3D Printing Blog HexTerra

Tabletop Bling – 3D Terrain

Oops, I Did It Again…

I swear I didn’t set out to create yet another project that would claim so many more hours of my life. Honest, I didn’t. But I started running some test prints for 3D terrain (I’m a sucker for props in my Pathfinder games) and none of them really did what I wanted them to do.

I mean, there’s some really, REALLY cool stuff out there for 1-inch square grids. Printable Scenery and Fat Dragon Games are two groups who produce awesome material that I routinely find have somehow found their way onto my hard drive *cough*. But when it comes to exploration and wilderness adventures, I’ve always been attracted to Hex-based formats. It works in just the same way as square grids for the most part, but it removes that awkward diagonal movement penalty. Plus, it just plain old looks good. Trouble is, I’ve not found anyone who produces nice Hex pieces for tabletop gaming.

Heroscape, however, is a different story. The long-abandoned Heroscape provided some really awesome terrain. Just take a perusal through a basic Google Image search for Heroscape. How cool is that? Even Heroscape, however, has a couple of problems:

  1. Because it’s out of print, and still surprisingly popular, it’s kinda hard to get hold of.
  2. The hexes are 1.75 inches from side to side, making 28mm-scale figurines disappear.
Custom tile on the left, with Heroscape-style tile on the right. Note the difference in space on the hex surfaces between them. It’s even more noticeable with the tiles in front of you.

So… what do we do now?

We turn to the Internet for help, of course! “3D printing is popular” I said to myself, “and Heroscape is popular. Surely someone has made a Heroscape-compatible set of tiles”. Lo and behold, I was right! Thingiverse has a whole HEAP of Heroscape-compatible material. Rejoice!

So I dutifully set about downloading as many things as I could, and scaling them to a more 28mm-appropriate size. And that’s when disaster struck. None of the sets I could find – not a single one – would “lock” together when scaled down. They just slid apart.

I even bought yet another Fat Dragon set – Mountain Adventures – hoping that it would work for me. And while there are many 3D-printing, game-playing enthusiasts on the internet that love the set (and indeed claim that the pieces lock together a little *too* tightly), they still suffered from fatal looseness when scaled to a suitable size.

A selection of various tile systems and in-house experiments. Every one of these failed for some reason – usually related to effectiveness of the interconnectedness.

And so here we are – I’m spending way too many hours on another project. Unlike my others, though, this will be available to you all relatively soon, I promise. Because I’m confident I’ve figured it out. It’s not as elegant as Heroscape’s locking mechanism, and it’s not as easy as Printable Scenery’s OpenLock clip, or Fat Dragon’s Dragonbite clip. But it does allow various shapes and heights to be created and clipped together, and stacked higher and higher.

The basic shapes available in the set. Various heights are also coming.


A “G”-size tile, in 10mm, 60mm and 120mm heights. These, and all the other sizes, can actually be stacked on each other, locking together to create landscapes of any size.

Where next?

I’m not *quite* ready to give you everything. Next week I’ll run through the various designs I’ve tested out, and the process I’ve used to get here. The following week, I’m really hoping to be able to release the files to you all, so make sure you come back. In the meantime, Here’s a few shots of a (small) scene I’ve managed to put together with the tiles I’ve test printed so far. Never mind the paint job – I’ve never claimed painting is one of my strengths…

3 replies on “Tabletop Bling – 3D Terrain”


I’d definitely like a better clip solution than the basic one that I put together, but because the hexagons make 60 degree angles instead of 90 with square based gear, I’m not sure how well it would work in practice.

Also, stacking different heights could become challenging then. ‘ll see if I can find some time to experiment a bit and see what happens.

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