I wanted to give 3D sculpting a try, so I found an open source program called Sculptgl. It has both a browser based app and a stand-alone app.
I found the app easy to learn and fun to use. My first project was a beholder from Dungeons and Dragons, which I then printed in black on an Ultimaker 2plus. After, I primed it in white, splashed it with shade, and then painted it.
One of the fun things about promoting a book is finding fun and interesting ways to spread the word. For the last few years, I’ve been pretty involved in 3D printing at work (Richmond Public Library) and so I took those new skills and created some .stl files you can have in advance of the book release.
The Three Spartans is my first middle grade novel, and is a parody of the battle at Thermopylae. This was an epic battle of 300 Spartans against 10 thousand Persians under the rule of Xerxes during the summer of 480 BCE.
In the Three Spartans, we see Art, Lea and George gather up a small resistance to battle Zeke and his Immortals. It’s a story of overcoming incredible odds, and inspiring those around you to do the same.
This is a 3D rendering of a spartan warrior I designed using the beta version of Desktop Hero 3D. I’ve been using version 1 of this program (which is publicly available) to make Dungeons and Dragons characters, and have run library programs teaching teens to write character backgrounds.
So, when I was looking at a cool giveaway, I approached Andrew at Desktop Hero and asked if I could create an .stl for a free download. He agreed, and using V2 I made the above Spartan and a rendering of Art Demus, narrator of the Three Spartans, as seen below.
Andrew was great. He’s redeveloping Desktop Hero 3D into V2, and it’s amazing. I’ve used Hero Forge from time to time to create a character, but this new Desktop Hero 3D (it releases in December) will be my only source for creating figures.
The interface is easy to use and the files (they export in .obj) print nice and clean. I printed mine on a Makerbot Desktop Replicator, with .2 layer height, 100% infill, 2 shells, a raft and supports. (Examples to come in later blog posts.) You can download the files below and give them a try.
This past spring break, I had the opportunity to do six workshops for the Surrey Public Library system. Working with this library as an author is always a huge pleasure, as the librarians and library techs work so hard to make their programs a success. Plus, they are incredibly knowledgeable and interesting to chat with.
My first stop was Ocean Park Library, and a handful of teens all prepared to write showed up to learn how to come up with story ideas by making their own maps.
I showed them all sorts of maps, including the 3D printed map I use in my Dungeons and Dragons game.
Second, I went to the Semiahmoo branch and met with a handful of teens ready to pen their own tales.
Next, I was at Strawberry Hill where I was met by Orlando Bloom (in a photo) and we each did our thing to encourage teens to read and write.
Him, holding a book so tightly as if to say “You can never have this book,” obviously to make you want it even more since you can’t have it. Me, teaching the one teen who woke at 11am during spring break to come learn how to create stories with maps and cartography.
Before going to the Cloverdale Library, I stopped in at the Rustic Rooster for some food.
And I took a selfie by the dinosaur outside the museum next door!
And then I went to work, talking story writing with the creative writing club. Librarian Carmen, who runs the club, came on her day off to participate in the workshop. Thanks, Carmen!
My penultimate stop was at the City Centre library, where we chatted about how Dungeons and Dragons inspires writing. We also wrote some stories, and drew some maps. One of the teens expressed disappointment that there wasn’t enough time to actually play a game of D&D!
My final stop was at the Guildford branch, where I taught the teens how to create multi-ended stories as a computer game using a program called Inkle. They picked it up fast and wrote some interesting tales!
Again, a big thanks goes out to the Surrey Public Library for hosting my workshops. All of you at the library who were so kind to me were absolutely amazing, and you do an incredible service to your community. Keep up the amazing work!
Since July 2018, I’ve been running a Dungeons and Dragons game at my library. As a Digital Services tech, I’ve been trying to add digital content to the game wherever possible to make the game run smoother or to feel more immersive.
A few weeks ago, I decided to 3D print a set of medieval and viking houses to create a village where the players were heading. At the moment, the players had found themselves in an alternate dimension where the world was engulfed with water and there was very few spots of land left. They’d just battled a creature known as the Yuan-ti, which are serpents that were once humans and now believe that they have a right to rule unchallenged.
My players had mentioned to me that they wanted more of their character’s backstories to play a role in the game. So, as you can see from the grid paper and 3D printed items above, I began to put together a recreation of a town from one of the player’s backstories.
Such as the medieval cottage and the viking huts. (At the library, we have Makerbot Replicator 2s and print with PLA.) The files for the buildings I found on Thingiverse, and the characters I had 3D printed were from Shapeways and Heroforge.
This was the map when it was nearly complete. The town of Dellam is a piece of land that is slowly being swallowed by the rising oceans. Varis, an elfin ranger, brought the party here from the mountain where the Yuan-ti battle had happened.
Of course, as what often happens, the characters decided to chase down a ship the Yuan-ti were using to escape. At this point the players had not seen the 3D printed map just yet.
So, there I was, drawing out an impromptu grid-map of two ships–one manned by the Yuan-ti and the other steered by NPC Varis and the players. They did manage to chase it down, wage a battle, and defeat the enemy. (Eventually their pyro-sorcerer unleashed a series of fireballs that sunk the enemy.)
And that’s when they sailed into port, to the 3D printed village of Dellam. A mostly swamp terrain that is slowly sinking into the ocean.
And what now? What comes next? The players enjoyed the ocean battle so much that they are now talking about commandeering their own ship. So, as you can see, I am 3D printing them one.
And will sign off this post with a carton from the 80s:
Do you sometimes get stuck while writing a story? This workshop will unleash your creativity so you can say goodbye to Writer’s Block through the design of maps–whether you write fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, or romance.
Storytelling with Dungeons & Dragons, 12-1:15pm, Fri. Mar. 29th
Many of the best-known authors these days got their storytelling start through a game called Dungeons and Dragons. Learn how this storytelling game can unleash your creativity through character design, plot elements, map-making, and collaboration.
Writing with Inky, Fri. Mar. 29th, 2:15-3:30
Do you enjoy those books that have multiple endings? Would you like to know how to create one of those stories into a text-based video game? This workshop will show you a different style of writing that will have you writing your very own games for you and friends to play!
For you local folks, I’ll be doing an author event at the Richmond Public Library on October 3, from 4-5:00PM. Topic: Writing Dungeons and Dragons-style.
If you have the time, it would be great to see you there. Please consider registering!
You’ll have a chance to try out some of the techniques I use for crafting a story. And here are a few of the things I’ll be discussing:
When Cheryl A. of SD 43 asks you to participate in the annual MACC Writer’s conference for grades 6/7, the only response is to say yes and then figure out how to free your schedule. This year’s all-day event had around 300 students, and 11 authors teaching them the craft.
From left to right: (top) Lee Edward Fodi, Sean O’Reilly, Richard Dal Monte, CC Humphreys, kc dyer, and Rob Taylor. (bottom) Pia Guerra, Denise Jaden, Me, Tiffany Stone, and Tanya Lloyd Kai.
I talked about one of my favourite subjects–Dungeons and Dragons. As a collaborative storytelling game, it really is the perfect training ground for young writers.
But not all was school and writing and conference. I also stopped into a cafe along the way called, Coffee+Vanilla. If you’re in the Coquitlam/Maillardville area, this is a pretty sweet spot with very good coffee!