Navigating Copyright and Intellectual Property When Designing Models for Tabletop War Games

7/9/20232 min read

Two Fantasy Knight Models on a board game
Two Fantasy Knight Models on a board game

Designing custom models for tabletop wargames is a thrilling way to express your creativity and enhance your gaming experience. However, it is crucial to navigate the copyright and intellectual property landscape to ensure you respect the rights of the original creators. In this blog post, we will explore some guidelines to help you avoid copyright and intellectual property issues when designing models for existing armies.

1. Foster Originality:

When creating models, strive for originality. Instead of replicating existing designs, channel your creativity to produce unique and distinctive models. Draw inspiration from various sources, including history, mythology, and your own imagination. This way, you can develop models that have their own identity and reduce the risk of infringing on copyrighted designs.

2. Avoid Direct Replication:

To steer clear of copyright issues, refrain from creating models that are exact replicas or substantially similar to existing copyrighted designs. Pay attention to specific characters, symbols, logos, and artwork that are protected by intellectual property rights. By creating your own original characters and designs, you can ensure a safer creative space.

3. Non-Trademarked Names:

Using trademarked names or terms associated with existing armies or factions can lead to trademark infringement. Instead, come up with unique names that differentiate your models from the official ones. This approach allows you to maintain your creative freedom while avoiding potential legal complications.

4. Respect Fan Art Guidelines:

If you're designing models based on fan art or concepts, it's important to adhere to any guidelines set by the original creator or intellectual property holder. Some franchises have specific policies regarding fan art, which may require you to follow certain rules or obtain permission. Respecting these guidelines ensures you stay within legal boundaries and fosters a positive community spirit.

5. Understand Fair Use:

Educate yourself on the concept of fair use, which permits limited use of copyrighted material under specific circumstances, such as criticism, commentary, or parody. However, fair use can be subjective and varies across jurisdictions. It's crucial to understand the limitations and consult legal professionals if you have concerns about whether your design falls under fair use.

6. Seek Permission:

If you wish to create models inspired by existing armies or factions, consider reaching out to the intellectual property holders for permission. Inquire about their policies on fan-created content or licensing programs that may facilitate your creative pursuits. Seeking permission not only shows respect for the original creators but also provides a more secure foundation for your designs.

7. Focus on Compatibility:

Instead of copying existing models, concentrate on creating models that are compatible with the existing game system. Design models that can be used alongside official models without infringing on copyrighted designs. This ensures that your creations integrate seamlessly into the gaming experience while respecting intellectual property rights.


When designing custom models for tabletop wargames, it's essential to navigate copyright and intellectual property issues responsibly. By fostering originality, avoiding direct replication, respecting fan art guidelines, understanding fair use, seeking permission when necessary, and focusing on compatibility, you can create unique and legally compliant models that enrich your gaming journey. Remember, it's always advisable to consult legal professionals for specific guidance regarding copyright and intellectual property in your jurisdiction. Let's foster a community that thrives on creativity and respects the rights of original creators.