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Tyler Sigman
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Hey all,

I'm wondering how some of the nicest looking Kickstarter pitches are producing their prototype miniatures for use in their campaigns. Are they 3D printing on demand? I can't imagine they are actually investing in molds before running the actual campaign.

In any case, if anyone has any vendors they can recommend that do this quality of print on demand, I'd be grateful!

I'm less concerned with price than I am quality.

Regards,

--Tyler
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Haakon Gaarder
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My 2 cents: I've worked with making 3d models from animation and I can see that most kickstarters are just showing off 3d renders rather than actual miniatures. You can find a ton of talented 3d artists at zbrushcentral.com It has become quite easy to convert 3d models into miniatures, but I suspect a lot of people don't know how complicated the process from 3d to actual miniature can be. Not all 3d models are suitable for casting. I've noticed some of the miniatures in blood rage have been assembled and glued together from multiple pieces at the factory for example. I would choose an artist with actual photos of real miniatures in his portfolio.
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Mohammed Bellafquih
France
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I agree with hakon.
Also you need to know that following the résolution you want for your 3d print, you'll need more time and more money. So for a medium production of games, it might takes months and cost a lot.
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Fully edited :
Editing my own post, as was super long and so, not very useful. The points that can be of use of the "text wall" I wrote here (killing some minutes before lunch, lol) some hours ago, and adding some changes after thinking a bit better about the "on demand" part : If you would need to do a usual production, of x compromised copies, the ones from a successful KS project, I think going using Shapeways to make a prototype in Frosted Extreme Detail material, and order both game, and a number of copies to WinGo, is the way to go. WinGo and Panda work starting from a certain number of copies to be ordered. Is not the "on demand" thing, then, although the prototype thing is a one copy thing. I have never done or worked in a project producing as a final product (well, I did, for a customer, producing a prototype for her, in multicolor material, not good for tabletop miniatures, that was a larger puppet). But I am guessing that if you want to do a fully on demand thing, you would want another material, so that would not require cleaning and fixing work (which you could surely do for your own prototype) from the final user. So, Frosted is out of the equation (IMO). If you are 100% that each and every one of your users wont mind that cleaning and fixing (sanding..), and are capable of that (is the case of train scale hobbyists, tend to be quite skillful), then that material is fine. HDA is much nicer out of the box than Frosted (more thought for actually painting it), I must say. IMO to the usual gamer, for a fully "on demand" single copy stuff, would be better with a material like "High Definition Acrylate". The problem is that this one was (in the past, not sure now) getting a very mixed feedback, and selling a model with issues or problems (like scratches or some occasional bending) is not cool. Still, am speaking of what I saw months ago, maybe things are better now, as it happens when a material is new. EDIT: Maybe not true anymore. I would be inclined to think this material is good to go for organic (characters) miniatures, just not so good for accurate scale modeling(trains, planes, etc) , which require a lot of precision. IMO, the usual gamer would never notice and would be a lot more impressed by the HDA surface quality, readiness out of the box, and color.

If you can charge certain extra in the final price, in i-materialise there are also other materials, like resines of several types (not all get same level of detail, and be very aware of the temperature thing: For hot countries I would not recommend it. In one resin type is as delicate as 47º C. In my country, you don't even need to forget the minis in your car at lunch to wreck those. In places like Germany, France, north US, Canada, etc, probably not an issue.). And super smooth surfaces. The thing is, this route would be, IMO way too expensive to even set a price already accepted as a deluxe, premium thing. High detailed steel, no material issues in that matter, obviously.(regular Steel allows no detailing. )

[The huge pity is that Polyamide(i.materialise) or White Strong & Flexible (Shapeways) (same material, Nylon 12), quite a harmless, super cheap and strong material, does not produce at all the needed detail, and surface smoothness.]

If what you are doing or wanting to do is that the miniature is a one thing ordered to Shapeways and no interaction or almost from you will happen, probably by far the best is using Shapeway's High Definition Acrylate (HDA). Specially if they are organic creatures (humans, monsters, etc). If you are modeling trains, cars, planes, if the accuracy (not meaning level of detail, HDA can be very detailed, too) is very important for you, AND you can count on you or the customer sanding it, cleaning it, etc, then Frosted Extreme Detail material. For super smooth material, maybe are interesting i.materialise resins, but then there's the price issue, temperature, and some others. High detailed Steel from i.materialise, would be absolutely perfect for non to be painted minis, I once made an upload/price check and was shocked about the high cost(they don't even put an orientation of it in the material page), but maybe for a super premium thing... (then again, might be almost as expensive as producing in brass or silver..well, not so much, but...)

And 3D artists quotes for modeling a human figure, I suppose that's on each one, but from 300 to 1000 US $.(depending on experience and actual artist's more or less aggressive pricing, and other factors as total number of models to be ordered (discounts for quantity), level of detail, etc.) )

I just realized (so I re-wrote my post here) all what I as telling was our extremely positive experience, of Outer Limit Games and my self (as a 3D artist) with the Shapeways' Frosted Extreme prototype and sending it after some cleaning made by Mike, sent then to WinGo, (for Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis game) and then this company producing the first samples (or kind of master, or prototype, not fully sure) of the final production. I have seen the photos from it and I trust now this path, quite. Having not yet the final proof of a full production out there, of course. But is not exactly "on demand", is an order of X copies. Only the first part of it is one copy on demand. I hope it is helpful, somehow.


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Tyler Sigman
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Thanks for tips, all. I'm actually fairly familiar with the actual production process (mold costs, time, etc.) for minis, but have been really impressed at how finished some games are looking at the Kickstarter stage, which I would assume is still prior to getting actual molds and production run minis made.

Haakon - thanks for pointing out that they often just use zbrush renders.

I supposed I'm most impressed by those where they actually had physical pieces already (e.g. the Conan kickstarter by Monolith), hence the prototype question.

I'll check out shapeways!
 
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Matt T
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I absolutely love the High Definition Acrylate from Shapeways. The level of detail is great and the minis look impressive. The only downsides are that since they're black, they can be hard to photograph well, and they're not as eye catching from far away. On the flip side, anyone who has picked up one of our miniatures from Shapeways has been very impressed with the quality. Even in the below image that was taken in poor lighting with a camera phone, you can see a fair bit of detail in the 3d print.

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That's indeed quite amazing quality... I just mentioned that because some train modelers were giving mixed feedback... But my impression was that it is due to the high level of accuracy that you need for that type of scale models. Not such an issue if the arm of your super hero is having an angle some microns lower: In organic models you would rarely notice. In a train wagon, might mean nothing matching...

Is quite good to know that it works for minis. Was my suspect since the beginning, and I believe this was the purpose of the material since its start. Or at least, it does seems to be ideal now for miniatures. I've read you can find some cuts where supports were placed, and some small issues too, but overall, am seeing high quality enough to become a board game miniature.

Did you have to make any post processing? Cleaning, immersion in some liquid, sanding ? If not, that'd be absolutely great for people that prefer not needing to work on their purchased mini, and being able to use it as they receive it. Which I believe it would be a massive group of people. If anything, what most people seem to desire most is to paint the mini, but even that is mostly a minimal number of players who are willing to take all the painting effort.

BTW, people say they prefer grey base colore to paint over.. I have this feeling that dark or black can be super helpful if painting with certain technique...

About the photographs, not to be 100% sure, but from my time learning to model in terracota, I'd say any black sculpture can look good if carefully lit. And I mean one light of high intensity, probably white, day light but best if is all done in a dim lighting room. Then two softer lighters, ideal colored lights to help explain the figure volumes. Not exactly from behind, but with an angle each, so to cover more lit surface. But as said, these two, colored and soft lights. Even maybe another soft one from above. This should draw the bumps and shapes better, making a much more attractive and detailed photo.

Or is how I would do it, If i'd have to make photos from dark-black 3d miniatures.
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Matt T
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Nope, haven't had to do anything to them at all - no cleaning or sanding necessary (unlike the frosted plastics which required a fair amount of cleaning.)

3D printing is still prohibitively expensive for it to be a real solution for board game miniature (at least on the publisher's side,) but I think it's already viable from a consumer end. We've had people use these minis during playtests at conventions and come away satisfied with the experience.

Thanks for the photography tips, I must confess that's a discipline I don't have any skill at.
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Tyler Sigman
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Thanks for sharing--the detail is indeed impressive.

Would you mind sharing what a fig of that type cost you on Shapeways?

In any case, that seems a perfect solution for the prototyping/non-production stuff I'm thinking about.
 
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Matt T
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Our 30mm scale models cost about $10-15 dollars each in the HDA material.

The only other thing to keep in mind is that Shapeways can be slow, depending on the amount of machine space your order requires. I've always gotten my orders either on time or early, but expect a 2-3 week turnaround time, especially the first time you print a model.
 
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WinGo Games
China
Huizhou
Guangdong Province
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To support our customer's KS campaign. WinGo also make nice quality figurine for our customers. That professional service pack cover all process at every stage of your game project. From 3D files making-sculpting- 3D model printing( 1 copy acceptable)- injection mould creation-mass production. For more information about plastic figurine,pls talk to our team.

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Haakon Gaarder
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This story of horror shows the risk of promising people minis based on 3d renders: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/241478362/project-elite...
 
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