Given how far we've come, and that the beginning of the Kickstarter drawing nigh, I thought I’d share some images of the very first test prints we ever received from Shapeways. This was the first iteration of our baseline male human model in a regular ol’ T-pose. Think of him as our vitruvian man. We got him in a range of different materials in order to test things like detail, durability, and paintability. We still have tons of these guys. I've got them all over my desk. It looks like a little golem army to me…
Some of the materials were clearly superior to others, which helped inform us about the material choices we wanted to offer. It also provided insight into how exaggerated different features and proportions should be to capture the look of a ‘traditional’ mini. This first round resulted in several tweaks and revisions.
Incidentally, while it wasn't the most detailed or practical, one of my favorite materials was bronze:
While making choices about material options, we've settled on the same kind of ethos that we've embraced through this whole project: we want to offer people choices. We've winnowed down our options to the best offerings and settled on a couple main contenders, each of which are great and offer particular advantages. Metal ones are a fine example: though they are incredibly durable and would be amazing for people who want a rugged and impressive mini, perhaps for a character they intend to continue using for years, the metal options didn't quite capture the level of detail we wanted (for 28-30mm scale, that is.) for our baseline. Options like bronze were also quite expensive (though surprisingly not prohibitively so).
As I've mentioned elsewhere, one of the amazing things about using the Shapeways API is that we CAN offer these choices to people. And as new and improved materials come out, like metal options with even finer detail, we can easily offer them too. Just because we weren't quite satisfied with the current metal options for everyday use, we do anticipate that some people will want a tiny steel mini, or a steel statuette of their customized hero. Using the Shapeways API gives us the luxury of letting people decide for themselves. And maybe even more important: we can easily upgrade and grow our offerings with no additional investment but a few lines of code. Given the rate at which 3D printing is improving, that's an important thing.