Introduction: 3D Printed StormTrooper Action Figure! (Realistic Articulation)

Report in position! Captain Phasma is leading a wave of attack on the resistance!

The resistance is no piece of cake! First Order needs to get some more troopers to join our fight!

Inspired by Autodesk's tinkerplay and my background of legos the bionicles(leave a comment if you had one), this instructable will show you how to create any custom action figure with the help of tinkerplay! i am also giving away the 3d model for a limited time! Its christmas and newyear! I have a thing for action figure and ball and socket joints! Growing up with bandai models and lego, the simplicity of assembly and creation fasin ates me! no need to screw and unscrew things all the time. i tried traditional sculpting before, here is my CAD attempt!!

Download the file and print it yourself!! (see in step 7)
Hope you enjoy this instructable and learn sth from it. Follow my journey and Create your own action figure with realistic articulations.

i am making this action figure as a christmas present for my lovely girlfriend Susie from @Mariko Susie for her toy photography! I want to make her a decent figure to photograph! What better than the reboot of sci fi classic StarWars! I like the new trooper design very much from the first teaser. Pls vote for me in the sci fi contest this year! Means alot if you would Leave a comment and favorite,if you like my work!

Step 1: Mastering TinkerPlay in 10 Minutes!

To start off, Tinkerplay is my dream toy printing software! Autodesk launched it earlier this year, i am thrilled to try it out as a 3d printing lover.

The User Interface(UI) is designed to be intuitive, simple for children and Parents alike, Available on iOS, android and windows store! I tried thee android app on the phone, but i prefer using my laptop more. The app is so easy to use it doesn't even starts with a tutorial! Providing 10 character templates with unique limbs and body parts jointed by ball joints. Choose one, and a guided building process will be initiated. the program has interactive environment, parts coustomization, inverse kinematics and copy&paste option as shown in my video.super user friendly!

The building process is strictly drag and drop. beyond templates, user are encourage to mix and match parts as they are accessible in 2 catalogs, both 1) parts from specific character and 2) parts from the same body parts. Feel free to checkout my video demo if you are interested!

Press print and you will see the estimated sizes and weight, since they are general indicator of price. Order it on 3D hubs, or export print files for Makerbot Ultimator, Dremel, Autodesk. You can retrieve the file from browser download (very slow), signing in your googledrive (reasonably fast) or like myself, export to computer (best for me). Exporting to hard disk maybe exclusive to window 8 computers for now, which is why i am using the windows version.

The .STL will be zipped in the desired directory. unzip and load it in blender place them in the way to fit your printer! i fitted mine to the UPBOX in my university library. I am printing this skeleton for testing the printer and the print file. i am transitioning to Maya! hope to be a pro Mayan sooner too!

After printing, I cleaned all the raft and support with pliers, assembled it, and had a bit of fun with it. The ball joints are remarkably well-articulated, with reasonable friction. it can do some tough poses like one-leg-stand. The small imperfection of the print quality doesn't seem to affect the functionality too much! only the spine joint is relatively loose, still it locks in place well. this motivates me to work on the mod! (modifying)

Step 2: 3D Modeling the Trooper

This is the most creative part! you can model anything you like! or download any game character you like on T3dM, turboSquid.

As a 3D artist, I am obviously gonna model the storm trooper myself. 3D modeling has been my passion for a few years, i am so drawn to it, with more practice, i hope for related graduate studies and land a career on it! For beginners, i have the following tips:

1. Sculpt! get your brain working with 3d forms! (i tried to sculp a action figure with paperclay 2 years ago, but its too heavy and not hard enough, thats before i tried fimo.
2. Watch tutorials online! long or short!
3. Watch VFX breakdown and behind the scene videos!
4. Follow Digital artist on pinterest or instagram,
5. Learn about topology and test you understanding!
6. Post your work on online like i do! You can get feedbacks, and you never knew who's watching!

I attached a timelapse of the process, I am not professional (yet) of course, but, I hope you learn something from it! Feel free to ask me anything about the process. please see the links for my youtube videos

Helmet modeling: first video
Armor piece: second video

Step 3: Tinkerplay Mods and Finalizing the Model

I am posting my .STL file for a limited amount of time (see step 7)! Please share it with your friends ASAP and download it before i remove it!

I sketched the joint diagram when i was having afternoon tea. (see attached pic) the main features being:

1. double ball joint at elbows and kneesee for higher bending angles
2. joints comes in 2 standard sizes instead of 1 like in tinkerplay to reduce weight


I used an app called Camera Scanner, super convenient, gets the job done. the auto-correct really give scanned quality most of the time. Great for make canned quality documents into pdf with your phone.

Then i went ahead in blender, i rigged the stormtrooper very roughly according to the sketch[1]. Then i chose the ball and socket joint from the .stl i exported from Tinkerplay. I scale it in to the 2 sizes. I then placed joint on top and test the articulation. You can see me doing a lot of adjustments to yield better articulations. with the joint and sockets in place, i started connecting them as they are supposed to be.

Then i match the bone piece to the storm trooper model. i make them overlap. are not even connected. i have decided to redo the combining. Some parts didn't get support nor raft at all. the print base was also shifted, one can tell the some layers slide. It seems that the librarian on duty didn't fix the base in the beginning.

[1] To Rig, to assign a set of bones called an armature to a 3D model for deformation and animation purposes

Step 4: Test Printing

i have doubt if it works well, since this is rather complex of a thing to print. i expected i might need to re-adjust the model. i went to test print it in the only printer i have access to. the printer in the university library. Unfortunately, i have a 6 hour limit, and i can only print it very small due to the complexity i am putting in.

It fails miserably due to the sizes, the ball-ball joints were disconnected. the librarian also did a great job of NOT mounting the print base properly, my prints ended up like a shuffled deck of cards. Some serious layer sliding occured as shown in the helmet. i was just unlucky.

Step 5: Modifications + Re-print

(please refer to captions for more detailed comments!)

i then separated the ball joint armature from the armor and re print it, also re-align things so that the support required is minimal. You may also notice I modeled a bit more detail on the mesh, since I was tinkering with the mesh...
After experiencing multiple times of printer operational failures by my "dear" librarians, i finally have a print that is workable. it took 10 hours to print, weight around 100g, clearing the support and raft took more than an hour. they dont really know how to use the printer, spent hours changing filaments. i really wish i have my own printer at home. it really is the hour travel from home to school that bothers me the most.

After all the frustration my librarians threw at me. I finally receive a workable print, with many surface bumps and minor deformations. I am so behind schedule at that point I had to go with it, making do with my crafty hands long the way.

Modeling for Printing is similar to
modeling for games and graphics, but bear in mind some major differences:

  1. Go High-Poly if necessary, since printer don’t usually deal with bump maps or normal maps. If you want more shape definition, add more geometry.
  2. Mesh should be water-tight and connected by topology.
  3. If not possible, makes sure the two mesh overlap each other for a significant amount (i.e. the chest bone and hip bone I did).

i am sharing the skeleton for free for eternity, hehe. Rig it to the character you desire! Post your pics in the comment section! But for the stormtrooper, i will only be hosting it for a limited amount of time! grab the file now or share this instructable with your friend ASAP! (see links in step 7)

Step 6: Assemble and Kick Some Resistance's Butt!

The first hour is to remove the parts from the raft and support. have some alcohol swab handy, i scratched my finger from all those hard support, make me envy those water soluble support i saw in pier 9. Releasing the part on the outskirt, work your way in the center as you see the head and should is the last i released from the raft.

then come the real assembly. i test fitted the parts. Since they are empty shells, armor almost, some parts are a bit loose like the chest and hips. i recommend to add some padding with craft foam (leftover from the gauntlet). hot glue the shells to corresponding bones if necessary.

like i mentioned, the printer at school print rather imperfect. if your filament or printer fail you a little bit, the ball joints might not fit perfectly. take a craft cutter, trim away excess if parts dont fit. take a hot glue gun, put a drop of hot glue on the ball joint, and rub it gently to add a thin coating. this is not perfect, but a workaround nonetheless. joints needs to be tight to lock in place and achieve complex pose.

feel free to primer and sand it to mirror smooth like a brand new armor. i am keeping this doll the texture of the filament for this one!

Step 7: Flexibility and Downloads

With the extra articulation than medium priced action figure, my trooper is capable of so interesting poses. Notably the shoulder joints, not many figures address this subtle but important articulation. The single leg stand is also a proud moment for me... also throw in a classy-portrait lay down for art buffs alike.

I hope you can see how cool projects can bloom from creative mind and CAD!! i swear i can be pumping this out if i have access to more sweet tools and machine!!

Possible improvement is to inprove the topology of the bones themselves, no more messy vertices from tinkerplay!! if you improve the model and have any question, feel free to comment below of direct message me!!

Step 8: Maintenance and Remarks

I suppose the joints are durable depending on your filament nd print resolution.

If joint are not as tight as before, reprint the part, or simple rub a tin coating of hot glue like I mentioned, this might seems to be a bit of cheating, but my stl is accurate I think, so it moSt likely the printer's limitation. Make me wonder what can i do with the cool printers at pier 9!! Since visiting the Pier workshop is a transforming experience for my crafting, enable my trust in my craftbility! The thing about creating is always about having the courage to challenge what you can't, learn from downfalls and work it through!

Lastly, if you read till this point, I am touched. Thank you for your time and support! Vote for me in the Scifi contest if you want more 3d project from me! The grand prize is a 3d printer! I so need one haha! I swear i can put it to good use! Promised! Leave a comment or share this with your starwars fans/friends! Constructive criticism are most welcome!

Until next time! Happy instructabling!

Comments

author
lassab999 (author)2017-05-23

Thank you, for the model and the instructions.

author
j-vega (author)2017-04-26

Great project, congratulations. Could you upload the individual STL files? My ANET A8 device, does not fit the pre configured group. Thank you.

author
mcstarcoin (author)2017-03-22

This is 200% awsome

author
Ethan1023 (author)2016-11-25

You should paint it silver and give it a cape.

author
mchau2 (author)Ethan10232016-11-26

good idea!!, do you have time to try it out?

author
JunH5 (author)2016-04-19

Please do galen marek.... Please reply.

author
mchau2 (author)JunH52016-04-19

Familiar with this character, i am not.... but sounds cool! I found an in game model
http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/star-wars-tfu-starkiller-clone-wars-82798.html
There a few nice ibles about turning existing 3d model into print ready, you can also use my provided armature to articulate it! Feel free ask ask furtjer question!

author
ohoilett (author)2016-04-11

This is awesome, dude.

author
mchau2 (author)ohoilett2016-04-12

Thank you man!! i tried my best!!

author
pcbuyersguide made it! (author)2016-02-11

For this model, I added some black pieces to cover up the thin bones, but I may rework these in some glued-together sections of black elastic craft cord for increased flexibility. I also reduced the length of the neck piece. I had to split the lower leg pieces to fit the bones properly.

Stormtrooper2.jpg
author
mchau2 (author)pcbuyersguide2016-02-11

wow looks so col with the bacg ground too! so maybe i can widen the ankle part by a bit, i was lucky that mine fits... super awesome build!! thx for the passion!! and sorry for the troubles... you help the community to improve this ible!! salut you!!

author
warriorethos2 (author)2016-01-30

mchau2, very high tech for me but would like to try a 3D printer some day. Very good videos and great work on your instructions. Your Storm Trooper would make a great gift or even a good collectible. Keep printing!

author
mchau2 (author)warriorethos22016-01-31

i tried to give as much documentayion as i could!

author
warriorethos2 (author)mchau22016-01-31

Great job

author
mchau2 (author)warriorethos22016-02-01

Thx again!! i checked out your profile! I am not American, but thank you for your service!! its so cool!! my goal is to be the change i wanna see in the world, not as much as setting example, but sth like that!!

author
mchau2 (author)warriorethos22016-01-31

wow i am so flattered!! you are so kind! and hey 3d is coming in hot! love to see your go at it! my gf love this figure as a toy photographer!

author
Francois Kruger (author)2016-01-29

This is such an awesome instructable!!! Great work and perseverance. I want to print your action figure but every time I click on one of the files, it opens op in the browser. is their a special way to download it?

author
mchau2 (author)Francois Kruger2016-01-29

thank you Francois, i did my best at the time haha! still rooms of improvement... maybe you can try downloading it on the phone or other device? i just tried downloading on android with the instructable app, works fine, let me know! maybe i am uplooading new version soon... look forward to hear from you.

author
Francois Kruger (author)mchau22016-01-30

Hi. Your correct it downloads fine in the app. Thank you good sir.

author
mchau2 (author)Francois Kruger2016-01-31

my pleasure to help out a fellow Instructabler... cheers! good luck on your print!

author
FredM32 (author)2016-01-25

Hello,

Nice work! But I can't open it on repetier... Error "This object is not manifold..."

Someone got this problem?

Config: Repetier 1.6.0 on Ubuntu 14.04

author
mchau2 (author)FredM322016-01-25

i didnt have this problem... manifold is the more ideal type of mesh, sth theoretical like no triangle, all faces are planal... i suspect its the procedural bone generation...

author
FredM32 (author)mchau22016-01-25

I process the file 2 times (!) with netfabb (

https://netfabb.azurewebsites.net/) and I load it now...

Let's print!

author
mchau2 (author)FredM322016-01-26

i never knew microsoft has such a service!! thanks for the update! do you mind to keep us posted by your situation? if it works, i might add your tips to the -ible...

author
JeffC16 (author)2016-01-25

Hey The Stormtrooper looks great. But can you break the files down to smaller parts. Smaller printers can't handle that print area.

author
JeffC16 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

Thanks I can wait to print it out for my nephew

author
mchau2 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

thx for understandibg! hope i wobt kept your nephew waiting too long!!

author
mchau2 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

good point! quite a number of you requested this feature... i will upload it asap!

author
Mccarter26 (author)2016-01-26

Beautiful work. I can not get the model to show up on the platform on ReplicatorG. Any ideas?

author
mchau2 (author)Mccarter262016-01-26

i would have throwin more details in the geometry if the printer i used was capable!

author
mchau2 (author)Mccarter262016-01-26

i have not try many brands of printer.. it may be the manifold problem some one raised... let me see

author
psalviati (author)2016-01-24

Your "Aramature" File is corrupted...

author
mchau2 (author)psalviati2016-01-25

i will check it asap..

author
syates3 (author)2016-01-24

I'll make a 1:6 scale of this and see about putting something rubber between the joints. Would be a nice thing to have next to my 1:6 Arc Trooper.

author
mchau2 (author)syates32016-01-24

Sounds great!! The rubber thing, i look forward to it!!

Please share some pics of your build!! we would love to see it!!

author
spectaculareyedcat (author)2016-01-24

Very well done.... thank you for the time to make and share this interesting Instructable!

author

Hey you are welcome!! glad that my work inspire people!!

author
deus ex (author)2016-01-24

*traitor intensifies*

author
mchau2 (author)deus ex2016-01-24

I haven't watch the movie yet!! i will wait till i can watch it with my GF

author
dbess (author)2016-01-24

Love it! but was wondering do you think Disney might try to come after you ? I hear they are uber copyright Nazi's I heard stories about them suing pinata companies for making pinata's in Disney characters shapes..

author
mchau2 (author)dbess2016-01-24

Wow i think i should be off the hook... if i am in trouble, all RPF members are in danger?

author
albill (author)dbess2016-01-24

He's not selling it. What money would they be coming after him for?

author
Moose Stash (author)2016-01-17

I've been thinking of purchasing a 3D printer for my son. How complicated and expensive of a hobby is this? He is only 9 but I know he would love to learn how to do this with my help of course.

author
bLiTzJoN (author)Moose Stash2016-01-24

There are many options for printers and while many might recommend an inexpensive printer, I recommend SeeMeCNC's Rostock Max v2 DIY kit. It's a grand, but really offers the most for the money and the kit is complete. Just buy a few rolls of plastic and you're off to the races!

author
mchau2 (author)Moose Stash2016-01-17

i understand its a bit of an investment to buy your own printer! there are free consumer products for creating 3d models! Autodesk made a wide collections of begginer softwares for every kid to be excited about! like tinkerplay! there are tons of resources on instructable! feel freee to checkout some more here! the community including me is more than glad to help!

author
Moose Stash (author)mchau22016-01-17

The tinkerplay looks perfect for him! Do you know a good printer that's budget friendlier and easy to start with?

author
willtoolman (author)Moose Stash2016-01-24

XYZ Davinci sold thru Amazon and other places.

author
mchau2 (author)Moose Stash2016-01-17

one can progress into paid software like maya or 3dmax for more advance modeling! blender is free and get the job done! the operating cost is usually the filament only. another cpol thing is to look out for free models on rpf also!

author
Londonbrig0 (author)2016-01-22

I printed this a bit smaller than yours on an infinia (scaled x20 from the original stl file)
It turned out surprisingly well, I'll post pictures once I have it assembled. I just have a question about how you supported the stomach and codpiece on the skeleton. Can the stomach section remain unsupported if the codpiece is glued to the hipbones? If it's not too much trouble would you be able to post a couple more pictures about how you assembled those two sections?

author
mchau2 (author)Londonbrig02016-01-22

thx for trying out the print!! I can't wait to see your build!! I am very touched by your support!! I added foam in the codpiece to hot glued the hip bone, keep it firm! as for the belly one, I let it loose... completely detachable... the calf and the forearm might be a little tight where they joins the palms and feet, its kinda intentional to keep the bone in place! hope it doesn't cost much trouble on a scale down print!!

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