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Creating detailed figures?

12 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/30/2014

Does anyone have experience creating detailed figurines? Roughly 1" tall or so. I'm going for a Medieval theme, and will need to make bowmen, knights, siege engines, etc. I'm trying to decide how much detail I want to put into these. I have access to high end 3D printers at work, but using them for personal things is usually limited to a small amount (I could make maybe one of each figure at most). I am proficient in 3D CAD so the actual design isn't so much a problem as the detail that will show up on the figure. Ideally I would have super detailed Warhammer-level figurines, but that's not going to happen, so I'm wondering if going with symbols or something is a better route. Like a cylinder with a silhouette of a sword or a bow embossed on the side. Other suggestions?

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Go for *broke*!

Hi maybe contact the author of this Kickstarter:

They seem to have artists that are designing AMAZING figurines... They really look AWESOME!!!

Maybe they can refer you to an artist... Worth a try, just send them a message. There is also a *contact* form on their website you can try at:

The Sculpt gallery on that website shows how NICE their figurine look... Like I said worth a try to see if they can refer you to a sculptor...

Best of luck!

Joined: 01/30/2014

Those are incredibly impressive. I sent them a message, but I'm expecting to hear back a number that's far more than what I can afford! It's worth a shot though, thanks.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Let me know...

I'd be curious to know also what the development of one of those models costs. I am on-and-off working on a tile-based game that uses wooden pieces. I might also be interested in something like what they have (wouldn't everybody!) if it's reasonable... I have a professional wood-worker that does toys on the side... He would of course make the pieces out of wood.

But if these models would be priced reasonably (in my mind that is between $100 - $200 each), well then I might be interested in having made a few originals.

Joined: 01/30/2014
Haven't heard back yet

It may take a while for a reply from them. In the mean time, I was thinking of other ways to go about this. I think it might be good if I 3D print a "master set" of all the parts, and make rubber molds that I cast resin into to make duplicates. I've used Smooth-On's stuff a little bit, but it's very expensive. Anyone know of cheaper alternatives?

The Inner Geek
The Inner Geek's picture
Joined: 02/04/2014
Must it be 3d?

I understand you have access to a 3d printer, but that would be only making masters, right? I'm assuming you'd have to have them cast into production figures?

There are some great traditional sculptors out there who might be able to sculpt you a mini from scratch for less than the 3d artists would.

Joined: 01/30/2014
I am the 3D artist

I have the software available to create the 3D models myself. I planned on drawing them, printing a master set, and then casting more based on those. Of course this isn't for a huge production run or anything, I'm just trying to get a couple sets made to playtest and whatnot right now.

Joined: 08/30/2012
Go Cheap

If it's just for a playtest set, I'd go as cheap as possible. Buy a bag of knights from the dollar store, or just use pawns from another game.

Joined: 01/30/2014

So I heard back from redrepublicgames, here was their response:

Hi Shane, Sorry for the late reply.

So you want to make minis? Excellent.

The cost for art varies of course. But I would budget 200-350 per character depending on the individual artist and complexity of art style you are shooting for. If you are relying on your artist to do concept work it is usually on the higher end. If you can do the designs or art yourself, all the better.

Minis. These cost between 900 and 1800 USD depending on the subject and the sculptor. Expect delays :)

If you have any more questions or would like to chat about your ideas let me know. You can contact me here:

Later on,
Nick P

Joined: 07/26/2008
You could try with ClockWork
Joined: 07/03/2013
Here might be a cheaper alternative:

Have you considered getting your own 3d printer? If you already have CAD skills, you can buy or build your own 3d printer for not all that much money. My dad built one of the older makerbots back when they were first coming out for around 800$ and assembled it in our basement. He has used it for a lot of really useful things, like the prototypes for his engineering projects.

Here's a site that lists of 10 3d printers that you can get for less than $1000 each. Dunno if it helps, but you'll probably use the device again and again once you get one.

Traz's picture
Joined: 04/06/2009
Surprised you got such a

Surprised you got such a detailed response. Good for him! I can tell you this - he is an exception to the rule.

I worked on a dice-only game for 2 years and got it up to speed. Turned out after I started selling copies [I was using dice I was able to buy in bulk from a discontinued Collectible Dice Game], a year after THAT, somebody decided to revive the discontinued game.

I attempted to contact these folks to see if I would be causing them a problem, but I couldn't get past one of the moderators of their website. They were afraid of talking to *me*. [?] I decided on my own to stop selling the game because I don't want to rock the boat - but that forced me to create mu own dice.

Not a problem [though it was a lot of work], as there were a few of the dice that I wanted to change anyway. And the artwork I finally produced was way more freaking awesome than what I started with.

My biggest problem was how to figure out how to get it published. I needed to find out where/how to get these dice manufactured.

Trolling KICKSTARTER one day I noticed a LOT of dice-only games. Hurrah!, I cried! It appears that special cut dice are totally doable after all. I figured Worst Case Scenario they would want to run the campaign and keep a cut for themselves.

I contacted almost a dozen different companies. I heard back from 1 [he told me not to bother them - they would never reveal their sources in China].

Wow. Really?

Joined: 03/11/2014
Thought I'd share MY experience

First off, this is my first post so if I post something I'm not supposed to, I apologize in advance. Just let me know and I will fix.

Anywho... I'm in the middle of a little project and some of my experiences recently might answer a couple questions here. First off my project is dealing with PLASTIC mini's. It may be completely different for metal. I don't know, and not interested in metal at all so I havn't bothered to research.

That being said...

As mentioned above, $250-300 each sculpt is pretty accurate. I'm dealing ONLY with sculpts that are created in ZBrush, or ZBrush compatible... but I understand hardcopies of sculpts (clay?) are about the same.

Here's the exception tho. You can go to elance and post your job offer and you will get a ton of people that are hungry to do sculpts for MUCH less. Most of them do this just to get their name out there and for the experience. I was able to get a ZBrush sculpter to do an initial 6 sculpts for $300. I know what you are thinking, "they probably suck". Well take a look at these and you can decide for yourself. Keep in mind these are only a "75% check set" I had 3D printed just to gauge if there was enough detail and to make sure the size is right.

Let me know if link doesn't work...

Anywho, in my opinion those are some pretty good sculpts for only 75% complete. Imagine when they are printed at 3/4" for the small guy, and about 1.75" for the taller ones. They will have plenty of detail.

Could I have got better sculpts? Maybe. But are you really going to see a big difference in a 1" tall PLASTIC mini???

Some of the detail in the sculpts didn't even show up when I had them 3D printed. For instance there are scars on the Minotaurs back that didn't show up. Now maybe on final production they might show, but at some point you are just wasting money (in my opinion) for some elaborate works of art when you can get pretty damn close for 1/6th the price. Again, this is regarding plastic. Metal may be more detailed. But as mentioned before, I could care less about metal, for several reasons.

The good thing now is I own the sculpts and any injection mold maker has the ability to use the ZBrush files directly when creating a mold. You don't have to make a clay sculpt and have a proto made then scanned into cad blahblahblah.

Now if you clicked the link above you can see the price to get those 3D printed. About $12 each on average depending on size. So it looks like my expense for 33 mini's will be $1,650 and then $396 for protos. So about 2k for the files and protos of 33 mini's.

Now for the manufacturing. I'm reading a bunch of different things about mold costs and production runs, etc...

Here's my "best guess". It sounds like I may have a mold cost of 40-50k and an initial requirement of 10k run. 10k run would be 330,000 parts. If the parts are .10c each you are looking at $33,000

So for 10k sets of 33 mini's my cost may be ~$85,000

Now if you are using the same company to make the mold and do the run you would get some break in price.

Now you go on kickstarter and try to get as much of that 85k as possible. It will NOT take 10000 backers to get to 85k. Maybe it takes 2k. So after a lot of hard work fulfilling orders from kickstarter, you may have broken even and now have 8k sets of mini's left over sitting in your living room. Time to start making profit.

And again, this is just what I am finding out. Some of the above is factual hard numbers I actually have quoted, and some were averages from various "knuckleheads" on the internet. And of course I didn't mention packaging and shipping costs above.

Well, thats enough rambling for now.

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