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Making a 3D printed Toy

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.

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 one of my latest and, hopefully, greatest 3D printed action figure, the Brawler.

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.

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.

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.

The final model.

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

I primed and airbrushed the parts.

Rub-on letters add a nice bit of detail.

Basic painting done.

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!


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