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teddylindsey

Scout Ship - from digital to physical model

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This topic is going to be a little different than then the usual WIP since I'll be covering my process of taking a design from a pure digital form to a physical 3D printed model. I'm no expert, so this is going to be a learning experience for me and I hope to share some of what I learn along the way. While I've seen lots of posts that cover various aspects of 3D printing, I want to focus on my approach that's influenced by my background in miniature painting and scale model construction.

 

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First, a little background: the model I am creating is a "Type S Scout/Courier" from the Traveller Role Playing Game universe. It's a design that's been around since the 1970s, with a number of iterations over the years, but clearly influenced by the hull of an Imperial Star Destroyer.

 

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In 2002, I had the privilege of collaborating with Bryan Gibson, an artist whose work for various games I had admired since my teen years. A new version of the Traveller game, called Traveller T20, was in development and some of Bryan Gibson's sketches had been posted showing some really interesting redesigns of iconic ships. Since I had done numerous pieces of artwork for the Traveller and 2300AD game systems over the years, I had some familiarity with the artists, writers and art directors in the field. I was able to get in touch with Bryan and we decided to collaborate on creating a 3D version of his new design. We ended up collaborating on a number of ship designs over the years and became long distance friends.

 

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I lost touch with Bryan around 2008 since I had become very busy with a new career while raising three kids and didn't have time for much time for my hobbies and interests. I was saddened to learn of his death in 2014 from complications around viral pneumonia. He was a fantastic artist and a good friend.

 

In any event, the original concept for this ship is Bryan's and while the original 3D model is pretty old, I've taken some liberties to redesign certain aspects to be better suited for 3D printing.

 

I will be using a Form 2  printer from FormLabs, a leader in desktop stereolithography (SLA) fabrication. Unlike FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printers which extrudes molten plastic filament out like a tiny tube of toothpaste, SLA uses an ultraviolet laser to "draw" a design into a vat of photopolymer resin which solidifies layer by layer. SLA results in much higher resolution prints than FDM, but requires some additional post-printing preparation, e.g., immersion in isopropyl alcohol and curing under UV lights.

 

While I've done some minor experimentation with the Form 2 to gain an understanding of how various 3D modeled details print, this will be my first project with a specific goal of creating a 1/350 scale model of the Type S Scout that I can paint for display. I chose 1/350 since it's the same scale as Bandai's "box scale" Millennium Falcon included in the Last Jedi Resistance Vehicle Set.

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The first step is 3D modeling. I'm not going to delve into excruciating detail about this step since it can get pretty convoluted. I use a modeling application called Moment of Inspiration 3D (MOI3D), which has been my favorite modeling application since 2010. Prior to this, I used Rhino 3D, which uses the same NURBS file format as MOI3D, but is more complicated and costly. The original model was created in Rhino, but much of the small details and greebles were added more recently in MOI3D.

 

After determining that I would be using 1/350 as the scale of the ship, I started adding in little details such as panel lines, "rivet holes", vents, ports and other small greebles that I want a wash to settle in and around.

 

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I broke the model up into separate parts to make painting easier. As you can see below, I hollowed out the main hull to reduce the amount of resin that would be required for the print. I also created the aft panel as a separate part that would have two open sections showing exposed mechanical details much like the "maintenance pits" of the Millennium Falcon. Because of the tiny details of the maintenance panels, I modeled them separately to make painting easier. I also want the thrusters to be painted a different color than the main hull, so I added two square posts to each thruster and a matching square hole for each in the aft panel.

 

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After many hours of modeling and tweaking, the model is output as an STL file (Standard Tessellation Language) which is accepted by the Form 2 software, PreForm. You'll notice the little sprue-like bases under each model component. These are supports which provide structural rigidity for various parts of the model as it's being built layer by layer in the vat of resin.

 

The Form 2 is capable of printing at the smallest details at 25 microns, but I've found that 50 microns looks almost as good. To give you an idea of the scale, an average human hair is between 30-100 microns in diameter.

 

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This print took 10 hours and 16 minutes to complete at 50 microns, after which I removed the parts from the printer, rinsed them in vats of isopropyl alcohol for 20 minutes to remove excess uncured resin. Next, I placed the parts in a UV light box for a couple of hours to assist with the curing process. The UV light helps the photopolymer resin in finalizing the formation of long-chain molecules to strengthen the material. Below you can see the parts after coming out of the UV light box.

 

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Removing the parts from the supports sprues is not too different than removing a conventional injection molded model part from the sprue, only multiply it by 25. It can actually be pretty tedious and requires a good amount of clean up with a scalpel and sanding sticks.

 

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I understand that more experienced folks will often override the automatic positioning of the support sprues to minimize the amount of clean up that might be required, especially around edges. This does carry the risk that the print will fail due to inadequate support but it's something I'd like to experiment with more in the future.

 

I oriented the parts to minimize the number of supports that would be in contact with visible details of the model. It's also the reason why I separated out the aft panel since I could have the supports that linked to the aft of the ship covered up.

 

Below you can see me in the midst of removing the supports, many of which left messy little nubs behind that required trimming and sanding.

 

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The parallel lines across each print are formed by the laser as it cures each 25 micron layer. While the surface appears to be rough, it's actually pretty smooth and the lines are more of a visual artifact that will be mostly be covered up by primer. The separating line in the middle of the airlock is only 0.13mm across. I couldn't even see this detail with my eye, but the camera picked it up.

 

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I modeled a recess in the turret hard point that would accept a 10mm neodymium magnet with a 10mm steel washer that will be attached to the underside of the missile turret, allowing 360° rotation.

 

IMG_1945.jpg

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This is about the first DIY 3D printed model I've seen that looks worth the time and effort. Top job!

 

I like your take on the design too. It would look good in NASA black and white, I think?

 

I really must finish my not-a-Traveller pyramidal ship at some point :)

 

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Will

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looking good, also the quality of the printing. You speak of 1/350 scale, but what are the dimensions of the printed/"original" item?

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Interesting process so thanks for showing us the various stages involved. Was this done on a 'domestic' 3D printer? If so, which one?

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5 hours ago, Will Vale said:

This is about the first DIY 3D printed model I've seen that looks worth the time and effort. Top job!

 

I like your take on the design too. It would look good in NASA black and white, I think?

 

I really must finish my not-a-Traveller pyramidal ship at some point :)

Thank you, Will! I am trying to determine the color scheme although it will definitely have a dark gray or black "heat shield" covering the bottom and stretching up the sides of the fuselage. I have some various color schemes I did years ago here if you'd like to take a look. https://tedlindsey.com/traveller-artwork/ The NASA black and white would look very nice, sort of like the Ranger from Interstellar.

 

5 hours ago, Silenoz said:

looking good, also the quality of the printing. You speak of 1/350 scale, but what are the dimensions of the printed/"original" item?

The length of the classic wedge-shaped Type S Scout is 37.5m from tip to tail. Since this design is slightly shorter due to it's blunt nose, I estimated it would be about 34m long. Thus, the printed model is about 97mm in length. For comparison, the Millennium Falcon is specified as being 34.5m long in Star Wars canon.

 

17 minutes ago, Gorby said:

Interesting process so thanks for showing us the various stages involved. Was this done on a 'domestic' 3D printer? If so, which one?

You're welcome, Gorby! I'm using a Form 2 printer from FormLabs, which is based in Boston, USA. I chose the Form 2 since I wanted a printer that didn't require lots of tinkering and had the highest resolution and reliability. Eventually, I'd like to use it for printing models of my own character designs, but I'm still working on improving my sculpting skills in Zbrush. Until then, I'm experimenting with "hard surface" modeling such as this starship.

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Very nice indeed. Great use of available tech.

I prefer the Archduke or Regina schemes.

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I primed the parts using a rattle can of GW Chaos Black. I generally prefer to airbrush on a base coat of Stynylrez Black Primer, but I noticed on an earlier print that it would not adhere well to the resin. I'm not sure if I possibly didn't let the resin cure enough or if it's just a property of the resin. More experimentation is required.

 

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Here you can see the aft section with maintenance panels and thrusters in place. I built the maintenance panels openings to have a little overhang to so that the visible parts recede into the shadows. Hopefully this will be more apparent once I get them painted up.

 

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Next, I airbrushed on a coat of Vallejo Model Air 71.121 Light Gull Gray over most of the ship and have left it to dry.

 

IMG_1954.jpg

Edited by teddylindsey

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15 minutes ago, Pete in Lincs said:

Very nice indeed. Great use of available tech.

I prefer the Archduke or Regina schemes.

Thanks, Pete! I'm leaning towards one of the more "conventional" color schemes for this first model, either white/gray or the olive, but if this proves successful, I'll probably have another go with those color schemes. The bold hazard bar stripes of the Archduke Erechs design was always a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, masking out those shapes takes a LOT longer than coming up with the original design for texture maps in a graphics app.

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I masked out the lower portion of the hull that looks like heat shielding. After the large blocks of color were in place I sealed it with Tamiya Clear Semi-Gloss and started brushing on some Flory Wash Gray to bring out some of the details.

 

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Then I began focusing on the hull markings. I wanted to get close to my original rendering, so I was able to take the vector shapes I had created in Adobe Illustrator and create masks from low-tack transfer tape that were cut with my Cameo 3 cutter. Below you can see the mask for the Imperial Sunburst symbol which has a fringe of "sun flares" surrounding a red disc.

 

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Here you can see most of the markings in place. I'm very happy with how the Imperial Sunburst turned out. I've been impressed with how small the Cameo 3 is capable of cutting with accuracy. However, I did have some problems with the transfer tape allowing the paint to bleed underneath and I'll have to clean these up. I'm going to try cutting a sheet of Tamiya masking tape next time.

 

I need to touch up the IISS (Imperial Interstellar Scout Service) lettering on the starboard side. The fine detail of the curves in the "S" didn't come out uniformly in the mask I cut. So I'm learning the limits of what the Cameo 3 cutter is capable of.

 

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I rubbed away most of the gray Flory Wash and added some Flory Wash Dark Dirt into the panel lines and around key details. I still need to add highlights and weathering, but it's coming together. Here are some turnaround shots in it's current state.

 

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Impressive. Is this the future of Modelling build your own.

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Teddy

 

great looking model.

 

Did you do the original drawings in the 2300 books? If so I have been a fan of your style of drawing for years. There is definitely a market for kits based on the drawings. I would love to have a few of the hover tanks/ Apc's and the walkers , in particular the British Bowman, if you were of a mind to produce them

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3 hours ago, Yeoman1942 said:

Teddy

 

great looking model.

 

Did you do the original drawings in the 2300 books? If so I have been a fan of your style of drawing for years. There is definitely a market for kits based on the drawings. I would love to have a few of the hover tanks/ Apc's and the walkers , in particular the British Bowman, if you were of a mind to produce them

Thank you!

 

I didn't create any of the illustrations for the original 2300AD games (I was still a kid) although I was a big fan of those artists such as David Deitrick, Bryan Gibson, Rob Caswell and Tom Peters. However, I did a number of illustrations for the 2320AD game, including the cover artwork, which came out around 2005. I have a gallery of some of the work I did for 2320AD here https://tedlindsey.com/2320-ad-artwork/

 

I also loved the tanks and hovercraft of David Deitrick from the 2300AD Ground Vehicle Guide. They really nailed the "near future sci-fi" feel of the Aliens film, which has always been a favorite sci-fi sub-genre for me.

 

Speaking of combat walkers, for the 2320AD game, I redesigned the American BH-24 combat walker from the blocky original design to something more realistic with a little Ma.K vibe. Once I get my digital sculpting skills in ZBrush up to speed, I'd love to model and print this design.

 

combat-walker-concept-3.3-shaded.jpg

 

 

Edited by teddylindsey

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4 hours ago, Pilgrim_UK said:

Impressive. Is this the future of Modelling build your own.

Thank you! I'm not sure if this is the future of modeling for everyone, but it's certainly going to allow a broader range of people to bring their designs into physical form. For me, it's a dream come true to be able to fabricate a physical model of my art and designs.

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6 hours ago, teddylindsey said:

I redesigned the American BH-24 combat walker

I do like that. As you say, a little Ma.k vibe and all the better for it.

Some very impressive work on your link. Thanks for sharing.

Keep them coming.

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Great art work Teddy, and apologies for  adding a few years to your age.😀

 

I think  there is a really rich vein of modelling subjects in the 2300 and 2320 universe. A range of ships with spin habitats would be a hit. Ships of the French arm made real

 

Off to to check out 2320 rule book. I lost al my 2300 books I a house move and have been keen to find a replacement.

 

All the best 

 

Yeoman

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Se-Weet! :D

 

Great model and impressiv digital sculpting! :goodjob:

Looks like a cousing to the Difiant from Star Trek! :winkgrin:

 

Cheers :bye:

Hans J

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9 hours ago, Yeoman1942 said:

Great art work Teddy, and apologies for  adding a few years to your age.😀

 

I think  there is a really rich vein of modelling subjects in the 2300 and 2320 universe. A range of ships with spin habitats would be a hit. Ships of the French arm made real

 

Off to to check out 2320 rule book. I lost al my 2300 books I a house move and have been keen to find a replacement.

 

All the best 

 

Yeoman

Haha, no worries, Yeoman. I’m old enough that a few years plus or minus isn’t making a difference. ;)

 

And I agree that the 2300AD universe has some great designs. The entire setting had a hard sci-fi approach that’s not often replicated, especially in RPGs. I’d love to try modeling some of the fighters from the “Ships of the French Arm” book.

 

As far as the books go, I luckily own my original sets from the 1990s and you can still purchase the PDFs online. QLI lost the right to sell 2320AD not long after it was initially published. I’m not even sure if it ever was printed a physical book rather than a PDF. The additional writing expanding the background of the universe by Colin Dunn was really good and I’d love to see it take form again some day. I seem to recall that they didn’t even release the book with all the art and layout completed due to production issues with the publisher.

 

I also created an application that would map all the “actual” 7.7 light year stutterwarp routes based on more recent astronomical survey data which changed the map and routes of known space a bit. My code also output a 3D model of the starmap that I was able to render in 3D that looked fantastic. Not sure if it ever got used or not since the actual publishing of the book was a mess. I’ve got it posted in the 2320AD Art section of my site.

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Excellent work!

 

I know it's not really canon but I loved the early Megatraveller games for the PC. Very atmospheric and you could spend hours just generating a party of characters before even starting out.

 

W

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On 10/1/2018 at 5:07 PM, Will Vale said:

Excellent work!

 

I know it's not really canon but I loved the early Megatraveller games for the PC. Very atmospheric and you could spend hours just generating a party of characters before even starting out.

 

W

Thanks, Will! I never had a chance to play any of the Traveller PC games, although it sounds like character creation was almost a minigame in itself like the pen and paper game. I guess when death is an option during the character creation process, the stakes are a little higher!

 

BTW, what was the triangular ship you posted earlier in the thread? Was it cut from styrene sheet? It would certainly be a nice starting point for the classic Traveller Type S Scout.

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