Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Building Miniatures in Sketchup

I use Sketchup to do my solid modeling.  There are arguably better software packages out there but none are as user-friendly to a beginner as Sketchup. Couple this with the fact that the software is free and you get a wonderful addition to your collection of toys.

First off let’s talk about raw Sketchup.  The virgin version of Sketchup is pretty basic.  You get modeling tools to make basic vector shapes which you can then use the push/pull tool to extrude into basic 3 dimensional objects.  A lot of beginners never get past this point.  Oh.. you can draw a square and then extrude it into a box.  You can use this to make cylinders, squares, rectangles, strait tubes, etc.  The basic forms are essentially linear however.   In order to make a sphere you need to play with the “follow me” tool.  This tool allows you to take a vector shape and drag it along a path to make 3d geometry.  So a circle dragged across a circular path makes a sphere.  But you can also make pipes, a variety of semi-organic shapes this way.  In the paid version of Sketchup you can use a Boolean tools.  These tools take two solid 3d objects and combine them into one.  The Boolean tools are great but the same effects can be achieved by using the Intersect model or Intersect context tools and then erasing the surfaces and boarders you don’t want.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Sketchup is that it simply feels like it was meant for making houses.  Its shape tools make it hard to make truly organic shapes without complicated work.  All the tools are based off of lines and there is no way to manipulate faces directly apart from selecting them and using the move or scale tools.   Likewise its scaling is designed for much larger objects.  When working on a miniature I generally build it 1000 times the intended size and scale it down outside of Sketchup.  If I don’t Sketchup tends to lose faces and lines randomly.  For truly organic surfaces such as faces I’ve even started working at 10,000 times scale to insure no loss of fidelity.  But even with these drawbacks Sketchup’s tools are very powerful and its extensibility opens the door on what you can do.

Now the real place Sketchup shines is its plugins.  Sketchup uses an extension language called ruby.  It allows people to write scripts that add functionality to Sketchup.  And a lot of plugins have been written for Sketchup.  There are a large variety of sites that offer plugins both free and paid.  The best in my experience is a site called Sketchucation which offers both free plugins and a large support community.  I personally have somewhere around 50 plugins installed.  They do everything from simplify resizing a model to check if my model is solid.  They are a life saver.  I figured I’d jump in with a few plugins that I use regularly to work on miniatures.

These are presented in no particular order apart from it’s the order I copied the links.

Loop subdivision is a mathematical process that takes a surface and cuts it into smaller and smaller surfaces.  It turns a basic flat surface and makes it an organic rounded surface.  The general shape will remain the same but you lose the sharp edges and valleys in favour of a rounded surface. It’s like tossing things into a rock tumbler, the shape edges get knocked off and the shape smoothed.  It’s good for taking a linear shape and turning it into an organic one when you don’t need to maintain the precision of the shape’s boarder. 

SCF Power Toolbar is one of a collection of toolbars that SCF has made.  They collect a bunch of tools that are helpful into a single interface.  The power toolbar has a bunch of useful tools such as a scaling tool that can deform a shape and a tool that generates piping along lines.  The other toolbars have extensive shape tools, specialized selection tools, and view tools to help you navigate your model easier.

Softening in a model is ignored when you print in 3d so you might not think this tool is that helpful but it can be.  Softening can reduce the number of visible lines on screen helping your software speedup.  Also a softened surface can be selected as one rather than face by face, as a result it can help you when you have surface positioning to do.  Beyond all this it helps give you an idea of how the model will look finalized.

Smart Push/Pull is a plugin that adds functionality to the normal push/pull tool.  Instead of just dragging a surface in or out it allows you to maintain the integrity of adjacent surface effects such as bevelling. As with the regular push pull tool it only works on faces but now it will also extend adjacent faces resulting in a uniform extension of a surface.  This is helpful when you have to alter complex shapes after you’ve assembled them.

Component stringer takes components and arranges them along the facets of a line.  This allows you to build a shape and the arrange copies of it along a pre-constructed line.  The caviate is that it works best with lines made up of equal length segments. It allows you to make intricate cabling, chains, and similar structures made of repeated shapes.

This tool is used to take a shape and bend it along a curve.  You have to define the curve you want and it bends the shape to match the facets of the curve.  It has some minor issues with recurved surfaces but for the most part is quite effective.  The surface is essentially subdivided along each facet and then tilted by the degree of the facet before being reconstructed.  When working at small scales this process loses a lot of faces resulting in a lot of holes to fix.  Even at large scales it can give you some problems resulting in some geometry being lost.  Over all it is a great tool once you get a handle on how it works.

This is a tool which allows you to pull an entire surface.  This extrudes the same so it has thickness.  You can choose to pull the face, the joints, or the vectors each having a slightly different result.  It pulls everything along the vector of the surface’s centre making it a uniform pull.  It creates complex geometry however and as such isn’t suitable for basic push/pull operations.  It’s also of note that it acts on the surface you select so the original surface will be gone if you don’t duplicate it before starting the pull.  While this offers a lot of versatility in pulling surfaces it requires a lot of clean up after being used.

This is a toolbar that adds several tools that allow you to draw on a surface.  This is of particular use when trying to add detail to organic shapes.  The tools can seem buggy because they are affected by the existing geometry they are drawn on.  However they work well to design surface detail before using joint push pull to extrude them.

Round corner takes a selected line and bevels it to produce a smooth rounded edge.  It’s good to use on sharp corners to make a consistent surface that looks professionally machined.  I’m fonder of using flattened surfaces than rounded ones but this tool has both options.  It can cause some errors when you have complex surfaces such as those that have double curves.  But over all the geometry it creates is more consistent than you can produce by hand.

Curviloft is a tool that can take a group of lines and generate a face for them.  The resulting face blends the shapes together morphing the surface to make the best geometry it can.  Curviloft is sometimes finicky about the way it operates but overall it makes good surfaces that can really help you out in a pinch.

Like curviloft blend takes lines and builds faces. Unlike curviloft blend builds non-uniform organic shapes using curved lines.  The caveat is that the lines need the same number of segments.  You’ll end up with more bulbous shapes than curviloft’s smooth transitional surfaces.  This can be helpful when making strange organic shapes.

Shell is pretty useless when you are trying to shell a model that has any sort of under cuts.  However it is good at taking a selected surface and making a scaled surface a set distance away from it.  For example you could make an organic shape using blend and then run shell on that surface making two parallel planes.  Then a quick selection of the bounding lines and a run of curviloft will make an organic solid object of a uniform thickness such as a banner or cloth hanging etc.  Fun huh.

Fix solid is a tool which attempts to automate the process of repairing models.  It searches through a model and finds open gaps, stray lines, and such and removes or fills them.  It doesn’t work well with complex high poly models but it works great for simpler models.  I use fix solid before trying to manually repair anything.  While it doesn’t work well for my big organic models 9 out of 10 tries fixes the small parts.

If fix solid fails solid inspector is the next step.  It allows you to highlight and zoom to solid errors in your model.  Just open the instance of the model, run solid inspector and press enter. Bam takes you strait to the problems.  It helps you find problems and fix them before export.  If you get no other plugin solid inspector is basically required, unless you want to manually hunt down ever manifold error and gap in your model.

My Car Got Side Swiped...

So my car got sideswiped while parked at a restaurant early this week. I only mention it because it pisses me off so much.  I’ve spent a couple hours on the phone with my insurance company.  I have to go get repair quotes so they can get it fixed.  I’m not sure but I think the universe hates me lately.  Anyway, this means my free time is somewhat short.  I’m going to try and work on models as much as I can. After all I have to do something while I’m sitting in the lobby of a repair shop waiting for an estimate.

I'll post something gaming related later...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Golden Legion Background PT1

++++ Analysis Of De-Briefing From Pax Idron Survivors ++++

++++ Clearance Level Ultra ++++

++++ Ordos Eyes Only ++++

Survivor A00122zed identified as Lt. Calder Gideon 303rdPromenean Armored Division. Survivor suffering for acute mental trauma and severe physical distress. Survivor is 1 of 3 recovered of the 2532 man 303rd armored division deployed to Pax Idron…

“Idron was all fire and ash... and the howling… all night… I…My tank commander.. oh god sarcacen he… his face just melted… I god… e-e-mperor save me…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“…Commander Saracen ordered the column to halt just outside the plateau’s main cause way… the way into the mountains was sturdy volcanic stone but the causeway was made of a black marble of some kind… it was black and purple and… swirled inside… I’d never seen…”

[Chair scraping]

“I… I’m sorry…”


“the engineseers… they were so excited… Vulgor said…”


“…Vulgor said the stone was… phased… “

++++ recording redacted ++++

“no… I don’t know what that meant… I… they…”



“Vulgor was vaporized… they tried… they tried to cut it… but the stone… it released fire… like… a spray of promethium…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“No… we didn’t see anyone until we found the wall… The column just rounded a hillside and it was there…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“… the Manticores and Basilisks couldn’t scratch it…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“what?... oh… 300 meters high… it… was gold… it sloped outward… we tried calling in an air strike but… the weather was turning…General Vargas ordered the column to halt for the storm… it… it was that night the demons came…”



++++ recording redacted ++++

“… thank you… I… there wasn’t any howling that night… it was the first peaceful sleep… but they just appeared out of the fire… that horrible fire storm never stopped… It was like a rainstorm but… but… smoke and cinders… it…”


“… they tore through the defenses… the autoguns didn’t stop them… I… they touched the tanks and they started to melt… commander Saracen organized some men… we… tried to hold them off… I… I got separated… Ran… but they… they were everywhere… they herded survivors together and tore them apart… I… Ramirez he…”


“… we reached the wall… I don’t know how long it took… there were maybe 15 of us… lasguns didn’t… that damned wall penned us in… but then… I…”



“… it was as big as an ogryn. It was all black and purple…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“no… it didn’t make a sound… we… fired on them… but they ignored us…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“maybe 15…they…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“no that’s what scared us… they just ripped the deamons apart…with there bare hands… I didn’t see a gun at all…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“knives… about… yeah long… they threw them…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“don’t know… one went through one of those creatures though…right into a chimera… never seen anything do that…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“… well they ignored us… comm officer Geofries was in charge by then… only officer we had left… ordered us to find transport… we let the deamons and those… things fight it out for a while… We found an operational chimera and made a push for the camp edge…”

[chocked laugh]


“Those deamons were falling back by then… them black devils were out in force… they moved so fast… ran faster than the carrier would go…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“well we kept shooting till they were gone… the daemons left…then the black ones just… vanished… went into hiding and we didn’t see them again…dawn… came and we regrouped… fell back to the LZ…”

++++ recording redacted ++++

“yeah… pretty much… haha… same carnage every night… we made it to the staging ground after 3 or 4 weeks… everybody… they all…



++++ Recording Complete ++++

++++ Subject Terminated ++++

++++ Remains Cremated ++++

++++ Records Sealed By Order Of The Inquisition ++++

++++ Inquisitor Supplemental Notes ++++

The stellar cluster known as the Dragon Stars is where Pax Idron and its rogue star Sohtec currently reside though the star is migrating across the galactic plane towards Sectcum Pacificus and at present rate will enter Pacificus territory in 1943.33 years. Sohtec’s trajectory indicates that it originated somewhere within the eye of terror. Though the Dragon Stats have a documented propensity towards Daemonic incursion incidents of chaos warship and daemonic possession have increased 312% since the appearance of Pax Idron 155 years ago.

Archeological data recovered by inquisitorial forces on the Pax Idron indicates an extensive colonization by imperial military forces occurred approximately 10,000 years prior to the Pax Idron incursion. Indeed an extensive tunnel network and the presence of three collapsed hive cities indicate full scale colonization failed at some time in the past. Conflicting data records recovered from research facilities indicate that the planet Pax Idron was documented in Imperial record as the ice world Sanctuary 11 during the great crusade. Anecdotal evidence recovered from the surviving planetary structures corroborate the planets identity. No evidence has come to light regarding how Sanctuary 11 was transported from the Novos Sector of Segmentum Solar leaving nothing but a debre field to reappear as Pax Idron the wandering Daemon world nearly 10 millennia later. Evidence of mass graves, extensive fighting, tectonic shift, and decimation on a planetary scale indicate the answer for both the planets transposition and the death of its imperial defenders is most certainly daemonic in nature.

++++ End Inquisitor Supplemental Notes ++++

++++ Records of Archmagos Tre-Vor on Sample BXT92002123IDR ++++

The substance recovered from Pax Idron is properly described as a dense form of stellar remnant compressed by way of an unknown manner into a striated material resembling conventional stone. The material has colloquially been given the title of “Idron Marble” to describe its black, purple, and gold striations. Though its superficial appearance resembles stone its molecular structure us homogeneous containing a nano-compressed matter structure containing nearly 100 elemental components in crystalline suspension.

Its most prominent property is its physical density. The molecular structure is not dissimilar to materials produced as a result of nova or similar stellar discharge. However due to the tight coherence of the molecular bond during its compression process the materials have a near infinite capacity to absorb compression by distributing applied energy across its entire subatomic structure. Conversely it bears a near zero tolerance for torsion in tensile tests. The position and composition of bonds makes shearing the only alternative to flexion. It should be noted that even though the structure can be categorized as brittle due to the results of testing the material’s breaking point in tests exceeded the results of most comparable material making it substantially difficult to break or destroy through conventional means.

The substance bares a peculiar reaction to multiple energy frequencies and types exhibiting a unique morphology to multiple specra. The easiest of which to discern is its ability to absorbed multiple wavelengths of light and thermal energy making it ideal for some applications within weapon and starship design. Most note ably it displays the ability to absorb the infra spectrum of light rendering all but the most sophisticated targeter scans useless. Likewise thermal energy including fire and radiant heat sources become locked into the crystal matrix of the material. In this way stored as potential energy the material resists conventional cutting methods until the material reaches gross saturation levels. The resultant release of energy can be devastating and has cost the lives of 73 servitors and 4 adepts on the project. The material appears capable of also absorbing substantial friction and vibrational forces with minimal wear though the inevitable discharge makes it less than ideal for industrial purposes.

Along with its absorbent qualities its reaction to magnetic fields is equally strong. The introduction of oscillating magnetic structures results in the material ablating along molecular bonds with a minimal discharge of energy. The resulting flaking reduces the material in thickness allowing study of the materials properties to a greater degree of freedom. It should be noted that controlled ablation, while theoretically possible has yet to be achieved. It is likewise theorized that application of magnetic principles could rebuild the bonds of the material allowing a limited healing, though the energy required to do so is beyond practical limitations at this time.

++++ End Records of Archmagos Tre-Vor on Sample BXT92002123IDR ++++

++++ Field Dispatch of Brother Captain Falzarian of the Grey Knights ++++

By Inquisitorial order the Grey Knights have intervened on Holocost. The daemonic incursion has been dealt with for the moment and all signs of taint have been scoured from the planet. More disturbing are documented records I’ve attached indicating 143 sightings of the so called Idron Shadows. Sightings purport the Shadows have been waging a guerrilla war against the daemons on multiple planets in the sector.

Witnesses claim the shadows appear out of warp rifts much in pursuit of the daemons. If they employ some form of warp technology it is unknown. They have unilaterally ignored imperial forces though reports imply they have destroyed traitor forces at some juncture. Vid captures reveal the shadows to be humanoid, possibly marines though their features are obscured as they seem to absorb light. They bare heraldic markings in gold most commonly depicting 3 triangles arranged around a flame. At least one icon carved in an unknown substance depicts these 3 triangles arrayed around the number XV though the significance of this icon is unknown.

With the planet secured I formally request dispatch to track down these interlopers and if necessary purge them. Their association with daemonic forces may be indicative of taint in spite of the assistance they have rendered to date.

Yours, by the emperor’s grace

Brother Captain Gideon Falzarian

Grey Knights Strike Force Glamdering

++++ End Field Dispatch of Brother Captain Falzarian of the Grey Knights ++++

Thursday, March 22, 2012

MK0 Heavy Armor Marine (AKA: Exo Armor Terminator) update 1

MK0 Heavy Armor Marine (AKA: Exo Armor Terminator) update 1
This has become a big project to me, mostly because I really want it to work out.  I love the metal model and as such I'm sort of obsessed with making my plastic version just as cool.  My first version is currently visible on shapeways but I haven't made it purchasable because it won't print properly.  It has manifold errors I still need to sort out.  This model is also my experiment for shelling models.  I've thinned the model to 0.35mm so it is as cheap as possible in Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD).
For the next step in the design I have chosen to modularize the model.  I've cut the head, torso, shoulders, arms, and legs apart.  This will allow me to make the model possible.  As you can see in the image of the torso below the model has a fairly high polygon count.  I have one set of legs designed and might design another eventually though not right away.  The basic legs will be the standard stand at read design.  Its got a rounded waist so it can be looking up or down and so I can do walking legs later if I want.  The model has a strut that comes up and meets the belt at the waist, because of this the pivot joint for the strut is modeled on both the waist and legs to make a two part joint. Some sanding may be required to mesh the two because of this but it will look better in the end. In order to make the model separated at the waist I had to add a stomach plate.  This plate will mount across the joint between the torso and legs but I added some surface detail to the mounting point so it could remain open if you so desired. 
The head is a separate sphere so you can pose it looking where you want.  The arms it uses are the same size as my standard marine arms however I've designed a new "heavy armor" arm.  I'll likely include a heavy armor arm with storm bolter and a heavy armored powerfist with the design once finished.  That will give the standard compliment of weapons as a normal terminator model.  Part of what has taken so long with this model is that it spurred me to redesign my arms and powerfist ranges resulting in not just a cleaner shelled design but also new poses and designs.  I'll talk more on that later though.
The shoulders are a unique design made for this particular model.  The shoulders are high hunched things with a hydraulic cable running down them.  In order to minimize cost of the shoulder it is hollowed out in much the same way the traditional shoulder pads are but its so large it can't seat on the top of the arm.  As a result I had to add an arm mounting bracket inside the shoulder.  The same could be accomplished with a dollop of  green stuff on the mounting joint.   The shoulder pad's width is 11.5mm.  Some of you might recall the horrible sizing error that Red pointed out to me recently.  The "Heroic" scale shoulder pads are close to matching this width and don't look out of place on the model.  In particular I think they'd look at home in a heresy era army where cobbled together armor was not uncommon. 
Exo Armor Torso

Exo Armor Shoulders

Exo Armor Legs


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scythes of the Emperor Background PT1


dynath wrote:


Even before he was interred in the golden throne the emperor saw all. In his plans for mankind he paved the path for mankind's future through the stars. His vanguard was intended to the Primarchs. Humanity 2.0, but like humanity some proved unworthy. Some died to see the Emperor's vision protected while others made an even greater sacrifice for mankind's destiny. The Primarchs were never intended to be nothing but warriors to fight and die for the Emperor. They were intended to be the first of a new, better human race. Prototypes for a humanity which would rule the cosmos as the best the galaxy had to offer. In the annals of history two of those great warriors have been expunged from all records. The masses have been lead to believe that the turmoil of the age or perhaps an even greater betrayal than their fallen bothers has led to this. The truth is only known to a select few, among them their fellow Primarchs and the most senior of the high lords. The truth, it was not the greatest of betrayals but the greatest of sacrifices that erased these great warriors.


Following the death of the betrayer and the ascension of the Emperor humanity was in chaos and only decisive action could save it. The Primarchs debated amongst themselves what to do but eventually agreed that for the safety of humanity the numbers of their fighting forces must be limited.  As a first step the great legions were vivisected into smaller chapters not to exceed 1000 soldiers strong. They were restructured to serve no single lord so that if one should fall to temptation the rest would not follow. But the two lost Primarchs revealed a fatal flaw in the Emperor's initial plan. They and their legions were female, and decimated though they were, they alone granted the Emperor's new breed of mankind the chance to expand out of control.


Some amongst the Primarch's raged against the proposal. Their sisters, like them, had sacrificed so much and seen firsthand the sorrow of the Emperor's ascension. For their part the battle sisters of the forgotten legions accepted their fate and volunteered willingly. They could not allow humanity to collapse into darkness out of fear of their own protectors. And so they choose one last sacrifice. Knowing they would die the best amongst them hurled themselves after the traitors they had fought and vanished into hell itself. Those few left behind hunted down all who had seen their faces, all who knew their identity. Their very existence became a secret to be taken to the grave. And then when all record and memory had been extinguished they too journeyed into hell.


Though the Primarchs and their surviving warriors would know the truth they too would speak no more. Some would take this knowledge to their graves. Others would follow their most courageous sisters into hell. But none would speak of those who were to be forgotten. And so the fading of memory would claim them that none should know they ever existed.


But the Emperor's plans are never so easily forgotten. The technology to create the sisters was too precious to simply destroy. Instead it was sealed away. Likewise the genetic legacy of the forgotten Primarchs was equally important and was preserved in secret. It was planned that one day the Emperor's vision must come to fruition and when it did the blood of the forgotten Primarchs would be necessary. Recently some amongst the high lords have come to believe those days are coming.  As the darkest of days approaches mankind needs beacons of light. And so the Ordo Carnificum, the order of execution, was formed to execute the Emperor's grand vision. Numbered among the Carnificum's ranks is the Scythes of the Emperor, a chapter resurrected from the blood of those long forgotten Primarchs. Given task to execute the Emperor's will they strike deep into the corruption that rots the Empire and none may see their faces and live.


Monday, March 19, 2012

My First Post...

Ok so I've started a blog...
My intention is to use this blog to support my hobby. Most importantly to share my projects as i work on them for shapeways.
Now if you haven't found me through my shapeways store you might not know anything about what my projects are.  So let me explain that a bit.  I'm an avid 40k player who makes 3d printed parts for miniatures games. I have a shop on the 3d printing site Shapeways.  the URL for my shop is http://www.shapeways.com/shops/dynath.  In order to understand what I'm doing I should speak to my motivation a bit.
About a year and a half ago I got really depressed after an arguement with a freind in my local flags.  I was lamenting because I wanted to make a unit of female marines but couldn't find enough of the female eldar guardian torso's to convert them. This other guy yelled at me because Qoute "there are no female marines!" End Qoute. He wasn't even involved in the original conversation but as some problem gamers do he just invited him self to join the conversion conversation. He was so vehemant about it that it galvinized me to turn what was going to be a small project to make 5 female warriors into something greater.  Almost a week later a friend purchased an out of production space marine terminator in exo armor as a birthday gift.  the model which has a fairly substantial rarity is amongst my favorit and I began hatching a plot to reproduce it since I could never actually find another copy.  Eventually these two ideas converged to make a unified whole.
For my female marines I started sketching ideas. These weren't sketches of how to use female guardians to make a male marine look female.  Instead they were studies of the core armor marks that make space marines distinct and how a female varient of each armor would look compared to its male counter part.  I have a background in art you see and this type of study is the first sign that i'm obsessed with a project.  I spent roughly 40 bucks on eldar and dark eldar female bits and milliput.  I began trying my hand at sculpting a mark 6 torso out of female eldar gibblets.
My exo armor terminator sat on my shelf for a good 3 months while I sculpted my female torsos.  It taunted me.  Looking down on my paint bench. It was the first copy of the model i'd ever seen in person.  I wanted so badly to paint it but what if I messed it up.  And even more it just looked small next to my 40k space marines and particularly tiny next to modern terminators.  Finally I decided to attempt something I shouldn't advocate to anyone, duplicating the model.  Enitially I considered trying to make a mold of the model.  But two part molds are hard to make, even of old lead models that are pretty much flat.  But the real issue was it wouldn't solve my scale problem.
My female torso's were only suitable for use as plague victims.  While I have won some awards for my sculptures in the past the tiny scale of the torsos defeated my sausage fingers.  I was forced to re-evaluate my project.  For about a week I was frustrated that I couldn't do my project but then I found shapeways through a freind.  My good freind The Nefarious Mr. Crow found shapeways when he bought a custom phone case from a seller.  He pointed me to the site and discussed the possibility of having miniatures 3d printed.
It first struck me that the 3d printing idea would work best with the exo terminator.  I figured companies scan objects in 3d all the time. I had a physical object if I could scan it, I could scale it and have it printed larger.  By trade I'm a Librarian, I spend my time getting paid to help with research.  As such a few jaunts into the internet turned up David Laser scanner.  Its a software that uses normal webcams and line lasers on spacially calibrated backgrounds to scan images.  A small ebay order and i was ready to test my theories.
The 3d printing idea didn't seem plausable for the female marines because I had no tangable product to scan.  But at the same time I also knew that if I could scan something I'd have to edit it eventually.  So I also started researching 3d design programs.  I tested a lot of different softwares. Mostly the free ones or software that had a free trial.  The worst I worked with was Blender.  I kept adding menus on the screen and couldn't get a model made.  It has a great features on paper but the learning curve was beyond me.  Eventually I fell back to the old stand by, google.  I expected Google Sketchup to be minimalist and not worth the powder to blow it to hell. And at first that held true.  Then I discovered plugins.  Plugins made the free google sketchup work like a breeze.  I made my first model, a sword, in about 4 hours and was off like a shot there after.
I spend weeks trying to perfect laser scanning. the problem is that to scan an object of an size you need precision.  A hand held laser pointer isn't the way to go to get precision.  My point clouds came out as blobs without any resemblance to the figure.  I played with it tweeking settings trying different lasers, even borrowed freind's webcams.  But to no avail.  Now I know maker bots have been building laser scanners for a long time but there came a point where you have to debate the project's cost.  I wanted to try something new and maybe save some money.  Instead I was wasting time and the only way to get it to work might be to spend 80 bucks on a 3d scanner kit.  As cool as the idea to scan my freinds and print heads for my space marine army was it wasn't 80 bucks cool.  I couldn't even garentee a good 3d scan if I did by the kit because after all, I was the reason the hand scan thing wasn't working.  So after a month or so I was forced to call the duplication project quits.  I had failed and my exo armor terminator would remain alone for the time being.
On the other hand I had already made a sword in sketchup and figured out how to export it and then upload it to shapeways.  I really didn't know how to make complex shapes so I stuck to the easy stuff. I made a staff that I thought was pretty shnazy.  It was just a rod with bigger rods on either end with some other rings for detailing.  I made a power axe and then a power sword. And kept making things just to figure out how to do it.  And each time I'd toss it onto shapeways and maybe order a copy.  Eventually I came to powerfists and played around and made my first really original design.  It took me a long time to make and I kept the template so I could pose it as I wanted.  At the time I uploaded it to shapeways I thought, "hey, I can finally outfit a whole unit with powerfists".  Of course the rules of 40k don't allow that but who cares, I was excited. I could make my armies match and save some money as I went.
Over time i dreamed of my exo armor's eventual return. I played in sketchup and made a mockup of the figure. Unfortunately the mockup was a bunch of spheres and cylinders that didn't really look like the model I wanted.  I played with laser scanning a couple more times.  there's an app for iPhone that laser scans. It just turns out a wierd backdrop and a whole where the model should be.  And then theres this webservice that you upload multiple pictures to and it makes a composite 3d model from it. that just made a big brown nebula like thing that didn't work as a point cloud.  Eventually I made a Dalek in sketchup. It took me countless hours of watching tutorials to do. It was sort of a bridge from geometric models into more organic designs.
The female marines started as geometric designs which I exported into a software called Sculptris.  Sculptris is a digital clay modeling software with that wonderful free price tag. It crashed a lot and had its problems but it allowed me to smooth the cylinders into arms and legs. Once I had a body form I posed it and imported it back into sketchup.  Then I added the more geometric metal plates onto the body parts.  Occasionally i'd find a piece would be lacking and run out to 3d model sites and find something I wanted to incorporate. That would lead me to beating my head against it until I figured out how to reproduce shapes and forms.  Finally I had something that resembled my goal and was able to upload to shapeways.
By the time I finished my first printable female body parts I was getting requests from a variety of people regarding bits they wanted.  I hadn't really intended to make custom bits beyond those I got the urge to make.  But really what's the point of a hobby like this if you can't share it.  So I made a few custom weapons. And that lead to custom shoulder pads. And that's occupied my time for a long while.  Eventually I recieved an email politely requesting me to reproduce a model.  Impressively enough the model was non-other than the exo armored terminator I had been trying to produce for ages.
Female marines took more effort than I imagined possible. The first revision was some 4 armor marks in 5 possitions. With seperate torso and legs that was 24 models.  The of course I started revision two and had 3 or 4 people asking if I'd make mark 2, 3, and 4 armor as well.  Inspired by people's drive to see my work done I obliged. Not just adding the MK2, 3, and 4 armor but adding 5 new poses.  Some 40 models.  But I needed all the support designs too I couldn't just make female bodies. I had to do arms, heads, backpacks and so on.  I had this entire background writen for a female chapter so I needed shoulder pads and special weapons, and cool new toys to assemble and play with.  You know, the sort of stuff this entire hobby is about.
As I close in on doing 3d modeling for almost 2 years I'm coming close to finishing my exo armor.  I built a basic body which I've made progressively more detailed.  The design has been cut appart and modularized to make it posable.  I eaven took the time to learn how to hollow the model out making it lower priced and easier to produce.  I've become a huge fan of the shapeways process and hope the projects I make entertain those who by them.  For my part my project list grows more than it shrinks. When I finished my marines I was already considering what the next step would be in that line.  this has become a hobby of its own with all the same appeal as wargaming or miniatures assembly and painting.  And its a hobby I proudly support.