Tag Archives: miniatures

Slime Counter Fail

Slime Counter Fail

I had an Etsy store order come in and I just couldn’t get one of my slime counters to print properly. Tried everything; adjusting layer height, slower print speed, re-leveled the print bed.

Turns out one of my Z-axis shafts had worked its way loose, which made the platform wobble during the print. A little bolt tightening and I was good to go, but not until I’d already made a dozen or so failed slime counters.

The original slime counter is here, free to download.

A Little Counter Intelligence

So I’m printing out a couple sets of Magic: The Gathering +1/-1 counters for an Etsy customer and I run into a problem. The red ABS +1/+1 counters are printing fine, but the -1/-1 black PLA counters are getting all feshnicket about midway up the print.

feshnicket couner

Good enough for a pickup game at Casa de Zheng, but one of these might show up at a tournament somewhere and we can’t have our customers looking anything less than their best.

If you don’t have your own 3D printer, you can get these counters on Shapeways, and if you do have your own printer head over to The Forge and print them at home. They’re in the Miniatures section.

These fellas are pretty small, so the newly-extruded PLA isn’t cooling off before the extruder head comes around to the same X-Y position on the next layer. Gooey plastic gets smudged a little bit and the edge of the counter becomes irregular. Fugly.

The solution is a little bit of custom gCode. A brief pause between layers gives the PLA time to stiffen before the extruder drags itself over the same spot.

The gCode needed for this is G4, or “dwell,” with a parameter measured in milliseconds. You’ll also want to move the extruder head out of the way while it dwells so that it doesn’t continue pumping heat into the print.

Here’s the gCode that needs to be added after each layer. Everything in parentheses is a comment and might make your interpreter go to la-la land.

G91 (set to RELATIVE positioning)
G1 Y10 F3900.0 (move 10mm in Y)
G4 P5000 (wait for 5 seconds)
G1 Y-10 F3900.0 (move -10mm in Y)
G90 (reset ABSOLUTE positioning)

You could add this with a Find/Replace in a text editor; just search for (</layer>) and append the gCode above to the end.

OSX’s TextEdit will actually let you add carriage returns to your find/replace fields if you hit CTRL-Q and then hit the return key. But saving that output gave me some weird text encoding errors, demanding that I switch from UTF-8 and it’s not 1994 anymore so WTF Apple.

It’d take me longer to figure out that text-encoding problem than it would to write a short Python script to do the job. Assuming you’re on a Mac and have in_file.gcode on your Desktop:

import os

# read the input file
f=open(‘/Users/zheng3/Desktop/in_file.gcode’, ‘r’)
#Windows and Linux paths are left as an exercise for the reader.
content=f.readlines()
f.close

gCode=’G91\nG1 Y10 F3900.0\nG4 P5000\nG1 Y-10 F3900.0\nG90\n’
# the \n puts a carriage return after each line.

for i in range(len(content)):

if ‘()’ in content[i]:
content[i]=content[i]+gCode

#write the output file
f=open(‘/Users/zheng3/Desktop/out_file.gcode’,’w’)
f.write(“”.join(content))
f.close

Then fire up out_file.gcode in ReplicatorG and a few minutes later, you’ve got yourself a decent print. Nice print on the left, yeechy print on the right.

fixed

Planting a Flag, Redux

Seej Battle Flag, Basic

About a year ago I designed the Seej Battle Flag, Basic to be printed on my Replicator1. A user on the Printrbot forums was having trouble getting it to print, so I decided to see if I could get it to work myself. Good news! It can be printed on a Simple without any voodoo involved.

It helps if one doesn’t try to print the model all at once, so I’ve broken it into three parts and updated the entries in The Forge and on Thingiverse accordingly.

I find leveling the Simple’s bed along the Y-axis to be a little difficult, especially as the weight of the extruder arm at maximum extension pulls it down in Z. I understand there’s a fix for this, I just haven’t had the chance to apply it yet.

I’ve aligned the parts of the battle flag along the X-axis, which should make them a little bit easier to print individually.

If you’ve never heard of Seej before, check out the rules and give it a go. It’s an Open-Source tabletop wargame based around 3d printing. Have at thee!

Rat Week, Day 3: Biggie!

The latest installment of #ratweek introduces Biggie! Biggie is what happens when Hambone (Day 2) finishes eating.

MTG Rat Token, Biggie

downloadBiggie’s belly is a direct result of the limitations of FDM printing. I needed some kind of support to keep his abdomen from turning into a big pile of ABS ramen, so I just extended his belly further down until it touched the base.

#staytuned! Two more rats will finish out the pack by Friday.

Rat Week, Day 2: Enter Hambone

#ratweek continues here at zheng3.com! I’ll be posting one Magic: The Gathering Rat Token model every day through Friday.

MTG Rat Token, Hambone

downloadCreative Commons Attribution notice: Hambone is gnawing on a human metatarsal from DrGlassDPM’s Anatomic Human Foot and Lower Extremity 2.0, available on Thingiverse.

Three more rats to go this week! #staytuned

Rat Week, Day 1: Meet Skritch

It’s #ratweek here at zheng3.com!

MTG Rat Token, Skritch

Last week I took a break from the Drake and cranked out my first Magic: The Gathering rat token.

It worked out so well that I posed him five different ways and printed myself a pack of rats. I’ll be releasing one a day for the rest of the week.

downloadHere’s Skritch with a d20 for scale. There’s not a lot special about him, but if you’re going to print a pack of twenty rats you might like to drop some Skritches among them for variability.

So. #staytuned for four more rats this week. One a day, every day.

MTG Drake Token, Day 2

I started roughing out the drake’s body this morning. This is a 3D sketch; the idea here is not to get caught up in the geometry, just figure out the defining masses of the object.

The Drake’s going to be something of a cross between a pterodactyl and a snake. I’ve already got a decent snake head built for the Seej Ouroboros Guardian, so that’s a good place to start.


For all its complexity, Maya’s hotbox does not yet have an item under Create->Polygon Primitives->Token->Drake, so I’ve got to extrude some edges, pull some points, and flip some faces until I get this rough model.


Ooo. That wing’s going to be tough to print. I’ll be reaching deep into the Well of Cantrips to pull that one off.

It’s a good idea to proceed very slowly at this point in the model, just so you can get a fine appreciation for all the problems you’re going to encounter later.

But my mon Zheng don’t shiv. We’ll get this figured out.

Quercus Leafreader, Squirrel Mage


When widow Winter refuses to yield to youngling Spring, ragged claws clutch-raking tattered tailfur.

When the kits, mewling, lick the last milk and teats sag empty in the frozen morn.

When fox and owl scour the ground and starving we fear to leave the nest.

When these are the times, the Leafreader comes and leads us to snow-forgotten treasure. Not a feast, but Enough.

And we live.


Quercus is the latest in my series of Magic: The Gathering Creature Tokens.

When your squirrels start getting up to +3/+3 and higher, you’ll need a model that conveys natural majesty. Enter Quercus Leafreader, Squirrel Mage. He holds aloft his Slimesinger (Sam the Slimesinger, if you must know) and dowses for acorns for the Scurry’s good.

download
SQUIRREL!

Beast Token Fail

beast_token

Failure of a Magic: The Gathering Beast Token. Off to the scrap bucket with you, buddy.

This model has become something of a 3D printing torture test for printer companies attempting to show off their new hardware’s abilities. Afinia managed to do it, and while this print failed above on a Replicator1, I’ve gotten dozens of these guys printed since. It’s like a beast farm ovah heah.

So if you think your kit’s up to the challenge, Download the model, give it a go, and tweet or email it to me. I’ll post it here.

こんにちは、日本! ここでは、このモデルをダウンロードしてください!

Magic: The Gathering Soldier Token

soldier_token
download

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.

soldier_token_in_maya

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.