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So, I want to start sculpting. Any advice? Things that I need to start with, tools I need to get? Just things like that. Gosh, I'm such a noob! But, I'm hoping all ya'll wonderful and talented people can help. 

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I'm definitely not a sculptor, but I've had to make repairs with green stuff, fill gaps, match fur or folds with green stuff, etc., and I used to just use an exacto knife, rounded paper clip, or whatever was around to get it in shape. Then I picked up one of those firm (but soft) silicone clay shapers and it makes it so much easier, even for the fiddling around that I do. 


This isn't exactly what I got, but mine was less than $5 at a local (Austin, TX) Jerry's Artarama: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/brushes-and-palette-knives/colour-shapers/colour-shaper-sets.htm


Things are much easier (and more fun) with the correct tool. Hashtag captain obvious.

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 Things that you need to start sculpting basically boils down to having material to sculpt with. And it helps to have something other than your fingers to use as a tool. Other than that, what you choose to buy is mostly a matter of preference and convenience.


 You can buy a cheap set of sculpting tools online for like $12. Other than that, people generally use a dull hobby knife, some dental picks and whatever else they have on hand that they find useful. Everybody has their own preferences as to what tools they use - a lot of folks make their own if they don't have something that does what they want . You can do all sorts of different stuff by mounting a piece of stiff wire in a handle of some kind and then filing down the end into different shapes or bending it at different angles.


 As for materials, there's several different brands of epoxy putty, each with their own unique quirks and physical properties. As you're just starting out, do some research on the various products available and pick one you think might be easiest for you to work with.


Always make sure you keep your tools lubricated so the putty won't stick to them - some folks use water, some use vaseline, some use skin oils or saliva (just make sure your tools are clean and don't have any putty on them before you lick them, lol). I personally use saliva since it's the most expedient while I'm sculpting.


There are tons of tutorial videos on Youtube about sculpting minis. you'll learn a lot from them.


If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us - forum members SIGIL, dks, Oathsworn and TaleSpinner are all professional sculptors, and several others have had some of their pieces cast as well.

Edited by Mad Jack
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I am dipping my toes into too now, but luckily I have a couple great resources here locally to draw upon.  My friend's The Grudge Online showed me what you can do with conversion. Pretty cool.   I have never ventured that way before.  I have plans for a diorama that requires sculpting, so I will start there.

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If you've never sculpted before, it will take a long time to build up your skill-set. Think years, not months.


The only sculpting medium for miniatures I can cope with is Kneadatite (aka Greenstuff) but I have read that this is actually the most difficult medium, so you might be better off starting out with polmer clay (Fimo or Sculpey) but your choice of medium will depend on what works best for you. For me it's greenstuff.


I've tried lots of tools, but my current set is this:

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and this:

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The dental tools above are smaller and higher quality than the sets you will find in tool shops. Also, buy a 3 or 4 sided nail buffer to polish your tools; add a tiny drop of oil to lubricate, then polish them to a gleaming finish the same as you would polish your nails. Polished tools will stick less.


Some people reccommend size #0 clay shapers, and I have a set of those too, but I found the size #2 clay shapers to be fine for most work on 32mm scale sculpting. The ones in the eBay link are "firm" not "extra firm" but I find them to be quite effective.


You'll need a roll of general purpose wire and a pair of cutters and a pair of needle nose or mini pliers for making wire skeletons, and a pack of ready-dried corks (or put used corks in the oven).

There's a hundred tips I could give you but you'll find most everything you need to know is already on the internet. First thing to know; add very tiny amounts of clay to your wire frame.

Edited by Qwyksilver
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As noted, the absolute minimum is something to sculpt with.


Realistically, though, I would probably start off with:


- Some form of putty or clay. Greenstuff is annoying to start working with, but most mini sculptors will swear by it or a similar putty. ProCreate is probably the most popular alternative. Sculpey Firm is one of the more popular clays, though you need to bake it.

- Lubricant. This can be as simple as tap water (my choice). Some people use skin moisturizer.

- A bright gooseneck lamp. Probably a halogen lamp, the added heat it puts out is useful for things like drying out putty when you get too much water on it or quick-curing it.

- Sculpting tools. You can get pretty large packs of generic sculpting tools cheaply, you can use common objects around to sculpt, or you can invest in clay shapers. I do about 90% of my work with a set of size 0 extra firms, and I barely touch other tools.

- Wire to make armatures. Some people swear by brass, I just use galvanized steel from the hardware store. Eventually you'll probably want a small collection of wire for different things, but 22-24 ga should be good all purpose.

- Needlenose pliers. Also wire cutters for that occasional time you need to cut wire in a place combination plier / cutters won't reach.

- Something to stick the armature in and hold while sculpting. Corks are good, styrofoam blocks passable, florists' foam might work? I personally use a set of tiny clamps I put together with machine screws and wing nuts.


Anyways, practice, practice, practice! Your first couple sculpts will not look very good. Keep working at it!

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