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  • Dennis DeRobertis

Making of The Little Brown Spider Figurine (Sculpt 1)

What's not to like about seeing your character in 3D?

Creating the 3D File

About two and a half years ago I decided to do a Little Brown Spider figurine. I thought it'd be a fun way to see and hold a 3D version of our little arachnid star. I also used it as an excuse to learn more about 3D printing and what it could offer a small publisher. To get the process going, the first thing needed was a CAD-compliant design file.

I did toy around with creating the file myself given my tech background and the abundance of resources and tools available, but quickly came to my senses. I handed the job over to an actual CAD artist with the expertise and experience to do it right and in a timely manner.

We went through two revisions. My original idea was to have LBS in his usual full body stance, but it didn't translate well. The second revision, a more traditional 3-inch-tall figure with a base, is what we went with and what you see in the images above. I was quite pleased with this version. With the design now set, step two arrived: printing.

Let's Print this Thing!

There were several points during this whole process I thought about buying a 3D printer and printing the figures myself. I already had the file, so it seemed logical. Eventually, I decided using an online service would be best for such a small print run. After researching many online 3D printing companies and getting input from those in-the-know, I went with Shapeways. The price, though a little high, was still reasonable for the number of figures I wanted to print.

Once the file was submitted, it didn't take long to get the first batch. It was definitely exciting getting this package. Just as exciting as seeing the 3D images. For those working in isolation or on a passion project, doing something like this is a great way to stay motivated and energized.

Two figurines of The Little Brown Spider 3D printed.
An experiment using two different plastics in two different colors

The Pitfalls of Painting

So far, so good. Design done. Printing done. Now, the paint. Like with the CAD file and printing before it, I had designs of painting the figures myself to save some time and money. Really, how hard could it be? Buy some paint, a few tiny paint brushes, read a couple of tutorials online and voilà! Well, not so fast, Rembrandt.

After seeing the results of my non-existent painting skills, I once again came to my senses and decided to hire someone else to do it. This was actually the longest part of the process. It took quite a while to find the right person. He did a good job given the difficulty of painting between the many legs and odd angles (something I'll have to keep in mind with the next design). I also appreciated the thoughtfulness of modifying the color scheme on a few of the figures.

Five tabletop painted figures of The Little Brown Spider
The painted Five Figure Army of the Little Brown Spider!

A Cool Item to Have

Out of the five, I kept one, I sent one to Cristian and we will be offering the other three in a giveaway. Not sure when the giveaway will be, but it will be after we release the third Little Brown Spider book early next year.

If you get the opportunity to get your character printed up, do it! There's just something about a physical representation of your idea that can't be beat!

- DD


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