I'm not sure what process Penny-Arcade used to create these characters, but I do know the process I would use. The following is how I would create something similar to what Penny Arcade has already created.
In my imagination, it's very simple to create your very own 16-bit character.
- Open any 3D modeling software that you're comfortable with (or find a friend with the appropriate skills)
- Create a cube (this might be the easiest thing to create in any modelling software).
Copy and paste that cube again and again, and slowly build up your 16-bit character.
- For this step, ensure that your cubes overlap a little bit, or when the 3D printer prints your rendered file, it'll create a whole bunch of unconnected cubes, and if you want to build a model that way, you should just buy Lego's.
- Also, if you want to easily identify the separation between the cubes in the final rendering, we'd recommend adding a small bevel to each of the edges on your cubes (if you're copying and pasting all your cubes, like a smart person, you'll only have to do this once).
- Save your model in a format compatible with whatever printer or printing company you're going to send it to.
- Wait for model to print or be sent to you.
- If it's not printed in color, paint it with the appropriate colors.
- Revel in your 3D printed characters!
See. Super easy!
I added some text to quite a few of the images that I thought might be helpful. Enjoy!