mz4250 – An interview with Jennifer and Miguel

mz4250 on patreon

I’ve been lucky enough to get an interview with Jennifer and Miguel – The power couple behind “We 3D printed monsters manual”, and they have since branched out with a bunch more models.

Lets get to know them, shall we?

First of all, tell me a bit about you two:  

Well, I’m a 20 year army veteran having signed up at 17, and I’m still serving in the reserves after 2 combat deployments.
I got my undergrad degree in 3D animation back in 2008, but decided I hated the industry.

So I abandoned 3D modeling altogether to get a graduate degree and focus on a government career.

It was a great idea, since college was where I met Jen who was in the undergrad version of the same program.
We graduated at the same time, and she started in non-profit disaster preparedness and response, while I worked first at the State Department, then the EPA.

Miguel and Jennifer
Miguel and Jennifer

How and when did you guys join the RPG modeling community:  

I’ve been playing D&D since I was 6, but never crafted for the game and only ever bought pre-painted minis.
I totally lacked a creative outlet
. So when Jen found out about the DC Public Library having a 3D printing program back in 2014 she suggested I try it.
I said I had no interest, but she dragged me there anyways.

Finally I warmed up to the idea pretty quickly, and for my first project I made a black dragon in Tinkercad.
Reddit liked it and I enjoyed the process so I decided to switch to Blender to make more dragons, eventually setting a personal goal to finish the Monster Manual.

By that point I couldn’t stop.
Aside from actually playing D&D it became my favorite hobby. Jen and a few friends tried encouraging me to set up a Patreon for nearly a year, but I thought there was no way people would give me money to keep doing what I was already doing.

Tiamat – one of the earlier designs of mz4250 and partly the reason why i got into 3D printing.

But, at the encouragement of Kate Welch and Amy Falcone from C Team at PAX Unplugged, I was pushed over the edge and decided to set up a Patreon. After a year it got to be enough that we were both able to quit our jobs to focus on this full time.

I think most people know you for creating and painting all of monsters manual.
What did you learn from that batch of monsters? Anything you would like to tell yourselves when you started out?  

I was self-taught in Blender, having initially learned on a now ancient version of both Maya and ZBrush.

There were some major gaps in my knowledge. But as I modeled I learned various tricks to speed up the modeling and painting process.
I discovered shortcuts for things like hair and claws. It wasn’t long ago that I was just block modeling. But I finally taught myself digital sculpting for the detail work.
If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to listen to Jen when she told me early on to add more detail to my models because printers would quickly become more advanced and affordable.
I’d figured it wasn’t worth it since home printers couldn’t manage that level of detail. Now I’m going back and slowly working my way through my older files to update them.

Jen says if she could go back in time she’d have started studying 3D modeling immediately so she could be contributing in more ways than she currently is.

Phoenix from their profile on Thingiverse – link at the buttom of the article

From what I can understand Miguel is the modeler and Jennifer is the one in charge of what we all don’t have time for – painting all of the minis (looking at all my unpainted minis).

How much time do the whole process taking, from concept to launching them on thingiverse with pictures?  

Actually, I have issues delegating unless I really hate a task and waiting a day for Jen to get around to painting something when I could just paint it myself… it’s a struggle.

Jen does all the support removal, though, and considers herself pretty skilled at the more delicate parts of the process. She’s also building me a website and has a dream to (hopefully one day) build a searchable database of all of my minis.

My process for a mini is generally that it takes about 2 hours for modeling. Somewhere between 2 hours and multiple days to print. An hour to remove supports. 2 hours of painting, and about 20 minutes altogether of photographing it and sharing it everywhere.

With that said I usually put my mini designs on Thingiverse or Shapeways immediately after I’ve modeled them and checked for possible printing errors.
Jen and I are talking about starting to put minis on other websites though, like prusaprinters.org, since Thingiverse has so many issues with crashing and searches.

😊

Recently you have both left your jobs to do this full time (and the community thanks you ). How has that transition been?    

I’m still waking up around 6 am every day, but neither of us have ever been happier. 
With my new schedule I model about 15-20 minis a week and have something resembling an actual home life. Instead of me working 10 hour days at my EPA job then modeling in the living room during most of my waking hours at home.

It feels like there’s finally enough hours in the day and we’re not burning ourselves out anymore.

The only thing is we’re new to even the concept of running a business so its been a bit of a crash course for us.

Krampus from Thingiverse – The newer models are way more detailed (and comes out right for the holidays for a themed D&D session)

Note: For future readers, make sure to check the date at the top – They are both very productive.

How many STL’s are you guys up at now?   

We don’t have an exact number but we’re guessing over 1800 at this point. The real problem is after friendly conversation with Wizards of the Coast legal department. I needed to put all of their IP on Shapeways, so my designs are split between both sites.
I think there’s a lot of people on Thingiverse that don’t even know about everything I have on Shapeways.

Do you have anything else coming up or want to shamelessly plug and where can we follow you guys at?    

We’re nearly at the end of Mordenkaiden’s Tome of Foes, plus the constant work on patron requests and revisiting older models.
The big thing to hype is that I live stream about twice a week, usually on Mondays but almost always on Friday mornings (8 AM EST) at twitch.com/mz4250. At patreon.com/mz4250 $5 per month gets you access to my personal google drive where you can find all of my minis in one place, all the way up to a $100 commission tier. 

Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you guys better. You have been a stable in the community forever so it’s nice to know who is behind the mask of MZ4250

Both of them have inspired a lot of current modellers and are partly the reason why we have so many talented artists in our niche, creating something we can use every session.

I’m just going to throw some more links at our dear readers.
You can see Jennifers and Miguels profile on roll history here: https://rollhistory.com/creator/listing/mz4250/

You can also see most of their models here: https://www.thingiverse.com/mz4250/designs

Make sure to tune in on Twitch friday mornings at 8 AM EST to see Miguel model and make sure to check out their patreon here:
https://www.patreon.com/mz4250


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