I’ve always had a love for small scales – you can fit a proper epic sized army on your table and the miniatures are much faster to paint than 32 mm scale. Techniques such as washes and drybrushing tend to fall down when you want to paint large flat surfaces but you don’t have to worry about that at small scales, so you can get really good looking results very quickly.
On top of that, small scale miniatures are particularly well suited to 3D printing. You can happily fit 100 miniatures at 10 mm scale onto the build platform of a small inexpensive resin printer such as the Elegoo Mars or Anycubic Photon, and they’ll typically be printed in under 3 hours with minimal resin usage.
Having acquired a Mars, I’ve recently started sculpting 10 mm fantasy miniatures and I’ve started a patreon so that my supporters can access all of the 3D files that I create. The response has been really encouraging, with nearly 200 patrons signed up in the first couple of months. Initially I’ve been working on wood elves, but my patrons have recently voted for vampires to be the next army, so those will be coming soon!
If you’d like to keep up to date to with what I’m sculpting for this range then be sure to follow @forestdragon3d on instagram or twitter. (my wife runs these accounts in her spare time, as I’m hopeless at social media!)
There are much better photos of the miniatures (still with the supports attached) at printing in detail, who are one of the merchant level backers.
The very first miniature that I made for Games Workshop as a trainee has now been released, so I can finally talk about it!
Xandria Azurebolt (as someone in publications has elected to name her) is the exclusive knight incantor model that comes with issue 5 of the Mortal Realms magazine for Age of Sigmar.
I’d been at GW for less than a month when I was given the brief to make this miniature. After becoming familiar with the team and the software, all the trainee miniature designers are given 3 or 4 training projects. These projects are not in the release schedule so you’re not under time pressure and although you’re told that it would be nice if you produced something that could be released, it’s not expected at this stage.
This then was my first training project in the summer of 2018. To be honest I’ve never been massively excited by Stormcast Eternals but I was given a really cool mock up that Steve Party had made and let loose to try and turn it into a product. The main areas of design work were the stave and the head. I remember going through quite a few iterations of the face until I got something I was reasonably satisfied with.
I was sitting at the desk next to the mighty Darren Latham when I worked on this, and he gave me a lot of help figuring out the engineering side, which was much appreciated. I think it’s fair to say that anything good about the final miniature is down to Steve and Daz, and anything not so good is down to yours truly! But I was pleased when the design managers told me that it would be getting produced.
I decided to paint this in non metallic metal, which was a decision I soon came to regret, because as usual it took me far longer than I wanted it to! I don’t think the finish is as good as it could be in a few places but I didn’t think it was worth investing any more time to try and make it better. There are far more interesting miniatures that I’d like to paint!
Another sculpt I’ve been playing with recently is this dark elf lady, which I shared with Vince Venturella towards the end of the interview I did with him on YouTube recently. As with the high elf it’s designed at warhammer scale.
One of my main focuses with this piece was to get a satisfying composition. I also spent quite a while on the armour, trying to get the right amount of detail and make it suitably elfy looking. She’s supposed to have a menacing smile, although I’m not sure how successful this will be.
I haven’t invested in a 3D printer yet but it’s high up the priority list for 2020. I’ve got this one and the high elf split up into pieces that should be reasonably easy to print, so I hope I’ll be able to hit the ground running on that front!
I had a fantastic time at Games Workshop but now that I’ve left I still want to carry on sculpting. I work digitally (using blender) and the question is, now that I don’t have a huge team of people working to turn my designs into lovely plastic frames, what is the best way of realising my designs physically?
Before joining GW I mostly relied on Shapeways to print my miniatures. I’m not very keen to go down this route again, mostly because it’s quite expensive but also because I was rarely very satisfied with the quality of the prints I received. So with a range of affordable resin 3d printers now on the market, my thoughts have been turning towards buying my own printer.
In an ideal world the quality of the prints would be good enough for me to paint, but even if they’re not I still feel that being able to see a miniature physically really helps to get the overall composition right. I came to rely on getting quite regular work in progress prints while I was at GW, and I don’t want to lose this facility!
In order to explore my options further I decided to revisit a miniature that I sculpted prior to joining GW. The original phoenix mage was produced in resin by RN Estudio but I thought it would be fun to give it a bit of an overhaul with the benefit of another 18 months experience.
I still need to split this guy up for printing, since I’m pretty sure I won’t want to be doing it as a single piece. But the sculpt is mostly done so I thought it was worth sharing.
If anyone has any experience with 3d printing or recommendations then it would be great to hear your views!
Fans of this blog may remember my first 30 mm sculpt, the Dragon Maiden. I’m pleased to say that RN Estudio are now selling resin copies of this miniature here. (In case anyone is wondering, I’m not making any money from this myself.)
Of course, it was only fitting that I give her a snazzy new paint job to celebrate this development! I’ve gone for non metallic metal again just because it looks better in photographs and I knew a good picture would be needed for the store.
Unfortunately there’s no painting tutorial for this piece but it uses the same recipes as the fantasy football high elf I painted recently, so that guide is highly recommended for anyone wishing to emulate my version!
Before producing the miniature, Rafael asked me to create an alternative right hand, which I was very happy to do. I also took the opportunity to fix her eyes, which were far too bulbous on the original. Her face is still not the right shape and I have had to disguise this with my paint work. I’ve corrected this deficiency on my more recent sculpts though!
My first completed miniature of 2018 is another of my own sculpts. Actually this one was sculpted quite a long time ago (well before Drazhar) and was the first miniature where I discovered how to use rigging in blender.
The delay in presenting the finished miniature was because my friends at RN Estudio are putting this piece into production (which is very exciting for me!), so you can now buy resin copies from them if you wish.
I’ve gone for non metallic metal again when painting this piece and stuck with the classic high elf colours. My technique is still evolving gradually and I’m fairly satisfied with how it has turned out here.
I’ve made another painting guide where I’ve tried to take on board some of the fantastic feedback I’ve had following the first three. I think this is the most in depth guide to my approach to painting nmm so far and I hope it will be useful to people even if they have no interest in this particular miniature! I’m aware that there is some repetition between the guides and this is something I’m going to have to think about a bit more.
The miniature bundled with the painting guide is here, or you can buy the miniature with no guide here. Or if you just want the painting guide I’ve also put it up on my Etsy store.
A slightly different type of miniature today as I present my first experiment with full colour 3d printing!
My wife is a huge fan of a certain well known bunny rabbit so I thought this would be a great opportunity to make her a little gift.
I created a bunny model and coloured it in using blender, then uploaded the file to Shapeways. Definitely a different kind of painting to what I’m used to!
The full colour sandstone material that Shapeways offer is a bit rougher than the material I usually get my miniatures printed in, and there are more limitations over the type of model that can be successfully produced. It’s fascinating technology though, and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.
If you want a bunny of your own then you can purchase one from Shapeways here. 🙂
It has been a while since I completed any 15 mm sculpts so I’ve been really keen to get back to it. I enjoy the sculpting, but the best thing for me is that I can paint each miniature in a relatively short time before the inevitable boredom sets in and other projects start to look more alluring!
I decided to exploit one of the advantages of digital sculpting and modify my existing 30 mm files to make shiny new 15 mm figures. This kind of thing appeals greatly to a lazy git like me!
(It should be noted that the process is a bit more involved than simply hitting scale 0.5 in blender, since this would result in details that would be too small to print successfully and would be out of proportion with the rest of my 15 mm range.)
The original dragon maiden is here. I’ve made some improvements to the face for this version, and I went with a different colour scheme.
I also went with a different colour scheme for the Vampire Lord. This guy is pretty big for a 15 mm figure – he’s actually more like 16.5 mm to the eye. I’ve made some changes to the face vs the 30 mm version after I realised that I hadn’t exaggerated some of the features enough.
You can buy these two miniatures as a set on Shapeways. The price (as ever) is higher than I’d like. Unfortunately these two miniatures use more resin than my average 15 mm which makes them more expensive under Shapeways’ pricing formula.
Update: I’ve been getting a lot of requests to sell copies of Drazhar via Shapeways. While it’s very flattering, I’m sorry to say that I won’t be doing this. Drazhar is very much Games Workshop’s IP and putting aside the legality of it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling my version when a miniature already exists. And no, I won’t be selling my .stl either!
During the process of painting the Archon commission I was perusing my Dark Eldar codex when I came across a great bit of art depicting Drazhar, the mysterious champion of the Incubi.
Unfortunately the existing miniature for Drazhar is very old (released in 1999 as far as I can tell) and doesn’t quite capture the character, presumably due to the limitations of moulding at the time. I therefore set out to try and make my own version armed only with the reference picture and my very limited sculpting skills!
As usual, I used Blender for the digital sculpting. To help me get somewhere near the pose I learnt how to rig a simple model and then played around with it until it felt about right. I intended to scale Drazhar to be similar in size to the new Eldar Visarch, but in the end I don’t think I made him quite slender enough and I don’t think the proportions are quite right.
I had to make some changes to get something that would print ok at Shapeways, mostly by reducing the amount of spiky parts and hanging pieces. I also reversed the grip on the swords to something that felt more natural to me.
Happily one of my loyal customers was keen to have a copy of the finished sculpt painted for his collection so we came up with a colour scheme that is fairly close to the original model. I particularly enjoyed painting the helmet – I don’t often get an opportunity to paint white armour so that was a nice challenge. The main colours used were incubi darkness and kabalite green for the armour, liche purple and magenta for the cloth and other details, and moot green for the glowing green details.
I’m looking forward to painting a professionally sculpted miniature for my next big project!
My latest sculpting and painting project is this vampire lord. I’m not really sure what motivated me to make a vampire – normally I’m quite happy sticking to elves!
This is actually my second attempt at a vampire: avid readers of this blog may remember that I showed some renders a few months back. I did actually get that guy printed but soon realised that there was just too much wrong with my sculpt to bother painting it. There’s plenty wrong with this version as well, but I’m pleased that it’s at least an improvement over his predecessor!
I’ve sculpted him at a scale which should mean he fits quite well into the Warhammer Age of Sigmar universe. It’s the biggest miniature I’ve made so far, which sadly increases the cost of getting him 3D printed. The miniature in the pictures is mounted on a 32 mm base.
As usual, you can buy a copy from Shapeways should you wish.
Inspired by the slayer sword winning Nagash diorama I went with non metallic metal and experimented with a different palette to my usual tried and tested steel and gold recipes. I actually regret going down the nmm route now – I got bored painting about half way through and decided to go for a “good enough” paint job rather than a competition standard paint job. I could definitely make this better if I was prepared to put more hours into it, but I have other exciting projects that I want to work on at the moment!
I’m still using blender for all my sculpting. I’d like to get zbrush but after getting a free trial I wasn’t able to justify spending so much for a few neat tricks that I can’t do with blender. I think it’s still the user rather than the software that is the limiting factor at the moment!
I’ll finish this post off with some renders of the sculpt and something new for me: my first ever youtube video!