Making Miniatures from Scratch with 3D Sculpt & 3D Printing

The realm of miniatures has been revolutionized with the advent of 3D sculpting and 3D printing. This potent combination allows for precision, customization, and replicability.

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Whether you’re venturing into tabletop gaming or just love crafting detailed models, here’s a brief guide to kickstart your journey:

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I Create ( 3D sculpt) Custom Figurines on Nomad Sculpt and Print them on Anycubic 3D printers.

1. Designing the Model:

3D Sculpting for Beginners: Starting Your Journey with the Right Tools

In my creative process, I turn to the Nomad Sculpt app for 3D sculpting. With its intuitive interface and vast tools, I meticulously shape, mold, and refine my designs, bringing my imaginative concepts to tangible reality. Nomad Sculpt truly empowers my artistic journey, transforming ideas into detailed 3D models.

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Software Selection: Begin by choosing the right 3D sculpting software. Popular choices include Blender, Nomad Sculpt, and ZBrush. These platforms cater to different skill levels and offer various features.

Choosing the correct 3D sculpting software is your initial step into the fascinating world of miniature creation. Here’s a deeper insight:

Software Selection:

  • Blender: A versatile, open-source 3D software, Blender is excellent for beginners and professionals alike. Its user-friendly interface and a vast array of tutorials available make it easier for newcomers to navigate and learn.
  • Nomad Sculpt: Especially adept for tablet users, Nomad Sculpt is intuitive and allows for tactile sculpting, almost like molding clay with your fingers. Its mobile-centric design doesn’t skimp on professional features, providing a fantastic on-the-go sculpting experience.
  • ZBrush: Famed for its prowess in high-detail sculpting, ZBrush is the choice of many professionals. Its pixel technology offers a deep level of detail, allowing for intricate design work. However, it may present a steeper learning curve for absolute beginners.

Start Simple: Beginning your 3D sculpting journey can feel overwhelming, given the myriad of tools and features these platforms offer. It’s pivotal to start small.

  1. Basic Shapes: Familiarize yourself with the software by creating basic geometric forms. Understand how to move, resize, and adjust these shapes. This foundational knowledge is critical.
  2. Experiment with Tools: Every software has a unique set of sculpting tools. Play around with them on your basic shapes to see their effects. This will give you a feel for the software’s potential.
  3. Progressive Complexity: Once you’ve got a grip on the basics, challenge yourself incrementally. Add details to your shapes, combine multiple forms, or try sculpting something from reference.

In essence, the world of 3D sculpting is vast and varied. Starting with the right software and a patient, step-by-step approach will set you on a path of both fun and profound artistic discovery.

2. Preparing the Model for Printing:

Preparing Your 3D Design: Optimization & Scaling for Perfect Prints

The transition from a 3D sculpted design to a tangible, 3D-printed object requires careful preparation. Here’s a deep dive into optimization and scaling, the crucial steps before hitting the ‘print’ button.

Bringing Life to 3D Sculpt( Nomad to 3D Printer Journey)

Step 1. Sculpt & Render a Character on Nomad Sculpt- Check out my eBook You can sculpt anything – eBook to learn Nomad sculpt

  • Decimate your Model
  • Size & Scale Your 3D Model

Step 2.- Send to Procreate for coloring and Augmentation( Optional)

Step 3. Send it to Lychee Slicer for slicing( Optimizing your 3D Model for 3D printing)

Lychee Slicer( You can download the latest version of Lychee Slicer here)
Lychee Slicer is, all things considered, a well-organized program that features a “Magic Mode” button that makes it the easiest tool to rapidly get up and running.

Magic Mode is simply an optimization technique that can be activated with the push of a button and works to automatically orient support and hollow any object that you have opened in the software.

The user interface of Lychee Slicer places controls for object movement and manipulation on the left side of the application window, the main menu at the top of the window, and context-sensitive settings on the right and bottom of the window.

This layout is intended for users who prefer to complete tasks manually.

What you need to do: Upload your.OBJ or STL file to Lychee slicer software and Optimize your 3d Model for printing.

Your 3D Model is Optimized and ready to be printed on a 3D printer.

Step 4: Send to a Printer Like Anycubic Photon Mono X( For miniature 3D Prints only).

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Happy Sculpting! & Happy 3D Printing!


  1. Wall Thickness: A consistent wall thickness ensures that the printed model is sturdy. Too thin, and it might break or warp; too thick, and you might waste material or obscure finer details. Various 3D software tools allow you to measure and adjust wall thickness to ensure durability without compromising aesthetics.
  2. Overhangs: Overhanging parts of a design, especially those that angle more than 45 degrees relative to the build platform, can droop or fail during printing. To address this:
    • Add support structures. These can be manually designed or automatically generated by slicer software.
    • Modify the design by breaking it into parts, printing separately, and then assembling.
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  1. Purpose & Proportions: Determine the size of your miniature based on its end-use. Is it a game piece? A display model? A component of a larger assembly? Your intended purpose will guide your scaling decisions.
  2. Uniform vs. Non-uniform Scaling: While most 3D designs are scaled uniformly (all axes are scaled by the same factor), there might be situations where non-uniform scaling (scaling differently along specific axes) is required to achieve the desired outcome.
  3. In-Software Scaling: All major 3D sculpting software provides tools to resize your design. Ensure you keep an eye on dimensions, ensuring they fit within the printable area of your 3D printer.

In summary, optimization and scaling are not just post-design formalities. They play a pivotal role in ensuring that your creative vision, once printed, matches your digital design both in strength and in aesthetics. Always allocate time for these steps to guarantee successful and satisfying 3D prints.

3. 3D Printing:

From Design to Tangible Art: Understanding Materials, Printer Settings, and Post-processing

Embarking on the 3D printing journey requires comprehension of materials, tweaking printer settings, and the essential steps post-printing. Here’s a thorough exploration of these stages:

Related: 5 Best 3D printers for miniatures in 2023[ Ultimate Buying Guide] and Custom 3D Printing: A Comprehensive Guide to Bring Your Designs to Life

Material Choice:

  1. PLA (Polylactic Acid):
    • Advantages: Eco-friendly (derived from corn starch), easy to print, minimal warping, and comes in a variety of colors.
    • Considerations: Less durable than ABS, and not as temperature resistant, which means it can deform in high-heat environments.
  2. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):
    • Advantages: Durable, strong, and can be smoothed using acetone for a glossy finish.
    • Considerations: Requires a heated bed due to its tendency to warp, releases fumes when printed (adequate ventilation needed), and is not biodegradable.
  3. Resin (for SLA printers):
    • Advantages: Exceptional detail, smooth surface finish, and capable of capturing intricate designs.
    • Considerations: Requires post-curing under UV light, can be brittle, and requires careful handling due to its sticky, uncured nature and potential for skin irritation.

Printer Settings:

Related: 5 Best 3D printers for miniatures in 2023[ Ultimate Buying Guide]

  1. Resolution: For detailed miniatures, high resolution (low layer height) is crucial. A setting of 0.1mm or lower is recommended. This captures intricate details but increases print time.
  2. Speed: A slower print speed ensures accuracy, especially for detailed parts. It reduces the risk of print errors like shifting or stringing.
  3. Supports: These are essential for overhanging parts. Ensure they’re easy to remove without damaging the miniature.


  1. Cleaning: For resin prints, cleaning with isopropyl alcohol removes uncured resin. For filament prints, this step might involve removing any loose material.
  2. Sanding: Smoothens the surface, erases layer lines, and preps the miniature for painting. Start with a coarser grit and progress to finer ones for a polished finish.
  3. Assembly: If your miniature consists of multiple parts, they’ll need assembling. Use a suitable adhesive, and ensure alignment for a seamless look.
  4. Priming & Painting: Apply a primer first to ensure the paint adheres well. Once dry, use acrylic paints to add colors and details.

To sum up, every phase—from selecting the right material to post-processing techniques—contributes to the perfection of your 3D-printed miniature. Attention to these details ensures a masterpiece that is both durable and aesthetically exquisite.

4. Finishing Touches:

From Primer to Finish: Beautifying Your 3D Printed Miniature

Finalizing your 3D-printed miniature with the right finishing touches can transform it from a simple print to a masterpiece. Here’s an in-depth look at the priming and painting processes.


  1. Purpose: A primer acts as an intermediary layer between the material of your miniature and the paint. It ensures that the paint adheres properly, provides a consistent base tone, and accentuates the miniature’s details.
  2. Types of Primers:
    • Aerosol Primers: These are spray can primers, great for an even coat. Ensure a well-ventilated area, hold the can at a consistent distance, and apply in short, controlled bursts.
    • Brush-on Primers: These are applied with a brush, offering more control, especially for detailed areas or smaller miniatures.
  3. Shades: Primers come in various shades – white, gray, and black being the most common. White makes colors pop and is great for vibrant miniatures. Black can add depth, making it easier to create shadowed effects. Gray is a versatile middle ground.


  1. Acrylic Paints: These water-based paints are ideal for miniatures due to their quick-drying nature, ease of use, and wide color range. They’re also easy to thin down or mix to get the desired consistency or shade.
  2. Brush Selection: A good set of brushes is crucial:
    • Fine Detail Brushes: For intricate details, eyes, or small embellishments.
    • Flat and Round Brushes: For larger surface areas or base coats.
    • Dry Brushes: For highlighting and creating textured effects.
  3. Techniques:
    • Layering: Start with base colors and progressively add layers for depth and detail.
    • Washing: Use thinned-down paint to flow into crevices, highlighting details.
    • Dry Brushing: This method captures raised details by using a brush with minimal paint.
  4. Sealing: After painting, it’s vital to protect your artwork. A clear coat or varnish, either matte or glossy, can safeguard against wear, tear, or chipping. Aerosol-based sealants are common but ensure they’re compatible with your paint to avoid unwanted reactions.

In essence, the process of priming and painting is not just about adding color. It’s the art of bringing life, depth, and emotion to your miniature, making it a unique piece that stands out in all its glory. Patience

Check Out My Portfolio : Custom 3d Sculpt & 3D printing Portfolio

Artmellows Etsy Shop for Custom Busts & 3D Sculpts:

Check out Artmellow’s Etsy store for custom 3D-printed Tabletops, Miniatures, and figurines.

Your Story, Our Canvas: Personalized 3D Custom Figurines for Room Décor, Tabletop & Gift item: Revel in the magic of human sculpture art, crafted just for you. Adorn your space with memories! 🌟🎨🏠

I Create ( 3D sculpt) Custom Figurines on Nomad Sculpt and Print them on Anycubic 3D printers.

5. Engage with the Community:

Join online forums and groups dedicated to 3D-printed miniatures. It’s a great way to share, learn, and improve.

In conclusion, 3D sculpting and printing open a world of endless possibilities in miniature creation. The blend of technology and artistry ensures that you can bring any vision, no matter how intricate, to life.

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About the Author:

Manny Acharya is the co-founder of Artmellows. Your go-to place for Design, Digital Art, Digital sculpting, Photography, Design Tools and gears Info, and Product Reviews. Manny is a Digital Artist, 3D Sculpt Designer, Ardent Photography, Drone flying Enthusiast, and tech Lover. He supercharges Digital Art and design by crafting memorable 3D sculptures & 2D Design and art. Learn more About Manny:

PS: Manny has created a Beginner Friedly ebook to Learn the Nomad 3D Sculpt App. Know More about the eBook. Know more about Manny

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