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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Dungeons & Dragons Pieces

Picture of Diane Mo-Kiefer
by Diane Mo-Kiefer
Jan 22, 2019
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3D printing D&D miniatures might sound intuitive, but there's so much more that you can create! Learn all there is to know about 3D printing D&D pieces.

D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces A Brief History of D&D

Creativity knows no bounds in D&D.
Creativity knows no bounds in D&D. Source: dndbeyond.com

Dungeons & Dragons, also known as D&D (or DND), is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) derived from miniature tabletop wargames. The original D&D, published in 1974, was designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It serves as the foundation for later versions as well as many other role-playing games.

The setup of a D&D game is simple. A group of players, who create their own characters, start their imaginary journeys in a fantasy world set out by the dungeon master (DM). This role is fulfilled by just one of the players, who serves as the adventures’ storyteller and plays the roles of any non-player characters. A typical group of adventurers will have to face many quests and battles, which are presented to them by the DM.

Similar to an open world RPG video game, a D&D game will not be completed in just one sitting; it will continue weeks after weeks, as the players’ characters gain new experience, skills, and loot!

In this article, we provide some insights into D&D pieces that you can make on your own. We also showcase a few items that have been made with 3D printing as well as briefly compare some finished pieces created in different materials.

So, without further ado, let the adventure begin!

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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Why Make Your Own Pieces?

A female halfling bard miniature available on Etsy.
A female halfling bard miniature available on Etsy. Source: StonehavenMiniatures / Etsy

There are many reasons for making your own 3D printed D&D pieces.

First and foremost, it’s cost effective! The average cost of an unpainted miniature is around $5. (The one in the above image costs $12.95!) In comparison, a one-kilogram spool of PLA filament costs about $30. Therefore, if you need a horde of monsters, the cost of printing them on your own is only a fraction of what you would pay for similar items on the market.

Reason number two is that, unlike your local shop or online store, there’s an endless variety of designs and items on various 3D printing platforms for you to choose from.

But perhaps the most important factor is the ability to customize your own designs. What if none of the designs for a female halfling bard don’t match your interpretation? Time to start designing!

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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Types of Pieces

A battle scene created with 3D printed pieces.
A battle scene created with 3D printed pieces. Source: Diane Mo-Kiefer / All3DP

For those who are new to D&D, there are many components that are essential to the game. For instance, as you explore new areas and fight different battles, elements like landscaping, props, traps and monsters will become very important.

On that note, here are some of the items you can create with 3D printing:

  • Miniatures: These could be your heroes, monsters, key non-player characters, or animals.
  • Landscaping and props: Little things like water wells, stalagmites, dungeon tiles, wood crates, barrels, campfires, and almost anything else you can think of. Is your dungeon is set on a giant ship? Why not 3D print it (or part of it)?
  • Traps: What’s more evil than monsters? How about a statue that fires a beam of energy at anything nearby until the heroes have solved the puzzle? It’s called the Statue of Thoughts by the way, and it could take any shape or form, so use your imagination!
  • Dice: D&D uses polyhedral dice to determine in-game events. Each die is abbreviated by a ‘d’, follow by the number of sides. A set of D&D dice consist of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20. A pair of d10 (2d10) can be used together as percentile dice, or d100.
  • Dice towers: Each tower is designed with various hidden platforms to prevent cheating. When dice are dropped into the top, they bounce off and around the interior platforms before appearing at the bottom.
  • Other D&D accessories: Items like DM screens, dice boxes, and dice trays are all fancy stuff you could add to your game, just to show off your nerdiness.
A dice tower. Source: Diane Mo-Kiefer / All3DP
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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Digital File Sources

Searching for D&D items on Thingiverse.
Searching for D&D items on Thingiverse. Source: Thingiverse

D&D files are widely accessible through several online platforms thanks to the game’s incredibly large fan base. Here are some of the most popular platforms with D&D digital files:

  • Thingiverse: One of the best-known platforms for 3D models, Thingiverse also has thousands of designs just waiting to be added to your D&D collection.
  • Heroforge.com: This platform specializes in customizing your own characters. Different genres, including fantasy, western, sci-fi, modern and east-Asian, are available on the platform, and new character design elements are constantly being added.
  • Microsoft 3Dbuilder: Built into Windows 10, this app is for 3D modeling and printing. It allows you to print and modify any existing designs that are available in the integrated model library, so you can customise your miniatures as you see fit.
  • TinkerCAD: Another popular 3D modeling website-based program with a sizable community. Similar to Thingiverse, there are thousands of designs to choose from.
  • Desktophero3D.com: Similar to Heroforge.com, Desktop Hero 3D specializes in character modeling. The procedure is the same, but the element selections are different. Try out both websites to see which designs suit you better.
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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Example Prints

Heroforge character design screenshot.
Heroforge character design screenshot. Source: Diane Mo-Kiefer / All3DP

Character Figurine

We chose heroforge.com to customize our hero miniature. Selecting the various elements is a simple point-and-click process. Just make sure you create an account, login, and save your design prior to checkout, otherwise the updated elements will not be added to your character. The digital model will be available for download once the checkout procedure is completed.

With an FDM printer, the model is then set at a 45 degree angel with quite a lot of support structures.

Once the supports are removed, the figurine is ready to be painted (if you want).

Dice

For the dice, we used a 3D model that we found online, which we then printed using an SLA printer.

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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Miniature Comparison: FDM vs SLA

Hero miniature made with a resin printer.
Hero miniature made with a resin printer. Source: Diane Mo-Kiefer / All3DP

Before we get into the detailed comparison, here are some key points to be considered regarding the two types of 3D printer.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

  • Pros:
    • Filaments are cheaper.
    • At this stage, FDM has a bigger community, with easier access to files and resources.
    • Learning and getting feedback from the community is easy.
    • Printing is simple, with fewer steps.
  • Cons:
    • Details are not as sharp.
    • It’s harder to find optimal angles for anything with higher details, especially miniatures.
    • Depending on the size, the item profile needs to be adjusted, and settings could get become complicated.

Stereolithography (SLA)

  • Pros:
    • Details are sharper, which is great for smaller items and miniatures.
    • Fewer settings are required to achieve better results.
    • Fewer support structures are needed.
    • Printing multiple objects is faster.
  • Cons:
    • The process is much more expensive in every regard, from the printer and material to maintenance.
    • Uncured resin is harmful to the skin.
    • Post-printing procedures are complicated.

The Verdict

Overall, the miniature created through SLA has sharper details. Even the numbers on the minuscule d20 are visible. In comparison, the FDM-produced miniature has coarser edges. This could caused by a number of things: file setup, the amount of supports required, the size of the nozzle, and the performance of the printer, just to name a few.

Without getting into too many technical details, FDM printers struggle with fine details, hence SLA printers could be a better choice for creating miniatures. That said, FDM printing has become more precise over the years. They are also more affordable, more accessible, and easier to learn, making them the popular choice among hobbyists.

In the end, making D&D pieces is all about having fun, so we can’t say one type of printer is better than the other. It all comes down to what suits your needs best. Also keep in mind that a lot of imperfections can be saved by a good paint job, even if the miniatures came out a bit rough.

If you’re interested in the technical details of FDM and SLA printers, refer to our article comparing the two technologies.

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D&D – 3D Print Your Own Pieces Onward to Victory

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A terrifying gate. Source: Diane Mo-Kiefer / All3DP

D&D isn’t only about completing quests and gaining experience, it’s also an excuse for gamers to socialize with friends and have fun. Every game is unique; there’s no winning or losing, only a great experience.

The fact that 3D printing allows gamers to materialize their own fantasy worlds makes the game that much more enjoyable. Online 3D platforms provide D&D players a great community to share their enthusiasm, including their 3D creations.

All things considered, creating your own D&D pieces allows you to unleash your creativity, which can be very addictive! Nonetheless, it’s not a simple procedure, taking time and patience to create the articles that best fit your game. If you can master your design and modeling skills, you might even be able to turn it into a profitable business. Otherwise, simply enjoying is enough!

If you don’t have access to a printer, or if you really want to ensure that your pieces are high quality, consider hiring a 3D printing service. To find the best one for your needs, check out All3DP’s Price Comparison Service. We provide real-time prices from a variety of services, including Shapeways, i.Materialise, and Sculpteo!

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Craftcloud – 3D Printing & Price Comparison Service

Save up to 50% by comparing prices from the leading 3D printing services. Craftcloud – 3D Printing & Price Comparison Service by All3DP provides worldwide manufacturing and delivery.

License: The text of "D&D – 3D Print Your Own Dungeons & Dragons Pieces" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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