It’s the second post of the month and, as is becoming somewhat of a regular feature, it’s time for a new miniature. This time around we are looking at the Pirate Frigate.
This model is another recreation of an original TSR miniature. The original Pirate Frigate was include in the Sathar Ships box of miniatures along with the Corvette and Pirate Assault Scout and the three sathar ships (frigate and light and heavy cruisers).
The Pirate Frigate completes the set of models from that box. It’s only taken me three and a half years. When I first started this 3D modeling hobby, I began by creating a sathar destroyer miniature to start to fill in the gaps in the miniature line and to make a model for the ship that I had created a full set of deck plans for. I then went on in short order to do every other ship in the Sathar Ships box except for the Pirate Frigate.
The main reason was the guns mounted on the side of the ship. At the time, I knew that the 3D printer I had access to was not able to print that fine of detail. The other reason was the finer detail itself. I was just starting out and didn’t have the skill needed (or maybe it was the patience) to actually build that model. I did try scanning the miniature with a 3D scanner we had just acquired at work, and which I was testing, in an attempt to create a model that way, but that never really worked out. It turns out that the shininess of the metal miniatures make the laser scanning beam give weird results. And so this model languished on my todo list for many years.
But now that I have a high resolution printer that can print the detail on the miniature, the wait is finally over. And after tackling the UPF ships, modeling the details on this one was actually fairly easy. I’ve gotten more confident in my skills and more willing to take a little artistic license instead of trying to make an exact copy, although this one is really close.
Here’s the finished model. There isn’t a lot to say about this model. Other than the guns, the shape of the model is fairly straightforward with only a few simple details added to the surface.
One bit that you can’t see from the image but is quickly apparent if you are holding the miniature is that the body of the ship is not perfectly round. Rather it is squished somewhat so that it is largest along the axis where the guns are mounted (about 8mm across) and smaller perpendicular to that (about 7mm). I modeled the ship round and then applied a scaling factor to the fuselage to squish it slightly.
The hardest part of the fuselage was actually the nose of the ship. That tapered, pointed shape at the ship’s bow is not a shape my modeling program can create natively. I can stretch out spheres, and I can make pointed cones, but that rounded cone shape is not part of the core system. There might be a library out there that someone has written that will do it, but I haven’t found one (or looked very hard).
Instead, what I did here is similar to what I did for the body of the sathar destroyer. I took an image of the original miniature and, in Inkscape, modeled the curvature of the nose by a series of short, straight lines. Once I had the shape correct, I exported the curve as a .DXF file which I could import into my modeling program (OpenSCAD) and then create the nose of the ship from that imported shape. (Using the rotate_extrude() command). I then had to scale it a bit to get it to be the right size.
The final bit of difficulty was the guns. This is what held me off from creating this model years ago. But now, armed with my calipers, rulers, magnifying glasses, and a lot more experience, I was able to make short work of the gun. It didn’t hurt that I have several of the original miniatures so I could look at all of them and use the ones in the best condition to make the measurements and understand the details. Like the fuselage, the guns are compressed slightly along the same axis but to a different extent. So they are scaled and added separately to the main fuselage.
Overall, this model took about four and a quarter hours. At least an hour of that was getting the nose cone right and remembering that I needed to use small line segments instead of a curve to define the shape.
The image to the right shows the printed miniature next to the original metal one. I forgot to include a ruler for scale but he miniature is 53mm (2.1″) tall, tip to tail. The white residue on the printed model is from evaporated isopropyl alcohol that I use to clean the excess resin off the print. I’ve since started flushing the models with soft water before curing them and don’t have that residue any more.
The guns I created are not quite as skinny s the ones on the original metal minis but are pretty close. I could make them skinnier but don’t think it necessary.
That completes the Sathar Ships boxed set. You can order any and all of these models on the Order Miniatures page here on the site and I will print and ship them to you. If you want just the 3D model files, they are available on my 3D Models page on DriveThruRPG. Since this model recreates an old mini, the file is just a pay-what-you-want product and can be downloaded for free if you desire.
Now that the Sathar Ships box is done, it’s time to finish the models from the Federation Ships box. The only remaining model from that box is the small freighter model. That will be the subject of my next Model and Miniature post, either late this month or, more likely, the second week in March. After that, I’ll be starting in on the ship models from the Privateer boxed set.
As always, leave your thoughts, comments, or suggestions in the comment section below.