I’ve been spending some time recently painting up more of the figures I got as part of the recent Crooked Dice 7TV Argonauts Kickstarter. In addition to the miniatures that I received as part of my pledge I have also been expanding the force with other suitable models from my collection.
For those not in the know, the Kickstarter was to fund a programme guide for 7TV with associated miniatures and profiles to represent the evil Doctor Ulysses Argo and his monstrous robotic creations. As a ode to fantastic and cult TV and cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, the original ‘spy-fi’ version of 7TV has always had a place in my heart. In painting up and modelling this cast for the game I very much wanted to reflect that style of the times, so have gone with a suitably ’70’s beige’ palette.
The majority of my robotic characters would have heavy gold and bronze accents, with my more human types wherever possible sticking to the mustards, yellows and browns from the decade that fashion forgot.
Nowhere is this more pronounced that in my representation of Argo himself. This was mainly painted with thin layers of various contrast paints and tied together with washes.
Following on we have ‘the Nightmare’, a tribute to frankly one of the most terrifying characters and scenes from an 80s movie of my youth – yup computer cyblorg lady from the end of Superman III. I had originally painted her with blue metallic hair but switched this over to a gold to tie it more in with the rest of the cast.
The Argonauts themselves are robots bearing a not disimilar look to a certain race of metallic beings from a 70s (and susequent noughties) space opera TV show. I have painted these up in a more traditional manner befitting the original source material as I am planning on a separate Battlestar Galactica set of casts in future.
Next up are a diversion from the 7TV models to my old favourites the Tehnolog plastic cyborgs (of which these four represent the last I have in my stash). While I had previously experiemented with a purple colour scheme for one, I have done the rest in the ‘team Argo’ colours of gold and silver. My gold technique is achieved using Humbrol spray paints using Brass as a base and then a light top down highlight of Gold. I intend to use these as proxies for the ‘titans’ in the programme guide.
While I am doing the robot thing, I’ve also added a couple of 3D prints from the Titan Forge Miniatures Cyber Forge Patreon, of which I am a member. While nominally for a more ‘cyberpunk’ setting I have again gone for an Argonauts colour scheme here to tie them in with the rest of the team.
One thing I have additionally done here and in other paint jobs for this team is to pull out some spot colours. In particular I like the idea that not all of Argo’s tech is necessarily homegrown and maybe he has had some outside (even alien help) in constructing his robotic hordes. As such I have used some of the Citadel technical gemstone paints to pick out across various models some glowing red, green and blue lights. This is really an ode to the martians from the War of the Worlds and is particularly apt when it comes to the following two centrepieces for the force.
I’ll be going in to more detail about both the Crooked Dice and Bombshell Miniatures tripod models in more detail in an upcoming blog.
So first up we have a Hawkman prince from Cold War. This was a resin miniature that was a bit fiddly to glue together but was relatively straight forward to paint. The scale of this range is slightly bigger than the Crooked Dice figures at about 32mm scale, but they don’t look too out of place together. Anyhow the character on which this miniature takes it’s inspiration is somewhat larger than life!
Back to the Crooked Dice figures, I had not yet given the ‘spider queen’ a lick of paint. Looking somewhat like a good girl gone bad (perhaps Dale succumbed to Ming’s charms), I decided to go for a white colour scheme to contrast with the darker tones of some of my other villains.
I’d added some additional Otherworldly Guards miniatures to my base Kickstarter rewards in order to have a plentiful supply of expendable minions. I’ve been trying various colour schemes on these with intention of being able to use them as either good guys or the hordes of the Emperor Ming.
While recently tidying up my hobby area I came across a set of Scale 75 coloured metallic paints that I had previously stocked when trading but never really used. Many of these were the usual golds, silvers, bronzes and coppers you get across similar ranges, but there were a few primary and secondary colours in here too. One in particular, Ruby Alchemy, caught my eye as being ideal for a slightly camp set of space soldiers.
With some additional details picked out with Emerald Alchemy from the same range, I am quite pleased with how these came out. Depth was added using Army Painter washes and the metallics were picked out with a standard Citadel gold. Unlike most of my recent painting there was very little in the way of Citadel Contrast paints used here, with only skin tones applied in this way.
The final addition to this little troupe is a 3D print from Bombshell Miniatures. Printed on my AnyCubic Photon resin printer this was a free sample model that was made available to promote their recent Bikes and Bots Kickstarter.
All in all I’ve really enjoyed the variety and freedom of palette painting these style of miniatures.
While I only have a few of the 7TV Crooked Dice Miniatures left to paint, this months’ set of printable files from Bombshell Miniatures have recently landed via their monthly Patreon and the theme is similar.
I’ve said it before, but it is worth reiterating – patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to 3D printing. Over the last few months I’ve made some great inroads into ‘dialling my settings in’ and getting some great results for scenery pieces and larger models. I’ve done something I’ve never done before – stripping electrics and re-wiring when a key component broke and I’ve also discovered some fantastic digital sculptors pushing their wares on Patreon.
So a reminder, I am running a Creality CR-10S which is a larger bed (meaning larger print sizes) FDM printer. FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling, this is the most traditional style of 3D printer on the market and basically works by layering down melted plastic filament to build up a model. The material I am using is PLA – this is an odourless plastic based on corn starch (so biodegrable). Having played around with different brands (which does make a difference) I have settled on eSun PLA+ (in a rather splendid yellow). PLA+ seems to be a slightly more dense version of PLA (possible with extra additives) and I have found it produces stronger models that are easier to work with both in terms of modelling and painting post-printing.
One of the key challenges with printing miniatures in particular is getting the ‘supports’ right. Supports are the removable parts of the print, which you’ve guessed it, support parts of the model which overhang and would otherwise have to print in mid-air (as a famous guide book once said – this is of course impossible). There are plenty of miniature designs out there in the 3D printing universe which have been specially designed to print without supports (more on these in a bit). The real issue when you are using them is to get them so they provide enough ‘support’ for the model while also being relatively easy to remove without snapping off those important bits that should remain in place.
Supports can be tricky to remove
Supports visible from the rear of this model
It can be a messy job
When taking this into account there are all sorts of different variables and pieces of advice out there. Most of these relate to how you process the STL file prior to printing in your ‘slicing software’, but many also relate to the physical setup of your machine, brand and even colour of filament used and so on. Lots of trial and error, lots of visiting Facebook groups, checking YouTube and reading forums – so again patience is a virtue. For information I am using a piece of software called Cura to process (slice) the files before printing. Learning and tweaking the settings in here is all part of the fun!
In the end I have got this about right I think and some of the results I am getting for larger miniatures both with and without supports are really pleasing.
But where I am getting the files from to print? Thingiverse is a great resource – a community of designers and printers and a place to find stuff that is free. There are specific groups and collections of files on there which are aimed at tabletop gamers. However there is also a growing trend for digital sculptors and designers to use the Patreon funding platform to market and distribute work.
I currently support two Patreon campaigns, where for a monthly charge I get access to a number of STL files each month. Duncan ‘shadow’ Louca is well worth checking out. I first came across his work as part of a Kickstarter campaign which was creating tanks and armoured vehicle files for a ‘grimdark’ setting. However he has since branched out into miniatures which are primarily aimed at the fantasy roleplaying game market. Duncan is extremely prolific and the level of funding he is achieving each month is quite staggering. It is worth saying that the quality of the prints I have been getting from his files have been excellent as well. So both quantity and quality – winner!
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Another Patreon I have also recently started supported is run by Rocket Pig Games. They again focus on fantasy monsters and creatures primarily for role playing (but for me ideal for planning out a Saga Age of Magic army). The big selling point of their models is the aforementioned lack of supports. Well worth checking out. They also run a seperate Patreon campaign which focuses more on Lovecraftian ‘cosmic horror’ style miniatures.
Astral Lurker (Rocket Pig Games)
Filbolg (Rocket Pig Games)
The thing that connects everything I have covered so far is that I am printing big models. In addition thanks to some recent Kickstarer campaigns and the wealth of treasures on Thingiverse I have been printing lots of scenery. Again, although often detailed, this is big chunky stuff. For the most part the models produced are sturdy and where supports are necessary they are relatively easy to remove.
What about normal sized 28mm scale miniatures though? I recently volunteered to print our some models that a friend had designed and purchased on HeroForge. This is a great site where you can design character miniatures for your games and then either get them printed and shipped out to you or receive the STL files for printing out yourself. It is here that I’ve noticed that you are really stretching the capabilities of a FDM printer. As you are effectively layering up a model by depositing thin layers of plastic you do get some lines on flat surfaces. For larger models these can be easily filed or treated post-printing (with plastic putty for example). Settings can again be tweaked in slicing software to increase the resolution of a print (by reducing the layer height, but thus increasing print times); combined with the ability to swap out nozzles of different diameters this can lead to some stunning results. Of course on smaller models even with a high resolution setting and a smaller nozzle size these lines do become more visible. Combine this with the issue of removing supports and you do start to get some problems with bits snapping off that shouldn’t or obsfucation of detail.
This very much became apparent when I was trying to print off these models – many came out well, but there were a few where the detail was just too fine and the oft mentioned patience became somewhat stretched.
There is some light on the horizon though. SLA (Stereolithography) printers are becoming much more affordable. These work in a slightly different way and although they tend to have a smaller print size and are somewhat messier (they use light to harden liquid resin that is contained in a reservoir to create the desired 3D shape), they are ideal for printing smaller more detailed minaitures.