Saturday, August 5, 2017

Updating Old Models

Last week I had two very interesting conversations with some people who purchase my 3d models. It made me think about some designs I hadn't considered in a long time.

See I've been designing miniatures bits since around 2010, so going on 8 years.  My early designs were mostly experiments. You know messing with the software to see what I could do and maybe making something interesting.  It took a lot of time for me to get good enough to actually make something a person would want to buy.

This was also around the time shapeways was starting out and before the explosion of other printing services and sales services.  Before amazon got into the market, that sort of thing. Back then there were no real rules for model production.  You could make just about everything and each new model made gave some new insight to the shapeways engineers. That's how the design rules got made. Back then the wall thickness lottery was about the biggest hurdle. Well that and how slow the site was. It's still slow but the rules are clear and its easier to follow and correct issues thanks to the tools they've built. The automated thickness checker is fantastic.

Anyway what this has to do with anything.  Well basically a lot of my old designs are very simple.  To me back then it was great if a I could make a sword with a cylinder and tapered plate. This results in a lot of shitty looking weapon models being on my account.  I really wanted to make cool things but it took a lot of trial and error.  While I eventually became known for my shoulder pads I really have a huge number of weapons on my account that are... passable.

The conversations I had with a couple of people highlighted somethings of importance about my store.  All those models are sitting there and they haven't really been replaced or updated.  While I upload random Darth Vader helmets that show up in the stream of product releases but then my store shows countless poor quality models and the few dozen modern models I have done and made visible over the last few years.  While I have a huge amount of things not visible it doesn't really help my reputation that I have a lot of junk shown off.

So what's wrong with these models exactly?  Well there are 3 basic problems and one that's a bit more complicated.

The first problem is sizing. My early models were made before the establishment of wall thickness restrictions.  Thus many are very thin.  This is exacerbated by the fact that back then I worked on models transferring them between 4 or 5 programs to make them work.  I'd build something in sketchup, then output it to meshlab and/or netfabb, and then use some githhub application to check it. This often resulted in unit scaling issues.  It started the right size but then shrunk or grew as I exported it between programs.  A lot of these models are right at the limit of the shapeways printer tolerances.  If I was told it had to be 1 mm thick it was exactly 1mm.  Or at least it was intended to be.  The tolerance of the printer was of greater concern to me than the design of a miniature. So a sword handle being 1 mm thick was perfectly acceptable. Even if that looked odd on a miniature. But worse than oddly thin weapons is the breakage rate.  Many of them would break because they were so thin.

The second problem is basically model corruption.  Back before I was, you know, good, at modeling I used external software to seal models to make them water tight.  I think I used Caddspan a lot back then. There are a lot of those services but they all do the same basic thing. Take a model and wrap it in geometry as tightly as possible to make it sealed.  Shrink wrapping.  This results in a lot of lost detail and can make some really screwy geometry.  If its a shitty service it also leaves behind the old geometry resulting in weird internal shells. While the model is technically printable this results in a couple of really bad effects. First the preview is often corrupt in webgl. This is usually a symptom of the old geometry just under the surface.  Second the model often has some odd printing peculiarities. In my own models this seems mostly to manifest as scaling issues but I've also had components just not print even though they are in the STL file.  Worst perhaps is that the model is mostly impossible to recover with any quality if you lose the original model.  With a newer STL I can load the STL file and cut it apart or modify the surface to make changes as needed.  The old ones get all janky.  I also think that some of the models are corrupted when shapeways transfers servers or performs backups due to this bad model design. Cleaner models are always better I guess.

The third problem is sprues.  See when I started designing 3d models it was always intended to end up as a physical product as I understood them from my miniatures collection. It seemed natural to have sprues because my 40k miniatures came on sprues.  So I put a lot of my early models on sprue.  But the sprues would break during manufacture so I was told by shapeways to stop using sprues on my models.  So I stopped.  But then I started talking to a customer and he told me about shapeway's labor pricing was based at least partially on the number of shells in a model.  So basically shapeways tells me not to use sprues and then directly monetarily profits from me not doing so.  I think on my shoulder pads shapeways makes a good 6 bucks extra off the printing because I didn't sprue them.  Not that sprues are free but the labor policy is also pricey so its a bit of a damned if you do damned if you don't scenario.  What shapeways should really have said was "use thicker sprues" making sprues close to tolerance makes them more likely to break so think about the sprues as though you were going to cast them.

So what does all this mean?

Basically that I am going back and redoing all my old weapon models to do 3 things.  Make them thicker (particularly grips and polearms), make them water right without external software (this might not always be possible), and put them on thicker sprues (roughly 3mm thick).  Price wise this will likely be a wash as the increased thickness of some models will break even with the old labor costs.  However for some models the price may go down, a handful up, though I want to avoid that.

This also gives me a chance to fix something that annoys the fuck out of my about shapeways.  Every time they introduce a new material it just automatically turns on.  So I have a lot of models that are for sale in weird materials that are pointless for my purposes.  Note I'm not going to rescale anything for the new marines or anything like that.  I will correct errors where the model was intended to be larger but shrunk in process but otherwise nothing will grow but what is necessary to improve print-ability.


https://www.shapeways.com/product/9SW3GWZTG/mk2a-techno-tonfa-x10
     Note:
https://www.shapeways.com/product/MDVGSCV76/mk2-chain-tonfa-x10
     Note:
https://www.shapeways.com/product/T2S4LXMF2/mk2-techno-hammer-x5  
     Note:
https://www.shapeways.com/product/24JZ4RJT6/mk2-demon-hammer-x5
     Note: change sprue to allow higher detail printing
https://www.shapeways.com/product/YME7HJRTJ/mk2-techno-slicer-x5
     Note: change sprue to lower price
https://www.shapeways.com/product/PR4YVXVZW/mk1-techno-saw-x5
     Note:
https://www.shapeways.com/product/V7VUCJA6A/mk2-techno-nodachi-x5
     Note: change sprue to allow higher detail printing
https://www.shapeways.com/product/VDDM7Q5Q9/mk2-techno-mace-x5
     Note: double check head's wallthickness
https://www.shapeways.com/product/CUNTBQKV7/mk2-techno-kricket-bat-x5
     Note: 
https://www.shapeways.com/product/84RCS3CD9/mk2-techno-bats-x5
     Note: 
https://www.shapeways.com/product/3BW7CRW5F/mk1-techno-cleaver-x5
     Note: 
https://www.shapeways.com/product/2KF7YZJ7Y/mk2-techno-chopper-x5
     Note: 
https://www.shapeways.com/product/HPAVWQQ2Q/techno-katana-1-mk2
     Note: fix to be a 5up model
https://www.shapeways.com/product/RZZMFABY5/techno-katar-1-mk2
     Note: 






Models that need updated. mostly sprue requests. some correction for new models.
https://www.shapeways.com/product/GGQ9HHP2L/mk1-techno-katana-set
https://www.shapeways.com/product/PXTJDZAZE/angry-marines-power-kricket-bat
https://www.shapeways.com/product/W7YQRJTUN/angry-marines-power-bat-x5
https://www.shapeways.com/product/E2VZEUZ8K/dadao-sword-1stl
https://www.shapeways.com/product/BFPQDV4WC/techno-guan-dao-5up
https://www.shapeways.com/product/7QCA9R62L/techno-dao-5up
https://www.shapeways.com/product/8DHTY8YAX/techno-chain-talwar-5up
https://www.shapeways.com/product/C8NNU4R2U/techno-talwar-5up
https://www.shapeways.com/product/238FBCRBP/kung-fu-chinese-narrow-plate-rimmless-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/G9U68EKWG/kung-fu-chinese-narrow-plate-rimmed-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/NLRZYEPJ5/kung-fu-chinese-wide-plate-rimless-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/XE966K7X8/kung-fu-chinese-wide-plate-rimmed-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/ST6BT493K/kung-fu-shoulders-heavy-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/LYEG2XQJN/kung-fu-shoulders-male-rimless-001a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/EBCAQ8KXN/kung-fu-shoulders-male-rimmed-002a
https://www.shapeways.com/product/H2GZPDJCP/kung-fu-001a-chinese-two-plates-rimmed-001a


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How do Reiver and Eternals measure up

So i'm going to keep focused my measurement obsession for a bit.  Life has kept me from modeling for a while so measuring some purchased models is about all I can do.  I managed to pick up two things while I was out of town at my sister in law's wedding.  Specifically a box of Primaris Reivers and some clearance stormcast eternals.

Lets start with the Reivers.
These are the easy build reivers. I haven't seen the non-easy build on the shelf even if they are out.  My blood angels have a significant scout section so I'm not quite sold on the reivers yet but I like the models so I wanted to paint a few. While I generally hate the easy build crap marines I'll tolerate them here because these reivers are more going to be test beds for painting and they were only 11 dollars at my local flags. 

Primaris Space Marine Reivers
Head = W 7mm x L 8mm x H 7.2mm (head only) 8.5mm (with neck)
Notes: the necks are wierd, they have a flare at the base which makes them able to tern a bit, though this didn't work once primed so millage may vary.
Torso = W 11mm (shoulders) W 9mm (waist) x D 12mm (chest) D 13.5mm (with pack mount) x H 12mm (waist to neck) - collar 0.5mm
Notes: the body is missing the noticeable collars which I sort of like. I'd rather have had high collars on the sides and low on the front with this design but that's ok.
Legs  = Thigh W 6mm (w/o holster) x D 6.5mm x H 9mm (hip to knee)
Lower Leg W 6mm x D 6mm (calf) or 4.1mm x 4.1mm (ankle) x H 9mm (knee to ankle) [mk 10 legs]
Foot W 5mm x D 11mm x H 5mm
Notes: the legs are not the best cast on the crap marines. The calf plates have noticeable mold lines and the static pose is clearly done only to make the mold easier for the poorer quality plastic in use.  I hope the multi part models are better.
Arms = Upper W 4.5mm x D 4.5mm x H 7.5mm (Shoulder to elbow)
Lower W 4.5mm x D 4.5mm x H 5.5mm (elbow to wrist)
hand W 3.8mm x D 2mm x L 3.5mm (from wrist)
Fingers L 4.5mm W 1.2 mm
Notes: what's with the stupid hose on the sergeant's arm computer? the model's arm armor is virtually identical to standard marines and they have computers without cables.
Backpack = W 18mm x D 7mm to 4mm x H 16mm
Shoulder Pad - Left Only = W 9.2mm x D 6.5mm x H 10mm
thickness 2mm border 1.1mm Cuttout H 3.2mm x D 2mm
Heavy Bolt PistolW 3mm x L 14mm x H 8mm
Bolt Carbine= W 3.5mm x L 23mm x H 11mm

Combat KnifeW 4mm x D 2mm x L 24mm blade L 18mm W 4mm

I'm guessing the size of the bolt carbine a bit but think it will be similar to this. Generally a slightly shorter bolt riffle closer in dimensions to the classic bolter.  I'm very interested in equipping these guys with sniper rifles or carbines personally. I love my shotgun scouts, these could be just as interesting in my angels army if they get decent specs.

The shoulder pad only on the left side is interesting. I somewhat hate the asymmetry of that but also like it a bit. I personally would have loved the left shoulder pad to have a cloak or something drape down giving them a bit more visual interest.  I might convert the reivers this way with some greenstuff.


Stormcast Eternals

I picked up two boxes of these guys as well as some loose preassembled figures. The preassembled figures are crap marines, easy build versions of the Liberators and Retributors.  The boxes are Liberators and Judicators.  The crap marines are specifically to paint as I actually like the design of the stormcast eternals, particularly the liberators with their double hammers.  I want to paint them up as display figures with a white marble pattern with gold trim.  Maybe I'll paint the duplicates with a different pattern. Not sure.

The boxes will become a project for my blood angels army. The intent is that they will be converted and replace or supplement my honor guard, maybe proxy as sanguinary guard if I can find properly cool jump packs for them.  I'll need to 3d print some small bits including belt buckles and shoulder pads for them.

Ultimately I also just simply wondered what the difference in size was.  Everyone calls them "Sigmarines" I wondered how different they were.

Storm Cast Eternals
 Head = W 4.5mm (w/o halo) 7.2mm (w halo) x L 6mm x H 6.5mm (head only) 8.2mm (w neck) 12mm (w halo)
Notes: heads are slightly narrower than space marine or IG heads but look ok thanks to the halo. 
Torso = W  11.3mm (shoulders) W 9.3mm (waist) x D 12mm (chest) x H 12mm (waist to neck) - collar 0.5mm
Notes: no backpack mounts, the reliquaries add a lot to the hips.
Legs  = Thigh W 6.5mm x D 6.5mm x H 9mm (hip to knee)
Lower Leg W 7mm x D 6mm (calf) or 5mm x 5mm (ankle) x H 9mm (knee to ankle)
Foot W 5mm x D 10mm x H 5mm
Arms = Upper W 5mm x D 5mm x H 7mm (Shoulder to elbow)
Lower W 5mm x D 4mm x H 5.5mm (elbow to wrist)
hand W 4mm x D 2mm x L 3.5mm (from wrist)
Fingers L 4.5mm W 1.2 mm
Notes: the bracers on the lower arm add a 1mm thick pad on the lower arm.  The shoulders have a weird flat plate that goes over the shoulder making the addon shoulder pad rest on it, this plate is roughly 10mm wide making it bigger than space marine shoulders.
Backpack = W 18mm x D 7mm to 4mm x H 16mm
Shoulder Pad = W 12.5mm x D 9mm x H 6mm
thickness 2mm border 2mm Cuttout H 1mm x D 6mm
Sword = W 5.3mm x D 1.5mm x L 39mm hilt W 11.5mm D 2.5mm L 12mm
Short Sword = W 5mm x D 1.5mm x L 30mm hilt W 7mm D 2.5mm L 11mm
ShieldW 15mm x L 37mm x H 6.5mm
HammerW 11mm x D 5mm x L 23mm pole W 2.5mm L 15mm
Two-handed HammerW 20mm x D 6.5mm x L 44mm pole W 2.5mm L 33mm
Crossbow = W 4.2mm x L 35mm x H 9mm [just the base, not including the bow arms]

Over all we see a trend here.  For the most part the stormcast eternals are actually just slightly smaller than the primaris marines.  That surprised me but also doesn't.  They have a strange visually wider stance than classic and new space marines making them look bigger but they are a bit shorter with some thinner arms than new marines.  Their design over all is a bit thicker but this is concealed with the curved edges of the models.

The biggest annoyance is the fact that the shoulders and torsos are a bit to different from marines but can be modified during conversions.  Their weapons are a bit larger, more in keeping with the grey knights weapons than other marine chapters.

I was disappointed to discover the judicator crossbow things are a bit bigger than bolters. I was hoping i'd be able to do a quick swap of a bolter into the waiting hands but it will take more than that to get the exchange done. All in all though the basic stormcast eternals will be pretty easy to modify for 40k.

Monday, June 26, 2017

On "True Scale" Primaris Marines

Ok, I've complained enough lets dive in.

So how different in size are the Primaris marines.  Well, in order to 3d model bits I've done a lot of random measurements on marines over the years. I do this with a drafting caliper and micrometer.  Generally I round these to usable measurements in my modeling software.  I'm nerdy enough to have done this on all the marks of armor and types of armor from various generations of 40k miniatures.  But here I'll isolate my measurements to the most common marine armor (in my collection at least) Mk 6.

So here are my measurements from Mk 6.  These are from newer 40k models, specifically the blood angels release from 7th edition.  Older models are mostly the same with a bit thinner upper legs and arms.

Traditional Space Marine
Head = W 8.5mm x D 8mm x H 7mm (head only) 9.1mm (with neck)
Torso = W 12mm (shoulders) W 9mm (waist) x D 10mm (chest) D 11.5 (with pack mount) x H 10mm (waist to neck) - collar 3mm
Legs  = Thigh W 4.5mm x D 5mm x H 8mm (hip to knee)
Lower W 6mm x D 7mm x H 8mm (knee to ankle) [mk 6 legs]
Foot W 5mm x D 9.5mm x H 4mm
Arms = Upper W 4.5mm x D 4.5mm x H 7.5mm (Shoulder to elbow)
Lower W 4mm x D 4mm x H 5mm (elbow to wrist)
hand W 3.5mm x T 2mm x L 3.5mm (from wrist)
Fingers L 3.5mm W 1mm
Backpack = W 18mm x D 6.5mm to 4mm x H 15mm
Shoulder Pad = W 10mm x D 6mm x H 8mm thickness 2mm border 1mm
Powerfist = W 9mm x T 5.5mm x L 9mm
        -  Fingers L 7mm W 1.8mm
Bolter = W 3.5mm x L 18mm x H 11mm
Plasmagun = W 4mm x L 22mm x H 8mm
Meltagun = W 3.5mm x L 24mm x H 8mm
Bolt PistolW 3.5mm x L 12mm x H 8.5mm
Sword = W 4.5mm x D 1.5mm x L 31mm hilt W 6.5mm D 2.5mm L 10mm
AxeW 12mm x D 3mm x L 28mm pole W 2.5mm L 17mm
HammerW 18mm x D 3mm x L 32mm pole W 2.5mm L 24mm
Spear = W 7mm x D 4mm x L 51mm pole W 2.5mm L 30mm

Note: limb measurements are done from Joint center to joint center

So here is my measurements for the new primaris marines. These are from the Dark Imperium set, when GW releases stand alone kits there might be some variations.  Wherever possible I compared multiple figures to get the measurements averaged.  Some items not in the kit are estimated based on general size comparisons of existing parts but I'll talk about that later.

Primaris Space Marine (MK 10 Default armor mostly)
Head = W 8mm x L 8mm x H 7.2mm (head only) 8.5mm (with neck)
Torso = W 11mm (shoulders) W 9mm (waist) x D 13mm (chest) D 14.5mm (with pack mount) x H 12mm (waist to neck) - collar 2mm
Gravis W 13mm (shoulders) W 18mm (waist) x D 22mm (chest) D 18mm (with pack mount) x H 13mm (waist to neck) - collar 3mm
Legs  = Thigh W 6mm x D 6.5mm x H 9mm (hip to knee)
Lower Leg W 7.2mm x D 7.2mm x H 9mm (knee to ankle) [mk 10 legs]
Foot W 5.3mm x D 11mm x H 5mm
Gravis W 7mm x D 7mm
Arms = Upper W 4.5mm x D 4.5mm x H 7.5mm (Shoulder to elbow)
Lower W 4.5mm x D 4.5mm x H 5.5mm (elbow to wrist)
hand W 3.8mm x D 2mm x L 3.5mm (from wrist)
Fingers L 4.5mm W 1.2 mm
Gravis W 5.5mm x D 5.5mm
Backpack = W 19mm x D 7mm to 4mm x H 16mm
Shoulder Pad = W 11mm x D 6.5mm x H 8.5mm thickness 2.2mm border 1mm
Gravis Shoulder W 11.5mm x D 6.5mm x H 8mm thickness 2.5mm Chevron 2mm border 1.5mm
Powerfist = W 9mm x T 6mm x L 9mm
        -  Fingers L 7mm W 1.8mm
Bolt Rifle = W 3.5mm x L 23mm x H 11mm [extended 3.5mm @ front]
Plasmagun = W 4mm x L 31mm x H 14mm
Meltagun = W ~3.5mm x L ~28mm x H ~11mm
Bolt PistolW 3.5mm x L 12.5mm x H 8mm
Sword = W 4.5mm x D 1.5mm x L 38mm hilt W 6.5mm D 2.5mm L 12mm
AxeW ~14mm x D ~3mm x L ~32mm pole W 2.5mm L ~20mm
HammerW ~21mm x D ~4mm x L ~36mm pole W 2.5mm L ~28mm
Spear = W ~8mm x D ~4mm x L ~60mm pole W 2.5mm L ~38mm
Note: limb measurements are done from Joint center to joint center

Thoughts
So generally the Primaris limb parts are scaled on average by 122% this varies from 112% to 133%. Usually this works out as 133% to the length while 112% to the width.  But this really isn't applied uniformly.  The scaling is really done to make the marine feel bigger without it being scaled to much.  If the marine was uniformly scaled you'd end up with it feeling the same unless it was sitting next to a classic marine.

The torsos are roughly the same, just taller and ever so slightly thicker.  The chest and back are bulked out a tiny bit. Cut the belt off of a classic torso and add a spacer to add height. Then a thin layer of plasticard between the halves could easily make a classic torso thicker to fit Primaris if you wanted.

Arms are roughly the same length so you won't get a lot of problem using the old arms. If you have to change them a tiny bit of length is added to the lower arm. You can do this by adding a spacer to the wrist or maybe just extending the upper arm below the shoulder pad seat.

There are minor tweaks to the shoulder pad size.  This strikes me as odd, the shoulders, particularly on Gravis armor and Inceptor squads, are a bit flatter than classic models but otherwise unchanged.  What I could make out and measure, in spite of the way these crap marines are molded, is that the seat for the shoulder pads look roughly the same. If anything they might be slightly smaller than old marine arms by a few nanometers. We'll see more when GW makes proper Primaris rather than crap marines.  

Legs are trickier.  Pretty much every part is longer.  Adding spacers to the thighs is easy enough on most older legs.  The lower legs tends to be more problematic with the knee pads and decorative elements like eagles and such. The feet are also taller which is interesting. You actually see more of the foot than with old marines. I'd probably cut off the foot and add a plasticard plate on top.  This is mostly in keeping with how true scaling is normally done. Though if i was trying to convert something into primaris marines my goal would be to preserve the lower leg armor so I'd avoid the traditional lower leg spacer.  Instead I'd focus on adding to  the feet and a longer spacer in the thighs.

The new bolters are effectively the same as the old but stretched out by 133%.  you could easily add a 3.5mm spacer right before the barrel.  The plasmagun, sorry hellblaster?, its much longer and has a lot more detail but mostly just seems like the back of a melta gun bolted to a plasmagun. Bolt pistols are identically sized but new sculpts which is cool. Swords are slightly longer but the difference won't be really noticeable. I've estimated a bunch of other weapon sizes.  Mostly they've all grown 30% larger in length and width but their heft and hilts are the same.

Over all modifying primaris is going to be harder because they have a lot of greeblies added by default. They all have holsters, pouches, and crap added on. This is a bit of a disservice to the otherwise good armor design.  Though I will admit they do look more like active military with those addons.

I don't care for the Inceptor armor's added power cables on the legs and arms. It seems out of keeping with the otherwise cleaner design of the new armors.  I'll likely just remove them, because they are stupid.  Please, no one try and justify them to me. The armor the Inceptors are in is significantly bulkier than the normal Mk 10.  there is plenty of room to put the stupid cables between the 2 plates of the normal Mk 10 and the added armor.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ages Gone

It's been ages since I've been on here.  I've been dealing with a lot of health issues.  They've taken a tole on both my ability to model and my disposable income to support hobbies.  They are slowly resolving and I recently hit a point where I could get back into 40k again.

Yeah 40k.

So. I have to get something off my chest.

A friend got me a copy of the Dark Imperium boxed set and I've been looking forward  to it for a while.  First let me say I like 40k's plot advancing. I even sort of like the new Primaris crap they are doing.  I'm not a fan of "True Scale" marines but then I've never thought of my little figures as anything but little figures.  If I bitched that a space marine was the same height as an imperial guardsman I'd have to complain that no space marine could fit through the side door of a rhino.

I'm disappointed in the dark imperium boxed set. I like the rule book and the quality of packaging.  But these models piss me off.

GW tells us, Oh Primaris can work for any chapter. Except the Primaris kits in Dark Imperium lack possibility. You can't swap shoulder pads, you can't even swap weapons easily.  These are 7th generation Crap Marines. Not familiar with crap marines?

I've long used this term to describe marines from the old starter boxes. It started with the marines that had a gun just snap to their chest. Over the years the crap marines have gotten prettier but they are still crap.

I got into 40k to build my army not theirs.  A few months from now the real Primaris kits will come out I'm sure.  Hopefully they come with changeable torsos, shoulders, arms etc.  This molding shoulder pads to arms and affixing half the torso to the legs pisses me off.  Its hard enough to do after market bits for my chapter without this shit.

I wanted to get into age of sigmar but the same shit pissed me off.  The storm cast eternals are built the same way. you get 6 poses and that's it.  Fucking idiots. customization is one of the few things GW's models have always had going for them. They aren't the best quality anymore.  And while 8th edition rules seem better on paper time will tell if they will be crap like most other editions ended up.

Anyway, assuming the primaris shoulders are the same interior size as the old shoulders I'll make some new shoulders for them when they get real kits not crap marine kits.  I want me some blood angel intercisor sqauds.

Of note, the Intercisor shoulders are larger and flatter than traditional shoulders and the Gravis shoulder is even larger and flatter.  I think Gravis shoulders are actually wider than terminator shoulders.  My poor beleaguered termi's will sit on the shelf longer now.  I miss autocannon fire :(

Anyway the list of things that piss me off today...

* Two part leg design
* shoulder pads built into arms
* torso backs built into legs
* backpacks not being the same size as old backpacks
* the extra little peg on the bottom of the new heads
* bolt "Riffles" - so the old bolters didn't have riffled barrels to prevent their rocket propelled rounds from drifting off target? Cause you know, that's why riffles are called riffles right GW? Right?
* 300 different base sizes.
* any soldier in a brand new army being called an "Ancient" its supposed to feel new guys. Even just call them veterans would be tolerable.
* power swords being 4mm longer. they didn't need to get bigger.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Considering a Software Change

I haven’t been adding new products to my Shapeways store for a while as I’m trying to fix models that have been messed up by changing material specifications.  This has lead me to a troubling realization.
Trimble Sketchup is going downhill fast.

I’ve been a big proponent of the software for a long time. When I started doing 3d modeling I was pretty convinced it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Its learning curve was very low as most of its tools made clear ideological sense coming from a 2d design background.  It’s overall functionality was low but extensibility meant that the community presented easy solutions to functionality it lacked.  It was over all stable until you tried to something that was absurdly complex (billion triangle models suck in any application).  And above all its community was very helpful to new comers this was extremely helpful for preventing overwhelming oneself with self-created problems.

In the 4 years since I started using sketchup to model miniatures I’ve gotten much more skilled with my modeling.  I can now do what I once did much faster and more efficiently making it possible to avoid many pit falls I once ran into that wasted my time and efforts.  I know how to make models water tight the first time rather than use 3rd party software to achieve the same result. I no longer need to rely on geometric shapes when I can craft semi-organic forms from scratch in half the time.  In the end I’m just better at doing what I once did without hassle.

The trouble is that in those 4 years Sketchup hasn’t evolved.  It has gone from version 8 to 2013 (v9) and no significant changes has occurred.  Small annoyances like my toolbars staying in place have been fixed and the total zoom level has been improved.  But the core is exactly the same.  It can’t open or import any new file types.  Important functions added by outside plugins such as auto-softening, solid solving, and complex 3d shapes haven’t been addressed by the actual design team.  The ruby api used by Sketchup is dated and grows more so every day.  The community which was once so supportive seems divided and bitter with half lamenting the new direction of the software and the other half lamenting anyone lamenting the software.  Sketchup is even still a 32 bit application.  I own 7 computers and everyone is a 64 bit machine, hell my phone is 64 bit.  I have 16gigs of ram in my desktop and can’t use it when working in sketchup’s 3d environment but can when working in photoshop’s 2d environment.

Perhaps the biggest reason I am growing increasingly morose about sketchup is how slow it has gotten.  I did a test. On my desktop, with that 16 gigs of ram and a 3.4gig quad core processor I installed an old copy of Sketchup 6, another install of Sketchup 8, and finally Sketchup 2013m2. I installed no plugins. Then with no other programs running I loaded a new file into each one and saved it.  Then one at a time I rebooted, loaded a version of sketchup and opened the completely empty file I had just saved, doing so I timed how long it took to actually open the blank file.  I did this 15 times each.  On average the fastest was Sketchup 6.  The oldest version loaded the quickest at 3.5 seconds.  Followed by sketchup 8 at 5.2 seconds. And finally the newest version of sketchup at 13.8 seconds.  I know, 13 seconds isn’t a drastic hit on the surface but that’s an empty file.  Do the same with a big file you have geometry in.  I am regularly wait a minutes for files to load.  And that’s just opening, it took 63 minutes to import a model I was working on from Sculptris.  The same model took 36 minutes to import in Sketchup 8.  Twice as long.  Twice.  God that was boring to time too. No wonder I don’t want to do that on my lunch break anymore.

I want to find an alternative to sketchup but there aren’t a lot of those out there.  Yes there are softwares that compete with sketchup but not a lot that are what I’m looking for.  Firstly: Cost, in the long run cost is an issue this is a hobby and I don’t have unlimited funds so I need low or reasonable prices (for the companies that read this I mean it needs to cost less than a whole paycheck).  Secondly: usability, software interfaces should be designed for ease of use not overwhelming to a new or seasoned user (it should be like getting into a car each one is different but you can recognize the damned steering wheel).  Thirdly: Interoperability,  3d modeling requires a bunch of transferring files about to deal with different types of modeling and testing models etc that means you need compatibility with a lot of formats or one major universal format (this doesn’t include STL, stl files are final output and lose all the stuff like scaling and surface directions and important stuff like that).  And lastly: Expediency, software should work quickly with as little hassle to the end user as possible (this seems obvious but a lot of software especially cloud based ones seem to forget this in favor of being proprietary or cutting edge when unnecessary).

The usual answer I get suggested is Blender.  First let me say frankly I consider Blender a bad piece of software.  Oh it works, it does… stuff. But it doesn’t do it in any way that is remotely intuitive.  You can’t just sit down and use Blender.  You have to watch a tutorial, you must take a class, you need to read a book, etc.  Sure there are a lot of extensions and that add compatibility but over all its clunky and I find it slow.  It gives me headaches because anything I want to do with it is hidden behind a different interface I have to find then figure out how to access and is generally not what I wanted in the first place because I don’t know what terminology the blender community has made up to cover what I’m actually doing.

Then someone will mention all those cloud base services like 3d Tin, Tinkercad, or Insight3d.  there are literally a hundred of these things. But they all are limited in the scope of what they import and export and even if they could import just about anything it takes forever to upload files to a server most days where I live.  Having to import/export 15 times as I’ve done with some models would waste 2 hours on its own.  There is also the iffy-ness with end user licensing on some of those sites.  They usually get the rights to use your files as examples and frankly that’s a pretty big violation of my ideas on intellectual property laws, I should have to give away something I designed just for the privilege of using someone’s halfhearted software service to design it.  All these cloud services are really just trying to cash in on the idea of software as a service but SaaS is only of value if the service they provide is wanted, I don’t want to be limited to their file types and browser window layouts, and lack of extensions, etc.  They are con-jobs with no real value unlike larger services like Office 365 which gives you more value for your buck.  There are also a lot of these services who restrict use based on commercial vs personal use which I find patently ridiculous.  If I am given a truck for free it doesn’t change its value if I use it to drive to the grocery store or if I use it to ship sheetrock back and forth to job sites.  It’s still a truck, a tool to do with as I will, IE its mine regardless of how they want to play with it.  This is particularly annoying with autodesk’s 123D tools which they want to sell you under a “Premium membership” for 120 dollars a year so you can sell your own creativity.  Guess what, can’t guarantee I make 120 dollars a year on 3d models so why would I pay you?

So what am I considering? Well the list is below.

Metasequoia4 – interesting, the interface looks decent enough, I’m going to test it out but the 150 dollar price tag for the functions I might use regularly (unit display, measure thicknesses, and FBX import/export) might be a deal breaker if the interface isn’t good enough.

ArchiCad 17 – I’ve been told the interface is well structured.  It’s foremost an architectural tool but has 3d design options. I might try this out. Again the price is high, a little to high for my tastes but I’ll let it try and blow me out of the water.

Moment of Inspiration 3d – a design based software focused on ease of use for the artist.  A good idea I’d like to try it out and see how user friendly it is.  Price is 295 for the full version so its out of my general price range (if I can’t justify 120 bucks 295 is out of the question).

Hexigon 2.5 – I’ve actually owned this software for about a year.  It was given away by Daz so I jumped on the download but never installed it. I’d like to try it out see how the interface is. Free is always a good but it’s likely designed for a more technical user base.

Silo 3d – someone raved about the interface of silo so I should probably give it a try.  Its relatively affordable at 100 bucks at the moment (usually 150 so not terrible).  Not sure what formats it supports or modeling tools it has, it talks about switching between “organic and edge” based modeling.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Updates

Well now it has been a while hasn't it.

I find myself waxing nostalgic and I remembered I was once a blogger among my many other hobbies. Since the middle of October maybe before I’ve been pretty heavily occupied.   It started of course with several commissions from fairly large miniatures manufacturers. But it quickly escalated as December, the holidays, and my wedding day arrived.

At this point I haven’t worked on my models in months which saddens me.  I’m also sad that some of the commission work I’ve done hasn’t actually been released yet. In particular the defense lines from Chapter House’s kickstarter which were an extensive product I’m proud of.  Still I am not in control of that stuff so I shouldn’t let it bug me.

I’ve had a lot of requests for different designs, mostly space marine bits. I’ll fill these in bit by bit as I get the chance.  My work schedule has imploded due to layoffs so my free time is not what it was.  But I still enjoy this part of the hobby. Truthfully I think the 3d modeling and printing is more fulfilling than playing 40k for me since 6th edition launched. I’d personally like to go off on a rant about how GW’s hodge podge releases are killing the game or how their disguising the price hikes as mini-rereleases sickens me but truthfully my vested interest is pretty much at an end.  I can’t really feel angry at Games Workshop for their business plan anymore, it’s just, sad.

But all that is unimportant when we are talking about 3d printing miniatures.

I’d like to firstly say I get way to many “copy this” requests.  I think I’ve become a magnet for such requests because my big starting project was space marine shoulder pads which are arguably copied designs. (I disagree by definition the addition of any amount of creativity makes things unique designs and I believe I had done that, but I digress).  My point here is I’m going to have to be more discriminatory on this issue.  Companies like Games Workshop are being more restrictive on such issues but even companies that make real world products would have recourse for legal action on the issue if they cared.  Mainly I’m inclined to lean towards simply producing original designs or variants with high degrees of originality. People are free to request anything they want but I encourage you to also consider that I’m free to refuse requests as well.

Secondly I get a lot and I mean a lot of requests for pictures of my products.  I’ve been pretty torn on this issue for a long time.  I have had these requests pretty much from day one on Shapeways.  On the one hand I agree it’s a bit miss leading to put up digital images of a product to be ordered in print.  On the other hand I’ve said before I don’t have a camera that will take good miniatures photos.  There is something bigger at work here though.  Put simply I don’t have time or money enough to order prints of every single product.  And many things I wouldn’t order prints of even if I had all the money in the world.  I don’t want copies of everyone’s custom shoulder pads and I don’t have the need for 500 swords. Even further beyond that is simply I don’t want to take a thousand photos.  I’m not a salesman.  I make miniatures for the fun of it.  Taking it seriously and treating it like a business takes that fun away. It was a nice lark to have Chapterhouse, Blood and Skulls, and others treat me as a professional but this is a hobby to me.  I don’t take pictures of my 40k armies and stick them online I’m not going to do it with the bits I make either.  Now this does make things a bit awkward at times, hard to imagine bits and such can be problematic. I’ll be making adjustments as needed upon request and maybe that’s not good enough for some but It’s the best I can do. At least until I no longer have a home to take care of, a wife to love, a job to go to, and at least a dozen other hobbies to indulge (maybe if I kick one of the hobbies I might take up miniature photography). 

On a happier note, I’m officially buying a 3d printer.  Specifically a peachy printer.  The peachy guys were kind enough to let me pledge late to their kickstarter so I’ll be getting one in a few months.  The peachy printer is a high detail photo-resin printer that uses laser pointers to solidify resin.  It’s oddly sound driven with a water drip system to control the z axis which are really unique features.  The important point is they are affordable.  Not affordable like companies often claim where you have to spend 2 or 3 paychecks to make the down payment but actually affordable, about twice the cost of a standard printer. It uses Blender for its model output which saddens me but I can deal with importing models from a good software package into blender.  Its detail resolution is about .2mm at the moment and they are trying to improve that. This is roughly analogous to Frosted Ultra Detail but its resin meaning it has no frosted surface and could theoretically be printed smooth.  Once I receive this printer I intend to do several things.  First, dance around happily.  Second, lament for days about where to set it up, likely getting yelled at by my wife everytime I try to take over the living room coffee table so I can play with it and watch tv.  Third, I want to test print some of my catalogue of miniatures, specifically some full figures I’m working on, stuff that really needs tested for sizing before being sent off to Shapeways. Forth, I hope to test some of my larger designs, Shapeways is prohibitively expensive to print large things like vehicles so I’d like to try and test some that might eventually be sent off to a design studio for casting.


Anyway that’s a good update for now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Man I'm having a great day.

Man my day is going just fantastic.

Shapeways apparently changed the limit on bounding box size from being by object to being by shell. this means that though the total object (IE entire stl) is above the limit a single shell or part in that object is not and thus failing.  

<<<Begin Rant>>>
So I resolved the error of thickness on many of my models and come to find out a new bounding box rule has been put in place making some of my smaller objects mess up.

Sigh.

You know what shapeways, I'm starting to feel like an abused girlfriend.

You want me to make objects conform to all your rules. Fine tell me the rules when they fucking change.  Or when things are added. Just email me when you change your design rules page. is that so hard to ask. or maybe have a changes notice when I log in.

Or maybe. and this is a bit of a radical suggestion here.  Maybe you should have the upload tool check for things like Minimum bounding box size.  Cause see I believe things like wall thickness are hard to check. But bounding box size is not. its something video games on my iphone can check without straining the processor.

I just repaired these files and uploaded them and it didn't error then. If your size check would have just checked this I wouldn't have to be embarrassed yet again when dealing with my very pleasant customers.

They've been very nice and patient while I fix things.  I've been frustrated and melancholy about problems with files I thought I was done with.  But they have been polite and understanding.

Don't get me wrong shapeway's, your support team has been nice and all. Always so keen to tell me what I've done wrong. But that again is sort of the abuse of it all. Its all my fault. Its all my mistake.  Nothing you could have done would have fixed this.  No notice sent out would be helpful, no I have to obsess over design rules I thought I learned every time someone orders a model I made a year ago.

Rules like this minimum bounding box and the ever changing wire rules. the lack of clarity on what's detail vs wall rules.  And even the constant wall thickness lottery are symptoms of the same abusive relationship.  You don't know how and when to talk to me.

See I'm getting married so I've been thinking a lot about relationships.  My soon to be wife and I love each other.  Spending time with eachother isn't' a chore its a joy.  We have different interests but we share and enjoy that we are each different.

Now shapeways, I like you a lot.  We share this great hobby of making digital objects become physical but really all there is between us is the physical.  I have spent countless hours trying to make things perfect for you but you're never satisfied.  You just keep raising the bar. over and over again.  If its not what you wanted you could have told me to make some changes when you're demands changed.  But no I have to be blind sided with things. And there are my friends who just want to by some miniatures caught in the middle.  So I have to scramble and redo the whole damned thing to satisfy you. If I don't someone's feelings will be hurt.

And lets not talk about the pricing. Everytime I have to fix stuff for you the price seems to go up. Things get blown a little bit bigger each time and what happens? You get to charge a teeny tiny bit more.  My friends pay the consequences of you not telling me what I need to do.

It just gets old shapeways. you have to tell me things before an issue arises.  Not when things go bad but before they fall apart.  All I want you to do is talk to me.  Is that so much to ask.

Oh yeah and I want you to call fucking Netfabb and have them build you a proper design rules check algorythim for me to test things with before upload.  Fuck.


<<<End Rant>>>

After some consideration I will begin backing up my STL files from shapeways with the intent of removing them from the service.  The goal being to pull everything down and fix it before returning it to sale.  This will be time consuming, frustrating, and will likely mean many products are never returned to shapeways.  but it also won't happen while I'm doing a wedding so it will likely start in February or march.  sigh.