The Crucible Collection
A Collection of Miniatures to celebrate the Magic of the World Snooker Championship
The Crucible Collection
A Collection of Miniatures to celebrate the Magic of the World Snooker Championship
Hello World! My name is Jimmy Mole.
I am a 3D Art guy & Designer. I have worked in the computer games, film & VR industry for over 5 years now and worked on Mobile, PC, PS4, Xbox games, Animated films & VR projects such as The Peterson Case, Nyjah Huston: #Skatelife, Kings of Soccer, Quest of Legends, Word Demon, Bakkar, Trollbridge, Metro6 & Ayer.
I have released three games of my own on the App Store and GooglePlay Store and I am hoping to release three more this year. Over the last 10 years I have been involved with computers and design in some shape or form - either studying, working in the industry or freelance work. I love making and designing games and creating animations and models for them which is why I would love to make The Crucible Collection become a reality. The project will involve things such as planning, modelling, sculpting, rigging & 3D printing for the main part which is exactly what my previous roles have involved.
The end goal is to create 50 Miniature Sculptures to celebrate the magic of the World Snooker Championship which is held in Sheffield every year during April & May. Fans of snooker will recall many magical moments from this Sporting Event such as:
- Alex Higgins holding his baby girl and the Trophy
- Dennis Taylor pumping his cue in the air
- Cliff Thorburn nailing the first 147
- Steve Davis winning his 6th World Title
- Ronnie O' Sullivan's triumph in 2013 after taking a year out
- Stephen Hendry winning a record breaking 7th World Title
- Stuart Bingham's victory in 2015
- Jimmy White's 147 in 1992 against Tony Drago
- Ken Doherty winning the title in 1997
- Mark Williams producing some amazing snooker to lift the title in 2018 at 43 years old
Ball-Run Basking in 2015:
The Nuggett Nails his 6th World Title in 1989:
An Emotional Hurricane Higgins wins the Coveted World Snooker Trophy in 1982:
There are far too many great moments to list and that is why we need "The Crucible Collection". It will mainly feature legends from the iconic venue - but anyone who has won just one match at The Crucible is a candidate for being sculpted in 3D and turned into a miniature - take Rory McLeod for example when he beat Judd Trump in 2017, or Robert Milkins who beat Neil Robertson in 2013, these players are not part of the collection but may appear as a Mystery Miniature. There are many other great players too such as Ricky Walden, Ian McCulloch, Andy Hicks, Doug Mountjoy, Fred Davis and Stephen Lee who could appear as a Mystery Miniature.
Miniatures will be 1:16 scale:
Steve Davis is 6' 1.5" so his height will be 11.7cm
Stuart Bingham is 5' 9" so his height will be 10.95cm
Alex Higgins is 5' 8.5" so his height will be 10.9cm
This project idea came to me in 2016. I was enjoying Xmas at home with my family and, being a fan of snooker I was looking for a way of combining this into my job somehow. I decided right then to make some rough plans and notes - I then proceeded to start getting those ideas and sketches on my computer, over the course of the next 2 years and 4 months I have spent around 500 hours on the 3 miniatures on my days off, weekends, holidays and evenings etc. The last month I have worked on this project full time and tirelessly to get it over the line and present it to people who will hopefully connect with it and pledge towards the campaign.
I have been to The Crucible in Sheffield many times to watch the snooker and I fell in love with the game when, as a 9 year old I remember watching Dennis Taylor v Steve Davis in 1985 - my parents let me stay up late and it was a truly magical and memorable match which has stayed with me all my life. Throughout the years I have continued to follow snooker and I think the sport has produced many great characters such as Alex Higgins, Ronnie O' Sullivan, Ray Reardon, Fred Davis and Mark Williams to name a few.
I feel so passionate about making this project work. I love the idea of creating the rest of these characters so people can collect them, celebrate them and paint them etc. Snooker isn't given much of a look in by the news and sports channels nowadays and I think it would be good to get it back on the map and pay homage to the skill it takes to play the game.
l plan on creating the Miniatures over a 4 year period. I appreciate its a long time but I work alone, and I also think it will get people excited to know that every 3 months there will be 3 new players to add to their collections. The Crucible Theatre has hosted the World Snooker Championship since 1977, in 2023 when the collection end there will be 50 iconic figures. There could possibly also be a second collection of figures depending on the success of this campaign to feature many other past, present and future stars!
NB. Players who won the title but appear in a different pose such as Dennis holding his cue aloft or Cliff sinking to his knees after his 147 will also be supplied with the World Snooker Trophy.
The plan is to work full time 40+ hours per week on this project over the next 4 years to see it through the completion.
This project is my life, literally. I've been studying for many years and working hard in computers and this is what I want more than anything, I'd love to create these figures to celebrate this great sport of snooker. The truth is too, I really need to make this project happen as my job in Games/VR finished last month so all my focus is now truly on this Kickstarter project and creating these rewards for my backers.
The goal is to get the first 3 players shipped out in October 2019, which gives me time, depending on how many people support the campaign, to create more resin copies and casts and also get all the packaging finalised plus tweak the current 3 players to make them better - packaging is something that hasn't really been given any major thought yet due to the lack of time, most time needs to be spent modelling and sculpting.
A Mock-up for packaging:
A breakdown of costs is given below:
£90,000 Development and Creation Costs
£25,000 3D Print and Model making costs for the rewards (print resin, cast resin, silicone molds, clean up, packaging and postage costs etc)
£15,000 Kickstarter fee
£15,000 New Computer equipment and 3D Printer for prototyping and test prints etc
£2,500 Promotional material and marketing
£2,500 Software yearly fees and updates
Rewards will be shipped out in January, April, July & October. Backers who have pledged £2500 for example will receive all their Miniatures throughout the timeline of the project between October 2019 through till October 2023. Likewise for backers who pledge a lesser amount ie. If you pledge £200 you will receive a Keyring and 3 Miniatures in October 2019 and 3 Miniatures in January 2020.
Steve in Milk Chocolate:
The Crucible Collection Poster:
NB. Rewards may differ slightly from the above images.
List of Players
Please see the rewards list for a full breakdown of the players. There will be 45 players set in stone and a further 5 mystery players to get people excited.
Here is the full sculpting list:
Ronnie O' Sullivan
Mystery Miniature 1/5
Mystery Miniature 2/5
Mystery Miniature 3/5
Mystery Miniature 4/5
Mystery Miniature 5/5
Who are Mystery Miniatures? Sounds Exciting!
I guess the simple answer is its a surprise! These 5 Miniatures are reserved for retired players, present players, up and coming players & new players. The list below will give snooker fans an idea of who may appear on the Mystery Miniature list:
Fergal O' Brien
Current Players from The Crucible Collection
Current Miniatures who will be part of The Crucible Collection. Steve Davis is 11.7cm and one of the tallest players. Players will range between 10.5cm - 12cm in height. Bear in mind this is not the overall height of the actual miniature as Stuart for example is holding aloft the coveted World Snooker Championship Trophy which makes him around 13cm in total height.
Workflow and the Miniature Creation Process
I do not use any kind of scanning techniques or motion capture etc for this kind of work. It is all hand sculpted in Zbrush using a PC and Wacom tablet:
If anyone is interested in knowing how these sculpts are created this section explains some of the process. I guess the start of any project kicks off with some planning. I like to go quite in depth on this with the following:
I think anything that helps get you to a finished project is worth putting into the planning stages. Below are some further details on this - some of the typical things i do when planning and throughout the design and sculpting process. My drawing leaves a lot to be desired but as long as it helps me get to my end goal that is my main concern in planning, i'm not looking to create a masterpiece, just some sketches and notes etc to make it clear in my mind what is required in 3D. I guess you can liken them to the Rob Walker notes he makes - they aid in the final delivery. I also like to shoot some reference and get into character and its super helpful when posing your character after rigging. I learnt this from animating and various courses such as Animation Mentor - create some notes, thumbnails and reference - it really is worth it to see the forms, shapes, structure and rhythms in the body. I even made a fake World Snooker Trophy out of cardboard!
I also find it helpful to do some simple Ecorche type draw overs to pick out some of the landmarks so they are clear to me, and make a few notes of facial features and muscles etc:
Various Notes, Sketches & Scribbles:
Some of the many references found by trawling the internet for images and footage of Higgins, Davis & Bingham:
Below are some of my other planning sketches, scribbles and notes which were created on the iPad, again, they are just rough plans to get an idea of what needs to be created in 3D, not looking to create a piece of art, just some foundations. Some of them are future Miniature sculpts which will be created if this project is successful. I have included them to show that I have a broad knowledge of the World Snooker Championship and it gives people a taster of some future miniatures they could see if the project is successful. Maybe some of you Snooker fans out there can remember some of these matches:
Some typical Sketchbook images. I am always doodling around with shapes and scribbles which helps with 3D Sculpting:
Below are some WIP images to show the evolution of a sculpt:
My sons leg came in useful as reference when I was sculpting Lauren's legs here!
If you look at all the characters I have aimed for a more subtle kind of flow, gesture and Line of Action as opposed to a pushed animation gesture:
As you can see from the previous images the various items of clothing, hand and face start off low-poly (face not as low to capture more details) and works up into the details - usually primary, secondary and tertiary forms. Following on from the planning process I will begin to block in shapes, forms and rhythms of the head looking out for key landmarks such as the Zygomatic arch, temporal line, nose wings, cheek fat, eye shapes and the profile view - the portrait of the character is by far the hardest part. I guess its just a case of sticking with it and doing the best you can to try and capture a likeness in the expression and of the character while following notes and constantly referring reference (A huge and never ending learning curve). It is iteration after iteration and sticking with it however muddy it gets is the key for me, anyone who works in 3D and Games will tell you that it is an uphill battle most of the time - and they are right, its a labour of love.
To progress from planning to finish takes a lot of hard work and constant checking of references, proportions, anatomy, structure, gesture and silhouette etc - something that is basically a lifetimes work (as Michelangelo said at 87.... "I am still learning...."). So am I, and my goal is to keep trying to improve over time.
The body, like the face with the nose, eyes, jaw and brows etc can be broken down into the torso, legs, hands, feet etc. The main aim again is to use your notes and reference and try to capture the player and the body type. When I pose my character I will try and get a subtle rhythm and gesture to them from all angles.
Some of the key tools I use in ZBrush include Move Topological, Clay BuildUp, Dam Standard, Masking, Dynamesh and the Light Tool:
Below is an early WIP of Ding winning his semi-final against Alan McManus in 2016 and Ronnie winning the title in 2013. My initial plan was to create 5 characters for the Kickstarter but I decided it would take too long so decided on 3, but these 2 WIP's will certainly be used later down the line if the campaign is a success. Notice I am blocking in the primary and secondary forms of the face here with a focus on expression and structure. There are many hours left on these 2 guys but hopefully you can see a little resemblance to Ronnie O' Sullivan & Ding Junhui (2 of my favourite players by the way).
Adding more Form to Ding Junhui's Nose wings and Upper Eyes:
I also use the following books to help with Anatomy, posing and sculpting etc:
Atlas of Human Anatomy by Stephen Rogers Peck
Human Anatomy for the Artist by Eliot Goldfinger
Complete guide to Facial Expression for Artists by Gary Faigin
The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams (Best book ever!)
After planning, modelling, sculpting and rigging the characters the next thing is to start prepping for 3D print so the characters slot together - and various other technical issues such as closing holes, dynameshing, cleaning the geometry and decimating to reduce the polycount.
As a guideline each character takes around 100-150 hours from planning to coming out of casting. After casting there is still clean up work required before they are 100% ready to be shipped out to people.
Below are some images to show the process of keying a character. Alex Higgins was quite complex due to him holding the baby:
Following the keying and print prep process the goal is to actually start printing the models, supports need to be prepared in the 3D print software, below is an image of some of the model parts in Preform for Formlabs 2:
As long as print prep is done properly the result will be good but you will inevitably get some print failures due to support breaks, orientation and other wall thickness. Supports are quite annoying to remove though and can really hinder the final result. Some print tests from an Objet and Formlabs are below:
Objet did not seem to pick up enough details. Formlabs are great printers, but the supports can be a pain. My final decision was to go with a secret 3D printer of which i cant giveaway the details, but it has been modified, enhanced and tweaked to give great results.
The results from "The Beast" were pretty awesome in my opinion:
Sprue Casting of some Heads and Hands etc:
"The Beast" still required some clean up and support removal, but it was a lot less supports to remove than the Formlabs, there was a little breakage on Binghams' ear but this was corrected post print via putty and filler clean up.
Following the 3D printing the next goals are silicone moulding and creating resin copies of the characters followed by clean up. The prints need some mold line removal and clean up, but for hobbyists this forms part of the enjoyable process before painting. They can also be left as they are and will still look good.
Mold line removal and clean up:
Post 3D Print / Resin Copies
Various painting tests on the characters using Acrylic paints - They are WIP to show that the Miniatures will look good whichever route you choose. You can leave them in the grey cast resin, spray them in gold, bronze or another colour of your choice or paint them realistically (Be aware the eyes are tough going!).
Miniatures will require a little clean up to remove any mould lines and casting artefacts. They will also be supplied unpainted and require a little filler in places. None of this modelling process is difficult or time consuming.
The techniques used to final the painting of Bingham include the use of a Wet Pallette, colour mixing, washing, layering and hair drying. I will post more character painting in future updates to the project. I sprayed the other coloured characters with Montana Gold spray paint.
Current Miniatures of The Crucible Collection
The bulk of the 3D prints are good to go but they are still prototypes - they are 90% there but not final. The idea of the Kickstarter timeline being so long is mainly concerned with the amount of time it actually takes to sculpt and create the characters from planning through to casting and post print. But there are still niggling problems with the current characters which will need further work and attention before mass production and these include:
- Wall thickness in places is thin and needs to be filled, such as the ear on Stuart, the collar on Steve and the Cheque Alex is Holding.
- The tassels on Stuarts trophy need reworking due to print and casting errors. They are too thin and a new design is required to "hook" them onto the trophy. After assembling these it was noted that they are far too thin and awkward to put together correctly.
- The Lady statue is far too fragile. It has broke several times and needs scaling and reworking.
- The hands gripping Stuart and Steve's trophy have caused a few casting problems with the resin getting caught and clogged.
- Some of the keying points need to be scaled slightly for a snugger fit.
- Trophy is quite thin between the base and main cup shape so will need scaling to make more sturdy.
- There are also some niggling errors such as proportions and structure namely on Steve with his Torso length and leg length as well as the Trophy which needs to be rectified. The models could be shipped out but I am a perfectionist and they need to 100% correct, no questions asked.
Further Project Images
Why Kickstarter and Crowd Funding?
I have had a lot of interest in these Miniatures and people are very excited about them. I have had shops wanting to stock them and an offer from the CEO of a massive snooker company to go into partnership, which is fantastic. The truth is though I feel that by doing it this way it gives me more time and less pressure (I hope!) and I can make sure the Miniatures are 100% before being shipped to backers. The community around Kickstarter is fantastic and people really get excited about receiving their products fresh off the production line - or in this case - casting line! I hope that this route gives me an opportunity to keep hold of my baby and reward my backers with some FANTASTIC merchandise and collectables.
My initial plan was to create colour sculpts for people to collect. I was hoping to texture the characters in Mari but the costs are immense - the average cost of a colour print is well over £300 so it simply wasn't possible. Colour 3D prints do not seem to retain as much detail either as non-colour DLP/SLA prints but this is something that is a possible future goal if colour printing costs come down and the technology improves. The image below shows the use of Mari to project skin but its hard to find high-res images and also the lighting information has to be removed from the image which hasn't been done here.
Another thing currently not possible is to capture every little detail from the sculpt. Even though the characters were printed at DLP Resin down to +/-13um XY accuracy and 15um Z layers it certainly didn't capture everything, but being 1:16 scale it would be hard to see wrinkles with the naked eye.
Some of the details here are hard to capture at 100% on a 3D printer:
Stuart's hair, eyebrows, wrinkles, stubble and skin pores are not captured. I guess the lesson to be learnt is that in the future pores and tertiary details cant be left out for 3D printing.
Things like the trophy text, the detail of The Lady trophy topper and finger folds etc are too small to capture on a 1:16 scale miniature. A solution for text is to use transfers which I am currently making for Stuart Bingham's sponsor of Betfred and Swiss Watches Direct. I will post these in future updates as well as more in-depth painting of the characters.
We also lose some details before printing when we decimate a mesh. Basically this means lowering the poly count for printing as most printers do not accept more than 1 million polygons - Stuart's Head was around 16 million polygons before decimation which reduced it to around 750,000 polys.
Once the Miniatures are shipped out people will be able to paint them to a high standard if they wish or spray them in a single colour like the paint tests I carried out earlier in the project description - its entirety up to the individual. They will still look good in plain cast resin. I hope you can see that these Miniatures will make nice collectables for snooker fans all over the World.
Some of the miniatures will be supplied painted.
Possible Full Colour prints via 3D Texturing and Printing in Colour.
The Crucible Collection Assembly Kit which will include items such as:
Mould Line Remover
I used the following software in my workflow:
Mari (only briefly used to show Stretch goals)
I would like to say a massive Thank you to the following people for their support, encouragement, feedback and help during and towards the end of this project:
Whirlwind Fan Ian
Thanks also to:
World Seniors Snooker
Doug Wood Band
YouTube and the 'Fair Use' Policy
5 Alarm Music
And........... The Snooker Players for being able to Play Snooker!
Sorry if I forgot to Thank anyone out there!
Thank you so much for viewing my Kickstarter Project. I hope you will support the campaign by pledging money for some SERIOUSLY COOL rewards!
Twitter: @jimbo_mole #TheCrucibleCollection
God bless - Jimbo :)
Risks and challenges
Anyone who has worked in or works in Art and Games will know that these projects can be very challenging - especially when you work alone in a freelance capacity.
I am not going to tell you I am the greatest artist around - i'm not, but what I have got is a strong determination to see things through and achieve something. Are there better people out there than me who work in 3D... Sure there is. Are there people out there who have more passion than me about creating these miniatures and a love of snooker? Doubtful. I will always keep trying and give things my best on this design journey.
Further risks and challenges to be faced are many, including time and money. I have gave myself the best chance of achieving this project by putting a long timeline on it, I am confident that over the 8 year period I can create this collection to a good standard and also keep improving along the way.
I have many friends who work in Games who are there to share knowledge and give feedback when things get tricky, I also have my wife, children and family who support me.
All in all I feel confident on the timeline set out in this project. I have gave myself a cushion to make sure the first batch of Miniatures will be shipped out on time in the selected packaging.
I plan to overcome any challenges to the best of my ability.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (53 days)