Thursday, April 28, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
My nine to five is as a procurement manager for IT products, blades, servers, switches, etc. The creative work I do with DreamForge-Games is far more satisfying than pushing PO’s through enterprise software. As the economy takes its down turns, you only need a procurement department to work out contract issues. Eventually all the issues get resolved and the pink slips start flying. I was faced with the decision to continue to be an overpaid corporate slave or a starving artist. I am fortunate enough to be in the position to fallow my true love and do something creative.
The current Leviathan designs were about 70% completed, so I got to work refining the details and started researching the new processes and machines that would allow me to turn pixels into real world objects. A lot had changed and although not perfect, the machines used to print 3D models had greatly improved. Having found a process that would work, I now needed to figure out how I would be able to pay for these very expensive prints. As it so happens John Bear Ross put a call out on his Yahoo forum for help, he was swamped with overtime at his nine to five and his client work was falling behind. One thing led to another and I started doing contract work for others in the gaming industry. Khurasan Miniatures, MERCS, Comfy Chair Games, Outland Games and eventually some commercial work for Land Rover. This side work helped me to fund my current designs and get the ball rolling again.
Having worked with John over at Moddler for my clients prints, he was the obvious choice to handle my personal work and he printed the Leviathan kits on his Objet printer. He always runs his machine at its highest resolution, so you get the best quality possible. I can’t tell you how important it is to have a good service provider doing your prints, part orientation makes a big difference on the quality of the print.
I then spent two months benching the parts, cleaning up the surfaces to mold level quality in an effort to get rid of the micro stepping that these printers create in the surface of the model. Another two months making love to molds followed by a limited release of casts to prove the molds. It has always been my intention to contract out the casting end because it is so time intensive that it takes me away from the design side. My search for a contract caster took a month or more. It’s surprising how few resin casters there are here in the US. This model presented some unique problems, with the number of parts I needed to make family molds, each mold containing four or more parts. With an open pour mold, it soon became evident that I needed to find someone who could inject the resin into the molds. This limited my short list of casters even further. I finally settled on a contract caster and sent my masters off to them. We have had a few bumps along the way but I am about to open up pre-orders for the Leviathans and roll the dice.
6) The new model looks AMAZING. The state of the art has obviously changed. How has that affected your work?
Due to the process I use, the software and printer are critical components to the process. I use Rhino for my CAD end with a few plug-ins to aid in the modeling process. I have found Rhino to be about the best software available for hard surface models such as tanks, mecha and other mechanical devices. If you’re doing organic surface models, such as animals, people, you’re not going to find a better software than Zbrush. The printer end still needs to catch up, but I would imagine that within the next five years you will see printer technology that can spit out a part that has nice clean surfaces. The other aspect that still needs to come into play is affordability. It’s still far less expensive to hand sculpt than it is to produce a model using a printer. This is the Achilles heal of the process, can you make a master cheap enough to be able to charge a price that most can afford.
7) What is next?
With the release of the Leviathans, Crusader and Mortis, there are three more variants based on the same chassis. Each having their own weapons and some armor or other detail changes. A re-release of the refined Black Widow tank, The Paladin Leviathan, a more Anime design, and then… They sky is the limit.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
So when Marc came back with a new "Leviathan" many of us were happy to see him back in the saddle. This interview is meant to give us a good inside look at Mark, his small operation, and how he has used technology to advance the creation and production of his new models.
1) Well, we always need to start at the beginning, so tell us how you got into gaming and sculpting.
I started gaming in the 70’s with the first booklet release of Chainmail and later the first release of D&D. My first step into tabletop miniature games came later. It seemed a natural transition to deal with the limited time available due to work and other more adult pressures. Unlike RPG’s, playing a tabletop game does not require a large group of friends or an entire day set aside. I think my first tabletop game was MAATAC, a fun little game with 6mm scale sci-fi tanks. I have always been more interested in armored combat, tank on tank games rather than infantry skirmish games. There is something about sixty tons of steel rolling across the battlefield that sparks my imagination.
I started sculpting in 2000 but was never completely happy with the results. I am a bit of a stickler for quality and correct proportions and hand sculpting although enjoyable did not give me the results I was looking for. About that time, I ran into an article by John Bear Ross, explaining his work process using a CAD program to make miniatures. This sounded like a perfect match to me. I could express myself artistically, while making a model as dimensionally correct as possible. This process also allows the artist to change the detail, scale and proportions of the model or individual components to suit their desire with ease. There are a few artists using traditional sculpting methods to create incredible work; Kallamity is the first to spring to mind, what he can do with modeling clay and plastic kit parts is simply amazing.
Each process has its challenges, to hand sculpt you need a great deal of patients and a fair amount of flexibility in your vision of the final model, as it is far more likely to change as the creation process moves along. With digital sculpting you can get exactly what you want but the technology to print your creation is expensive and still not to the point of giving you a nice clean surface.
2) And so were the Titans your first attempt at a commercial venture?
I had a few kits that saw limited release, most were not hugely successful but all were invaluable learning experiences. The path to be a successful garage kit producer is a long one that requires you to master many disciplines. Making a good casting is a trial and error affair. Learning how to make molds and get nice clean castings takes time, and many expensive mistakes. I don’t think you ever master this area as each part of a model presents its own challenges, you simply build on each experience and refine these skills as you push forward.
3) Your Titans are the stuff of Gaming legend now. Tell us about what happened with GW.
We all know GW is judicious with its use of thhttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=5195382392714943771&postID=3532100772164452995e legal system to protect its copyright. In early 2000, I released two large Mecha/Leviathan kits that stood 24” tall. GW took offence to the designs, stating that they felt that my models infringed on their copyright. Were they correct? I really don’t know, the case never went to court as it would have been simply too expensive for a small business owner to fight without pro bono representation. Based on what I know now I feel it safe to say that these kits may have been sailing too close to the gib to be undeniably safe from challenge. It was a very expensive learning process. The three positive lessons I took from this experience were, one, a better understanding of IP law, two, the protection of the current Leviathan designs and three the confidence that what I can create can be well received in the gaming community.
4) So how many of them did you actually produce?
Of the Large 24” Leviathans, I think only three saw the light of day. Production was very slow and when GW raised its objections, I decided not to continue production until the matter was settled. If memory serves there were eight to twelve outstanding orders at the time, I stopped production. I am a strong believer in taking care of my customers to the best of my ability, so I made sure all my outstanding orders received full refunds including any PayPal fees they may have incurred.
Tomorrow, what is next for Marc and Dreamforge...
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
34" tall at the top of the head (not including the gun turret that sits on top of the head).
51" tall at the top of the Weirdboy Tower.
23" wide at the tracks.
The lower hull is 20" deep, but with the "knives" out front and the small set of treads to the rear, it covers 41" from front to back.
With the CC arm extended out and the Lifta droppa clocked horizontal, it spans 53".
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
2) Orcs don't have many things to punch through armor 14. We tried to have less Imperial armor, but next time a specific % will help make the game more balanced.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Passion of the Smurf!
Smurfette gets the ax!
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