Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 09, 2019
Pintsized Realms

Unless you have a specific application in mind, you probably don't need a 3D printer. They are fun to fiddle around with, but in the long run you need to have a use for the stuff you print, otherwise you'll just make cheap decorative plastic nik-naks. Fortunately for me I have an application, 3D printing figurines and visual aids for tabletop roleplaying games. Obviously that is a bit of a niche thing. There are people out there doing the same thing, but it isn't a huge market. And because of that, one good place to find models to print is Kickstarter.

Now I have participated in several Kickstarter campaigns for 3D printable tabletop stuff. And I must say that up to now they all delivered. Sometimes a bit late, which is par for the course for Kickstarter, but not a single case of the campaign creator taking everybody's money and running off with it. However there is one Kickstarter campaign where I got the product and it ended up being of not much use to me: Pintsized Realms, a "3D printable kingdom".

Now I must immediately say that this isn't the fault of the creators. They delivered the core files I pledged for, and are still creating the files for the stretch goals. It is just that once I actually printed some wilderness tiles, I realized why this product isn't a good fit for me: I don't paint the stuff I print. Painting a figurine well takes a lot of time and some skill, and I have neither of those. A 28 mm scale figurine of a human takes just 2 to 3 grams of material, so with a 1 kg spool I can print whole armies. It would take me forever to paint all these. So I look for models that are recognizable unpainted. As long as you can see on the battle map who are the heroes, and who are the monsters, that is enough for my purpose.

All the pictures of the 3D printable kingdom on the Kickstarter page, except for the stretch goals, are in color and painted. A dirt path in the forest in the pictures is recognizable, because the ground has a different color than the trees, and the stones lining the path have yes another color. But printed and unpainted everything has the same color, the stones are tiny bumps you barely see, and it is really hard to make out where the path is. I printed a few tiles I put together to form a landscape, but the result is much worse than a map I would paint with an erasable marker on a battle map. I would need to paint the thing to make it even remotely useful.

As I said, it's my own fault, I should have thought of that problem earlier and not be seduced by the colorful pictures. And maybe I can at least use the village and town tiles to make useful maps for my campaign. But Pintsized Realms remains the only Kickstarter project that I now regret backing.


Is there no-one in your roleplaying group, or their extended community, who likes painting models and suchlike? There are plenty of people around who do this kind of thing for fun. I'd have thought you might find someone who'd think they were getting a treat if you let them paint your tiles for you.
Bhag, I've only known you via this blog but I've been reading your comments for 12 years or so you may be the most boring person on the planet. I don't mean that as an insult, just an observation. But you are high in the running for Most Boring Person I've ever seen.

Painting other people's cheap RPG crap. Are you immortal? Have you watched every movie and read every book?
@ Bhagpuss

Painting a couple miniatures is one thing. Painting an entire set which varies from nature items to structures is a HUGE pain in the ass. Either you're very talented or the final result will look like sh-it.
Yes, paper or card tiles you can print with a colour printer seem more practical for most cases.
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