I have been trying to make mini figures for D&D for a few years now. I started by trying to laser engrave some ply. That turned out to be a failure the first time a tried because i didn't know how to photo engrave correctly. I did figure out how to do photo engraving a few months after that, but the size of mini figures is so small and the wood has such a low resolution that it is difficult to get much detail. The other problem with this method is the laser can only process black and white or gray-scale images; so all detail from colors are lost.
Then I had an epiphany as I was printing out some reference material. If I color print the image onto a piece of paper, and then spray adhesive that onto the ply, then I could run a cut path to free the parts and cut them into the shape of the image.
So this brings a few hurdles to the table:
1) I have to find a bunch of pictures to use for the figures
Answer) Printable HeroesHas illustrations for D&D minies that are free and available for download. (Still waiting to hear back on from the author about licensing...)
2) Need tracing vectors around all the figures for cutting them later.
A) Using a logo trace in corel I can then grab the white layer, and trim it to the outside. Then just add that vector to a base insert design.
3) The printed page and the wood will have to be lined up very precisely, on both sides if doing a double sided figure.
A) I'll just cut some ply blanks to 8 1/2"x11" to match the pages, and be sure the print option is to "as in document" NOT "fit to page". Fit to page may down scale the art and then the vectors wouldn't line up. Back page would need to be mirrored.
4) Glue up could be a pain.
A) Dry fit the page in place, and attach one edge with tape. Fold the page open, spray glue, fold it back, and stick it in place. Use a card to force out any air bubbles.
4) Now I have to make sure the wood page is in the laser perfectly.
A) The use of a temporary squaring jig will work perfect. Attach some double sided tape to a larger piece of wood, cut and remove 8 1/2" x 11" hole. Drop in the printed/glued wood blank. This will work for printing multiple pages in a row. Bottom side finish/flair ups will be determined by the cutting bed.
5) Well crap. Now there's the wood residue from the cutting plume on the top side picture.
Possible A) Clear coat? might boil on the edge. Lamination page? Photo page? must test in the future. All else fails, then use the plumed dirty side to show when the monster is bloodied.