Saturday, December 8, 2018

Iain Lovecraft, 3D Sculptor

Nope, it's got nothing to do with Cthulhu. I just did a video conversation with Iain Lovecraft, who designs 3D miniatures and terrain. If you're not doing 3D printing then this post probably isn't going to be terribly interesting.
Iain's one of the sculptors who distributes his 3D work through Kickstarters, like Fat Dragon Games, Hobgoblin 3D, and many others of the small companies that are rising to fill this particular niche in the tabletop aspect of games.
I won't go into the details of his Kickstarter -- if you're interested in seeing a bit of a summary and some discussion, I actually screen-shared to the Kickstarter site during the conversation and went through it item by item with my questions and comments on it. So that's a good resource, but mainly I want to share some interesting thoughts that got raised during the conversation.
3D Printing Effect on Traditional Market
First, it really looks to me like 3D printing is going to cause a serious problem for companies that mold and ship miniatures, like Games Workshop and Reaper. Frankly, I think Games Workshop is facing an existential crisis with 3D printing. Reaper, I think, will survive (and possibly thrive) because the Bones plastic still has a low enough price point to be a good product for seeing-and-buying at a game store. Metal casting as a primary source of miniatures is going to be dead in 10 years even though the detail on metal is sharper than either Bone plastic or 3D printing. I do, however, think that the companies (hurting right now) who produce highly-unusual metal casts are actually going to get a bit of a bump upward -- because their combination of "unusual" and "sharp detail" still remains an alternative niche to 3D printing, and at least some of the people who currently buy "ordinary" metal minis will stick with metal after it becomes price-prohibitive for the non-specialty stuff. I think we'll see more Kickstarters of unusual metal miniatures.
Art Drives Imagery
The other thing that I found really interesting in this conversation was Iain's point that the sculpting of 3D files is inherently an artistic process, and that unusual representations can drive the gaming imagination into places one wouldn't usually go. For example, his Meso-American city pieces and his Rome city pieces offer an alternative to the Tudor-type terrain that utterly dominates most tabletop representations of fantasy worlds. That part of the conversation, which is toward the very end of the video, got into a lot more nuance than I can really type in a reasonable period of time, so if it sounds interesting you'd have to go watch it take place in real-time. My fingers only have so much typing in them. One of my take-aways from that part of the discussion, though, was that with cheap 3D printing of terrain, it's definitely possible that the omnipresent Tudor look of tabletop worlds could very well start to be replaced by much more interesting and unusual mental settings and imagery.
Of course, his current Kickstarter's terrain section is ... Tudor. Okay, so there's the factor of what people want, too. Nevertheless, his older sets - Rome and Jungle Fever - are available on his site, which I'll link at the bottom of the post. And here's the bottom of the post, how convenient!
Link to Uncle Matt's RPG Studio Channel home page:
Link to the video with Iain:
Link to Iain's current Kickstarter:
Link to Iain's web-store for the past projects. (Note - I have purchased from Iain and received my files, so this isn't a blind link):


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