first off, i already know about Hero Forge. it's a nice idea, but for me to be content, it would need about four times as many options in every single category. and at least more control over the placement and orientation of in-hand objects.
if it's not already evident, i'm wondering what sort of price range - perhaps even suggestions for specific models - i should expect to pay for a 3D printer to use to make tabletop minis. while most of what i'd intend to make is typical 25mm minis, if possible, i'd probably like to make the occasional larger mini, or even small statuettes to commemorate some of my favourite characters - probably about 6 inches in height. as for quality, i'd probably be happy with a level of detail comparable to the image.
3D printing on your own in acceptable quality is not a price-efficient way to get one-off miniatures, it's just not.
3D printing, especially if you want a printer that doesn't suck ass only really pays for itself if you design and print a miniature, tidy it up a bit (polish etc, resculpting some stuff if needed) and then reproduce that miniature by making a silicone mold and casting it in resin.
So to clarify: It's a really good way if you want like, 100 of the same custom miniature, it's very bad if you just want 1, since the one-time investment per miniature is too high unless you make molds of it and create multiples.
i see. makes sense. i do have friend who's a pewterer that i could probably convince to make molds if i wanted to go that route, but, of course, the intent was to have individual custom minis, not armies of the same (although i could probably still find a use for that).
still, can it not be at least slightly offset by making a lot of different customs? i know that would eat up a ridiculous amount of time, but i don't really have any other time-consuming hobbies right now. outside of simply playing tabletop RPGs, of course.
The thing is that a printer that can actually handle high enough resolution that your minis don't look like they're made out of sand is going to cost a lot. At the moment it's usually better to send your 3d files to a commercial 3d printing company and print it in way better quality than you could with an affordable at-home printer, and that's expensive.
The only way to do one-offs cheap, at home is if you're okay with pretty poor quality prints. You're probably better off just starting to sculpt your own minis in fimo or greenstuff.
oh. i had no idea that fimo or greenstuff stuff existed. that doesn't actually look like a bad idea.
though it's probably overkill, would one of the cheap $350-$400ish printers work for making an armature?
Probably, but I'd only bother doing it if you were planning on shitting out a ton of custom miniatures (obviously once you actually get good at sculpting too) since you'd be looking at a relatively simple way to fuck around with proportions and heights without having to make a properly scaled metal armature every time.
You can definitely start without a 3D printer though, so there's no real reason to think of that now, your money would be better spent on sculpting tools and greenstuff.
You don't need to 3d print an armature, just make it out of wire like everyone else. There are tons of sculpting tutorials for miniatures out there.
Green stuff (Kneadite) is like sculpting in chewy bubblegum, fimo is more like sculpting with any kind of clay. Greenstuff hardens by itself after a while, Fimo is soft forever and you need to cure it at 100C in the oven for half an hour or so to harden it.
If you buy any sculpting tools DON'T get them from hobby stores, just buy them on ebay form a dental supplier, they're way higher quality and look the same.
yeah, quick google search lead me to those observations. i might consider Fimo for bulking up an armature if i'm making a particularly large mini, but it doesn't look like i'd have much use for it when detailing a mini. i remember using similar stuff as a kid, and anything that wasn't fairly rounded had a tendency to break and chip.
Fimo is actually pretty durable. If you google the old Confrontation miniature wargame, the majority of their really awesome sculpts were made in fimo on top of a wire armatures with some greenstuff blobs for bulk. Not something I'd want to drop on the floor a lot, but definitely not something that snaps just from looking at it.