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Dhalthamus

New to sculpting

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I just got into the world of minis within the last few months, and now I'm finding that out of necessity I need to learn some sculpting (seriously, why can't I find a halfling with twin hatchets?). I've figured out enough of the basics to be able to fill gaps and turn Biff the Halfling Monk's kamas into hatchets, but I've also figured out that there are a few things I don't get yet. So I was hoping maybe someone could help educate me a bit.

 

My biggest question at this point is about different sculpting media. I've only used greenstuff as that's all they regularly carry at my FLGS, and I'm getting the hang of it, but when I look at greens on the website and at some of the work posted in this forum, I see things like brown stuff and gray stuff and sculpey and little metal poles and what look like pre-fabbed blades. Now, I know I can buy weapons packs as far as the last of those go, but I'm more curious about the other things. How do the brown and gray putties compare to the green? How does sculpey compare to any of these and would it be useful for conversions or is it primarily a build-from-scratch material? Are there any other media out there that I might find useful or interesting? Are there certain situations where one medium performs better than another or is it really just preference?

 

Okay, I think that's enough questions for now. Thanks in advance for your help.

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Green Stuff is better than Brown Stuff for most of your sculpting, but brown stuff is better for things like weapons because it holds a better edge and can be filed afterwards if needed. Don't really know about Grey Stuff.

 

Sculpey works well for making stuff from scratch, but it has to be baked to fully cure so it's not good for converting a mini or filling gaps because you can't bake the whole mini afterwards.

 

I have an air-dry clay called Dry Hard that is ok for making bases, filling small gaps or as something cheap to practice with, but I wouldn't recommend it for sculpting your own minis or doing conversions. It tends to shrink as it dries so it's not very reliable (your sword might end up a dagger :blink: ).

 

I've heard green stuff is best for casting if you ever plan on doing that with your sculpts.

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Haven't used grey stuff but I have used Magic sculp and that's a fairly common material to use as well. It's grey in colour and also a slightly cheaper epoxyclay. It doesn't have as much "memory" as green stuff but is a bit more brittle when cured. The same goes for brown stuff. The brittleness of these materials can cause them to snap in a mold if very thin details unsuported by armature are being cast (green stuff thin things without armature support will bend any old how so that's just as bad really).

Also brown stuff and green stuff and magic sculp and Fimo/Sculpey or any other polymer clay can be mixed with each other for changing the properties of the putty.

You can also mix the hardener of one epoxy clay with the filler of another epoxy clay.

 

Generally the materials with less "memory" are the materials that are best for sculpting mechanical and hard edged parts (such as weapons) and generally they are more brittle when cured. Materials with high memory are harder to make sharp but have a certain "bounce" when cured which make them very resilient.

 

And the little metal poles are for the most part probably brass rods available in different thicknesses from hobby or hardware stores. Useful for gunbarrels, spears and staffs or other objects that need to be long and perfectly straight.

 

Oh and another creamy brown material that people in USA seem to use a lot (hard to get hold of in europe) is Tamiya putty of which I hear there are several varieties.

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(seriously, why can't I find a halfling with twin hatchets?).

Well, there is this guy, Dark Heaven Legends 2709. Maybe instead of sculpting from the ground up you could do a very simple conversion on something like Biff, here, and post the results in the Conversions thread... ::):

 

2709_G.jpg

 

 

Infinity

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(seriously, why can't I find a halfling with twin hatchets?).

Well, there is this guy, Dark Heaven Legends 2709. Maybe instead of sculpting from the ground up you could do a very simple conversion on something like Biff, here, and post the results in the Conversions thread... ::):

 

 

 

I already did, but thanks for offering that up. I snipped the ends from the kamas and sculpted axe heads onto the handles. Didn't turn out great, but not too bad for a first attempt at something like that. Once he's painted I'll try to post a pic.

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Axe heads... That's a prime example of where brown stuff would have made your job a lot easier.

I'll be making an axe head tomorrow for a figure I'm working on (today I'm at home with a sick one year old so no sculpting... :poke:) If you would like I can do step by step documentation of it as at least ONE example of how it can be done (I'm a crappy photographer though)

 

Never mind. The baby is sleeping so here's step 1, the wet sculpting:

 

1. I pick out an axeblade that I like and sketch it

greens049.jpg

 

2. I make it the right size on a piece of cardboard. Note that I've put the shaft and the hands holding the axe on there for measurement.

greens050.jpg

 

3. I cut the cardboard shape out

greens051.jpg

 

4. I take a piece of Fimo and make a "mold" with the cardboard. Since these arms will be cast with the axe I try to make them part of the mold to get the angle of the moldlines right. I harden this in the oven. The advantage of using Fimo is that the cardboard doesn't stick and that it takes just a couple of minutes to set in the oven. (the arms look horrible don't they? Well part of it is because on the right hand these are parts I couldn't reach to sculpt before I clipped them of the main figure so they'll be getting some treatment)

greens052.jpg

 

5. Mold done and cardboard removed:

greens053.jpg

 

6. I make the rough general shape with brown stuff. Note how I have left the "edge" part "open". That way I can roughly do an edge allready in the wetsculpting stage

greens055.jpg

 

I'm waiting for it to dry now. next will come the hardsculpting part (cutting and filing)

And the "mold" is there to be reused as many times as I want to.

 

Oh and this is the figure I'm making it for:

greens056.jpg

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Thanks, Bodhi. That's quite informative. When I did the axeheads on my halfling I didn't try to use a mold, I just freehanded simple hatchet-like heads. They're pretty balanced between the two, but it is obvious that they were freehand. Maybe I'll order some brown stuff and try them again with a mold.

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Thanks for the tutorial! I wouldn't have thought of doing weapons this way.

 

One thing noticed...

 

With the cardboard cutout as the only piece being used to create the shape of the axe blade in the mold (step 4 & 5), you will need to do some additional sculpting to make the "back" side of the axe symmetrical to what you sculpt on the "front" side of the mold in step 6. Compare the visible side of the axe in the last photo to the previous phot to see what I mean.

 

To make it easier...

 

I would add an additional step between steps 5 and 6. Take a piece of brass tubing of the diameter you need for the axe haft and press it into the mold before baking it.

 

I would also pre-sculpt the pointy bit on the end and press that into the mold (and remove it) before baking it.

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That's why I use brown stuff. Shown is only the "softsculpting" part. Then I do cutting and filing - hardsculpting - which is not shown.

There is also some more softsculpting to be done, filling out the assymetrical "cavity" on the back of the axe. Still it's loads faster than freehanding it.

I haven't had luck with pressing in wire and getting a snug fit. In my experience drilling makes for a more solid fit.

 

By the way - another use I've found for simple Fimo molds is to get the size right. If I want to make figures fitting the size of a given range I simply press one of the figures from this range into a Fimo mold, then use this cavity as a guideline for the armature. Of course it useless for real (and illegal) casts but I wouldn't see any point whatsoever in making such ones anyway. As a sizeguide it's great.

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I haven't had luck with pressing in wire and getting a snug fit. In my experience drilling makes for a more solid fit.

 

I must've been half-asleep when I posted... edited text below; insertions in purple

 

Take a piece of brass tubing of the diameter you need for the axe haft and press it into the mold to create a depression where the axe haft will be. Then remove the tubing before baking the mold. You want the size of the depression to be big enough so that it will approximately mirror the "front" of the weapon when you sculpt it.

 

The idea isn't to put the handle/haft into the thing as your sculpting, but to use a short chunk of tubing as an additional shortcut -- said short chunk of tubing is not used in the final piece.

 

 

You're using the mold to get the basic shape, then doing a bunch of sculpting... given my lack of experience at sculpting, I'd tend to try to make the mold do as much of the work as possible. ::D:

 

 

(I dabbled in RTV + resin several years ago -- I'd create "texture" bits for 40K buildings & terrain, vehicle conversions, and whatnot. I would assemble bits and pieces of junk to make a "master" bit, then make a mold. When I didn't feel like bringing out the RTV, or when I only needed a couple of identical bits rather than a dozen or more, I'd use sculpey or plumber's putty to make a quick press mold of the piece. Sculpting "from scratch" is something that I haven't tried...yet.)

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By the way - another use I've found for simple Fimo molds is to get the size right. If I want to make figures fitting the size of a given range I simply press one of the figures from this range into a Fimo mold, then use this cavity as a guideline for the armature. Of course it useless for real (and illegal) casts but I wouldn't see any point whatsoever in making such ones anyway. As a sizeguide it's great.

 

That was how I made one of my first "sculptures." I needed a bunch of mud-men and couldn't find any on the market that looked good (1995ish). As opposed to use the old stand by, dried beans - I used a half dozen different minis and pressed them into modeling clay to make a two part mold. I carved the molds to make them look more ooze like and made FIMO castings in them. A few kinda flopped over in the oven - but it actually made them more mud like...so that was OK.

 

Anywho - for doing conversions as opposed to new sculptures, you can use a lot of things that don't lend themselves too well to the mold making process. I like to use a lot of thermal plastics for cloaks and weapons. The thinner sheets work great for cloaks which are free flowing (as opposed to thick chunks of lead), while the thicker sheets can be given a good edge and can be cut to size quite easily (carbon paper works great for transfering sizes/shapes).

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I have never done any conversions but only original sculpts. Most of them I never intend to cast but I find it a useful exercise to allways sculpt them AS IF I had casting in mind, to get into the habit of "casting thinking".

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