So you got yourself a sweet resin printer and now you are ready to print some miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer or your favourite skirmish game. The problem is: you do not have any files to print!
In this article, I go through how to get some good miniature 3D printing files. I explain what you should avoid and what you should look for and I tell you the best place to acquire miniature 3D printing files for your specific needs and use case.
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Places where you can get miniature 3D printing files
So there are quite a few options when it comes to getting your hands on miniature 3D printing files. The files are either free, something you buy on-demand, part of a subscription model, or part of a Kickstarter bulk deal.
The sites and places where you will get the files will be via the following types:
- A Patreon subscription where you pay each month to receive a batch of miniature 3D printing files.
- Websites where a specific company are selling their miniature 3D printing files
- Platforms where you can buy files from various companies and sculptors.
- Kickstarters where you buy a big bundle of 3D files.
Each method of acquiring miniature 3D printing files has various benefits and drawbacks. What works best for you depends on your use case. If you have no idea what to print, check out this page with 3D printer project ideas.
This is how I get my miniature 3D printing files:
- I am a subscriber of various monthly Patreons. I have picked those subscriptions because they provide the style of sculpts that I like and because they give me a steady stream of miniatures of a qualitry I know I can trust each month. Sometimes the theme of the miniatures of the month is not to my liking – then I can either pause my sub or just stick with regardless. The amount of miniatures you get via these subscribtions is high and the cost is low. They are often very good quality.
- At times I might have a specific need for a miniature for say my Dungeons and Dragons party. I will go to one of the platforms and search for the miniature I need and buy that specific file. It can also happen that I find a free one I like, but it is quite rare.
- At times I will also invest in a Kickstarter what types ofr miniatures I like. As an example I have done that with the Titan Forge Miniatures Kickstarters and the Kickstarter for Hagglethorn Hollow to get some good terrain. These Kickstarters are most of the time a good bargain, but in most cases you will need to wait to recieve your files. But it can be a good way of building up a quick library of files for printing.
The type of miniature 3d printing files you need and the quality of the files
So what you are looking for are STL files that you can print on your printer (preferably a high-quality resin printer). If you do now know what else to do, our beginner’s guide to 3D printing miniatures will likely help you out a ton.
Get 3d printing files with supports ready made
If you want to make it as easy as possible on yourself, you should get miniature 3D printing files that come with “supports” already made in the file. The supports are there to make sure the print goes smoothly and nothing breaks off. If supports are not made for you, you will have to make them yourself. Not only is this time-consuming, but if something goes wrong with the print it might be the supports did you messed up (this leaves you with more things that can go wrong and more things you need to test to figure out the problem). I just hate doing supports, so I almost never buy files that are not pre-supported.
Bought vs free 3D printing files
You might have noticed in my description above that I rarely look for free files. There are two reasons for that:
- Free 3D files are often sculpted by amateurs that are just creating the 3D sculpt for fun or trying to get better. While this is cool, it also means that the finished result will most likely not look super good. With the sheer abundance of extremely good looking miniatures you can print, I think this is a bad option. For me, low quality sculpts leads to a poor painting experience.
- Free files will most likely not have supports on them when you get them. So while they are free, they are more time consuming to print.
- If you print big miniatures (think monsters) they are going to use up a lot of resin. If you buy premium 3D printing files they will most likely hollow the model for you, making you save quite a bit of resin and money in the long run.
There are of course exceptions to the rule. As an example, these 3D printing files for Dungeons and Dragons miniatures are free and super awesome!
Good Patreons for getting miniature 3D printing files
Patreon is my favorite way of getting my miniature files. I just love that steady stream of miniatures each month and it forces me to paint types of models I would never otherwise have touched. Below are some of my current favorite Patreons. This is by no means an exhaustive list (just go search on Patreon yourself).
All Patreons below do it in sort of the same way: each month you are a member you get access to a new batch of 3D printing files in a particular theme. If you want something from the old months, most of them sell it via Myminifactory (usually at a discount for Patreons). Most Patreons will also have some sort of welcome package with minis in it. It is possible to see, from the Patreons open posts, what the miniatures for the current month is.
I have on purpose not included any Patreons that borders way too close on any copyright infringement stuff. The images above are an example of what I would consider cutting it way close to stealing from an IP (the one is a Patreon selling his files the other is a Stormcast Eternal from GW).
Titan Forge Miniatures
Titan Forge Miniatures are by far my favorite Patreon for my miniature 3D files need. I recently went through my collection of files and I can see that I own every one they have made (Patreon and Kickstarter).
For me, they make a perfect combination of miniatures. I really like their style of sculpts. Some say they are bit blocky or bland, but I guess I just like them!
Each month they have a theme and the miniatures are made with that theme in mind. You get terrain and miniatures in that theme + a few heroes for use in say Dungeons and Dragons. I use them for making warbands for skirmish games, for DnD miniatures, and even to add units for my Warhammer armies.
For me, it is a good combination of big miniatures and smaller miniatures, monsters, and humonaids. They do not do busts, so if that is a must you are better off looking elsewhere.
Welcome package included.
Some of my favorite months of Titan Forge have been the Vampires and The Tavern (see images)
Artisan Guild produces some very high-quality miniatures and their Patreon is super popular. For me, I only sub when it is something I really like. Each month is less diverse in what models you get, as it is very much the same style of the model with different weapons and loadouts.
Each release they do follow a specific pattern with 6 modular models, 4 special models (many times cavalry), 2 heroes, 1 boss or epic thing and some terrain.
They also have a welcome package.
You can check out each month’s release via their Youtube Channel as well.
Archvillain Games is another super popular Patreon with monthly releases. These are a bit more grim dark and focus more heavily on monsters. If that is your jam, I can highly recommend them. They are perfect for a Dungeon Master trying to spruce up their collection with some nasty minis!
As is custom, they include a welcome package with minis. Also, as you can see from the images, they are very good at rendering the 3D files in a way so they look really good!
Punga Miniatures makes miniature 3D printing files designed for use in “Fantasy Football” (read: alternative teams for Blood Bowl). Some of the miniatures I really like, others are a bit off. They are more hit and miss, so this is a subscription I have on and off depending on the teams coming out. They mostly split the teams they release up in several different parts, so to get everything for a team you might need to sub for 2-3 months (but there are a lot of extra for the team you get).
If you are into Blood Bowl, this is definitely a way of getting good alternative models or Big Guy models that are not from games workshop.
Platforms / Sites where you can buy or find free miniature 3D printing files
There are a lot of platforms where various creators can sell their files or give them away for free. These are the ones you should know about if you are into miniature printing.
Myminifactory is my favorite platform for buying single miniatures. Creators set up a shop and you can buy from all of them via one site and login. Most of the big Patreons are also on there selling their miniatures (and if you are a Patreon you can get a huge discount on earlier releases). The common theme here is high-quality bought miniatures. Compared to the other platforms, Myminfactory really caters for the miniature side of things (so not a lot of weird other 3D printing stuff).
It is a good place to discover new creators because you can more easily see all of the miniatures they have made. There are also frequent sales from various stores.
One of the greatest things is that the things you buy are connected with your user, so it gets easy to figure out what files you have and find the one you are looking for (or just browsing your own collection once you get a huge list of files). Some Patreons have also connected their monthly sub, so you also get access to the miniatures on Myminifactor (which is a blessing if you forget to download them before the month ends).
You can also join the “Tribe” of a particular store. Most of the time this works in the same way as joining a Patreon. Because I am used to using Patreon for other things, I have not tried the tribe method.
If you buy a lot of stuff via Myminifactory, they also have a subscription program. For me, it looks kinda weird, as it only gives access to buying 3D printing stuff cheaper.
They also have an app, but it seems worse than just using a browser (you cannot buy things in the app as an example).
Thingiverse is one of those sites: you either hate or love it and most people will mention it when they talk about 3D printing. The good thing is that everything on there is free. But it has a lot of stuff and most of it is not aimed at making good-looking miniatures. But you can find some gems on there, especially if you have a plastic printer as well. Not a place I would recommend you start, but once you get the hang of things (and can do manual supports), you can get some cool free stuff here.
Gambody is a bit like Myminifactory, but the miniatures are less me style so have not used it much. The minis are all super high quality, so if that is your jam you can find some awesome things on there. Looking over some of the minis you will definitely see some that infringe on copyright (hello Space Marines), see yeah now you are warned. Most miniatures cost quite a lot on there, so definitely not a cheap option.
Cults3D is yet another platform for free and paid files. There is quite a lot of trademark and IP infringement on there, so if that is your thing it is likely one of the good places for you.
Pinshape does not have a lot of the things I am looking for, but it has some good ones. Not super miniature focused.
If you are not into fantasy or sci-fi stuff, 3DWargaming might be your jam. The historical miniature aspect is not something we spend a lot of time on here on the site, but that is mainly because none of us actually play it.
Wargame Vault is great if you are into historic wargaming.
Thingiverse is the place your grandparents know you can get free 3D printing files. Mostly for FDM printers and not a lot of mini specific things. A lot of free stuff, but beware of super crappy files.
Thangs is an agregrated search thing, where it find files from other websites. Pretty neat.
Websites where you can buy miniature 3D printing files
Loot Studious do a “Patreon like” subscription service, but just through their own website. That has some pros and cons, but I tend to subscribe on the months when I think there is something good. The price is a bit higher than other subs, but the quality is also a bit higher. Can totally recommend them, really like what they do.
The minis come in a small scale and a big scale and the big miniatures are hollowed out beforehand (saving you resin).
I have bought a few things in the past from Printable Scenery on backed some of their Kickstarters. I think the sculpts are awesome and they have a host of different designs. I think the price is a bit on step site, so I always buy from them in bulk or via a discount.
Waylayers sells sci-fi wargaming terrain. Not my thing right now, so I have not tried them
Storing and managing your 3D printing miniature files
So I just took a look at my folder with all 3D printing files. At is closing in on 300GB and I actually think I have quite a small collection. 3D printing files can be huge and once you get a lot it can be hard to manage. So from the start, you need some sort of system or else you can quickly get in trouble ( I know i messed up and lost a lot of files).
A way of storing all your files
So most places will just let you download the files and store them however you want. While that is cool, it also means that they are not storing them for you. This is the case with most Patreons – which also means that you need to make sure you download the files for the month or they might be lost to you forever. Also, if you lose your files they are lost.
At first, I just uploaded my files to google drive or whatever. It quickly become clear that I needed way more space than any clod service could provide for a good price.
So right now I have settled for the following option (which works out great):
- Store it on a big hard drive (speed is not that important here, but size is) on my pc. I have a solid folder structure with a lot sub-folders for each Patreon, the month and so on. Should be easy to find what you need when you need it.
- Do a backup of computer with Backblaze (as I also create content it is the best way to backup A LOT of data). Backing up unlimited amounts of data is the key here.
- Do manual backup once in a while and store it on a big external harddrive and store that drive somewhere safe.
A way of knowing what miniatures you have acces to via files
So one thing is to have a good system in place for storing the files, another thing is to browse the files. I find it best to have images of all the files I own, preferably rendered in a nice way (the ones you get from the Patreon subs are very ideal). Right now I store mine in Google Photos, just because it is easy to browse every miniature I can print and I can easily send a link to the images if I need to share it with someone else.