3D Print Action Figures: All You Need to Know

Different people refer to them as action figures or dolls. In any case, these are entertaining toys to play with and gather. These figures, which are typically thought of as articulated tiny copies of characters from well-known films, video games, or TV shows, allow children to envision themselves living in their favourite worlds while providing collectors with fun assembly tasks.

What if, however, you could make your own personalised action figures? You can very much make a personalised action figure of just about anything using a 3D printer, a few downloaded models, and possibly even a scanned image of your subject!

Even though purchasing a multi-hundred dollar manufacturing machine just to create action figures that cost a fraction of that amount may seem absurd, for those who already own a 3D printer, it’s still a fun endeavour. On the other hand, perhaps this will help you rationalise purchasing the one machine you’ve always desired.

Consider employing a 3D printing service if you won’t have access to a 3D printer or if you just want to be sure the small details print well. You can select the best supplier and price for your needs right away with Dezpad Designs.

Having stated that, let’s explore the options!

Acquiring Models

A model is required before anything can be printed! To locate them, let’s look at a few websites.

Model Repositories

Objects photopolymer printed on stereolithography 3D printer, technology of liquid photopolymerization under UV light. Progressive modern additive technology.

It is likely that a 3D model of the action figure you wish to print already exists. Many websites have been posting 3D models since the introduction of 3D printing, and these can be quite helpful in finding what you’re looking for. The principal ones consist of:

A vast collection of free models that go all the way back to the early days of 3D printing in the maker community can be found on Thingiverse. Currently, there are more than 1,700 models with the tag “Action Figure.”

A relatively young repository, Printables has a vibrant user base that regularly uploads new (and free) models. The Action Figure category contains more than 5,400 models, many of which are articulated.

Cults is a collection of both paid and free models. Searching for “action figure” produces more than 9,000 results in a wide range of styles.
Paid models predominate on TurboSquid, while there are also some free models available. Nevertheless, the quality of the models is usually far above average. A search for “action figure” produced over 400 results, some of which were 3D scans.

Certain ones, like TurboSquid, can be somewhat costly. After a while, buying an original action figure can end up being simpler and less expensive. But even with the additional expense, or perhaps precisely because of it, the models you can find online can provide you with extremely detailed 3D models with greater articulation. As an added bonus, you might be able to locate models of characters that don’t have action figures available for purchase. Ultimately, the decision rests with you, the model you wish to employ, the intended use, and your budget.

Popular Choices

You could become overwhelmed if you do a rapid search through the repositories; sometimes having too many options can make things more difficult! A well-known action figure can be the best option if you’re not sure where to begin because it will provide you with sufficient information and plenty of evidence that the design is successful. Thus, some of the most well-liked action figures are as follows:

  • Nearly 1,500 copies of Lucky 13 by soozafone have been downloaded from Printables more than 64,000 times.
  • Vertex2, created by barney, has received over 13,000 downloads and 63 creates on Thingiverse.
  • Samus from Metroid, created by OpenFigure3D, has received over 9,000 downloads on MyMiniFactory and nine shared prints from the community.
  • On Cults, Figure No Support, created by kimjh, has had over 11,000 downloads and 12 shared prints.
  • Jasonwelsh’s Dexter has had over 138,000 downloads on Thingiverse and has been made 24 times.

Online Shops

An other choice is a website such as Shapeways. Numerous mini-shops may be found here that charge for the download of premium models. The pricing can be a little exorbitant, and you don’t really given the chance to customise or change the model. However, it can be a fantastic area to go to see the surroundings and get a sense of the terrain.

Another online marketplace for artists and model makers is Etsy, where they can sell goods like personalised 3D printed action figurines or even the 3D model itself. It’s a nice location to check out if you don’t have a 3D printer and want something that you can’t purchase in the shop. Prices vary depending on how skilled the modeller is.

Another option is MyFaceOnAFigure, which can make a personalised action figure for you for as little as $99 or so. (The two-pack is a better deal at $140.) Send them multiple-angle photos of your topic, select from a variety of action figure body types, and they’ll take care of the rest.

Disinterested in the designs created by others? Do prices seem excessively high? You may always attempt to do it yourself. Let’s have a peek!

Modeling Software

One of the most satisfying options, if you have the abilities or want to acquire them, is to 3D model an action figure yourself. But remember that making a realistic action figure is an art, and it will require a lot of trial and error to get it just right.

For instance, joints must be able to spin freely without requiring undue force, yet still fit together snugly enough to hold in place when posed. You’ll also need to think about how to arrange the joint line so that it allows for appropriate movement and also looks tidy from an aesthetic standpoint. Just watch the 11-part action figure modelling lesson series on YouTube, where AnthonysCustoms walks you through the whole ZBrush model creation process.

Check out Paul Bennett’s presentation, a digital product designer for Hasbro, for a (slightly) faster overview. He provides some excellent insights into creating commercial action figure designs (also done in ZBrush)! For those who are willing to take on the challenge, there are many free 3D character modeling tools available, even if ZBrush appears to be the programme of choice for pros. A blender is a great place to start any time.

3D Scanning

This is when the exciting part starts. It is theoretically possible to construct an action figure of anything or anyone using 3D scanning. Utilising 3D scanning to remix pre-existing 3D printable action figure models is an additional option.

This can be done in two major ways: one with photogrammetry and the other with a 3D scanner:

A 3D scanner is a tool that combines a variety of cameras with specially designed projectors or lasers to collect and produce extraordinarily realistic representations of actual objects. The drawback is that this choice may be highly costly.
The technique of collecting numerous pictures of a subject—possibly even hundreds—from various perspectives and entering them into a programme to generate a 3D model is known as photogrammetry.

Even if it’s inexpensive, this sometimes needs a lot of processing power, and the software isn’t always the most user-friendly. Furthermore, the amount of images you take and the resolution of your camera might affect how accurate and detailed the models are.Photogrammetry should be adequate for the majority of action-figure related scanning. To make things easier, there are even several useful apps for your phone.

The most significant drawback of any 3D scanning method is the requirement to alter your 3D model to remove flaws. Additionally, your model won’t have any articulation and will be immobile for full-body scans. This implies that if you want an action figure that is completely functional, you will have to invest a lot of time in creating joints that are acceptable for 3D printing.

Defining Details

Once you have a model, you may either print it right away or modify it.

You can open up a model in a competent CAD programme and begin modelling it to make it your own. For novices, Tinkercad is our top choice since it provides basic, user-friendly capabilities at no cost and eliminates the need to install any software.

After an object is in the CAD programme, adjustments can be made by “kitbashing” it, making hybrid models, adding logos, or even sculpting a whole new character using a programme like Blender.

It can be a good idea to think about if you want to include clothing (such a superhero outfit), props, and other accessories with your action figure, and if you want them to be interchangeable or part of the design itself. Remember to measure everything! You can probably utilise the aforementioned methods to obtain a 3D printable version (complete with weapons, a chainmail shirt, or Loki’s helmet), or you can buy them online.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of inexpensive action figure possibilities available on websites like Etsy.

It’s also a good idea to plan ahead for all the supplies you’ll require after printing. Determining whether to print the model in one colour or several colours, painting it afterwards (various filaments operate with different painting materials in FDM), and, if you want to use a resin print method, how to clean your prints will all be helpful.

Printing

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The parameters (particularly orientation and supports) will change according on whether your printer is FDM or resin. Compared to FDM filaments, resin printers can produce prints with remarkably high resolution, but the variety of materials and colours available is more constrained.

Printing at 0.1 or 0.15 mm layer height in FDM can provide a respectable degree of detail. Additionally, a far wider variety of FDM filament colours and materials are available, which can speed up post-processing. You may save a tonne of painting work by creating multicoloured models straight off the build plate with a multicolor 3D printer or filament splicer, like Prusa’s MMU or The Palette 2. A few things to consider when setting up the model in your slicer for printing are as follows:

  • Since articulated joints are typically not able to be produced as a print-in-place mechanism, most action figures are ready to be printed in sections; if the model you discovered is all-in-one, you’ll probably need to separate it.
  • Small joints and mechanisms might not print clearly. Selecting an appropriate scale is crucial to guarantee optimal outcomes.
  • When it comes to maximising the quality of models, model orientation can be quite important. Aim to align sections that require the greatest strength parallel to the printed layers and the most detailed sides vertically.
  • In order for overhangs to print properly, supports must be placed, but attempt to stay away from the most front-facing surfaces and delicate protrusions by adjusting orientation instead.

It’s time to select a material now. PLA and ABS work well for show models, however when playing, they can be very fragile and break on tiny portions. For the greatest printing results, we suggest using either PETG or a stronger PLA blend (like PLA+). You can start printing as soon as you’re happy with your slicer’s settings!

Post-Processing

After printing, your action figure probably needs some polishing to make it look as good as a toy from the shelf.

  1. Take out any supports for your print first. If you haven’t already, you might wish to get a craft knife to help you get rid of little artefacts and very stubborn supports.
  2. Fitting the components is the next stage. Smooth out joints and connections with sandpaper or a knife until they fit together well. Any parts that are printed in sections should be joined together with modelling glue or cyanoacrylate (super glue).
  3. It’s time to paint now! The ideal method for using 3D printing is to sand the components first, and then apply a base layer of primer (which is typically available as spray paint). If you can’t find a decent primer, a single coat of neutral-colored, matte spray paint will work just fine.
  4. You can add as much or as little detail as you like with detail brushes. Although acrylic paint works well for most applications, modelling paints are preferred by many.
  5. After detail painting, it’s a good idea to smooth out the model and apply a coat of clear spray varnish to stop the paint from scratching off easily.

Now all that’s left to do is clear the joints! This should go really quickly and easily if you painted carefully and/or painted each section separately. In any instance, use a craft knife to trim away any paint that may have seeped into the seams and carefully twist each joint back and forth until it is entirely free.

Dezpad as a 3D Modeling Agency and 3D Modeling Company would love to elevate your ideas from concept to creation with our cutting-edge 3D printing services.

Contact us today to transform your designs into tangible masterpieces with our expert 3D Motion Graphic Designer that are prepared to deliver the best product possible.

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