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How do you smooth the surface without wrecking detail?


Lastman
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There are milliput and hard-to-reach questions coming but this preface seems apropos.

 

My prep tools:

I. X-acto knife with pointy blade for big easy chunks of flash.

 

II. 3 micro files (set from GW I think): "knife", "stiletto", and the convex one that I use most often--it gets the mold lines off soft folds without making a leg look like a Lincoln Log.

 

III. Conical pumice-y drill bits with which I grind manually. I hollowed-out that dwarf-chick's stein with one, but I don't use these on every mini.

 

IV. Pin vise with assorted drill bits and wire for pinning (20 gauge galvanzied).

 

V. Zap-a-gap. I will expend my 2-part epoxy and never buy it again because the double-syringe wastes a lot and it doesn't have the gap-filling bonus of the zap-a-gap glue.

 

VI. Plumbers epoxy putty (blue) that I haven't tried yet. This is my substitute for green-stuff but I heard it dries much faster than green-stuff, leaving less time for finessing.

 

VII. Finest grit wet sandpaper (comes in dark grey sheets). The finest grit dry sandpaper seemed so coarse I thought it would gouge.

 

Questions:

1. Do pros use milliput as a fine abrasive? I assume milliput is a powder and would be used like kitchen cleanser. Or is a layer of milliput added for total coverage like primer? I think that would obscure many details and certainly facial features.

 

2. If not a mildly abrasive powder, what can you use to remove mold lines from a furry leg without making it look like a bare leg? My 02732: Kazumi, Male Monk has a mold line down the side of his face that I attacked with the wet sandpaper, but it's still visible from all but the face-to-face point of view. Mold lines through chain mail are another thing that drives me up the wall.

 

3. Would the diminution of leg-fur detail cause much point loss in a competition? Would you have to add it back with green-stuff?

 

4. What do you use for smoothing hard to reach spots? I folded a thin strip of wet sandpaper onto an x-acto saw blade with a flat tip, so it makes a flexible 3/4 inch "sanding paddle" but it would be so easy to mess something up with those saw teeth if I slipped. I need a less risky method.

 

I wonder if using a finger, water, and baking soda would have any effect. Or flaked sea salt (expensive!) or iodized salt. Kosher salt or whole sea salt would probably gouge.

 

The end result I desire was planted in my mind after viewing some ultra-smooth work by Jen Haley or Jenova... it looked like matte porcelain.

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Discerning miniature selection has always been my first point in preparing my minis. I very rarely purchase minis online, and when I am in the store - if I see anything that looks like it may be problematic, I pass it up and have the store order a new one if I really want the mini. If you spend enough time looking for the right minis, you can get ones that are nearly perfect right out of the blister.

 

After that, a good sharp blade (X-Acto style are good, I use a tool that uses pieces from a razor blade - cheaper blades, so I replace them often). Mostly I use this to remove any flashing that might exist. Stay a fair distance away from the model itself though. It is way to easy to take off way too much.

 

Once that is done, I come back in with the Dremel and an engraving tip (111 or 105). Be sure to use the flex shaft attachment for better control - and I like the foot control also. When doing this, I also use a pair of those magnifying goggles on highly detailed areas. Get as close to the mini itself without actually touching it.

 

The final stage uses a rubber polishing tip. Dremel has them (463 and 462 work fairly well), but the ones I use most I bought at a flea market. They are smaller and a little softer than the Dremel versions, which allows a bit more aggressive action. I bought a bunch the only time I saw them, and I haven't seen them since (jewelers might have a supply chain for them though). Use these to get down to the surface. The rubber is only slightly abrasive, so it is pretty safe on the details, and the tip is fine enough to get in eye sockets, and through hair texture without any problems.

 

One additional tool which I find extremely useful is my Panavise. Unfortunately I only have the one pair of hands, and when you are trying to control the Dremel you don't want to also be trying to hold the mini in place. Clamping it down in the vise makes things much easier.

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Thanks, your reply will help me take my prep to the next level.

 

Panavise has some nice looking gear. Do you know if the vacuum base is sturdy? Are the non-vacuum based models heavy enough to use without bolting to a board or table? http://www.panaviseonline.com/product.php?id=63

 

Your Dremel kit reminded me of the rubber buffing tools used by dental hygenists. They use an abrasive paste. I'm eager to experiment.

 

I'm being methodical about re-learning to paint after a long hiatus. When I started there was no internet so it was harder to set skill milestones. I've been using pine-sol on some of my old favorites but I need to resist the urge to redo them all because there are so many new minis that need attention. After a little practice I'll do the Death Dealer from Ral Partha that's based on Frank Frazetta's painting.

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  • Reaper User

As a side note, since you mentioned Jennifer's work, I believe she uses knives and files, and dives right in with the greenstuff to re-sculpt detail if there's a problem with losing it due to mold/flash issues. She's also quite picky, as Joe says, about seeing the model before purchase--especially with anything that's for competition. Myself, I don't even use files, I use a carbon-steel scalpel-blade hobby knife and greenstuff to resculpt if it slips--but I'm a hack. ::D: For what it's worth, our Masters department here at Reaper uses Dremel-type tools with the foot pedal control for the removal of flash and mold lines. I believe Shannon even gave a class on it last year at our Con. ::):

 

--Anne

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Thanks, your reply will help me take my prep to the next level.

 

Panavise has some nice looking gear. Do you know if the vacuum base is sturdy? Are the non-vacuum based models heavy enough to use without bolting to a board or table? http://www.panaviseonline.com/product.php?id=63

 

Your Dremel kit reminded me of the rubber buffing tools used by dental hygenists. They use an abrasive paste. I'm eager to experiment.

 

The vacuum base on mine works well when attached to non porous surfaces. Just keep the rubber vacuum plate clean. With the non vacuum type I found it too light for all but the most gentle work unless it was bolted to a board or plate. The true Panavise is well worth the few extra bucks over the cheaper immitations.

Abrasive impregnated polishing points will wear through to the metal mount so be careful of that.

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^^ What he said. The vacuum will hold quite well if you have a smooth work surface, though my work surface tends to get a little rough from use, so I bolted mine to a board and attached some quick release clamps to that board so that I can lock it down to my paint table and than put it away when not needed.

 

I wouldn't likely go for any of the cheaper imitations, though there are a number of imitations which you might be able to get at a reduced price that work quite well. Craftsmen makes a pretty good vise that does the basic Panavise functions. Snap-On does too. Both of those are around $30 retail - and if you happen to know someone who gets an employee discount...you can save even more.

 

Biggest thing I can recomend in order to take you skills to the next level is to keep your eyes open, and consider anything as possible. I started using the Dremels for cleaning after I got stuck waiting on my girlfriend getting her nails done. They used a rubber grinder which was hard enough to grind the acrylic nails, but soft enough to not tear up the skin...light went on and I went scrounging.

 

I do have a box of minis that I got at good discounts because they were so badly miscast that I expirement on. Also a good thing if you are trying something new out.

 

Good luck.

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Questions:

1. Do pros use milliput as a fine abrasive? I assume milliput is a powder and would be used like kitchen cleanser. Or is a layer of milliput added for total coverage like primer? I think that would obscure many details and certainly facial features.

 

Milliput is a 2-part epoxy putty, not an abrasive powder.

 

It does have the unique characteristic of being miscible with water (unlike greenstuff), so it can be thinned down to a wash and "painted" over rough areas. After the Milliput has completely cured, the suface can then be sanded smooth. It is also used for gap filling when assembling model - and it is easily smoothed with a wet finger (so says the Micromark catalog). I've done that using the rubber tipped "color shapers" I bought from Blick.

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I have a bag full of cheap sanding sticks called Sanding Twigs by DuraSand. They're surprisingly fine for the price and flexible enough to wrap around legs, arms, torsos, etc. The pink ones are especially fine.

 

They're basically thin strips of sandpaper on a foam/cardboard stick. Package claims they're washable, but considering you get 20 a pack for $1 at Hobby Lobby or Michael's, I imagine it's kinda pointless to bother. <g>

 

Kep

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Steel wool is also a nice material / tool for smoothing surfaces and polishing up pewter. It comes in various grades, and is really pretty cheap. I've got a bundle that is actually rusting away faster than I can use it:)

 

Warning: steel wool leaves a lot of little strands so one should use this outside or, what I do, use sandwich baggies to polish within. This helps "contain" most of the strands. A good washing and rinse is a must afterwards too!

 

I'm pretty lucky in that the swap meet that I hit has one of those "tool guys", who sells all sorts of jewelers tools (I bought a peg clamp for only $14). He also carries a great assortment of sculpting / dental picks which are great for recarving detail. I also like to strengthen or recarve soft separation lines between items or between skin and cloth with those.

 

Burnishers can be useful to smooth out ruff surfaces on soft metal castings too, but that takes a deft hand...too much pressure and everything looks like a termite has gotten to it. I've heard that our brethern over on the Military Miniatures side use sewing needles to burnish with, smoothing out large areas in soft metals much the same way.

 

Gap filling CA glue is a quick way to fill smallish imperfections and ruff surfaces.

 

But...as mentioned earlier, the best medicine is perventive...check out your casting before you buy. If a retailer has multiple blisters, be sure to ask to see them all...you'd be surprised at the difference between castings...even locations of seem lines!

 

That's all I've got :)

 

Thanks

AWhang

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Might a tiny bit of something self-levelling (like Future) help with certain types of pitting?

 

I am sure that it would come in useful given the right circumstances. I generally use a bit of bar coat to fill air bubbles on resin casts that I do - and that is about the same idea. When doing that, I apply the mixture with a syringe and hypodermic needle (I think 18 gaugeish). You really have to give it a good squeeze to get the filler out, but it allows you to fill small cavities completely.

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