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Wave from The Blood of a Dragon

Making Minis for Your Book Characters

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Minis that make a big impact

Making minis has been a boon to my writing and gaming. I started tabletop gaming (specifically Dungeons & Dragons) a couple of years after I started writing. To say that one has affected the other is a grand understatement.

After I design my characters, I would either buy the minis from HeroForge (or wherever you make them) or buy the files and beg my friends with 3D printers to print them for me. Results may vary. I find the minis from HeroForge print very well.

I found buying them was a tad expensive and begging friends a bit gosh, so I bought a couple of 3D printers! Refer to Choosing a 3D Printer That Meets Your Needs.

The Printing

What’s the first question everyone asks when I talk to them about 3d printers? PLA or Resin? PLA, or polylactic acid, printers were some of the first type of consumer 3d printers to be widely accessible. What I mean by that is that resin printers are believed to give off toxic fumes and require special equipment to safely operate. PLA printers are a bit easier to manage and a little safer. I still recommend proper venting and PPE when using any 3d printer.

PLA Printing

Creality Ender 3

This is the PLA printer we have. The problem with PLA is resolution. It’s great for printing Dragons and ships and the like, but I haven’t been pleased with how the 28 mm minis look.

I found that resin printers made more detailed minis. This was what I wanted. The PLA printer works great for printing ships and larger minis, but the 28mm ones used for characters require better resolution. I use an Elegoo Mars 2 and standard grey resin. After seeing how cheap the 4k printers have become, I’m looking at a few of those: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono 4K or the Elegoo Mars 3 MSLA 4k both look good.

Resin Printing

Mars 3

This is how the resign prints turned out. They don’t have near as much excess material to remove.

Anuka, Kelios, and Crenthys
The Big 3, slightly cleaned up
Offund painted

Washing the minis well in an alcohol solution is key for a clean figure. Also, inspect it carefully to make sure no stray resin is still attached and that the supports come off cleanly. You may need some clippers or a knife to clean it up a bit. Once cleaned, I cure the mini for 30-45 seconds. Overcuring can cause a gum substance to build up on the recesses of the mini.

These are the curing and washing stations we got. They are amazing.

ELEGOO Mercury X Bundle with Separate Washing Station and Curing Station

The Painting

I’m no expert. Heck, I’m barely beyond the noob phase. I recommend picking a system (Speed Paints by Army Painter or Inks by Vallejo) and watch some videos by some pros. This is a good place to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6LcDbwgq0I

Here are a few tips. Make sure your mini is clean. Find a well lit area to work in. Resin minis don’t require a primer, but I use a thin, Army Painter, primer similar to the base color I want for the mini. You don’t want to use a black primer for a mini that will be mostly white. Get a pack of cheap brushes (make sure it has some really small ones) to use until you start getting good at painting. Clean these brushes very well, or plan on replacing them often.

I will make another post on how I paint and show some of my painted minis.

Go here to see some of the minis I have designed and printed. https://authorjackadkins.com/mini-designs-from-dorwine/

I used to fret over the painting phase. If I messed it up I had to try to scrub and start over (a daunting chore with minis this size) to buy another mini. Now, I just reprint and try again. And they don’t have to be perfect. The more you paint the better you will get. I suggest doing your best and being content with the results as your skills grow. My instinct is to get a mini perfect before I use it, but that way lies madness. Since I use them primarily to fuel my writing, a little splash of color is all they really need.

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it. For around $400 you can get a very nice 3d printer, some resin, and a decent paint set. The STL files you will need from Hero Forge are about $7 each and you own them forever. I am a Hero Forge affiliate, and I get a nickel or two every time I refer someone. If you buy from them, click my link first and I’ll get a little credit. https://www.heroforge.com/tap/?ref=jackadkins

Thanks for reading! You can see my other post about how I use these minis to fuel my writing: https://authorjackadkins.com/how-minis-and-gaming-impact-my-writing/

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My Book Progress

The Eye of a Dragon (Dorwine Book 2)
Phase:Proofing
100%
Dead of Winter Short
Phase:Proofing
100%
Book 3: The Dragons of Dorwine
Phase:Writing
64.8%
Gharra - Noblebright Alliance
Phase:Research
100%