Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet the Team: 3D Modeler

Digitally sculpting miniatures requires a lot more than just technical skill. One needs a special kind of artistic touch. Miniatures, much like comic books, have their own brand of distorted, medium-specific proportions. This is a result of a number of factors: the need to exaggerate detail to make it readable at a small scale, wanting to be able to easily differentiate between genders and races, and certain ‘legacy’ practices that came from traditional manufacturing techniques (smaller details like hands or fingers are trickier to cast, so you see most miniatures with massive mitts, for example.). If you were to simply shrink a regular sized person down to scale it would look very different than what we've come to expect from minis.

Using 3D printing lets us escape some of these limitations, but we've found that it is still important to consider how our miniatures will look next to the ones people already have. That’s where a eye for style and a lot of carefully weighed stylistic considerations come in. One tiny example of something we've considered: just because we can print miniatures with individual, separate fingers, does that mean we should? Having a sense of how details read when they're shrunk down to roughly 1/70th scale is a skill all on its own.

A sneak peak at some of our base human models. Small things, like how pronounced abdominal muscles should be, were tweaked, printed, and re-tweaked to ensure they look good in mini form.

With seven years of professional experience in the 3D modeling and VFX industries, our 3D sculptor Margaret Dost has provided a lot of helpful insight in this respect. She's worked on projects like Pacific Rim, Mortal Kombat vs. DC, and a long list of other movie titles, game cinematics, and commercials. Her expertise has really helped us capture the right balance of detail and flexibility in our models as we've worked to solidify our style, capture the right proportions, and take maximum advantage of the 3D printing medium. I know I've been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we've learned what ‘works’ in mini and what doesn't.

It has been a real thrill to see each new iteration of figures and armor sets. In fact, one of the things I’m most excited to seeing when we successfully fund are the models for other fantasy races. Every artist has a slightly different take on what elves, dwarves, and halflings look like, and based on how awesome the concept art is and how talented our 3D modelers are, I think we’re going to really nail it!

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