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How-To: 3D Print a Video Game Figurine

3D Printing & Imaging
Faceless Void 3D Print

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Jenny is a gamer and a 3D printing enthusiast

Faceless Void 3D Print

Creating figurines of your favorite video games characters can be easy. The in-game models usually have low polygon count, come fully textured, and are ripe for full-color 3D printing. A lot of 3D printing services such as Shapeways and Sculpteo offer the full-color 3D print service. All you have to do is package the files correctly.

For my examples, I used the Faceless Void hero from DOTA2 by Valve. Valve is exceptional in that they provide easy access to the character model files. Other games might be a little trickier figuring out how to unpack the appropriate game files.

Step 1

Download your favorite Hero from Valve’s DOTA2 workshop. Heroes that would not be too good for printing are those with thin components (like, Death Prophet’s trailing scarf) or those with clear alpha-mapped areas (like, Naga Siren’s earlobes). Thin components are not printable, unless manually scaled up. The alpha-mapped areas will just print black. My Faceless Void actually has a bit of alpha-mapped areas on the bottom of his loin cloth, but I figured he’d be ok.

Step 2

To get everything ready for upload to a printing service, the model needs to be packaged in a zip file. For Sculpteo, the model needs to be in an OBJ format, along with a MTL file, and the texture files. The OBJ will dictate the 3D shape of the model. It can be used by itself to print. The textures (Valve provides them as TGA files) will dictate the colors of the model. The MTL file will tell Sculpteo what parts are colored what. For Shapeways, the model needs to be in a VRML format, with the textures converted into JPGs or PNGs.

Final Zipped Files

Step 3

After downloading the Hero and unzipping the model files, there’ll be two folders. One is materialsrc, which will contain the materials. The other is models, which will contain the 3D models. Go into the materialsrc, and find _color TGA’s for each component. Copy those files to a new folder. These will be the color of the printed Hero.

All texture files

Step 4

To get the OBJ and MTL files, open up a 3D modelling software. I used 3D Studios Max 2013. If Valve provides an OBJ, it’s not really possible to use it since the MTL files produced will be incorrect (the texture mappings are wrong). Instead, find the fbx files in the models folder. Each fbx file will contain a component of the Hero.

All FBX Files

Step 5

For each one of those fbx files, select the solid-looking mesh and export the selected as an OBJ. The wire structures are bones, used for animating the Hero, and can be ignored. Create a new scene after each export to clear the screen.

Export Mesh

Step 6

Once all the components are exported as an OBJ, import all of the OBJs into a single scene. They should be all positioned correctly to form the hero.

Step 7

Press M to texture the hero. Click on a white sphere, and click on the box next to Diffuse. This will bring up the Material/Map Browser. Clicking on Bitmap, and browse for one of the TGA textures. Drag and drop that texture on to the corresponding component to color the Hero. Hopefully all the mapping are correct and the Hero will look like it popped right out of DOTA2.


Sometimes the mapping isn’t correct and it’s a pain to fix (like Faceless Void’s mace).

Incorrect Map

Step 8

Once everything is texture, select the components you want to print and export them as an OBJ. Make sure “Export materials” and “Create mat-library” is checked. Click the Map-Export button and it will tell you where the final MTL file will be created.

Export All

Step 9 (Sculpteo)

Gather the final OBJ, the MTL, and the TGAs into a zip file and upload onto Sculpteo, if you are using Sculpteo. Sculpteo is super nice in that it allows you to scale, and gives you a price quote. Be sure to check for solidity, which will tell you what areas are too thin / easy to break. When you’re ready, choose multicolor as the material, select your size, and add to cart.

Step 9 (Shapeways)

Check the final print size of the figurine, by importing it into netfabb. Since Shapeways does not allow for scaling adjustments on their website, you have to make sure your objects are the correct size before you upload. Scale your object in 3D Studios Max instead of netfabb because netfabb doesn’t handle texture coordinates.

Step 10 (Shapeways)

Convert your textures into PNGs or JPGs since Shapeways doesn’t handle TGAs. Re-texture your now-scaled mesh (same as Step 7) with the PNGs/JPGs, and export it as a VRML.

Step 11 (Shapeways)

Zip the VRML and the corrected textures and upload to Shapeways. When you’re ready, choose sandstone as the material, and add to cart.

Faceless Void Print

Good luck!

The original version of this post was published on Jenny’s personal blog.

14 thoughts on “How-To: 3D Print a Video Game Figurine

  1. Aaron Leclair says:

    Interesting and informative. My only complaint is that the title is a bit misleading, it seems to suggest that this is an article about ripping models from any video game, not just DOTA2 games. While the concepts are transferable they might be too difficult for a novice.
    A great toolset that I use myself for similar purposes (papercraft) is Nem’s tools, as seen here:
    and for models.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Aaron.
      There’s a plenty of ways to get models from games. I picked DOTA2 to write for this because it was easy, and because I really like DOTA2.

      Using Nem’s Tools / GCFScape, you can get custom items out of DOTA2 ,(like capes, hats, etc.), to print.

  2. jimed says:

    does the site send it to you?

    1. Jenny says:

      Yup. Sculpteo and Shapeways are 3D printing services that’ll mail you a print when you give them a model.

  3. Macguiver says:

    I don’t suppose you would have a recommendation for which type/brand/model of 3D printer is best for this.

    1. Jenny says:

      I used a 3D printing service for this (Sculpteo and Shapeways are two services). There are no desktop multicolor 3D printers to my knowledge. You can print a colorless/single-colored print with essentially any of them.

  4. video games in 2013 says:

    Gail Leino gives her two cents worth on fashion and entertaining.
    One of the most loved games in Kizi game is rooster house.
    Looking for party games ideas for your office Christmas party.

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