I attended PAX Aus this weekend. Fortunately the Melbourne Exhibition Centre was a much better venue this year, and one of the many excellent panels I made it to was ‘From Pixels and Putty to Awesome Tabletop Miniatures’.
The speakers were:
- Andrew Lum and Robert Sakaluk from Aetherworks
- Peter Overton from Twisted Miniatures
- Kosta Heristanidis from Eureka Miniatures
- Craig Clarke from CNC Workshop
- Jake Schneider from Dark Wolf Studios
Victoria Lamb was supposed to turn up too but couldn’t make it for some reason alas.
It was a great panel, and covered a bunch of stuff from traditional putty sculpting over a wire armature for figure work, which I’m reasonably familiar with from years of wargaming, to more modern hard edge work using CAD packages like Sketch UP and 3D rapid prototyping.
The panel consensus seemed to be that consumer grade 3D printing was probably ten years away from being capable of producing the sort of detail you’d want on a war gaming figure. However I’d argue that depends perhaps on what scale you’re working in, and what you’re trying to produce. It seems possible to produce reasonably decent hard edged terrain and vehicles with the consumer grade 3D printers you can buy today, if you’re willing to rework the prints a little. Human 28mm wargaming figures are another story of course, there the 10 year window does seem more reasonable.
Sketch Up was mentioned by two of the sculptors as being their preferred tool, and as it’s a free product I definitely need to spend some time practicing with it. CNC Workshop use Sketch Up to lay out their MDF laser cut terrain kits, and Dark Wolf Studios are using Sketch Up mainly for vehicle parts to customise 40k kits. Dustan also bought himself a Makerbot 3D printer a while back and is going gang busters on it too, so I know at least one local who can render Sketch up plans into ABS plastic.
The panel also lamented how awful Shapeways was for any kind of figure or small scale war game work. Somebody recommended Moddler instead for producing finished resin masters from your plans. They look very professional though, and quote for individual work so best make damn sure you have something in a final form to print.
I live in Ubuntu these days because I find it a heck of a lot more productive than Windows. Fortunately Sketch Up can apparently run under Wine according to these instructions. Time to try putting together something to send to Dustan!