Introduction: Create Custom 3D Printable Dice
Custom dice have long been a part of gaming, and I want to show you how you can create your own 3D printable custom dice. Whether you are a game designer and need some special dice for your project or you just want some cool dice to toss around, this instructable will get your started.
You will need:
- Access to a vector image editor (Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape)
- An account with Tinkercad, a free and simple 3D modeling software
- Some paints or markers for coloring the pips.
If you don't have a printer available, there are a variety of ways to make your dice come to life, so read on.
Step 1: Create Custom Vector Image
In order to create a custom design for your dice, you will need to create a vector image of the custom design you want to put on your dice. Like a 3D design, vector images use points and lines to create shapes only on a two demential pain. 2D Vector images can be imported into 3D programs and manipulated. I created my custom design using Adobe Illustrator, but there are other vector editor available like Inkscape that you can use. Whatever program you use, you will need to be able to save your file as an .SVG.
If you are a beginner I recommend using some simple shapes to test out before you spend the time creating something too complex. I have included here the .SVG of my the logo for MakerGames.net. I will be using for my custom dice. It might be helpful to play with it first in both your vector editor and in Tinkercad to get a feel for how they work.
Here are a couple things to consider when creating your vector:
- Make sure your shapes use a fill where you want a depression on your die. Because vector lines don't actually have a width if you don't add a fill, you won't have much to work with.
- Be carful not to use thin lines and tight spaces. Unless you are going to print a giant die, you are working on a relatively small space (Dice are commonly 16mm cubed). Thin lines and spaces may not show up very well.
Step 2: Create Die
Now that we have our custom image, it's time to get into Tinkercad to create our die. Login to your Tinkercad account and create a new design.
On the right side of the page, there are default shapes one of which happens to be a blank die. Drag it onto your grid.
Now we need to add some pips. To do this pull in a sphere and scale it down to about 3mm. Center the sphere on the first face and move it half way into die shape. with the sphere selected, change the sphere from solid to hole. This first indent will be the center pip of side #3.
Copy the sphere (which is now a hole) and move it up and to the right. Copy the center sphere again and move it down and to the left. Once you have side #3 done, copy all three of the pips and move them into position around the die for the other numbers.
For my custom dice, I want to use my logo for MakerGames.net in place of the number one space, so I am leaving that blank. I have attached a .STL file of my die with the empty one space. Feel free to use it or make your own. The possibilities are endless.
Step 3: Upload Custom Vector Image
Now for the fun part. It's time to add the custom vector image we created to or 3D workspace.
In the right menu in Tinkercad, the second option is import. Select this and find your .SVG file. It gives you some options to scale the file and give it a height. I usually leave them at 100% scale and 10mm height. When you click import your new custom shape will appear in the middle of the grid.
Once your custom image shape is on the grid, you will need to scale it and center it onto the blank face. Just like we did to the pips, we need to turn the image shape into a hole.
Once you are satisfied with the alignment you are ready to export your work.
Step 4: Save Design As an .STL
Exporting your work in Tinkercad is simple. Click on design in the top left corner and click on "Download for 3D printing". You will be prompted to choose a file type. I downloaded it as an .STL which I have attached for you here.
Step 5: Print
I printed my dice using the 3D Hub service. I've got a guy that I work with that is fast and reliable. It's simple to upload your files to find a location near you. Every time you print something with 3D hub there is a start up fee between $5.00 and $20.00 depending on the quality of the print and the hub operator. To get my money's worth, I printed 6 dice.
I have not spent the time to 3D model a perfectly balanced die, so there is a chance the dice might be loaded on one side more then the other. As long as they roll sixes it's not a problem, right? Well, in the sake of fairness, these dice were printed with different faces pointing up with hopes that this will at lease decrease the possibility that all the dice are loaded on the same site. I'm not sure how effective this will be until I start tossing them. It will at least clear my conscious if I go on an incredible winning streak.
In hind sight I wish we had just printed them all face up. When the custom design was on the side and bottom, the printer struggled with some of the detail. It doesn't look terrible, but that little bit of extra detail could have been nice.
Step 6: Color the Pips
One final step to make your dice really look good is to color the pips. I first tried using markers, but it didn't look great. The marker ink ran in all of the cracks of the print, and ended up looking messy.
I ended up ruining one of the die during my experimentation, but I ended up painting the pip orange and then dry brushing white on top. I really like the effect it has. The white paint I used was slightly off, so it gives the dice an old used effect.
They are ready to go, and it's time to see how they shake. Have fun, and be sure to share your custom die.
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