3D Printed Indiana Jones props

So, Indiana Jones is cool. And 3D printing is cool. Therefore, combining both should also be cool.

Two of these props are files I've found on Thingiverse. The other two, I have made myself.

All of these props were printed on the Cocoon Create 3D printer, which was originally available at Aldi supermarkets. It's awesome to be alive at a time where a supermarket chain can give average Joes access to things like 3D printers! 

Straight from the printer.

Straight from the printer.

The headpiece of the Staff of Ra is from Thingiverse, and can be found here. The only change I made to the file before printing was to the medallion. For some reason, the medallion is oriented upright, which I suspect will not produce the best printing results. I split the medallion in two, and printed both faces of the disc laying flat, then joined them together. That way, there's no nasty overhang on the bottom of the disc, nor inside around the bird's head. There's also no need for any kind of support. The mounting piece below the disc printed very nicely, with a bunch of support around it.

My usual process with 3D printed items is to go nuts with 'filler primer' or 'spray putty', which is essentially really thick spray paint that you can sand easily. Generally, you add a couple of layers of the stuff, then sand or file it back. The trick with 3D printed objects is that you're only aiming to reduce the spray filler to the height of the 3D printed layer, so you're just filling in the gaps between the layers. Using a fine file or sandpaper on a block helps to do this. For an object that's supposed to look like cast gold, a lot of 3D printing artifacts and accidents will be forgiven.

The finish on the headpiece is Dulux Duramax Bright Gold paint. I've then gone over it with some brown acrylic paint, allowing the paint to sink into the crevices like ancient grime, then polished it back with a rag to reveal the gold again. This is usually as far as I go weathering any pieces, and I find it produces satisfactory results.

The jewel in the headpiece is a crappy red gem from a haberdashery store. Unfortunately, the gem isn't transparent, it has a reflective backing, but it still looks okay. Somehow, I don't think I would have been able to locate the Well of Souls with this headpiece, anyway.

Ark, straight from printer.

Ark, straight from printer.

The Ark of the Covenant is also directly from Thingiverse. You can find the file here. The model looks great! I had some issues printing the cherubs on top, but thankfully the creator of the file has included a bunch of different options for printing the cherubs. Printing the entire lid, including cherubs, proved difficult as the cherubs are so awkwardly shaped that the entire inner part of the lid's surface was covered with support material, and the cherubs' wings ended up snapping off in the process of removing it. I ended up printing the cherubs separately, as well as using Netfabb to cut the filigree detail off the top of the lid piece, so I could print it again separately.

After several billion layers of spray putty and sanding, the Ark was also sprayed with Dulux Duramax Bright Gold.

The rods are wooden skewers wrapped with venetian blind cord, then painted a dark leathery red colour. Nothing fancy.

The remaining two items are my own creations.

The grail tablet was something I thought was going to be quick and easy. I had hoped I could model it in Strata 3D CX (a fairly obscure 3D graphics program that I use for everything, because I'm obsessed with using the wrong tool for every job), but things didn't go to plan.

I had planned from the beginning to use a heightmap to create the tablet. This basically means creating an image that has bright pixels where the high points should be, and dark pixels where the low points should be, then extruding the whole thing into a kind of topographical map. This is quite a common method for creating simulated terrain. I find it works quite well for organic shapes that don't have any overhangs, like the surface of an engraved tablet.

Unfortunately, Strata 3D CX's heightmap function just couldn't cope with the level of detail I expected from the grail tablet.

The first version of the tablet looked terrible. I had to trim some of the surface away, leaving horrible flat spots, and the Latin text, which is an integral feature of the tablet, only appeared as undefined pockmarks in the surface of the tablet.

This was not working for me.

Ultimately, I used heightmap2stl, a somewhat cumbersome command line Java application that converts a greyscale image into a 3D model using brightness data for height information.

Here, the image on the left is the greyscale image that was input into heightmap2stl, and on the right is the final file, after some tweaking and reducing and quite a bit of swearing, to be honest. BUT, the important part -- is that it looked pretty good.

I printed the model at 0.2mm detail, at 15cm along its longest edge (it's height, I guess). It printed quite well. You can't exactly "read" the Latin text, but you can see that it's text, and it looks great. I'm not concerned that the letters aren't very decipherable, because -- quite frankly -- it's Latin and I can't read it anyway.

The final item is the Chachapoyan fertility idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wasn't satisfied with the level of detail or accuracy in the 3D files of the idol that I could find online, so I thought I'd try my hand at sculpting one myself.

Here you can see the progression from terrifyingly ugly formless blob of grey to terrifyingly ugly fertility idol.

I then printed the thing as large as I could -- 17cm high, about 3cm shorter than the original prop -- and set about finishing and painting the idol.

I used the same process as above, filling and sanding until the surface looked as smooth as possible. There were a couple of printing issues on the idol, including a few spots where the layers had delaminated. These gaps still show on the final product, but I'm not losing any sleep over it. It still looks pretty good.

Now I just need to 3D print the grail, and some Sankara stones and a crystal skull and an antidote bottle and...