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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


DmitriP5 made it! (author)2017-09-04

Hi there,

I have attempted to print the way STL was put together on my brand new Original Prusa with no luck. So I started to split parts and currently printing them separately (still a lot of pain). Looks like parts that are being built on the support and their first layers are just a couple lines of filament start to curl, then the nozzle picks them up and detaching from the support (especially ball-end bones). I have noticed some of these bones were designed with flattened side on the ball but that side is not always pointing to the bottom. I am trying my best to change it in the 3D Builder (software provided with my printer). On the picture parts that I managed to print. It's time to move to C-end bones and I am scared to start. I am wondering if you still have your CAD files so this model could be redesigned and hopefully optimised for 3D printing. Please keep in mind I own a printer for less than one week so maybe it's just lack of experience in printing.

mchau2 (author)DmitriP52017-10-22

Thank you so much for trying the print! The prusa is a damn fine machine and you are in a good place to start! Hardware should not be the issue. The ball joints as you saw in above writing are straight from autodesk tinkerplay. I design my files in blender, which I believe should be miles better software. As for the poor bed adhesion(curlline), I encourage you try to enable raft or brim in the slicer they are household name for solving your issue!

lassab999 (author)2017-05-23

Thank you, for the model and the instructions.

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.

mcstarcoin (author)2017-03-22

This is 200% awsome

Ethan1023 (author)2016-11-25

You should paint it silver and give it a cape.

mchau2 (author)Ethan10232016-11-26

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

JunH5 (author)2016-04-19

Please do galen marek.... Please reply.

mchau2 (author)JunH52016-04-19

Familiar with this character, i am not.... but sounds cool! I found an in game model
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!

ohoilett (author)2016-04-11

This is awesome, dude.

mchau2 (author)ohoilett2016-04-12

Thank you man!! i tried my best!!

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.

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!!

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!

mchau2 (author)warriorethos22016-01-31

i tried to give as much documentayion as i could!

warriorethos2 (author)mchau22016-01-31

Great job

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!!

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!

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?

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.

Francois Kruger (author)mchau22016-01-30

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

mchau2 (author)Francois Kruger2016-01-31

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

FredM32 (author)2016-01-25


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

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...

FredM32 (author)mchau22016-01-25

I process the file 2 times (!) with netfabb ( and I load it now...

Let's print!

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...

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.

JeffC16 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

Thanks I can wait to print it out for my nephew

mchau2 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

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

mchau2 (author)JeffC162016-01-26

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

Mccarter26 (author)2016-01-26

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

mchau2 (author)Mccarter262016-01-26

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

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

psalviati (author)2016-01-24

Your "Aramature" File is corrupted...

mchau2 (author)psalviati2016-01-25

i will check it asap..

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.

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!!

spectaculareyedcat (author)2016-01-24

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

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

deus ex (author)2016-01-24

*traitor intensifies*

mchau2 (author)deus ex2016-01-24

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

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..

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?

albill (author)dbess2016-01-24

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

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.

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!

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!

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?

willtoolman (author)Moose Stash2016-01-24

XYZ Davinci sold thru Amazon and other places.

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!

About This Instructable




Bio: i am now a college kid, constantly believe i can be a better man, Just be the change you wanna see in the world, thats ... More »
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