Or “Adventures with airships and 3D printing”.
The 3D printing aspect of my hobby is both a source of great joy and great frustration. I started off last year with no experience at all and ended the year with two 3D printers, an even bigger pile of unpainted models and a new level of zen-like patience I would never have though possible.
For all the great stuff that I’ve been able to do there are times when I just want to throw the damn things out of the window. I made the decision last summer to invest in a resin printer (Anycubic Photon S). This has been utterly fantastic (so far) – the quality that I have been able to get at home printing out miniatures is in my opinion a game changer for the industry moving forward.
As an aside it has been interesting to note how the industry is starting to adapt to this new technology. Patreon seems to be a very popular route for digital sculptors for tabletop games. I have gone down the rabbit hole a bit with this recently and backed some amazing creators, many of which are pumping out quality designs for print at a heck of a rate. In fact some of the ‘traditional’ miniatures companies are also seeing the value in this – I’ve recently subscribed to both Titan Forge Miniatures and Bombshell Miniatures patreon campaigns.
So the older (larger) FDM printer (Creality CR-10S) has now been put purely on scenery and vehicle printing duty and is still doing a good job. However (and back on the subject of frustration) I have had a lot of breakdowns recently, much of which I am putting down to the hammer I have been putting it through. I have noticed an unspoken law that seems to dictate that only one of my printers can be working at any one time!
Moaning aside I have recently been working on some airship models I have printed. These are nominally for use in games of 7TV Pulp (I fancy doing an inter-war sky pirates type thing), but these would also be useful for steampunk or even fantasy type games. In fact the two models I have picked up were really designed for the latter (think Age of Sigmar’s ‘air dwarves’ or Dungeons and Dragons Eberron setting).
The first vessel was obtained from Dark Realms via their Patreon campaign and was made available to patrons during October last year. This was printed almost exclusively on the FDM printer with some of the smaller parts being done in resin.
The print time on this was long, probably 80 plus hours in total. The model went together OK once printed. I was a bit over aggressive on some of my support settings and there was a bit of warping on some bottom layers leading to some slight deformities in detail (note the top of the doors). That said, as a gaming model I am pretty pleased with how this came out.
I didn’t spend too much time cleaning the model up (I’d probably invest some more time on sanding and smoothing out the layer lines if I did this again). However I did use a heat gun to remove some of the wispier bits of plastic filament that are often left over after a print.
The blimp and ship parts of the model were assembled seperately and undercoated in black primer.
For the blimp a simple block colour paint job was applied. The body of the ship was painted primarily with diffferent brown shades from the Citadel contrast range. This worked really well on the wood grain panels that make up most of this part of the model.
It was a case of painting on some Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone. I went very heavy with this, partly to give it a really dirty ‘steampunk’ luck and partly to smooth out some of the surfaces.
Once dry (after 24 hours) this was tidied up, specifically successivly lighter shades of grey were applied to the canvas parts of the blimp and the metal work was rehighlighted and some rust effects applied.
I applied a mix of decals (I have gone for an Imperial German / Great War style), and then painted up the port holes using a white base over which I applied a blue contrast paint.
The base was supplied as a file with the rest of the model, so this was printed and then painted and adorned in such a way as to try and hide it as much as possible to give the illusion of flight.
Blimp, ship body and base were all then put together. Despite a desire to try and magnetise the blimp connector to the deck this wasn’t possible due to the weight of the components. Therefore a bit of drilling and pinning was done to hold the whole thing in place.
I’m really pleased with the finished result, despite the fact that it has been pointed out to me that the design shares some similarities with the ‘Pinky Ponk’ of In the Night Garden fame.
I mentioned at the begining of this article that I was working on a second airship model. This one is from Titan Forge Miniatures and I will cover this in a separate blog.
I’ve also been alerted to the fact that there is a Kickstarter launching soon for 3D print designs for fantasy airships called Skies of Sordane and this is certainly something I may just get involved in….