Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Step By Step Sculpt Part 06!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5,

Before I cook the clay for the second time I have decided that I want to do some work on the feet.

The first thing to do is bulk them out to get a reasonable idea of size. It is very easy to sculpt hands and feet out of scale, put in a lot of work and then realise that they are too large or too small, and have to scrap them. When working on 28mm wargames miniatures there is a bit more tolerance on this as many wargames figures have developed their own style which has led to heads, hand and feet being oversized quite a bit. When working on this larger scale miniature though it is very important that the whole figure is in proportion.

I plan to work on the soles of the boots later on (after baking), so I have just roughly built them.
Initially I started work on the left boot. Getting it basically boot shaped and building up the cuff around the ankle.

I was building the ankle part into quite an open style, however I wasn't very happy with that, so I will change it later.

Overall I am happy that it looks like a left boot, and is the correct scale for the figure.

I tightened up the cuff and brought it in around the ankle, then started work on the front detailing.

The clients drawing shows detail down the front of the boot that looks like a similar plate design to that on the figures left side and right shoulder. However, with the positioning and the small scale of the detail I am concerned that it looks like he has lace up boots. I don't feel that this is very in keeping with the high-tech design, so I may add a strap across the ankle later on. Also, I felt that the boot needed more of a definite division between it, and the trousers, so I am trying a rib around the top of the boot.

I didn't want to get to far ahead with the left boot without doing the right one. So I have started to build that one up too. I have found that while I add clay to the right foot I have caught the left foot once or twice with the sculpting tool. It is annoying to damage finished areas while working on other pieces close by, so I can see i am going to have to bake it soon...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Star Trek Attack Wing Vs. X-Wing

As a quick break from the sculpting posts I am going to look at Star Trek Attack Wing and it's sister game X-Wing.

I initially resisted jump on to either Star Trek Attack Wing (STAW) or X-Wing, as I felt the cost of building a meaningful fleet was prohibitive. However, due to my gaming pals having picked up those games it seemed only right to give them a try. We tried STAW first, and the simplicity and effectiveness of the system really caught our attention. I do have Wings of Glory, or to be more precise Wings of War, it's predecessor, which is the origin of the system and is a World War One fighter game. So the basic concept wasn't that new, but the execution in this instance is very well done.

I have played a few different star ship combat systems over the years, and I must admit that they usually leave me cold. They are either far too complex or have nonsensical rules that just don't attract me. However with STAW I found it gave a reasonably quick game that had a enough complexity to be interesting, but didn't get bogged down in endless tricky rules. The thing that really struck us was the effective way that the rules gave the feel of large capital ships taking on each other in a slugging match.

X-Wing on the other hand, using very similar rules, give the feel of fighter, or small ship combat, very well.

At this point I had pretty much about faced and decided I wanted to break into one of these games. Now, it has been a long time since I considered myself to be either a Trekkie or a Star Wars fan, so I didn't have any particular reason to swing either way. I had to decide on other grounds. The first consideration was factions. With X-Wing, realistically there are only two factions, The Empire and the Rebels, whereas with STAW there are many, many different races and factions, and there are the options for alliances too! This would mean that my gaming group would be able to build up our own forces without too much overlap.

Also I personally preferred the larger ship combat system rather than the fighter combat, not for any particular reason, just the way I would prefer to go!

So as you have probably already guessed I have plumped to Star Trek Attack Wing. I have picked up three Romulan ships so far. Jeff has jumped in with both and has growing fleets of most factions, but he ignored the Romulans (and the Borg to some extent). Del has gone with the Borg. It is my birthday next month and so I will be getting the basic game then. I quite fancy picking up a few Klingon ships at some point, and I am not too familiar with some of the later races from DS9 (I lost interest in the Star Trek universe when Babylon 5 started and captured my interest, oh for a B5 version of this game)...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 05!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Slow and steady with the detail. It makes for fairly boring posts but it is what really takes the time...

 I have worked up some detail on the right arm, building up the fabric with some bunching and folds. I have also started work on the "plates" over the right shoulder. I have scored in the divisions between the plates and once I have cooked the clay I will sand them down to achieve a more "plate-like" feel to the area.

 As I rotate the figure, I often jump back to parts that I had worked on previously. Slowly refining the detail on the fabric, or smoothing out areas. This is one of the great advantages with the polymer clay, as until it is cooked I can keep returning to the same area over and over again.

I have also done some work on the coat under the  right arm. Adding some folds into the fabric. The brief from the client (Wild House Models), has allowed me some creative input, letting me take the design sketches and develop them into the 3D form with some flourishes of my own. So I have added some more extra flow to the fabric, and broken up the smooth lines a little, I feel that this adds to the overall detail of the figure, and add some realism, without removing it too much from the original concept...

Next up I started to work on the fabric where it is fastened at the front of the coat. Adding littll stresses in the fabric, where concealed fastenings are pulling at it...

 I have also started to add the seams to the left side of the coat.

In these photos they are at a very early stage, literally just scored into the soft clay.

At this stage it is relatively easy to correct errors, if I get the lines in the wrong place... However, I am reasonably happy with the positioning, and I will move on to smoothing them and shaping them a little more next.

I am aiming to cook the figure again very soon, to set the new work in place, but before I do that I will do some more work on the coat and probably add some detail to the left arm.

The brief also requires that figure to have two alternate heads. So once I have cooked and set the existing work I will remove the head stump and work on the neck locating joint. Removing this part could be quite tricky as the the core of hard epoxy and copper wire may be difficult to cut through. I want to do it at this stage so that I don't damage the figure after I have added to much detail around the neck...

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 04!

Part 01, Part 02, Part 03.

Not much progress in the last few days, I have had a few health issues and they have meant I haven't done much sculpting.

I have done some more work on the doctors coat, which is starting to take shape quite nicely. I have also started to work on the arms, but more on them in the next post.

I am not totally happy with the smoothing of the polymer clay, and I have read that a soft brush and some oil (possibly baby oil) is good for this. I am going to have to do some more research before I try this as I don't want to ruin the work already done.

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!

 Part 01

 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!

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