Dec 19, 2014 | By Alec

Any table top gaming enthusiast will tell you that terrain can quickly become dull; nothing quite diminishes the thrill of two gorgeous and imposing armies clashing, like being forced to use the same old, generic store-bought houses or hills you have to fight around. Or even worse, pieces cardboard or paper! Fortunately, a team of New Zealand table top fans have recently started an inspiring business to make table top scenery more diverse, original and affordable using 3D printing: Printable Scenery, a subsidiary of Catalyst Creative.

As Matt of Printable Scenery explained to, their love for table top war games has inspired them to experiment with various creations for 28 mm gaming, like Warhammer (40k). And while their reliance on 3D printing has proved arduous at times, they have finally become confident enough to open their own web store. 'The main challenge for me is to keep everything to scale. I often get designs with no elevations, and only one perspective drawing, and then have to extrapolate the dimensions of all the other parts of the design.'

And while you can already find a number of cool-looking fantasy and sci-fi props in their store – like walls, towers, gates, houses and more – the guys from Printable Scenery have even already completed an even more inspiring showpiece: a giant high-rise structure. While it might look a bit too realistic for 40k wargaming, and too modern for fantasy, it nonetheless perfectly captures the scenery-making potential of 3D printing technology.

As they explained, they actually made two of these models, one in plain white and another painted. While containing a few hand-made pieces, especially the second one has been largely 3D printed using their trusty Makerbot 3D printer. 'The New Zealand supplier said we had the first Makerbot in New Zealand. So no-one in the office had seen a 3D printer before and we had no idea they were that slow.'

All in all, it took over 500 hours to print their model, which they spread out over 3 months of work. First, they designed the whole piece in 3DSMAX; 'Having the whole model as a nice regular mesh with clean vertices meant that we only had to make slight tweaks to get the slicer to slice it properly.' All its components were printed separately, before being assembled using a home-made ABS glue consisting of ABS and Acetone.

As they realized, the only downside of using 3D printing to create such a model are the many hours that go into realizing detail. 'the model quickly becomes very hi-poly and can be a nightmare to change once the details have been added after long hours of modelling. Creating brick patterns that don't tile or repeat can take a while to model - as opposed to in animations, where applying a tile-able texture is much easier. This all becomes more painful when changes are requested, making locking down concept designs an absolute must. Changing the size of bricks in a texture is one thing, re-sculpting an entire building is another entirely.'

While time-consuming, 3D printed results are nonetheless very impressive. As matt himself noted. 'if the prints are good the hard work pays off!' 3D printing is thus emerging as an excellent way to create cool and diversifiable terrain, and for a reasonable price. It looks like gaming nights are about to become more exciting.

Posted in 3D Printing Company


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