Faust asked on my last post about the 3D printed terrain I’m using for Shadespire and thought there might be some interest in my rig, use cases and lessons learned. Before jumping in though, let me start out by stating that after a few months of having a printer, I firmly believe it should be considered a standard piece of equipment for any miniature gamer. I have way more high-quality terrain than I’ve ever had before and specialty tokens go from concept to implementation in no time. On to the details!
After a lot of research, I settled on an Anycubic I3 Mega with the built-in upgrades. I’m not an electronics or engineering geek (I’m more of a software/digital geek), so I didn’t really want something that encouraged a lot of hacking of the printer itself. The Anycubic is a self-contained unit that assembled in well under 30 minutes, even by someone known to occasionally struggle with Ikea furniture. I also wanted something with a simple enough interface that I could get the kids to switch out print jobs when I’m traveling for work. The Anycubic has a touchscreen interface that’s simple enough that all of my kids are capable of navigating it after a single use. I was also concerned about the print area. Miniature terrain can get pretty big and I really wanted to make sure I wouldn’t come across design after design and have to spend a ton of time slicing it up to fit. The Anycubic has a giant 210mm x 205mm x 205mm print area (roughly 8″x8″x8″) – more than sufficient! Lastly, the cost
was definitely a factor – I was impressed at how good a lot of 3D printed terrain looked, but wasn’t sure what my own results would be like. There are still a lot of higher priced printers out there, but the Anycubic goes for a touch under $400 (I got mine on sale for $350).
As for results? I’ve been blown away. I generally print everything at the best quality level and I think the photos speak for themselves. My use case is for miniature gaming terrain. I don’t use it to make miniatures for the most part as I don’t think the quality level is there yet. But terrain is often more forgiving of the occasional rough edge. Especially after priming, it’s often difficult to tell the difference between the 3D printed terrain and injection-molded plastic terrain.
I’m still learning my way with printing terrain, but I have picked up a few bits that have helped me to get better results.
- Monitor those prints! Prints sometimes go wrong. Maybe you didn’t clear the print head. Maybe you got a filament spool that was wound oddly (I’m dealing with this issue on my current spool). Regardless, try to check in on your prints every so often (every 6-8 hours is fine).
- Prime thickly. Your printer likely can’t keep up with the level of detail of professional work (unless you’re in the $1000+ range), so a thicker coat of primer isn’t going to hurt your model and it helps to take care of any print layers that are visible.
I prefer single piece prints; while I’ve had some amazing multi-part prints, they tend to have small alignment issues that require work to keep a clean look to the piece.
- Add Thingiverse to your list of regularly visited sites. Its an amazing repository of terrain for print and it’s all free!
- Get specific with your prints (and modify them)! The best part of being able to print your terrain is how specific you can get! So many of us are playing games of Dark Age with terrain featuring Imperial Aquilas! Even better is the ability to print scenario-specific terrain (this is particularly great for games like Frostgrave)!
Don’t limit yourself to terrain. I’ve designed and printed simple tokens for Malifaux to help me keep track of which of Mah Tucket’s abilities are in effect. It was quick and they look great on the table. It’s not something that makes financial sense for a Litko or Broken Token, but is super easy to do yourself!
Like I said at the beginning, I’m really just starting with 3D printing. I’ve got a pack of wood filament that I’m going to try to use with some wild west terrain (for Wild West Exodus, Gutshot, and Dracula’s America) that I’d like to print as wood and stain before painting!