A tale of two toons: Our mission for a FFXIV cake topper

Fun fact: I am now at the point of less than 60 days until I am no longer Erin G. Which means that lately, my life has been all about planning, since we’re officially going ahead and hoping for the best. It’s going really well though!

One of the things I’m trying really hard to make sure I do in all our wedding planning is add as much of our nerdy little life as possible. I mean, obviously, I still have a serious aesthetic; I do even here on the blog, and that’s not considering that I worked at a wedding magazine for years. But it’s more important to me to tell our story!

Shane’s been really involved in the planning too, which has been amazing because I get overwhelmed easily. I know I’m lucky that he does want to be involved, and it’s nice to know he’s so interested in the celebration of us.

Enter his idea for the cake topper.

A couple of months ago, Shane asked me about the idea of doing something especially nerdy with our cake topper. 

See, for our first anniversary back in 2018, we decided to get our FFXIV characters married in a beautifully moogly ceremony. So his idea was to create little models of our characters wearing their wedding outfits and put that on top of the cake, rather than finding some generic people that looked kind of like us. 

I thought it was a beautiful idea, and set out finding out how I could make that happen.

The process of investigation

My first stop was to investigate whether people had already managed to do that with their characters, and if so, how they did it. For most games, it’s easy enough to find a version of a character; but for such a highly customized game, I knew it would take a bit of work.

I learned early on that it is possible to 3D print FFXIV characters in a mostly customized manner, but to do that, you need to have the STL file for your character.

I will admit, I’m completely new to 3D printer talk. From what I gathered, STLs are the files that 3D printers can read to print out your model, and you get them by creating your virtual model (and posing it if you want).

Before I reached out to a 3D printer service, I wanted to have the models ready to minimize their workload (and therefore my bill!). So I set out to create my very own STL.

Creating a file for our characters

It’s worth noting that this is where things get a little questionable in ToS terms. FFXIV can be pretty strict with its intellectual property, even going so far as to ban people who so much as mention modding in the in-game chat.

To build the models, basically what I had to do was go into TexTools, a third-party program, and build little character models piece by piece. I had to find the right head, body, hair, pieces of armour, you name it. One thing I discovered is that some character types (looking at you, highlander!) aren’t accessible in TexTools, so my character has a highlander head with a midlander body. 

I put it all together on the same model in TexTools, saved it as a model, and then pulled them both into Blender to pose them. That got a little time-consuming, since I had no idea what I was doing, and there are a few spots where it’s clear to me I had no idea what I was doing. But to the casual eye, they’re just adorably holding hands the same way Shane and I do!

All in all, it was a really fun process, and I’m so happy with how they turned out. They do have a rather low-poly look to them, since making them as smooth and detailed as in-game would have required much, much more skill with creating new geometry than I could ever hope to have. But still, I love the look because now it reminds me of ridiculously expensive geometric fruit sculptures like you see in high-end stores.

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