to use this knob properly. Put one nut on your z-axis leadscrew, attach the knob, and then tighten the second nut.

The model is also available in The Forge along with assorted other baubles.

Magic: The Gathering Soldier Token


I’m still working my way through the list of Magic: The Gathering creature tokens. This time it’s back to White with the Soldier token.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. It’s also available as a 3D print on Etsy.

I’ve worked as a game industry artist for getting on ten years now (note to 16-year-old-self: WIN) and I frequently get the same question from relatives of non-industry kids who want to get into the business.

What should I study if I want to get a job as game artist? This question comes up at the dentist’s office more frequently than you’d think.

The short answer is: study art and, to a lesser extent, math. Study drawing first, then sculpture, then painting. Get at least a B in an art history class so you’ll have an inkling of how to evaluate your own work. Have a decent grasp of geometry and dabble at least a bit in C++ (or at least Python) so you know what the programmers are talking about.

Worry about learning software later.

But if there’s one sub-subject I’ve found incredibly useful over my career, it’s the study of armor. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to create a suit of armor for a job. Or just a helmet. Or a dwarf rocking a hauberk. Or a Marine from 2125 with her ballistic combat gear.

If you’re a fantasy nerd you’ll probably absorb a fair amount of knowledge by osmosis, but be careful about learning from fantasy art. An awful lot of non-functional armor has been rendered by artists who haven’t hit the books.

Years ago before I retired from combat with the Society For Creative Anachronism (I kept losing dental work from being whacked in the helmet with rattan cudgels), I spent weeks building a lorica segmentada out of sole leather and 3/4″ copper pound rivets.

Wearing, tweaking, wearing, tweaking, and then fighting in that armor taught me volumes about pinch points, flexibility, and ventilation.

I wrestled with this model for a while, going back and forth between what’s historically accurate and what’s cool, all the while hindered by what’s possible with the current generation of 3D printers. I put in a fair amount of detail that I can’t print yet, especially in the skirt.


And of course I’m limited by the 3D printing overhang rule, so the pose is fairly static. And that sword is crazy large but that’s about the smallest it can get and still print reliably.

Unfortunately it’ll be a while until consumer-level 3d printing technology catches up with modeling and scanning software. I’m looking to create miniatures that are at least of the quality one can get from a large-scale foundry like Games Workshop. The resolution’s almost adequate on the Replicator 1, but the lack of ability to print overhangs is a huge limiting factor.

The Form1, and up-and-comers B9Creator and mUVe are looking like serious contenders for my next upgrade, since they appear to have a higher resolution and their prints are mostly unfettered by gravity.

Saving the Beast for Last

Here’s the last in a series of posts describing my process for creating a 3D-printed Magic: The Gathering Beast token.


After many iterations and test prints, I settled on this pose for the Beast token. The neck and limbs are angled with minimal overhangs so that the printer can build the model all in one go.

And here’s the final model, preening in front of a pile of test prints.



This model is free to download and distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

I have another MTG token in the pipeline, so stay tuned: follow this blog or find me on Twitter for updates from the Forge.

MTG Beast Token, Test Print

This token and an ever-expanding list of others like it is available for free in The Forge.

I like to run a test print before I start posing a model, just to see where the problem spots are going to be. Consumer-level printers like the Replicator are hindered by gravity and overhangs; one can’t print too far out into empty space without the melted plastic drooping and bunching up.


The base pose for the Beast isn’t too bad, but I can see that I’m going to need to angle the head and chest up so that the printer creates its own support as it prints.

The long filament coming off the back of the base is leftover from the printer clearing its nozzle at the start of a print.

You can download the completed model here, completely free.

No printer? I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store. A half-dozen should do it for most games.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

MTG Beast Token, Day 7

I’m preparing the model for posing now. No more geometry edits.

The idea is that each bone in the character’s skeleton affects the vertices around it. Rotate, translate, or scale a bone and the vertices go along for the ride. This is Character Rigging 101, no fancy dynamics or muscle deformers or puppeteering controls.

Maya does a pretty good job of deciding which vertices are affected by which joint, but sometimes it needs a little assistance. I help it along by painting weights on a per-joint basis. Black vertices are not affected by a given bone, white vertices are totally affected. Gray vertices have a percentage assignment, which helps smooth out transitions between two joints.

Read my original post showing the completed model, or you can download it model here, completely free.

No printer? I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store. A half-dozen should do it for most games.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

MTG Beast Token, Day 5 and 6


Here’s the Beast Token on Day 5. I’ve added some rhino armor and replaced the tail and horns. I have maybe one more day of details and then it’s on to the posing process.

I’m going to pay for adding the armor when it comes time to weight the vertices to the skeleton, but Rule of Cool trumps all.

And here he is on day 6:


I added some final details in the shoulder and eye socket, and scaled everything down to fit the standard base I’ve been using.

There might be some minor edits after this, but for all intensive porpoises the modelling is finished.

The next step is to rig the model with a test skeleton to make sure all the joints deform properly without too much distortion. In theory, I’ll be able to pose this model any way I like.

You can download the completed model here, completely free.

No printer? I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store. A half-dozen should do it for most games.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

MTG Beast Token, Day 4


This is day 4 of my ongoing Beast blogging. If you’re new to the series, you might want to skip to the end and see what the finished 3d print looks like.

I realized the fancy headgear wasn’t going to print, so the horns had to get a lot simpler. The back spikes and teeth are joined to the main body, and much of the facial detail is filled out. I scaled down his eye to keep him from looking being too cute. I decided on hooves because the claw details probably wouldn’t have printed well. The tail’s a placeholder for now.

You can download the completed model here, completely free.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

MTG Beast Token, Day 3


MTG Beast Token, Day 3: The head’s been joined to the body and I’ve put in some facial details, including a creepy double-pupil goat eye.

I haven’t joined the horns or tusks to the main mesh yet. Now’s the time to take a step back and consider the shape of the remaining large-scale forms: mane, tail, and the as-yet undecided hooves or claws.

90 more minutes. Why 90 minutes at a time? I usually get up at 5am. By the time I get caffeinated and moving, it’s 5:30, and then I can put in an hour and a half (more or less) before it’s time to get younger Zhengspawn up for school.

If you don’t want to wait a few days to see how the Beast turned out, here’s the blog post describing the final model.

MTG Beast Token, Day 2


90 more minutes in. I’ve built out the foreleg and roughed out the head, but haven’t joined anything yet.

He’s fast becoming a boar-lion hybrid, in keeping with the “badass herbivore” theme. I’ll put in tusks, horns, and a tail once I’m happy with the rough form.

The mouth is open for now so that I’ll have an easier time setting up the model for posing later.

SPOILERS: The final model is a free download.

MTG Beast Token, Day 1


This is the first in a series of posts demonstrating how I modeled and printed a Magic: The Gathering Beast token.

I’m using a lion as the base animal, but the ultimate direction I’m going is “badass herbivore.” This is modeled in Maya.

Here’s what we have after 90 minutes or so. The goal here is to start roughing out one half of the model, making sure to keep a clean, quadrilateral-only topology so that the mesh deforms properly later.

When I have the half-model done I’ll duplicate it, flop it along the Z-axis, and join the two halves.

I’ll work on the foreleg and head tomorrow morning.

If you want to skip ahead to see what the final print looks like, see my earlier post, Father Knows Beast.