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

About: i am now a full-time 3D Artist, constantly believe i can be a better man, Just be the change you wanna see in the world, thats why i am here...

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!

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