Last modified by Hypno Harem on 2023/02/03 19:56


Designing for adult novelty is fun and fairly easy with a few pointers to start you off, but before jumping right into "Design Trainer Files", "Blender for Goblins", and "Design Considerations" there's a few other sections here you should be aware of:

  • Things you should never do (shop killing mistakes)
  • Purchasing designs (and what to expect)
  • Selling designs
  • What to do when things go wrong (accidental design infringement & offensive designs)

Things You Should Never Do

Do NOT EVER steal a design. If you have to stop and think “is this ok, is it too much like..?” Then it's guaranteed other people will ask the same question, and half of them will come to the opposite answer you do. This is the fastest way to have people pressing F to pay respects before you even make a sale. For accidental design similarities, see What To Do When Things Go Wrong.

Do NOT purchase a design and break the terms of the purchase. Do not buy a personal use file off Thingiverse and use it commercially, do not buy from a designer who asks to be credited and then be stingy about allowing that credit. If you must deviate from a contract, CONTACT THE DESIGNER FIRST.

Do NOT make a design that is horribly offensive because you were trying to be edgy or play to a fringe crowd. If you are basing your work on a pre-existing character/concept/story, first check whether it's part of a culture that you have no business appropriating (vision quests / spirit animals comes to mind), underage, or related to anything else that is illegal or just plain unsavory. If you accidentally did any of the above, see What To Do When Things Go Wrong.

Where can I purchase a design?

Lots of places and amazingly wonderful people! 💚

MonsterSmash - Indie Toy Company that specializes in startup and support services from concept to finished product.

UltraOhWormHole - Model Designer and Artist

Sion - Model Designer and Artist

FrictionLabs - Concept Designer and Artist

Frost - Model Designer and Artist

Aus - Model Designer and Artist

Mae The Bad Dragon - Model Designer and Concept Artist

Do not try to skimp and get something done fast and cheap off of a gig website. The cost to hire a known artist who does business-to-business sales in the indie fantasy industry is much lower than the cost of commercial art almost everywhere else. Example ranges are from $300 for concept work and $500 for a premade design at the very lowest end, up to a few thousand for designs made to your specifications, and up to 10K when you're looking for high-end work with printing/finishing.

  • Artists who are not familiar with indie fantasy toys don't know what makes a toy desirable in this market. It will be 50/50 your design is a total flop and 1/10 it's accidentally offensive.
  • Artists who have not worked with Indies do not understand the molding process and will 100% give you something that ranges from difficult to impossible to manufacture.
  • Artists who are unknown may, and have decided to wake up one morning and post hate speech to their twitter or start up an NSFW account that posts content that will alienate your customer base.
  • Known artists bring a built-in customer base and advertising. Customers get excited when a design goes from “For Sale” to “Sold” and start looking forward to its availability.
  • Known artists provide something of a first review of your business and add legitimacy. Customers know they would not sell you a design if they got the impression you were unable to deliver or were otherwise problematic.

What should I expect from the service?

That depends on what you are purchasing and from whom. A full time artist is going to have vastly different availability from a part time artist. An artist charging $3000 is going to be offering a different level of service than one charging $300. You can buy a premade design where your interaction will only be a few emails and a paypal invoice and that will be completely different from a full custom order with a six month timeline. The most important thing for you to do is read and understand their FAQ / INFO / TERMS.

That said, there are some expectations you can apply across the board:

  • The artist or designer is available and responsive when they are “COMMS OPEN” and during your order processing. Responsive meaning that they will answer your questions in the time frame stated in their FAQ / INFO. If they say they will answer questions in 48 hours, then waiting 36 hours for a response is “responsive.”
  • The artist provides a detailed description of the services to be rendered. This may be in their FAQ or stated during the order process. Examples are: Are they just delivering an STL file to print or are they going to include the concept art? How many design changes are they willing to do, if at all?
  • The artist provides a clear explanation of the final disposition of all materials created. If they develop a dragon scale brush for your project, can they use it on other people's projects? Who owns the IP on the design? If they retain ownership (this is common, you will sort of be indefinitely renting the design) is it non compete or can they sell it to multiple shops? If you go out of business does the design return to the artist or does it die with your shop? If you want to sell the design, do they have the right of first refusal?
  • The artist will be a good keeper of their social media presence and is aware they are connected to the shops they have designed for. This does not preclude an artist from posting in use content or anything else you may find offensive. It means you have a reasonable expectation that an artist will not suddenly CHANGE their presence without consideration. It is your job to look at their presence and make sure you are comfortable with it before proceeding or to pay the additional fees for the work to be uncredited. 
  • The work will be usable for the intended purpose. If you purchase concept art it will show enough detail for a designer to work from. If you purchase a print-ready design it will be manifold and have a flat bottom ready for a printer plate. Etc.
  • And finally, the artist will act professionally and discreetly. This specifically precludes the artist from coming on to you or making weird uncomfortable remarks about your request. Asking for a pineapple sized dragon egg butt plug is not consent to be a creeper.

Selling Designs

So you love sculpting and want to sell designs? Luckily one of the experienced artists in the indie toy community has written up a guide available HERE

What To Do When Things Go Wrong

My design looks like XYZ's design!

Step 1: Don't panic.

Most makers are super nice and do not assume bad intentions / do not have bad intentions themselves. It will almost certainly be ok. And if it's not, it isn't going to destroy your business.

Step 2: Establish a timeline. 

When was the first time one of you posted something showing or teasing your design? What is the oldest file you have for the design? (You are teasing your releases and saving separate files off at milestones, right?)

Step 3: Contact the other maker ASAP.

The sooner you talk the less sunk costs there are if one of you decides to make a change. I have yet to have someone contact me asking if their design was ok where I said "hell no!" Responses I have given have ranged from suggesting a slight resculpt to enthusiastically  supporting with retweets for the shop, to even canceling one of my own releases to avoid confusion (If you're a tumblr sleuth you may be able to go back and find the Orc design that was mothballed). Customers also love it when shops are collaborative. Consider turning it into a themed release together and cross posting. Are you both doing tentacles? Encourage other shops to join and see if you can't make tentacles the new thing!

These same steps are true if someone else accidentally copies your design. Try to work it out before you get upset. It's almost always in good faith. Out of hundreds of indie stores there have been less than a dozen that have committed substantiated design theft. Don't be the shop that surprise-blocks another shop. Shops talk to each other and if someone is stealing your work they will probably be slowly cut off from the resources that could help them succeed. However, if you block someone and it really was an accident, then you may be the one who finds other makers giving you the cold shoulder.

"No but for real they stole my design! Not kind of haha stole like 100% ripped me off" - It does happen even if it's rare. There are a few bigger companies like nothosaur that are known for trolling social media and finding designs to copy. Currently there is not much anyone can do about it. Individual shops don't have the force to stop design theft and there is no organization representing the indie toy business that has decided to take this on. For smaller companies that might rip a design, don't worry, they almost certainly won't be successful. They may manage to stick it out with a few sales for a few years, but silicone is an unforgiving medium and without the support of other makers, the technical side of things will hinder them from being as successful as you will be. (Edit: This is unfortunately becoming more common with random etsy shops. It is possible to download a usable file from many of the 3D viewer services and this is a juicy temptation to unsavory individuals. You might want to pre-record an animated gif rather than a true 3D viewer installer for your site. If you do go down the 3D viewer route, talk to friends who have done it to see how you can use a lower poly model).

My Design is offensive/hurtful and I don't know what to do.

There is not a one size fits all response here. Sometimes you really should have known better and you've dug one heck of a hole. Sometimes it was obscure knowledge and you're probably the most shocked person in the conversation. A thing that is universal to all situations like this is: absolutely do not knee jerk to being called out with “what can I say to make this all go away?” or “I need to defend myself!”

If you are feeling this way, don't respond yet. Yes, people are going to be upset if you take a few hours or even overnight to address things. But calm down, take time to breathe, digest the info, talk to a friend, try to really understand why people are upset and come back ready to: 

1) Acknowledge that your actions hurt people

2) Explain what you think you can do to fix the problem (rename, redesign, shelve the design)

3) Be open to feedback

One of the hardest parts going through this is having people think you're the villain. Remember; villains are full of talk, happy to invalidate people's hurt by saying “You can't feel bad because it was an ACCIDENT.” What they never do is say, “Shit, yeah, I messed up, I'm sorry you're hurting, I’m going to fix this.” Full stop. If you are genuine then most of the time the community will realize it was a mistake without you even having to say it.

Think of it this way: I'm going to make mistakes, it is MY job to learn from those mistakes by being open and genuine in my response to those mistakes, and I have the opportunity to prove my intentions in a concrete manner. This is hard now, but it is a good thing in the long run that I am able to improve myself and my reputation through this experience.

Amavidi: Which 3D Modeling Software is Right for You?

Trainer/Basic Files

DarquePath has created a series of files that can provide a jumping off point for new goblins looking to jump straight to the master building or looking for archetypical base designs to work from. These are pro designed files and show many best practices related to shapes and angles. Additionally, there is ShopDad's Everyday Goblin which is a pre-hollowed, ready to print file. They are available for commercial use, but you MUST attribute "The Collaborative Indie Community" if any are sold; and for the Darque Path files, they must be altered enough to create a new design.


Tentacle Training Blank Pic  .pngMaw Training Blank Pic  .pngKnot Training Blank Pic  .pngDong Training Blank Pic  .png

Blender for Goblins 💚

Why blender? Because it is free and a good intro tool. There are plenty of design systems out there that bring the big guns like the texturing in Z-Brush, and you may decide to switch later. If you do, the knowledge you will pick up in blender is widely transferable. That said, you will end up messing something up and having to google a fix or tap in a more experienced maker. Blender is a highly complicated piece of software and it's not exactly easy to get things sorted if you accidentally click on a random button that hides half the viewport. There are a lot of buttons that will do stuff like that to you, so for a quick tutorial to get you up and running we are sticking to just a few basics and pretending the rest are dangerous hot lava.

EndeavourFlightDeck_cooper_1050 (2).jpg

Step 1: Download and install Blender HERE

Step 2: Open Blender and learn to navigate the viewport


When you first open blender this is what you will see. Or at least an approximation thereof. Blender updates are common and layout changes to the viewport move things around often. Just click off of the starting pop-up, and in the ribbon (the row of buttons at the very tip top) click on layout mode. You will be greeted with a single cube. There are two ways to navigate around. With a mouse depress CENTER CLICK and DRAG around to rotate. Use CENTER CLICK + SHIFT to pan. To zoom in and out use the MOUSE WHEEL.


The second way, which is track pad and touch screen friendly, is to use the buttons located in the upper right of the viewport. To rotate grab one of the cardinal indictors (1) and drag it. Clicking on these will also snap the view to the view plane. To zoom CLICK and DRAG the magnifying glass up and down. To Pan CLICK and DRAG the hand tool.


This cluster of tools has one other useful feature; the ability to switch between solid (5) and wire frame (4) views. Solid is the best view for sculpting while wire frame lets you see into the model to check alignments while performing tasks like booleans.



A little further to the right you can see all of the objects. Cube is the cube in the center of the screen. You can mostly ignore Camera and Light for sculpting. You must have the object you are working on selected. When selected the object will have an orange line around it. It will likely trip you up at first, but it becomes second nature. Just remember this so when you are sculpting and nothing is happening you know to back out of Sculpt mode, into Object mode, and change your selection. Speaking of...


At the top left is the mode selector. You will spend most of your time in Sculpt mode but it is important to change back to Object mode before saving, to perform a boolean or other modifiers, and to change which item is selected. You will also be using Edit mode to perform a few important clean up tasks.

Step 3:Dropping basic shapes in, changing size and orientation

To start sculpting you will need an object to sculpt. You can certainly use the cube but to drop in a sphere, or other primitive shape, use SHIFT + A


SHIFT + A brings up the above menu. Select MESH and then the shape you want to drop in. Yes there is a monkey. That's been a thing in Blender forever.


A sphere has been dropped in. It is hidden by the cube, but you can tell it is there by the orange selection highlight. Before clicking anything else notice that a new menu is available at the bottom left.  Click it to expand.


This menu will let you change the number of segments and rings to change how fine the detail of the sphere is. It will also allow you to change size and position.


Once an object is placed it can be moved (6), rotated (7), and scaled (8). These tools are easy to use; but some notes on move and scale. With move, try to stick to moving only in the Z and X axis. This will keep the Y of the toy centered which makes lining up screw holes or placing it on the printer more straightforward. With scale, there is a directional scaling tool and a proportional scale.


Proportional scaling is done by grabbing the larger white circle and dragging it in or out to resize the entire object.


Directional scaling is done by grabbing one of the three axis lines and dragging. All of these tools are used while in Object mode.

Step 4: Sculpting, sculpt tool strength, size, dyntopo, symmetry


Go to the mode selector and change to Sculpt mode. You will now be able to select from a number of tools.


The draw tool (9) and the smooth tool (10) are the fastest to learn and your most basic, super useful tools. You can pick up most of the others by just playing around. Take the time to google the other tools when you start using them, as most have lots of neat behind-the-scenes stuff you might not find without doing a little research. 


You can control the properties of these tools using this menu (11) to the right of the screen. Radius (12) changes the size of your tool and strength (13) changes the power of the tool. A radius of 25 is a fine/detail size, while 150 is for large sweeping changes. A strength of 150 is a light touch of the tool for almost imperceptible changes and touchup, while 500 is fast and large changes. If you have a touch pen then these can be set to respond to how hard you press. Set the DRAW size to 100 px and 300 strength. Strength needs to be set independently for smooth, so switch to that tool and also set to 300, then switch back to draw.


Scrolling down in this menu takes you to two features you will want to turn on to start. Turn ON dyntopo and set to 6.00 px. Your starting shape only has a handful of facets, nowhere near enough to turn into a highly detailed design. Dyntopo adds more facets as you build the model. The detail size tells dyntopo just how detailed you want the new facets to be. If that doesn't make sense, then try sculpting with it both on and off and its function becomes obvious quickly. You will also want to expand symmetry and turn on Mirror X. This mirrors your tool brush so both sides of the design come out the same.


Play around for a bit and see what you come up with!  Just keep the draw brush selected and hold down CNTRL when you want to remove material instead of add, and hold down SHIFT to smooth.

Step 5: Booleans and modifiers


Before working with modifiers, switch your mode back to Object mode (top left menu) and make sure you have selected the design. It will have an orange outline to let you know it has been selected.


The modifier menu is on the bottom right. Click the wrench (16) and then "Add Modifier."


There are A LOT of modifiers. The two you will use the most often are Boolean and Remesh. Click Boolean.


Boolean lets you combine the object you have selected, A; with a second object, B. There are three ways you can combine them. Intersect keeps only the area where A and B overlap. Union adds B to A. Difference removes B from A. Difference is the one you will likely use the most. There are two ways to pick object B. If you click in area 19 you will see a drop down list of all items. If you click 20, then you may click on any item in the viewport to select it. Blender will preview what you are about to do, but this preview is not applied yet!


Either use CNTRL + A or the drop down and select Apply to make the boolean action permanent. Forgetting to do this is a common reason for "Why is everything on fire?"


The remesh modifier tells blender to apply a new set of facets over the whole of the model. This is a good way to fix weird geometry when sculpting starts to act glitchy. It is also an important tool for reducing file size. In most cases stl files should be less than 100mb, not 900mb. At very large file sizes, slicer programs and design programs will start struggling. Remesh can fix this. There are four types of remesh. Voxel provides a good starting point. Modify "Voxel Size" up and down until you find a remesh that is the largest size that preserves the detail you need. Remember to APPLY modifiers.

Step 6: Prep for print, round and flatten bottom, make manifold


To prepare a design for print make sure you are in Object mode and add a new cube (SHIFT + A ->Mesh -> Cube) Resize and position this cube to slice the bottom off the model.


Select the design (orange outline will show up) and use the wrench tab to add a new boolean modifier. Use difference to subtract the cube from the design. Do not forget to APPLY.


You can now turn off visibility of the cube or delete the cube. You may now have a design in two separate pieces and need to remove the bottom that was left over.


Change modes to EDIT mode and SELECT ALL by pressing the A button.


Hit the P button to bring up the Separate dialogue and then By Loose Parts. This separates the top and the bottom into two pieces, and the bottom can then be deleted after switching back to Object mode. Performing a separate by loose parts is a good habit to develop even if it does not seem necessary. It would not be unusual for a design you were sure was only a single piece to turn out to have a dozen weird glitched parts floating around that will ruin the print process.


Switch to Object mode, select your design, then the 3D print tab (21), then use make manifold (22). This is an important error-fixing step that should be done before sending any design to print.


The last thing that needs to be done is to export the design to stl. SELECT the design so it has the orange outline while in Object mode. In the file menu select export->stl. In the pop-up to save, make sure to select "Selection Only." If you do not, then all of the items in your blender file will be shoved into a single stl file instead of just the design you want. This may not be an issue at first, but it will be as you save up multiple sizes into a single blender file. You can resize in the slicer software but keeping all the sizes for each model in one blender file helps to remove ambiguity as to what the true size of the model should be if it needs to be reprinted in the future.

Design Considerations 💚

Making a toy is easy, making a toy that can be 3D printed, finished, and molded is hard.

General In Use Things

  • As a general rule, toys should have a base wider than the largest part of the toy, so it does not accidentally send someone to the ER by slipping all the way in and getting stuck.
  • Design for what you know: Pens, grinders, insertables. If you have never used this type of toy before or it is something that will not work for your body, consider doing quick print and finish, beta testers, and building up a small reliable base of test customers. Things like grinders and pens are surprisingly hard to design WELL. Iterating a design 3-4 times will be the difference between "Just another ..." and "OMG have you tried the ...?"
  • Check in use ergonomics. Can you hold it in different positions? Does it stand up on its own or does it need to be propped up against something? Many of your potential customers have poor hand strength, bad knees, arthralgia, and low flexibility. Think of them when you design. Many times a small change in the shape or an extra nub on the base is all that is needed to make designs more accessible and win an incredibly loyal customer base.

Technical Things

  • Mold type impacts design. If you are using direct 3D printed molds or solid block molds you will not be able to stretch or invert the molds. This means you should be extra careful about small spikes that can catch bubbles, since you cannot squeeze the mold to release them. You should also avoid knotted designs or designs with swells that will lock into the mold. Finally, since these molds require the highest pull force, round off areas of the design that would create sharp edges in the mold. These create stress risers and lead to more flops from ripped toys.
  • Mold Release. Will you be able to spray mold release into the mold and to all parts of the design? Any area of the master where you cannot draw a straight line to a spot on the base without going outside of the design is an area that spray mold release can not reach. If you must have these areas, use either a glove mold which can be inverted or a liquid mold release such as MANN205.


  • Trimming Bases and Suction Cups. Trimming bases can eat up a lot of time if you have complex textures like fur or concave shapes in the trim area. Try to design the last 5mm of the base to have a simple shape that is entirely convex. If your base is close to a circle then drop in a sphere, collapse size in Z to a pancake, and boolean with base. A perfectly circular base is the easiest base to add suction cups to, as no alignment is necessary. 
  • Double concave surfaces lock in molds. Avoid double concave surfaces or anywhere that the silicone of the mold is thicker than the narrowest part of the master it must be pulled past. This is a huge problem with fangs on maw molds. Fangs tend to create a tiny choke point and often rip the mold or break the master.


  • Checking overhangs with chitubox. Download a free version of chitubox (slicer software) and use the add support feature. Anywhere chitubox thinks you need supports is an area of concern for trapping bubbles latter.
  • Fine textures and islands. Islands are areas of the master that are disconnected from the main shaft. When an island ends, the changes in the printer's behavior as it goes from printing a two separate zones to a single zone can result in a line in the print. Normally this is not an issue, but can be if that line goes over areas with fine details like scales.


  • Topology size and impacts. Be careful zooming in to sculpt with dynotope on. This will create some areas of very high topology adjacent to lower topology areas which become hard to smooth and work with later.  Keep topology low while creating the basic shape and only increase the level of topology when moving on to final smoothing. Most designs will print fine with files below 50mb. As files become larger than 100mb, issues will start to crop up with file transfer times, applying modifiers, and more. Consider running a remesh (located in modifiers) to preserve detail while minimizing file size.
  • Design scale. Scale and save your sizes in a single blender file for safekeeping. Be aware that blender uses meters and printers use millimeters. For a 120 millimeter tall print you would need to scale the design to 120 meters. The downside of modeling at scale is that blender will often try to hang up on you when applying modifiers where the default settings are very small compared to the model. You can instead design at 1:10th scale and remember to always scale up 10X in the printer software.
  • Save off at milestones! Before making major changes to a design, save a new copy. When you reach a design milestone, save a copy. These will allow you to go back and start over if needed. They also help to protect you from IP theft as they establish a timeline of your work.
  • Hold downs and screw holes. More likely than not at, some point you will look at your master and really wish you had a good way to hold it down. Adding them in now saves a reprint later. If you don't know what mold tech you will be using and don't want to add a hold down, then boolean out a set of cylinders from the flat base. Save the cylinders with the blender file. This will allow you to go back later and line up the cylinders to mold shells and make an aligning feature. Many resins are also easily tapped for a bolt to hold the master in place.
Created by Shop Dad on 2022/07/03 23:22

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