Updated for 2022!
Maybe you’ve been 3D Printing, but haven’t gotten into miniatures yet. Maybe you’re thinking about buying a 3D printer soon, and want to see what’s possible with it! In this article, I’m going to discuss what Patreons for 3D Printing are, how to choose one that’s right for you, and the best sites to find one (or more) to support. Let’s get started!
What is a Miniatures Patreon?
Patreon is a website that allows creators to fund their work through monthly donations (pledges) provided by regular people, called Patrons. A Miniatures Patreon is no different – often comprised of a single sculptor, or a sculptor and a managing partner in our case, they’re artists who are creating sculpts for home 3d printing. As a Patron, your monthly pledge helps them to continue making their art, and can be an incredible boon for new and established artists alike! It’s an amazing way for fans to give directly to artists and creators. Because the pledges are a recurring monthly subscription, this helps artists continue to develop their work. Instead of a one time donation, it creates sustainable monthly income for your favorite artists, so they can keep creating the art that you love!
There are also large Miniatures Companies that sell their work through Patreon, and hire out artists to make the work for them. You can usually tell who they are by the sheer volume of miniatures you get per month – they tend to give a large number of decent quality models for a low price. Although, I personally find it a little misleading for these companies to be on Patreon. Patreon is supposed to be a platform where artists get paid directly for their work, skipping the middleman between artists and their fans. Most of these large companies claiming to be “artist collectives” don’t even mention or credit their artists by name, and are in fact hiring freelancers to do all their sculpting for them. While there’s nothing wrong with running a business like that, I do think it’s a bit sneaky, and undercuts the talented sculptors and designers who create for this industry.
Why should you subscribe to one?
Patreons usually give their Patrons special benefits, such as early access, sneak peeks or behind-the-scenes content, access to polls, and the biggest one, digital downloads. Most Patreons that make sculpts for 3d printing offer a monthly collection comprised of new, original sculpts for download every month. The schedules for releasing the downloads varies from creator to creator. Some release their sculpts as they make them throughout the month, and some release the whole collection at the beginning or end of the month. For example, CobraMode releases the whole collection on the 1st of each month. So the biggest and most obvious benefit to subscribing to a Patreon for 3d miniatures, is that you get a collection of high quality original artwork directly from your favorite artists – often at a substantial discount to what you would have to pay for individual STL’s.
But speaking of individual STL’s, the majority of Patreons also offer discount codes or coupons for buying their back catalog files. So if you like a particular creator’s work and want to get a lot of their catalog, it can be a pretty good deal!
A benefit that might be unexpected is the community that often comes along with the artist’s following. Patreon has Discord integration built-in, so it’s natural that many of them have their own dedicated Discord channels full of fans of that artist’s work. This creates a rich community of people with similar tastes and interests, and these are great places to share your printing triumphs (and failures), show off painted minis, and talk about tips and tricks for making that perfect diorama base. When we started the CobraChat, we didn’t know it would grow into a thriving, lively channel with so many funny, interesting, and talented folks! That interactivity with our Patrons has been one of the most fun parts of running the Patreon.
If you’re confused about what a Miniatures Patreon offers each month, check out the full description of each Tier, and expand the full view of the About section. Usually the Patreon will list all their benefits in either (or both) of those spots:
How do you choose a Miniatures patreon that’s right for you?
If you’re in the 3d printing/miniatures hobby, you may know that there are a ton to choose from. With so many out there, it can be really hard to decide which ones to back. When choosing who to support, try thinking of the following things:
- What do I want to print the minis for? (ex. Tabletop gaming, a specific D&D campaign you have in mind, or hobby painting/display)
- What kind of style do I like? (ex. Grimdark, fantasy, cartoony, etc)
- What size scale do I want to print at? (ex. 32mm, 54mm)
- What kind of 3D printer do I have? (ex. Resin or FDM)
- How technical am I? Do I already know/want to learn how to do my own supports?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you could have wildly different requirements for the ideal artist to back! But with so many out there, how can you possibly research them all? The good thing is that several sites are now trying to aggregate the Patreons into one spot so you can have an easier time making your decision. Here’s my list of the top places to look for Patreon information to make your choice:
The original Patreon listing site, STLtop.com has been updated over the months with topic filtering and images, to help you more easily pick out the models you want. Tip: Sorting from Low to High number of Patrons will show you some lesser-known creators that might have just the niche thing you’re looking for!
A relatively new website, STLBundles.com is a site that aggregates the monthly releases of several Patreons. It does a great job of showing off what’s available each month in a quick and easy visual format. They have listings for over 200 creators right now, including graphics and extra info such as Welcome Packs. It’s a little difficult to look through the huge lists, but if you know exactly what you’re looking for, this can help you pick a creator to support!
Every month, Tabletop Karnage on YouTube does a 3D Printing Patreon Preview, showing the monthly releases and giving a brief commentary on over 190 Patreons and counting! The videos can get a bit long due to how many Patreons he reviews, but this is the most comprehensive and direct monthly guide I know of.
One of the biggest subreddits for the hobby community, r/PrintedMinis is where most of the Patreons go to show off their sculpts and renders each month. If you’re specifically looking for things to print, you can even go to the sidebar and click “Patreon” to filter for those posts, and then scroll through the images until you find the ones you like best. As of January 2022, they’ve implemented new rules for Patreons and Kickstarters to only post on Friday (local time), so you’ll have to head over there at the end of the week to look for new printing inspiration. Because of the global nature of creators, there’s a good bit of spillover from Thursday to Saturday, so make sure to check back to catch everything!
Now that you’re armed with your newfound knowledge, go support your favorite Miniatures Patreon and get printing!
If you’re new to 3D Printing, check out some of our other articles: