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Sculpting an anthro badger warrioress…


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Hey everyone,

In our recent Kickstarter project we did some Updates showing how we sculpted stuff... I thought I'd post them here as well, for reference. So here goes...

 

We often get asked how our miniatures are made; so I thought I'd take this opportunity to show you all how I sculpted the badger for this project.  

 

A lot of miniatures companies design their miniatures digitally using a computer program like Zbrush; but we're still very much old-school, and all our products are sculpted by hand. We just like messing about with putty, really! ;-)  

 

So… when you are sculpting with putty, you need something for the putty to stick to; otherwise it'll just flop about. I use an armature made from brass wire, which basically acts like a very simple skeleton for the miniature, providing support and stability for the putty. For small miniatures, I use .51mm wire, but for a larger sculpt like the badger, I use .81mm wire. It doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it is much stronger and stiffer.  

 

I start off with some tools – the wire, a ruler, narrow pliers, and side cutters. I take two pieces of wire, both quite long, a twist them together. The twisted section will form the body of the miniature, and the rest is the limbs. Then it's just a matter of adding bends; firstly to form the shoulder and hip joints, then knee, ankle, elbow and wrist joints. Then I pose the armature; I have a rough idea in my head of the pose I want, but it often gets adjusted a bit at this point. Finally I trim the wires; leaving some extra length on one arm to become a weapon, and some extra length on the legs to hold the armature with.

 

badger-sculpting-1.jpg

 


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One of the things I like to do is make every miniature a single piece; I'm not a fan of multi-part metal models, mostly because I always seem to break them! So this badger needs to be a single piece.

Then it was time to start the sculpting from the ground up… with the feet! I mixed up some fresh Green Stuff, and pushed it onto the armature, and smoothed it. Then I cut some lines in to mark the t

I then added a couple of semi-circles for ears, and small ball shapes for eyes, and a blob for a nose. These were blended in, and I started tidying it all up, marking in the nostrils and mouth. Then I

Generally armatures are stuck into a cork, to give the sculptor something to hold while they work. I've never been keen on using corks; they are very light, and I used to knock them over all the time, often damaging the sculpt. Also, I used to find it difficult to stick the armature wires into the cork without bending the armature.  

 

So instead I made some custom armature holders. They're just two little bits of wood, sanded round, with a hole drill through. Then I use a nut and bolt to hold them together. They're ideal for sandwiching the armature wires snugly…

 

badger-sculpting-2.jpg

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But first I added a base to the armature. The base is just a flattened piece of Milliput putty, which is a cheap epoxy putty; it's very tough, and ideal for terrain, bases, and anything that needs a sharp edge, such as weapons… more on that later! :)  

 

I used a thin drill bit in a pin vise to make a couple of holes for the leg wire, then slotted the armature through. Finally I attached it to the holder.

 

badger-sculpting-3.jpg

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Next I sorted out my sculpting gear; a silicone-tipped Clay Shaper (I use a Royal Sovereign size 0 Chisel point mostly), a Wax carver no.5 (also called a Zahle dental tool, or an SG dental tool), an old scalpel blade that I've dulled with sandpaper, and a bit of bent wire, filed to a point, stuck into an old paintbrush handle… all very high tech stuff! ;-)  

 

And of course, some putty. I'll be using mostly Green Stuff (Polymeric Systems Kneadatite Yellow/Blue, to give it the full name!) but I'll also use Brown Stuff, which is very similar to be honest. I use it mostly just to make it easier to see different sections of the sculpt. I'll also be using a little more Millput (Standard Yellow-Grey) for the sword blade. (not pictured)

 

badger-sculpting-3b.jpg

Edited by Lovejoy
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Next I mixed up some Brown Stuff putty. It's supposed to be better at hard edges than Green Stuff, so is recommended for armour and weapons. I haven't really found it to be all that different to work with, but I do like being able to sculpt different parts in different colours, and it's useful for that.  

 

I did the handle first, and smoothed it with the clay shaper. Then I added the guard to the blade. But I'd mixed up a lot more putty than I needed for the sword handle, so….

 

badger-sculpting-5.jpg

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...I used the remaining Brown putty to make a shield, and to bulk out the head. For the shield, I have a rounded-off lump of old Milliput, and I press the Brown stuff onto it, and shape it into the shield shape. I let it cure on there, and popped it off once it was hard.  

 

I then took a piece of bent wire, held in a pin vise, and added the left-over putty to rough in the basic shape of the badger's head, and left it to cure.

 

badger-sculpting-6.jpg

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Once the shield was cured, I mixed up a little more Brown Stuff, and added a Fleur-de-lys design to the front. I'm a big fan of the Fleur-de-lys; they look quite impressive, but are actually really easy to sculpt. I'll be going into a bit more detail on sculpting them in a later Update… (I made a video! I'll post it later...)

 

badger-sculpting-7.jpg

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Next, I started bulking the armature out. Normally I'd use Green Stuff for this, but with a larger figure, I use Milliput – it's cheaper!  

 

I started with the torso and legs, and let that cure for a few hours, before going back and adding arms, shoulders, breasts and feet, and let that cure too.

 

badger-sculpting-8.jpg

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While the Milliput on the armature was curing, I got on with the head. I mixed up some Green stuff, and took the basic shape I'd made earlier, and added a long strip up the middle of the head. I added a couple of lumps of putty on each side near the back, then two smaller lumps for the cheeks and a couple for the eyebrow areas. These were then blended together, and smoothed. The idea here is to form the basic shape of the badger's head; I use a lot of reference pictures of real badgers to get this right. There's always some compromises though – I have to be able to get wider range of expression that an actual badger could manage when sculpting an anthropomorphic version.

 

badger-sculpting-9.jpg

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I then added a couple of semi-circles for ears, and small ball shapes for eyes, and a blob for a nose. These were blended in, and I started tidying it all up, marking in the nostrils and mouth. Then I started working on the fur texture; using the blunt end of my Wax no.5, I marked the whole surface roughly, then used the sharp end of the tool to refine the surface, gradually tidying it up until I was happy with it. Then I left the head to cure fully.

 

badger-sculpting-10.jpg

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Then it was time to start the sculpting from the ground up… with the feet! I mixed up some fresh Green Stuff, and pushed it onto the armature, and smoothed it. Then I cut some lines in to mark the toes; I also cut a line across the front of the toes, and shaped then into claws.  

 

Next I began working each individual toe, gently shaping them to show the joints as much as possible. Then I sculpted some fur texture on the foot. I had a small amount of putty let over, so I used it to form a core for sculpting the badger's left hand, as you can see in the bottom picture.

 

badger-sculpting-12.jpg

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Next I started working up the legs; again, pressing fresh Green Stuff onto the model, smoothing it, adding rough texture with a blunt tool, and then slowly refining it with a sharp tool. I probably ought to do a video to show the process really… maybe for the next project!

 

badger-sculpting-13.jpg

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With the leg fur textured, I started on the hands. I mixed up some more Green Stuff, and rolled out a short length, which I wrapped around the sword handle and pressed into place, flattening the finger area. Then I cut in lines to separate the fingers, and followed with a shallow line cut across the fingertips, to show the claws. Then I spent a while tidying and refining the fingers. Next I rolled out a thin strip of putty to make the thumb; I pressed one end into place, then bent it around and marked in the claw. That was the hand done, but I spent another half hour or so generally fiddling and obsessing over smoothing and tidying it...  

 

I did the left hand the same way.

 

badger-sculpting-14.jpg

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