Profiled: Arian Croft

This is the first post of a new, on-going series where we take a closer look at the diverse group of Tinkerers in our community. From kids to artists to gamers, we want to understand why 3D design is important to them and how its changed the way they think, create, explore and imagine.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, my name is Arian Croft and I’m Co-Founder and Lead Designer of Ill Gotten Games based in Bellingham, Washington. My day job is taking care of adults with developmental disabilities, but my primary focus is on game design. Along with my development team, the rest of my time is spent creating role playing games, table top games, board games and the models that go along with those.

I’m most passionate about games in all of their forms and the creative process that results from them. I’ve always been driven to create though the last two years have been my most productive. Having finished my first board game prototype and written my first full-length novel, I’m now nearing completion on the rulebook for a modular, multi-genre role-playing system and two table-top war games.

How did you get into 3D design?
As a game designer, I have worked with models for years, so when I heard about accessible 3D printing technology, I did a search for the most user-friendly (and free) program. I found Tinkercad and the rest is history. Before 3D modeling most of my designs were either drawn (poorly) on paper or sculpted from found objects. I was surprised to see how easily my sculpting skills transferred to 3D modeling.

It [3D design] gives dreamers like me and my friends the chance to transform our dreams into a physical reality.

How do you think web-based 3D design will change the world?
It gives dreamers like me and my friends the chance to transform our dreams into a physical reality. I’m also optimistic about the way it will impact the current practices of mass production. And I do think that 3D design will change the world and already has. I’ve read a lot of conjecture on the impact it will have on lessening the environmental and human rights violations companies around the world get away with; and I’m inclined to agree and remain optimistic.

What designer or inventor has influenced or inspired you the most?
Gary Gygax, Steve Jackson, Steve Kenson, Kevin Siembieda. These are all innovators in the table top role playing industry and, growing up, the tool sets they created gave my imagination a fertile place to grow. I’m inspired by music, movies, graphic novels, the shapes I find in every day things. For example, when I’m not tinkering, I’m building miniature worlds out of found objects.

Words I live by…
Modular. Accessible. Synergistic. These are qualities I strive to achieve in all of my creative endeavors. Most of the games I create are meant to be tool sets for the imagination. The games that have always interested me are the ones that encourage you to explore your own ideas. These are the kind of games my friends and I have set out to make.

What design are you the most proud of? 
The Olimyoo Civilian [pictured above], which I feel is my best attempt at an organic creature. It’s a species from Continuum, the story telling game that my friends and I have been developing over the past seven years. Also, Stovepipe Pete [pictured below]. Though I haven’t printed him yet, he is the first model I made on Tinkercad based on one of my found art sculptures.

See more of Arian’s designs on Tinkercad and at Ill Gotten Games.


  1. Nice article. I was hoping to find out what was used to print the models shown (the white models)
    I see these have “overhangs” which would need supports in makerbot/reprap .
    Thanks Arian for sharing your ‘story’

    • Hey, thanks, Perry. Those models are actually printed via Shapeways. They use a different method/material, but they can do models with overhang like the ones I make. I’m looking into getting a Makerbot soon and I’m looking forward to playing around with it, though I’m assuming I’ll have to make some modifications and print a lot of my models in components which I’ll then assemble.

    • Perry, they use a powder deposition and sintering process–that is, they put down layers of plastic powder and melt it with a laser. This gives them great precision and all the support in the world.

  2. Arian,

    Ken Here bro Rawpork from Thingiverse, or better known to you as Ken Olson(: I love your designs bro and have chatted with you a few times and never realized you were using tinkercad. I love this software so much more than other traditional 3D modeling softwares like Maya but I am now using Maya and Tinkercad depending on the project. Love your work and thought it was awesome to see a story on tinkercad covering you. I might be up at PAX this year I will have to hit you up if I do(:

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