Sunday, 2 May 2021

Invasion Mars - 2nd British Infantry (Pt. 1)

As mentioned in the previous post, I am well on the way to making my first British unit for my 'Invasion Mars, 1899' project. This unit is a 'heavy' infantry Grenadier unit - an elite with special weapons - so I next wanted to start on my more basic 'light' infantry.

I had in mind something along the lines of the idea of 'Zulu on Mars' when it came to designing the light infantry figures, using the 1879 pattern of uniform worn by the British at the Battle of Rorke's Drift. Taking this as a basis I would then modify the original design to give it a more Steampunk look!

Luckily for me this is already a pretty popular theme and there is a reasonable amount of reference and ideas knocking about on the internet and in print and even in popular media...

British infantry on Mars! Doctor Who, series 36, episode nine – Empress of Mars

For me the most iconic bit of the uniform has to be the British Army's 'Foreign Service pith helmet, so I wanted this to be at the heart of my design. But unlike some early science fiction I did not want to endow Mars with a earth-like atmosphere, so this helmet would have to be modified into some sort of environmental protection.

Using TINKERCAD as my 3D modelling software of choice (at the moment, until I can get to grips with something more sophisticated) I quickly mucked about with some shapes until I got something approximating my idea. I won't lie, the helmet was a bit of a bitch to do and it took me a while to get something that I was happy with...

Steampunk Soldier - 'Invasion Mars, 1899'

There was then a lot of tinkering around with sizes. I always tend to over-size things when I free-hand my designs and the first attempt at the helmet was way too big in proportion to the body and when compared to the Grenadiers I did...

Back to the drawing board and I rescaled the helmet a couple of times until I think I hit the 'Goldilocks' zone. Yes, it still is a little over-sized but that's part of my cartoon style and also so that it works as a 'space helmet'...

The next issue was the design of the 'space gun', again I didn't want to do what some game miniature designers have done and simply make a Martini-Henry rifle (as used in 'Zulu') for a science-fiction figure. I don't know about the effects of ballistics in space or what effects a different gravity has on projectiles but I'm sure a 'one gun suits all' (space and differing gravities) would mean some special considerations...

So, I went for a fanciful Steampunk design with an unspecified firing mechanism - could be a rail gun, could be a ray gun sorta thingy that would suit all situations! 😂 

Sorry this is upside-down, but the above picture show how I orientate my
objects for 3D printing for the best quality.

Design Done - The Printing Begins!
Now the nerve wracking bit, although I am starting t gain a little confidence with my 3D printing workflow. The primary concern is print quality and how to orientate designs on the print bed to get the best print I can. 

There is actually two concerns, orientation and whether to add supports. In the above picture of my space gun I orientate the arm and gun component in such a wat that I get the smoothest print quality on the main straight line (the upper arm). There were several options but I decided this offered the most advantages. Others might disagree.

Supports are the second - but related - consideration. I might orientate my model so that I can minimise the use of supports (supports being scaffolding that supports over-hanging elements of the model). So it turns into a bit of a puzzle working out which way to place the component to get the best quality with the least support! 😵

Here I have orientated the body & legs in the vertical BUT I have, then, had
to add a lot of tree-like supports to aid in the printing of the helmet over-hang.

Yes, it's all a bit crazy, but after a time it becomes second nature and you eventually just 'know' instinctively what's going to cause problems in a particular model. Er, mostly!


Print done I then carefully compare it to the other model I have made in the series, my Grenadier. As mentioned above, my first attempt at my new helmet resulted in it being obviously over-large when compared to my Grenadier's 'diving helmet'. But this latest print turned out to be proportionally correct (I think)...

Above: Checking mutual proportions, but also notice that I have added
my 'magnetisation' system to the bases, steel washers! LOL

Well, this is all going swimmingly! Er, except.......!

On fitting the arms to the body I noticed that the arm holding the gun didn't fit properly due to the splayed feet I had done. It's not noticeable in this photo due to the angle I took it, but believe me that the arms are not fitting the way that they should be...


...Back to the drawing board again! This is what prototypes figures are for though, working out all the kinks before running off a whole unit of figures. In this case I had to go back into TinkerCad and alter the angle of the feet so there was more space for the gun to sit on the base properly...


And that's it for now. A very good start I think (?), I'm quite pleased with my design for a Steampunk soldier and I'm really enjoying this series. AND it's actually taking me back to the original idea for this blog which was to do wargame armies (rather than the single figures I have been doing for a long time).

I may even get round - eventually - to doing the FLW Molatero army I intended to do in the first place! 😁

NEXT: Painting my Infantryman.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Steampunk Grenadiers - Magnetised Bases

 Having completed printing the remainder of the first unit for my 'Invasion Mars, 1899' project I realised I had made a bit of a boo-boo! But, first of all let's have at the progress so far...

So far so good - although I am still working on the arms and weapons - and this is when I had a bit of a 'duh-oh' moment. I like to magnetise war game figures so I can easily move units in unit trays, this entails fitting a small magnet into the base of the figure - guess what I HADN'T done! 😖

I didn't really want to start drilling or carving out holes in the figures' bases so I could insert magnets, this would be quite messy.  SO... Plan B, I decided it would be easier just to glue steel washers to the bottom - then I'll magnetise the unit trays with magnetic sheets.


This is a bit of a fudge but it does have one positive effect - it gives my PLA printed figures a little bit of weight - which I prefer. Every cloud has a silver lining!

NEXT: I finish the construction and painting of my Grenadiers.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Innsmouth Bad Boys - Completed

 These little guys were a bit of an experiment so I'm not 100% happy with them, but they gave me a bit more experience in designing 3D figures. till, they expand my 'Assault on Innsmouth' collection and have given me some ideas for future fantasy projects.

'The Snapper Brothers' - Frog Man
A swivel-gun totting amphibian psychopath - the elder brother of this duo, his toxic bite is as deadly as the bark of his canon-ette !


'The Snapper Brothers' - Shark Man
He never sleeps and his search for prey is ceaseless! He'll get you, by tooth or he'll nail you...


These models take me slightly away from my original peg format with their modified bodies. I think I could have made something similar out of wood, but the great advantage of 3D modelling is it allows a lot more latitude for on the fly experimentation which encourages trying new ideas.

So, that's my monsters and now I'll have to finish off this small series with a few more human cast members. It'll be fun, though, setting these up against 'normal' figures in a skirmish game! 😁

Link to all posts in this project series: Innsmouth Bad Boys/Assault on Innsmouth.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Innsmouth Bad Boys - Progress

While I'm getting there with my 'Innsmouth Bad Boys' I wanted to show the intermediate progress rather than simply going straight to the completion photos (which are about a day away). That would be a bit too much like those frustrating Blue Peter 'and here is one I made earlier' reveals! 😁

While most of these figures have been pretty straight forward. I have topped the project with some painting that is a little more involved than usual...

In particular, my 'frog-man' has been given a facial that is more detailed than my normal cartoonish peg figures, with some graduated tones and textures.

The reason for this little departure from my usual super-simplified style is that I wanted to emphasise the monstrousness of these characters as compared to the 'normal' human peg characters in the series.

They are still - obviously - not 'realistic' by any means, but it was an interesting small departure for my painting style, if only to see what I could do for fun.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

A Sunday Stroll into 28mm Territory

 Really, while planning and designing my next figures and trying to use up the last of a PLA filament spool, I decided to experiment with scaling down my normal 50mm designs. I was intrigued to know how scaling would effect the detail that I had on my peg sized soldiers - would it disappear or deform beyond recognition? ...One way to find out (I thought)...

So, I reduced my 3D Steampunk figure using TINKERCAD to what I considered an equivalent of 28mm scale (according to a web search that is 30mm form foot to eye level of the figure)...


As I said, I made no concession to the effects on detail by shrinking the existing model so I had no idea whether some of the finer detail would simply disappear during printing. Also, I have never printed out a 28mm scale miniature using my Flashforge Adventurer 3 so that was a bit of an unknown too (although I know a lot of gamers regularly print out 28mm miniature using such a 3D printer and are happy with the results).

In any event, I was sort of pleasantly surprised by the what was spat out! Bear in mind - because I like to tinker - that I decided to print this small figure out in one-piece (the body anyway) instead of three pieces like I did with his big brother. The arms and the sword I printed the usual way and separately...

28mm Version of Normal Peg Model

Not too shoddy eh? (But it did need a clean up.) 😁

Here's a comparison photo of the 28mm fig with the original 50mm soldier. I haven't worked out the percentage reduction of this but it looks like it's about a 50% down-scale-ish...

As you can see, it's a little rough round the edges of some of the smaller detail I created for the 50mm fig. But it's not too bad and would probably look better once painted. If I'm honest, I've actually had worse plastic soldier figures from commercial companies and not complained! (I'm looking at you Airfix!) 😉

So, what have I learned here? Well, I do have to make some concessions to the smaller scale, perhaps by making some of the finer detail a bit chunkier so that it holds itself in the reduction. There has to be a balance in robustness of the design when I think I might be doing both a 50mm and 28mm version of the same figure.

Useful experiment.