Cornixt's Adventures in 3D Printing

My son’s friend has got into 40k, so my son wanted to beef up his own army. I told him that we were almost out of filament, but he went ahead and printed this anyway.


In the old days “damn boy, you ate the last bit of bread!”
These days “damn boy ya used the last of the filament!”


Well worth it. :beer:

:cd1991gif: cheeky

Good hobby though mwhahaha :grin:

How I dealt with the terribly limited model options for Acolytes in the 40k Genestealer Cults

I started with the 12 acolyte models from the Deathwatch Overkill set. They are all just armed with autopistols. So at best I could make two 6-model squads with them on their own since I need the minimum number of Troop units. The current rules say that you can have two models with heavy weapons for every three without, so eight models with heavy saws would be ideal to add. The GW acolyte box is $40 for only five more models, but only one of each heavy weapon (saw, cutter, laser) is included. So I would need many boxes just to max out on heavy weapons, and even then it would be a compromise since I would need twice as many to use only saws for my maxed out heavy choices.

I don’t need tournament legal models, but I want to play with models that at least look like what they are meant to be. Doesn’t need to be perfect, just good enough. Buying the actual models is out of my reach, so what to do?

I have an FDM 3D printer, but it’s not great at miniatures unless they have been designed for FDM printers, and even then a resin printer would blow them out of the water. I started with printing just saws to add to my existing models, but they never really fit well. I could have made permanent conversions, but I didn’t want to mess with the DWO models that much. I found 3D designs for acolyte bodies, arms, and saws but I knew that they wouldn’t print well at all. So I hacked them up, mixed and matched them, merged parts together, and ended up with something better. Hybrids are pretty forgiving when it comes to scaling hands and arms, I would not be able to do this well for human-like models. Blender is a horrific mess to learn, but Microsoft’s 3D Builder is pretty good if you are just manipulating existing objects or building from basic shapes. Several redos later (resized, one leg never printed properly, extraneous detail, too many supports, fingers too narrow to print, head too small, etc) and I got something that would print one single-piece model well enough in around 100 minutes if I added a brim or raft.

Here’s a partially painted one

Adding eight of these guys to my previous twelve puts me up to 20 models with maxed out heavy saws. Well, due to experimentation and failed prints I had a few pieces that I was able to salvage into usable models using greenstuff, so only four of the additions are the final design.

After giving them an undercoat spray, my 3D printed models merged into the proper unit very well - at tabletop distance you can’t tell at all. As you get closer you first notice the hands, then the weapon, then the head, and you have to be very close to notice the body (the one part I could have bought easily for this case). It’s making me re-evaluate my decision on FDM printed models being unsuitable for this purpose, but that’s only because I already have that type of printer. The small extra expense for a resin printer still makes it much more worth it for printing miniatures, and you don’t have to worry much about the files being hard to print. GW is making it harder to find the files for many units so if you see a file you like then you should grab it before it goes. My son is glad he got the files for the Astraeus super heavy tank before they vanished - a decent $6 approximation of a $360 model, he’ll probably never use it, only took two weeks to print… I don’t plan to print any more for my own army, I make the big stuff out of cardboard.

I’m going to try out using the printed acolytes in my army with the proper acolyte models as two units of five, and one unit of ten.
On a side note, I also added a fifth Abberant to the 4 DWO unit by printing out a small model of Abomination (I think he is the bad guy from a Hulk movie) and sticking a genestealer head on him. I’m calling him a hypermorph to make up for why he looks a bit different to the others (only two arms, no weapon, but he does have the absurd muscularity).

With these small additions, I can get a battleforged 900pt list from the Deathwatch Overkill models that hopefully isn’t too horrible to play. Another 700 pts can be added in cardboard tanks without changing anything other than the detachment size, although it’s probably not optimal. I’m sure I can swing a few hundred extra points than my opponent anyway due to GSC being considered underpowered as long as I don’t win too often.


Just to be clear here: I’m not printing scans of GW models, these are completely new models sculpted in a similar-ish style to GW models, not a copy.

I’ve been playing around with printing legs and torsos for my genestealer cult army, and some Bull Centaurs that I have made by merging several files. It’s made be start re-evaluating my position on using FDM printers for models. I’ve adapted someone’s model for a Neophyte and adjusted angles and added parts to make it printable without any supports, so it is not only faster to print but also uses less filament. When I print it at a very fine layer height (0.08mm) it comes out so well that you can barely tell it was 3D printed. (Cult miner body, FDM no supports required by Cornixt - Thingiverse) Arms and weapons are something else though - it is incredibly difficult to print FDM in the angles and fine detail required (see the terrible hands on the heavy saw models above) so they are always pretty obvious.

GW sets up their kits to have lots of options, usually at least two weapon options for the right hand and additional heads. The way that they restrict you from making 20 models from a 10 model kit is to restrict the bodies to 10. Even if you make more legs and torsos, you’re going to be short of a few left arms too, but those are barely visible so a rough job with greenstuff is good enough.

So my new opinion is that FDM printers are great for legs and torsos that have been designed for this kind of printing. It’s worthwhile being able to easily double the number of models you get in a kit without it being too noticeable. Getting or making a suitable file might be the hardest part.

Back to my process. My plan had been to buy more Neophytes and use all the extra arms on my printed bodies, but I do have enough dwarf crossbow arms to convert into shotguns so maybe I don’t need to buy anything new. I started playing around with the 3D models to see if I could get a left arm on there and it re-ignited my idea of making single-piece monopose models. Maybe I could make the weapon detached so it will print better or be swapped for something else, but have everything else on the one 3D print. I haven’t found a good shotgun model to use, but I could adapt an existing gun model to have a barrel made from the styrene tubing I use for standard poles. This is a bit beyond monopose and more into the realm of few pieces.


An interesting thread that has been completely under my radar so far. I’ve been toying with the thought of getting an FDM printer for a while now, not necessarily for miniatures but general purpose stuff. This print over on the Thingiverse site looks good though, any chance to get a better image (higher res & preferably in focus) of this? I think combining 3D printed bodies with surplus arms and heads from kits (maybe even resin conversion parts although they tend to be on the expensive side) is probably the best of both worlds.

What I always wondered about FDM prints: if you get these characteristic step patterns, can’t you simply sand them away or does the material not lend itself too well to sanding? On the flipside, I can imagine that ‘simply’ might involve hours of work, so that people usually don’t bother.

PLA is easy to sand, it’s pretty close to the regular styrene of normal plastic models, so any areas that you file down can be made absolutely flat. I think that your issue would be more about getting the file into the detailed areas without destroying the detail.

I’ve not used PETG, which is supposed to be very similar to PLA.

I’ll see if I can get a better photo, but I have started sticking arms and heads on so I’ll have to get shots of the back.

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I can imagine. Somewhere I have seen someone gluing small pieces of sand paper to sculpting tools to get into these hard to reach areas. There are also certain jeweller’s files with a bent tip which look pretty useful.

No problems with photos of assembled models :slight_smile:

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This is the best i can do. The arm is the only part not printed.

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When I said that these printers would be great for legs and torsos, I hadn’t counted on there not being many files of torsos easily available that are compatible with GW parts. After a lot of searching, I found a couple for Orcs and one for Goblins, but neither are ideal. Blender doesn’t seem to import the STLs correctly, so I haven’t been able to resculpt them yet. None for Dwarfs, so I’m going to have a go at making my own. I’m considering integrating a left arm, since that is the least available part. I have plenty of right arms and heads, which will add a lot of noticeable individuality to each model. It’s weird how there are so many combinations of legs and torsos possible, but those are less observable - the significant parts are the angle of the arm, the weapon, the head position and shape/expression.

EDIT: Well that didn’t take too long. I figured that robes that reach the ground are better than feet making it all need supports, but I’m going to do footed ones too. Not sure how I would have done armour. Needs a lot of smoothing out and making it look more like draping robes rather than just a weird cone. I’m learning so many features of Blender through YouTube tutorials, such an unintuitive program.


I had some success in the past with first converting STLs to Wavefront .obj (basically the 3D analogue to .txt) using FreeCAD. .obj files can be directly imported to Blender.

What I like to do for dwarfs (analogue sculpting but I believe it applies here as well) is to have the feet peek out from under the robes – still has the advantage of being a single massive chunk but it looks more lifelike. Good luck with your modelling – Blender is painful in the beginning but it’s well worth mastering it. I remember using it back in the late 2000s for 3D modelling and texturing – it’s much better today!

A somewhat improved version, but still not very good yet. Need to get the hang of how robes should drape.

EDIT: Added a design that is more like the 6th edition Dwarf model. Took a couple of prints to get the scale correct. I had to make everything much more chunky that I thought I would, just to have the detail match the level of GW models. Then I added a version with a left arm (because left arms are in short supply) and one with the feet detached for true supportless printing.


My new Bull Centaur unit is coming along. Uses Orc arms, Dwarf heads, and 3d printed bodies modified from a Fabezel design with a Black Orc torso.


They are really cool and unique centaurs cornixt. Its impressive how you get the most out of your filament printer and do things most people might only attempt in resin. I get the plastic filament is a nicer material to work with?

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No gloves, no cleaning, no special disposal method, it’s less fragile when made. But it is much more limited, a lot of prints just won’t work well at all when they would be fine for resin SLA printers. I enjoy the experimentation part though, working out how to get the best out of it even if it might be using plastic parts from kits. It’s an engineering challenge I enjoy.


I think I’ve mentioned before how i wanted to make a supportless Neophyte for my genestealer cult army. Finally managed to get the arms and weapon as i liked them. My son switched back to the black PLA so the details didn’t come out as well as they do in the grey PLA, but it is good enough for test purposes. I did make one with a proper head, but i like the domed helmet a bit more - it also doesn’t show the difficulty of details at this scale.


Had a bit of time to make some legs and torsos for Orcs and Goblins

I knew I needed a few spare Orcs to round out my unit, so after printing one of these out I went looking for my spare Orc heads that weren’t in my bits box. Found a few sprues of Orc bodies that I had forgotten about! So I didn’t need to make the orc design at all. Still not sure where all those spare heads are. It’s a simplified version of someone else’s Ork. I think I might have a go at making it into an even simpler version with just a plain shirt like the Goblin. The Orc box has so many extra left arms that I don’t think adding one (like I did with the Dwarf torso) is going to benefit anyone. I might do it for the Goblin though.

Next plan is to stretch the goblin body to make it taller for use as a Hobgoblin. I don’t really have any plans to make more myself, but it might be useful for someone else. Then I might do some Elves to fill out my wife’s WE and DE armies.


I’ve seen lots of full unit trays for 20mm models to spread out to 25mm, but I already have a ton of unit trays so I made some basic unit spacers. I’d like to add some bevels, so this is just the first attempt.

EDIT: Added a bevel on all sides so that they roughly match that bevel angle of the bases. A bit more pleasant.


The spacers work well. Blunderbusses still don’t fit without angling, but the plastic warriors can now stand straight.