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Sculpting Tools

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After becoming a master miniatures painter within a few months (heavy sarcasm) I've set my sights on attempting miniatures sculpting.  My local game store had a set of army painter sculpting tools for ten bucks so I bought it seeing as it was convenient and I didn't have any dental picks on hand.


So, I'm curious, what do you more experienced sculptors use when sculpting?  Dental picks? Some custom tool? I'm curious, because I'm looking at all these lovely details and am trying to reverse engineer the sculpting process.

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I've made custom tools from everything from popsicle sticks to a piece of dowel with a brass rod inserted into it. Other than that I recommend some clay shapers in size 0 with the grey tips. The process varies at least a bit for everyone. I've seen some people sculpt everything with a blunted X-Acto blade.

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Small clay shapers are definetly the best along with the tools you bought.

I have some similar sculpting tools for myself and I got the army painter tools for my niece who has started sculpting miniatures.

She seems to like them.

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Ha - I just answered an extremely similar question!


I was using whatever I had around me (not to sculpt, but to match fur, fill gaps, etc.) and a clay shaper made it go from tedious to actually fun. I picked one up for less than $5 at a local (Austin, TX) Jerry's Artarama. Night and day difference, at least for me.

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 I do at least half of my work with a hobby knife, but I also use a couple of dental picks, one of the sculpting tools (with the two different blades on the ends) and a couple of clay and color shapers.


I also have a bunch of different found and made objects for specific jobs - several different mechanical pencil ends in various sizes for making studs, rivets or buttons. random bits of metal whose edges make interesting and useful shapes, and some toothpicks and wires I've filed/carved the ends of to make a series of stamps with various useful shapes.

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The tools I use for 99% of my sculpting:
A Clay Shaper (extra firm, size 0, chisel point), a Wax carver No.5, (also known as an SG Dental, or Zahle), a scalpel blade which has been dulled on sandpaper and stuck to a lolly stick, an old paintbrush with the bristles removed and a piece of bent wire filed to a point inserted. (I usually use this one for sculpting chainmail, but it's useful for anytime you just need a small hole.) 






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Size 0 extra firm clay shapers (black tips). I had an angled chisel point from when I experimenting with it with paint, and it quickly became my most used sculpting tool, so I bought a set.


Next most used tool would be what's essentially a tapered steel nail, from P3. It's actually pretty poor quality, and bent on me quickly... I had to sharpen and polish it myself. I use it for detail work like carving eyelids. Dental picks probably do the same thing.


After that... craft knife I guess. Nice flat side for flattening things. Also for shaving things down and resculpting.


Oh right, can't forget about fingers. They can do quite a bit more than you think.

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Here are the tools I use for 95% of what I sculpt (this is actually a photo of my board after a typical sculpting session):




Top to bottom:


- Scalpel

- Leaf-bladed dental spatula (used for most of my rough shaping)

- Pointed clay-shaper

- Fine spear-bladed tool I forged (my main detail tool)

- Cupped clay shaper (also use a flat chisel clay shaper too)

- Needle tool (good for fending off rambunctious boys who get too close to my uncured sculpts...JK)

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