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May 17th, 2013 #1
3D model for printing a figure with action figure like articulation
I recently got into 3D printing. This is my first attempt to create a 3D model that can be printed with action figure like articulation. It basically works like a snap together model kit. It has about 30 points of articulation. I had to do some sandpapering in order to make everything fit together but that is something one should expect when 3D printing. The seam lines are a little bit big but I believe that has more to do with the resolution of my printer then the 3D file. The model and all the joints were created in Softimage. It was then exported as STL file via Zbrush. The final Boolean operations for the joints as well as some cleaning up of the geometry were done in Netfabb. The figure is about 7 inches tall. It has a couple of swapable hands and the weapons can be stored on the back of the figure.
Last edited by hauke3000; November 18th, 2013 at 11:19 AM.
Hide this ad by registering as a memberJune 5th, 2013 #2Registered User
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I tried doing the same with apoxie sculpt but any ball and socket articulation would break, things like making a cylinder fit into a narrower cylinder female plug worked but the grip would loosen over time. How durable are your pressure fit joints? Any cracks yet?
June 6th, 2013 #3
I have updated my 3D printed action figure. I thought the design of the first version was a little bit plain. Now the figure wears a more interesting armor and also has a second helmeted head. This also makes him look more futuristic then the previous version. Since the first figure was never able to hold his rifle too well I gave the new version two small guns instead. Those fit pretty well and allow a lot of poses. They also fit into the new backpack.
Here is the updated construction rendering of the 3D printed action figure. It can now move the head up and down as well as to the sides. The abs can move right and left now in addition to being able to tilt to the side. The feet can also tilt to the sides now allowing for some nicer poses. The new joints bring the total points of articulation to 34. I did not do any sanding on the joints this time. Therefore this figure has much tighter joints. It can even balance on one leg.
I did not want the parts of the old figure go to waste. So I made a new head for the old body to make a new character. Now Dan Generiko has somebody to fight with. :-) I made one new accessory for this figure: A hand holding the ripped off head of a cyborg drone. This adds a sci-fi element to the character and also shows that he is an evil guy.
Here are the two 3D printed action figures in action. Once they were brothers in arms but when Spike-Head turned evil and started enslaving helpless dwellers of the wasteland Dan Generiko had to stop him. They still wear partial outfits of the unit they served in together. At least that is my cheap explanation why the use a lot of the same parts. :-)
June 11th, 2013 #4
Hey Hauke, first of all, amazing work! This is really fantastic, and I can't wait to see more of it. Do you mind answering a few questions for me? I'm a digital sculptor, and have been working with 3d printers for a little while now, but I haven't done anything with articulation yet, and I am seriously interested since I love action figures.
Can you share a little about your process of making the joints, and fitting them together? Did you model the character normally in your 3d package, slice the arms off and add the joints afterwards?
Did you print each hand/arm/head/etc separately?
I'm a character artist, but have no idea what the process is like for creating joints, and making sure they fit. I'd really appreciate the help and I can't wait to see more!
June 15th, 2013 #5
* I actually made the joints 0.15mm larger for the substraction to have some room to plug them into the parts.
July 28th, 2013 #6
This is my latest attempt at a female action figure body.This female android was actually my first idea for a super articulated figure. But after some thinking I decided to start with a more muscular male character first since it would be easier to put the joints into a body that would not be so thin. I turned out to be right. The female figure works nice as well but is a lot less sturdy then the male figure. I actually had to glue some parts together to ensure stability while the male buck simply snaps together without any gluing. I also gave her less articulation in the hands since the joints would have turned out too small and fragile. However I gave her enhanced neck articulation and an additional joint in the ABS. She can now tilt her head to the side and can tilt the torso to the side even more. I since then made those additional joints for the male buck as well.
August 4th, 2013 #7
This is the painted version of the 3D printed female android figure. As with the previous action hero, the rough surface does not allow a super smooth paintjob. Still she looks kinda cool. I actually prefer the creepy human head with the painted version since it adds a little bit of bright colors to the figure.
August 15th, 2013 #8
can i ask what the total cost to produce one of these is?
I would love to purchase a few from you!
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August 16th, 2013 #9
October 8th, 2013 #10
This is a project I did for a client. He wanted a proof of concept for an articulated male action figure body type that can be used for customizing. The figure is 8 inch tall and it is the first figure I did that uses ball joints for the head, ankles and wrists. The pins to hold the elbows and knees together are also a first. Because of them I do not need to separate the forearms and lower legs which left very visible seams on my previous figures. It is also the first time I did articulated toes.
November 18th, 2013 #11
Here is another concept figure. It has fever joints then the others but is actually the most fun to pose. It is the first time I used a double jointed knee. I always thought double jointed knees and elbows looked weird but it does allow for a nice range of movement. I also gave this figure a split torso so the head, shoulder and pelvis joints are actually held in place by the two torso halfes rather then just plugged into the torso. A split torso with seams was another thing I thought might not look good but the seams can be hidden quite nicely. All in all I think this figure has the best ratio of articulation and sturdiness.
Here is a painted version of the alien cyborg. I am really happy how he turned out. The roughness of the print works quite well for the worn down bionics and the alien skin. The paintjob also does not get in the way of posing him. I hope to make more figures like him in the future.
I also set up a website for my 3D printed action figures you can see here: http://www.hauke-scheer.de/
December 28th, 2013 #12
My first figure based on the Alien Cyborg template. He is called Alien Enforcer. He is a combination of all new parts like the head and redecorated parts like for example the legs. All in all I am quite happy with him.
This is the Alien Assassin, my second figure based on the Alien Cyborg template. As with the Alien Enforcer he is a combination of new parts and redecorated parts.
I always loved human-tank-cyborgs like the Mandroid from the movie Eliminators or the Beast Machines from Power Lords. This is my own version of the human-tank concept. He also uses the Alien Cyborg body as a template but in this case a lot of new parts had to be made.
Since all the figures based on the Alien Cyborg body use the same joints as template it is possible to swap parts. For example you can use an alien body on the tank part of the Human Tank character.
January 2nd, 2014 #13
I painted the figures over the weekend and put them into a diorama. You can see the surface of the figures is still rough due to the printing but I think the look nice once printed.
January 5th, 2014 #14
January 5th, 2014 #15
January 23rd, 2014 #16Registered User
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Wow totally Rad!
March 11th, 2014 #17
This guy is called Steracorilla because well he is a mix of a styracosaurus, a stegosaurus and a gorilla. He was basically an experiment to see how I could give my box modeled action figures a little bit more texture using Zbrush. Therefore I made the base model in Softimage using traditional modeling tools. I then exported the files to Zbrush and masked off the parts that would have to stay smooth in order to make the joints work. The other parts got a rough surface using Zbrush brushes. The figure was then exported as STL file and finalized in Netfabb. The textures showed up fine after the print even on my Mojo printer that does not have a super high resolution. Especially once I painted the model the skin textures looked quite nice. I will continue to use Zbrush in the future to add fine detail like skin textures or scratches.
Here is the painted 3D printed Steracorilla figure in action.
May 24th, 2014 #18
I recently had to switch to a new 3D program since my old one will be discontinued in the next years. The new one is called Modo. It works quite well. The cool thing is that it has an in build sculpting tool that allows to make organic stuff like hair and fur much easier to be made then with polygon modeling. So far I made 3 figures.
January 5th, 2015 #19
These are my latest 3D printed custom figures. Their joints are a little bit different then my previous figures. I rely more on ball joints now that can simply be plugged into the sockets for the figure. The result is a much sturdier figure. I did not go super crazy with the articulation on these two but they can be posed quite well. On the other hand these guys are much more solid and feel a lot more like proper toys then all my previous figures.
The story concept is that mankind has given up the polluted Earth to go for the stars but has left most of its mechanical servants behind. Eventually those AIs started to create their own societies. The more humanoid looking androids made for direct human interaction thought of themselves to be superior to the simple robots that were made for crude manual labor. So they enslaved them to do their bidding. Eventually some robots rebelled and build a refuge out in the wastelands. Now these robots fight to free their brethren that are still enslaved.
1 Minute Ago #20
This is a line of alien action figures made via 3D printing using my latest incarnation of ball joints. This not only made the figures a lot sturdier then previous 3D printed ones, it also meant I could reduce their size a little bit bringing them to 6 inch scale. Furthermore since the ball joints can be plugged in I no longer have seams at the side of the figure. The story goes like this:
The great interstellar civilizations have perished in the last galactic war. All that is left of them are the wrecks of their fleets. Daring adventurers seek out these wrecks in search for lost technological treasure. Some do it to help the last remaining pockets of civilisation to survive. Others do it to find means of power. Who will find the ultimate treasure first?
I am also thinking about making a cartoon or a comic with them. Here are the toon render tests:
- - - Updated - - -
This is the first villain from the Space Wreck Scavengers figure line. I had a lot of different concepts as how the villains should look but in the end decided they should not look too differently from the heroic Space Wreck Scavengers. They are basically just another gang looking for treasure but for more selfish reasons then the heroes. There fore their equipment and looks are just a little bit more aggressive then the outfits of the heroes. The figure has the same articulation then the other figures from the line.
Now that I have my first bad guy I can make some proper fighting scenes.