This Lenexa software engineer found a “creative outlet” by printing 3D figurines and miniature dioramas

Stepping into Chris Sammis’ Lenexa home office is like becoming a giant.

Cleverly placed around the room, on wall shelves and on a desk, are dozens of tiny miniatures, many of which are easily recognizable to even the casual gamer.

Sammis, a software engineer by trade, makes these little creatures — from dragons and warriors to entire diorama scenes — in his spare time with a 3D printer.

All can be held in your hand. Most of them are barely bigger than your clenched fists.

This blue spider-like robot is a Tachikoma from the animated series “Ghost In The Shell”. Sammis printed it in parts and then glued and painted it in 2019. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

What started as an experiment in 3D printing and design evolved over the years into something much more sophisticated: a well-developed hobby that satisfied Sammis’ desire for creative expression and skill.

In addition, the energy and focus he needs to complete each diorama and figurine, he says, has also helped clear his mind over the past two years, which have been difficult for almost everyone because of of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a creative outlet for myself,” Sammis said. “I have the satisfaction of seeing something that I have made. The printer makes the physical object, but I derive satisfaction from the fact that I made it, that I painted it.

how he does

This 3D printer in Sammis’ home office plugs in for hours to produce his figurines and dioramas. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

Tucked away in a small corner of his home office is the machine itself.

The 3D printer hums softly, making barely perceptible movements as it plugs in for hours churning out Sammis’ creations that he programs

Sammis believes his job as a software engineer at Garmin is part of why he loves his hobby so much.

“[As a] Software engineer, I can’t hold back what I’m doing,” he added.

Many of his figures and creatures are just over a quarter tall and are often placed on a slightly larger screen for him to enjoy.

In fact, he frequently designed the tiny miniatures for the gameplay of Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy-adventure tabletop role-playing game he’s enjoyed playing for years.

Here is a preview of Sammis’ latest project: a diorama scene from the video game “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. Note the neighborhood next to the diorama for reference. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

“As 3D printing technology matured and I got into it as a hobby about five years ago, all of a sudden I was able to combine the hobbies,” Sammis said. “I could start making my own landscapes for the games I was in and making my own little figurines.”

As for his latest project, Sammis has just put the finishing touches on the most intricate tiny diorama he’s ever built, depicting a scene from the video game. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

“It came out several years ago, but it’s a wonderful game; my wife introduced me to the show a long time ago,” Sammis said. “I was just replaying it, and I felt like I wanted to get creative and use my 3D printers and whatever tools I have and my skills, however much I have, and just create something. thing.”

Although he no longer plays Dungeons & Dragons, Sammis still enjoys crafting miniatures for the popular tabletop fantasy role-playing game, even just for the sheer fun of the creative process. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

Sammis shouted at the local store Tabletop game and pastime in Overland Park for selling supplies and equipment needed for his hobby, as well as his wife, Courtney Sammis, who supports his work.

When it comes to 3D printing projects, it’s likely to remain a hobby for him, mostly because he wants to continue enjoying the creative process without having to turn it into a commodity.

“I really don’t have an endgame for a lot of things that I do as a hobby,” Sammis said. “I think creation is its own reward for me.”