Monday, 23 February 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 03!

Part 01Part 2

The first bake seemed to go OK, the legs have set well and it means I can hold them while I work on the upper torso.

I started off by filling out the torso to get the anatomy more or less correct. Then moved on to adding the doctors coat. It sits at a jaunty angle, and initially I was a bit concerned that it would look out of place on a male figure. However, I think that this will be resolved once I get more of the outfit in place.

I also felt it was time that I added some supporting epoxy putty (ProCreate) to the head area.

 As I approach the shoulders it is apparent that I need to get the arms in position so that I can work on the fabric around the shoulders. Using my scale template I cut the arm wires to length and belt them at the elbow joints. Once again, I applied some ProCreate to the arms to bulk them out a bit and give a surface for the polymer clay (Super Sculpey) to adhere to...

I have also done some more work to the doctors coat and added some of the armour like plates down his left leg.

As my confidence grows with the polymer clay I have decided to leave further bakings at this stage as I am finding  I am happy working on the miniature in it's soft state at the moment.

It is interesting to see how the polymer clay tales details, I had really considered using ProCreate for the plates on his leg, but the Super Sculpey is working well at the moment.

Just as a side point, I usually sculpt at a couple of different places and carry my tools and sculpts with me. This has never been a problem as I could just drop my set sculpts into a plastic box and they would be safe. However, with the change to polymer clay I have to carry un-set sculpts, and rattling around inside a plastic box is liable to destroy all the detail before I can bake it.

However I have manage to get around this by using some foam to secure the figure, so that it is suspended within the box and is securely protected during transport...

Look for another post over the next week or so, as the figure moves on, and I hope to start approaching some more of the detail!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 02!

 In part one I looked at the construction of the armature. Now I am ready to start some of the actual sculpting work.
After filling out the armature with a hard epoxy putty (Sylmasta A+B), I also used a little ProCreate to bulk out the feet. Once this was set I moved on to the polymer clay. I have never used polymer clay for a professional sculpt before, but I am aware that it is used by a growing number of European sculptors, and looking at their work it is hard not to be impressed...

I have used polymer clay once or twice for simple crafty projects, for example, the year before last I made this Santa for my sons school project out of Fimo...

I had had this Fimo lying around in the workshop for at least 20 years, and I was surprised that it was still relatively workable! However, for this new project I wanted the best quality materials, so I decided to look at some alternatives. Around a year ago I was given a block of Super Sculpey to try out and this seems like a good place to start. I also ordered up a couple of packs of Bees Putty, as it seems to be getting good results too.

Having done a little reading I understand that there can be issues with getting the polymer clay to stick to the armature. I left the epoxy putty I had underneath fairly rough and this seemed to work well.

 I like to build up my figures with basic anatomy before I move on to clothing them. This is a good practice as it helps to ensure that the proportions come out OK. I found working with the polymer clay to be very enjoyable, slowly adding more clay and working my way up the legs and lower torso. Having an unlimited time to work the sculpt, rather than being restricted to an hour and a half as the putty sets, certainly is a refreshing feeling and removes a lot of the stress of the sculpting process. As it turned out, the removal of the time restriction, didn't actually lengthen the time spent on each area, but it doest make for a very different approach over all.

Once I was happy with the basic shape of the legs I started to add the drape of the fabric of the trousers. Now, obviously, as the clay does not set, it is very important not to touch or damage finished parts before baking them. For this reason I decided to finish the legs, and bake it, before moving on to the upper torso.

Some of the drapery and folds on the figure look a little odd at the moment, as there are, for want of a better word, "armour plates" to go down the left side of the figure, as well as various other bits of detail that will push the fabric around (his boots for a start).

 I am happy with the legs at this stage and I don't want to work on them any more, so I have baked it. It is important not to over bake the polymer clay as it can give off fumes. The clay on this figure, at the moment, is very thin, being around 1mm at it's thickest, so 15 minutes at 130 degrees centigrade was perfectly adequate.

Next post will see slow but steady progress up the torso!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Step By Step Sculpt Part 01!

I haven't had much time to do any commercial sculpting over the past year or so, been to busy with other model making projects. However, I have just started my second job for Wild House Models. Last year I sculpted their Captain Kass figure, as part of the Stasis Pod crowd-funded kit. Due to the limitations of the pose for that kit and also the extremely streamlined outfit that she was wearing I found it quite a difficult sculpt and although I was reasonably please with the finished figure, I felt I would have liked to spend more time on it, had it not been on a tight deadline.

Usually I don't show sculpts I am working on until they are publicised by the clients, however, Wild House Models have already published the reference artwork for the two new figures that I am working on so this time I can put up photos as I go along.

I have always sculpted using epoxy putties, either Kneadatite Green/Yellow (Greenstuff) or more recently ProCreate, however I have been keen to try some polymer clays for some time, as working with a medium that remains workable indefinitely, until you bake it, certainly has it's appeal. So I have decided to step into unknown territory with this one. I am sure I will still end up using ProCreate on some parts of the model, but I aim to use polymer clay for the majority of it.

Lets get to it! Firstly, we need to take a look at the artwork that I have for reference. The two figures are a doctor and a nurse. I shall be aiming to get the doctor figure (male) finished first and then following it closely with the nurse.

It is often easier to work on more than one figure at a time, as it allows you to carry on working while a piece you have finished is setting. Of course, with the use of polymer clay this may change, but for now I will start both figures together.

These figures will be designed to interact with a medical console and it is important that they are posed to fit it well. Wild House Models sent me the master 3D print of the console so that I can get some measurements of it and work out the exact posing. Unfortunately they need their masters back so that they can go for mould making to make the kit. Rather than take a few measurements and then hope for the best, I decided that I needed to make a quick maquette to use as reference. There was no need for any real detail on this so I just hacked it together from a few pieces of scrap styrofoam. As you can see from the photo, it matches the dimensions fairly well, and when I get to the finishing stages of the figures I will be able to pose them against it with some confidence that they will fit the finished kit...

As these are quite large figures, compared to the scale I normally work in, I have used some thickish copper wire for the armature. I bent two loops of wire and placed a straight piece up the middle, then soldered them together.

To get the armatures the correct size I use my Figure Size template. I recently added the 1/24 scale figures to it, especially for this job.

To add strength, and also bulk out the models, I used some Sylmasta A+B Modelling Putty (very similar to Milliput) and a little ProCreate.

In my next post I will actually start work with the polymer clay!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Post Apocalyptic Terrain Modelling Part 2

In my last post I ran through the development and construction of the Fuel Storage Tank terrain piece.

This time I am going to go through the painting and finishing process.

I mentioned in the previous article that I had already given the model a coat of MDF sealer. This is brushed on and soaks into the porous materials very quickly. It works well to stop moisture getting in to the model over time and also stiffens up the finish a little, it does however raise a little texture (on MDF in particular), so for fine models I would advise a light sandting afterwards. It wasn't necessary in this case though...

I started the painting, by giving the whole model a spray coat of grey primer. This is a great way to spot problems that you might have missed during construction. The even colour makes it a lot easier to spot things that you may have missed earlier in the process.

I want the finished to appear abandoned and left to decay, so there is going to be a lot of rust! Hunting around on Youtube I found several different techniques for producing a reasonably realistic rust effect. I also purchased a digital copy of The Weathering Magazine issue No.1 which concentrated on rust effects (I got this through the magazines Android Play App). From all this research I discovered the "Rock Salt" technique. The first thing to do is to paint the model with a rusty colour, I settled on a red-ish brown and gave it a brushed on coat all over. Next up I used a wet brush and sprinkled rock salt over the model. Unfortunately the only rock salt we had in the house was in very course granules. I tried to crush some down, which did work, but my advice would be to get a finer grade, if you are using this technique on more detailed or smaller scale models.

I now had to leave the model to dry, The rock salt sticks to the model, but make sure it is left in a very dry, and reasonably warm environment, as any moisture in the air will cause problems with the salt drying.

The next stage is to spray paint the model with the main colour. Keeping with a straight forward industrial feel I wanted a simple steel structure. I had a can of Chrome/Silver paint lying around so I used that. My first reaction at this point was, "what have I done, that is far to bright and shiny!" However, I knew I would be doing quite a lot of work on ageing the model so I wasn't to concerned at this point.

Also note, at this point the chain for the railing finally arrived and I spent over an hour threading it through the uprights...

Once the silver spray paint has dried, you simply take a stiff brush to the model and brush off as much of the salt as possible. This made a great difference to the finish, and left the whole model covered in blotches of rust. The pattern looked really naturalistic and I was very pleased with the result. I will certainly be trying this again on future projects.

 I wanted to brand my oil tank, to give it a bit more character, so I laser cut a fairly simple stencil.

I masked off the side of the tank and used a couple of spray cans (Red and Gold) to add the company logo to the side.

I could have spent a lot more time and effort getting all this detail spot on, but again, I know i would be ageing it down again afterwards, so this was perfectly acceptable.

I must admit, that at this point I was moving at quite a pace, and I forgot to photograph the final stages. So you will have to settle for the written description of the process.

Next I applied some rust coloured weathering powders (there are several companies that make these, MIG, Humbrol, AK Interactive, even GW Forgeworld). I mixed some of the powder with water, then brushed it on to the areas that I wanted to have rust marks on. Once this has dried the powder can actually be brushed off if you are not careful. However, I used a mix of Humbrol Decalfix and water, to spread the rust a little further, and also give it some extra adhesion.

I decided to add a few warning signs, dotted around the model. I search Google for a few photos of signs, or graphic images. Took them in to a photo editing software (my software of choice is Serif Photoplus, a much cheaper alternative to Photoshop, but with an excellent range of features), I aged them and resized them, then simply printed them on normal printer paper. I used PVA to stick the signs around the model.

 Time for some scenics. I used PVA to stick sand all around the base and also added a little on the top and on the walkway, then painted it brown.

Then I added various plants to the scene. I laser cut some green paper Ivy like vines. I also added several plastic plants that had come from artificial house plants, and finally some tuts of long grass that I got from a railway modelling company. This was all finished off with some scatter materials that were spread around the base and on various places on the model.

Please excuse the half finished figures in the photos, The Hasslefree Miniatures Hazmat Team seems most appropriate for the subject matter!


 For the waste pipe I glued a piece of wire into it, and then allowed some glue to run down it. I did this with the glue a couple of times to build the bulk up and then painted it with a glow in the dark paint. It's a very small area, so the paint doesn't glow much, however, for the following photo I found a UV light I had for curing resin and used that to help with the photos.

I'm very please with the final result. I think the finished piece works really well. The only real downside is that I feel that I will have to get the rest of the scenery up to this standard now...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Post Apocalyptic Terrain Modelling - The next big project...

I have started to put together a new collection of scenery for our new Post Apocalyptic (PA) campaign (we will be using the Across The Dead Earth rules).

Seemed like a good time for a quick run through of terrain construction.

I have had these tubes lying around the workshop for some time, and I have been looking for a good project to use them in. As a useful piece of PA terrain, a fuel storage tank seems idea, it'll offer plenty of play potential, giving several locations to put figures in, as well as being a possible objective. So that is the plan then.

For the base, I used a piece of 6mm MDF. I sanded the edges down to meet the surrounding terrain.

Next up I cut (using the laser cutter) a walkway to go half way up and plates for the top of the three tubes.

I didn't want the top of the main tank to be flat as I felt that would be a little boring. SO I made a quick visit to the local Hobbycraft store and found a polystyrene sphere.

I sliced the top off, making sure that this dome would allow enough room to get a 30mm base all around the top of the tank.

I also laser cut a couple of dozen steps.

Dry fitting the pieces you can start to see the basic layout. I needed to cut a section out of the walkway, to allow for the steps to get through it. So I did it at this stage.

At this point I glued the three tubes to the base, glued the tops and the walkway on and then gave the whole thing a coat of MDF sealer, to stop moisture absorption later on. Then I glued the steps in place. Now as the tube is just (very) thick cardboard I found that the steps would pull away from the tube, and also tended to droop (I could have pinned them, but I was in a bit of a hurry at this stage and I thought I could get away with it, oh well lesson learned).

I didn't want to pull all the steps off again, so instead I laser cut some supports to go underneath them. Along with this I also cut some  piece to take a handrail, or rope.

Next up, gluing these pieces in place. I should have measured the spacing, but to be honest i just did it by, and I don't think that it looks too bad.

This got me thinking about the "railings", I was considering using a fine cord, but with a little investigation I found I could get two metres of 2mm beading chain for around £2, which I promptly ordered. Hopefully it would fit though the holes on the uprights...

I wanted to have some pipes connecting the three tubes . So first I found a piece of plastic girder and cut it at 90degrees, to act as a support for the pipes. Next I cut and bent various pieces of plastic tube and rod. I bent by holding it over a lighter for a couple of seconds. This works well for rod, but the tube tends to fold rather than bending. Still with a bit of filling and filing I got it to look reasonably good. Please remember, this build is going to be dirtied down and made to look abandoned, so will be quite a lot of room to hide imperfections.

I glued the pipes in place and added a pipe running directly between  the two small tanks, and also a waste run-off pipe on one of them...

That worked well and I felt it looked fairly "industrial" without getting it too bogged down with detail that could get damaged on the gaming table. I wanted to keep the tops of the two small tanks fairly flat so that an intrepid sniper, or watchman could get up there if he wanted to, still they do look a bit plain at this stage, maybe I will have to add a little more to them.

On to the top of the main tank. I glued the polystyrene dome in the middle and then painted it with a nice thick coat of emulsion. This protects the polystyrene from more aggressive substances that may dissolve it, such as some types of spray paint.  I wasn't happy with the finish, as it was still clearly a piece of polystyrene, so smoothed some air drying woodfiller over it, allowed that to dry and then sanded it down. Much better!

Another coat of emulsion and a bit more sanding and I was finally satisfied with the finish. The dome was still a bit boring, so I decided to add a hatch at the top of the dome.

As I had the laser cut hatch design sitting on my computer this seemed like a good way to add a bit of interest to one of the smaller tubes, and as they match, it also ties the design together...

The base needed a bit more detail too, so I decided to add  some kind of control panel to one of the tanks.

I engraved the screen keyboard and other detail and cut the piece with the laser cutter again. Simple but effective.

Now, the hatch on the smaller tube really needed a ladder to give access, so this finished off  most of the structure of the model. 

In the next article I will move on to the painting.

Part 2
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