Making a 3D printed Toy

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in 3D Printing, ALL, Robots

First off, Hello! I’m David White, a freelance illustrator and toy designer who loves giant robots. I’ve been using skills I learned as a video game artist to bring my drawings into the third dimension. My toy making journey is well into year 3 and I have learned a lot about 3D printing though trial and error. My printing buddies Sanjeev and Ben have also helped a lot.

Be sure to check out this companion post to see some glam shots of the final models… ROBOT ENVY ZENITH REWARDS

Second off, making toys is HARD! I won’t candy coat it like so many other people who preach that everything is amazing and easy. I love making these toys, but it requires a tremendous amount of effort, commitment, time, and discipline. I want to share some photos that show, basically, the process of creating my latest and, hopefully, greatest 3D printed action figure. It’s a robot (surprise!!!) that was inspired by a trip to my local tri-county fair back in 2013. I’ve been calling it “tractor mech” simply because I haven’t come up with something more interesting like “Annihilator” or “Mega-Tor” or whatever. Tractors are a tool for building and sustaining life, not destroying, so it feels a bit wrong to attach a violent name to this design.

My original design drawing in-progress next to a photo of the tractor that inspired the idea.

My original design drawing in-progress next to a photo of the tractor that inspired the idea.

On to the main event. Here are photos I took over the last 2 years that chronicle the process from concept art, to modeling, to 3D printing. I’ll annotate a bit, but mostly it should be obvious what’s going on. I usually disable comments because all I ever get is spam, but I’ll leave them open for this post in case you have any questions or comments. Thanks, and enjoy 🙂

The final concept art.

The final concept art.

I start my 3D models by blocking in the shapes. This helps me get the proportions right before diving into the details. I modeled this in Blender.

I start my 3D models by blocking in the shapes. This helps me get the proportions right before diving into the details. I modeled this in Blender.

04 Modeling 02 05 Modeling 03

This is my basic model with articulation. All the parts are there, but they haven't been detailed or refined. I need to make a 3D printed prototype before I proceed any further.

This is my basic model with articulation. All the parts are there, but they haven’t been detailed or refined. I need to make a 3D printed prototype before I proceed any further.

Aaaaand POW here's my first prototype. This allowed me to check the joints and printability of the parts. I determined that the ball joints in the hips and shoulders were inadequate. I was determined to take it to the next level so I completely revamped the joints after this. I was able to drastically improve the range of motion, but it was a lot of extra effort.

Aaaaand POW here’s my first prototype. This allowed me to check the joints and printability of the parts. I determined that the ball joints in the hips and shoulders were inadequate. I was determined to take it to the next level so I completely revamped the joints after this. I was able to drastically improve the range of motion, but it was a lot of extra effort.

08 Modeling 05 09 Modeling 06The final model.

The final model.

 

The final prototype assembled. It stands about 6.5 inches tall.

The final prototype assembled. It stands about 6.5 inches tall.

I committed to making 5 of these as rewards for a friends art book Kickstater called Robot Envy Zenith. These are all the parts after removal of the printing support material.

I committed to making 5 of these as rewards for a friends art book Kickstater called Robot Envy Zenith. These are all the parts after removal of the printing support material.

15 parts partially assembled

I treat my parts with an acetone vapor process that smooths and strengthens them.

I treat my parts with an acetone vapor process that smooths and strengthens them.

I primed and airbrushed the parts.

I primed and airbrushed the parts.

Rub-on letters add a nice bit of detail.

Rub-on letters add a nice bit of detail.

Basic painting done.

Basic painting done.

I tried a new trick to add some grunge. Pigment powder mixed with solvent to simulate mud and dirt.

I tried a new trick to add some grunge. Pigment powder mixed with solvent to simulate mud and dirt.

Done! That was a lot of work. I should have asked for more money ;)

Done! That was a lot of work. I should have asked for more money 😉

6 Comments

  1. Quincy
    January 18, 2016

    You do some excellent work! Amazing to see.

    • Administrator
      January 19, 2016

      thanks man, love seeing your excellent work on Instagram

  2. Russell
    January 22, 2016

    Brilliant bot design. Stellar paint work.

    Thanks for the creation walk-through, understanding the process adds to the appreciation.

    • Administrator
      January 22, 2016

      Thank you very much 🙂

  3. Mike
    April 30, 2016

    Wow, if I could get a sprinkle of that talent. just out of curiosity, you ever try to do a transformer?

    • David White
      July 5, 2016

      Hi Mike. I try to do mostly original characters. Hasbro already owns Transformers and makes soooo much stuff that I don’t see a need to make anything for that universe.