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My brother is a huge Star Wars fan and quite an accomplished cosplay crafter as well. For his 47th birthday, I'm creating a small First Order Stormtrooper bust for him. Since I'm still learning how to sculpt in Zbrush, I purchased a 3D model online and will be modifying it into a customized 3D printed model.


The model I purchased features a classical sculptural base. It looks nice, but I have an idea for a base that features the First Order emblem.




First, I created the base in my favorite NURBS modeler and added a 1cm hole in the center. The Aurubesh text is my brother's name and age.




Next I turned to customizing the model in Zbrush. First, I trimmed off the original cylindrical base and add a 1cm wide post. The space between the helmet and the torso is pretty tight, so I separated the geometry at the neck and add a mounting post with a matching recess in the helmet. I tried to align the separation between the folds of the neck piece as best I could. Then I imported my custom base and checked the alignment digitally.




Next, I sent the geometry to my Form 2 SLA printer and waited for nine hours for the print to complete. After an isopropyl alcohol bath to remove residual resin, the model parts were ready. Here are the parts still attached to their printing supports.




I did a little clean up of the parts and put them together for quick test fit. Surfaces that have a gradual slope that ends in a horizontal surface tend to have faint stair step lines from the printing process, in this case they were 0.05mm layers for the model. The sanded portion on the top of the helm is where I lightly sanded the layer lines away. In the photo below, the horizontal lines that are visible are actually completely smooth. I'll be performing additional sanding and clean up in the morning, then onto priming and painting.



Edited by teddylindsey
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I laid down a light coat of Badger Stynylrez White primer followed by a coat of Tamiya TS-26 Pure White. This revealed my mistake in thinking that the layer lines were perfectly smooth, which they are not.  You can't really see the lines unless viewed in a macro shot like the closeups below, but they are present.






Luckily, after applying a couple more coats of TS-26 Pure White followed by a coat of TS-13 Clear Laquer, I was able to achieve the smooth, shiny surface I was aiming for.





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I would love to learn how to make molds and create resin copies of my models! However, I'm probably better suited to creating the 3D models and painting the printed results rather than the craftsmanship required for high quality resin castings. It seems that there are some firms such as Ravenstar Studios who specialize in creating resin castings from original masters and I've been considering this approach for my line of Traveller starships that I've been working on (see this thread).


I need to contact them and get a quote when I have time between my travels.

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Nice print... how small the steps may be, they are always visible, but when that small a few coats or some slight sanding can help... Nice start...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I failed to document my progress along the way and the model is getting pretty close to finished. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I was pretty far into the project that I realized I should have sanded down ALL the surfaces of the model that would end up glossy white, as @Silenoz suggested, rather than just the obviously stepped regions near the crown of the helmet. I used Vallejo Game Color Black for all the black portions and used a bit of Flory Wash Gray to add some depth to creases in the armor. I dry brushed on some Vallejo Model Color Anthracite Gray to highlight the ridges of the undersuit, although it doesn't show up in the photos. I coated everything in TS-13 Clear Laquer for a nice gloss and then applied Vallejo Matte Varnish to some of dark areas to knock down the shine.


The white lettering is Vallejo Plastic Putty that was squeezed into the lettering recesses, then wiped clean. I did notice that the putty has a tendency to shrink in volume as it dries and can pull away from the edges of some corners. Thus, I had to apply the putty a second time to fill in the gaps.


I've definitely learned that smooth, glossy white is a very unforgiving surface since it makes any blemish or flaw very apparent. The layer lines of the 3D print are noticeable in the photo, although it looks great at normal viewing distance. However, next time I will need to spend much more time in the prep phase.





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The prep for 3D printed models is definitely the bit that puts me off, but that came out really well. The black infill in the panel lines and vents is really neat and tidy.


I think if you added the tiniest bit of battle damage (e.g. a couple of diagonal scratches from one of the panel lines and a few buff splotches along the lower chest edge) then any imperfections in the armour would recede into invisibility.


[NB: The reason I say this is that I tried to build a resin robot kit from a 3D printed master a few years ago, and it was just too hard to get all the surfaces smooth without destroying detail - I added weathering to make the smooth bits seem smoother by contrast.]





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@Will Vale Good suggestion about adding some weathering and damage to make the imperfections less noticeable. All of my previous 3D prints have been pretty weathered and non-glossy, so the imperfections haven't been noticeable.


I may give this model another shot at some point and spend some time smoothing out the surfaces a bit. The challenge is actually seeing the layer lines without first applying a layer of primer to provide better contrast.

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Really smart work. I like that he's not looking directly ahead, to me that gives it motion.

I also like the fresh off the printer picture. "Look what the tech spiders made!"

(Or was it Fraggle Rock Doozers?)

A great gift idea.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was finally able to wrap up the model by applying some GW Lahmian Medium to the black portions of the model to knock down the shine. It took about three coats to give a nice flat finish, so I was able to modulate the glossiness somewhat to differentiate the materials a bit, although the photos are too high contrast to show it.










I purchased a softball display box and used a 3/8” Forstner bit to create a 1.5mm deep counterbore in the bottom center of the box that is a perfectly snug fit for a 10mm ring magnet. I then glued another 10mm ring magnet to the bottom of the sculpture base that I had modeled to have a an inner recess of 2mm height. I then test fit the magnets and marked the bottommost magnet to denote the forward direction. Lastly, I glued the bottom magnet into the counterbored recess in the box and the sculpture is now secure when being moved. The magnets are not strong enough to prevent it from coming loose if the box is shaken vigourously, but it definitely keeps it from sliding around inside the box.




After looking at the photos, I noticed a number of flaws that were not immediately apparent from normal ocular inspection, e.g., I failed to clean up some specks of black from the wash that “went outside the lines” before I sealed it in with another coat of gloss. I’m going to have to make a set of macro photos part of my process before I commit to something permanent like a gloss coat in the future.


Last step is to create a custom box after I return from another trip and then finally give him his belated birthday present.

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