How To Make Your Own 3D Print Of A Video Game Character

I recently 3D printed a Faceless Void in colour. It came out super nice. I have a mini-tutorial for 3D printing non-coloured DOTA heroes, but someone asked me how to print the coloured version. Here you go!

Step 1

Like before, download your favourite Hero from Valve’s DOTA2 workshop. Heroes that would not be too good for printing are those with thin components (like, Death Prophet’s trailing scarf) or those with clear alpha-mapped areas (like, Naga Siren’s earlobes). Thin components are not printable, unless manually scaled up. The alpha-mapped areas will just print black. My Faceless Void actually has a bit of alpha-mapped areas on the bottom of his loin cloth, but I figured he’d be ok.

Step 2

I used Sculpteo to handle my 3D printing. Once I packaged my model, I handled to them, and a few weeks later, they shipped me a tiny Faceless Void. With Sculpteo, shipping is $US6 when the order is over $US50. They usually print super fast (almost 3-day turnaround) so my delay was probably a special case. My Faceless Void cost about $US18, and measured 1.9 x 2.1 x 1.1 inches (price scales with size). There’s a slew of other services available, as well as the possibility of using an at-home 3D printer, but I really like Sculpteo.

Step 3

To get everything Sculpteo ready, the model needs to be packaged in a zip file. The model needs to be in an OBJ format, along with a MTL file, and the texture files. The OBJ will dictate the 3D shape of the model. It can be used by itself to print (like what I did with my Mini-Furion). The textures (Valve provides them as TGA files) will dictate the colours of the model. The MTL file will tell Sculpteo what parts are coloured what.

Step 4

After downloading the Hero and unzipping the model files, there’ll be two folders. One is materialsrc, which will contain the materials. The other is models, which will contain the 3D models.

Go into the materialsrc, and find _color TGA’s for each component. Copy those files to a new folder. These will be the colour of the printed Hero.

Step 5

To get the OBJ and MTL files, open up 3ds Max 2013. If Valve provides an OBJ, it’s not really possible to use it since the MTL files produced will be incorrect (the texture mappings are wrong). Instead, find the fbx files in the models folder. Each fbx file will contain a component of the Hero.

Step 6

For each one of those fbx files, select the solid-looking mesh and export the selected as an OBJ. The wire structures are bones, used for animating the Hero, and can be ignored. Create a new scene after each export to clear the screen.

Step 7

Once all the components are exported as an OBJ, import all of the OBJs into a single scene. They should be all positioned correctly to form the hero.

Step 8

Press M to texture the hero. Click on a white sphere, and click on the box next to Diffuse. This will bring up the Material/Map Browser. Clicking on Bitmap, and browse for one of the TGA textures. Drag and drop that texture on to the corresponding component to colour the Hero. Hopefully all the mapping are correct and the Hero will look like it popped right out of DOTA2.

Sometimes the mapping isn’t correct and it’s a pain to fix (like Faceless Void’s mace).

Step 9

Once everything is texture, select the components you want to print and export them as an OBJ. Make sure “Export materials” and “Create mat-library” is checked. Click the Map-Export button and it will tell you where the final MTL file will be created.

Step 10

Gather the final OBJ, the MTL and the TGAs into a zip file and upload onto Sculpteo. Sculpteo is super nice in that it allows you to scale and gives you a price quote. Be sure to check for solidity, which will tell you what areas are too thin / easy to break. When you’re ready, choose multicolour as the material, select your size and add to cart.

Good luck!


Jenny is a gamer and 3D-printing enthusiast. Caret Dash Caret is a blog about her adventures, her explorations in DIY and her favourite knick-knacks. Republished with permission.


Comments

    $56 is pretty good, I guess. Though you'd have to take on at least another $20 for Australia.
    But we're getting there! Soon, soon we can all 3D print our models of our D&D characters to use in the actual game!
    We're almost there!

    Side note: who the hell is "Jenny"?

      More like, print all of our Warhammer figs.

      Games Workshop is scared as hell of the coming 3d printing revolution.

        I guess the only solution is to restrict sales even more and raise prices again to compensate, right?

        Might ask around, see if any other friends are up for it and put in a shared order.

        They are indeed. I was speaking to one of my mates who used to work in one around a decade ago, still talks to some of the staff in Mt Gravatt, he said the managers there and up high are trying to figure out how to avoid piracy with 3d printers. Models in tournaments etc may be 'inspected' and those using 3d printed ones will be ejected and possibly fined for piracy. O_O

    Also, where she says 'its a pain to fix' the mapping, its really not. In blender, you just have to move the UV map (it for some reason gets put out of place when importing into blender). I have to do this all the time when I import DOTA2 weapons into Skyrim. Get up second screen, select model in topdown uv map view, press g, realign with it, and you're good to go.

    So the recommended way to make your own 3D print is to pay someone else to do it for you once you've got the model?

      You could always buy your own 3D printer.

Join the discussion!