So this is all about sculpting, simple basic sculpting, things we all can achieve with a small amount of dedication, patience and practice.
Give it a try and experience the fun of the highest level!!!!!
You can click on the pictures for larger view
I like figures. Just like that. I like the resin ones, the metal guys, injection moulded, I like' em all. But since a few years I started sculpting my own. I was inspired by guys like Bill Horan, Mike Blank and some of the Japanese modellers like Masahiro Doi, Yoshitaka Hirano and Takui Yamada. So I would like to show some of my tricks and tips regarding sculpting. Don't expect the big revalation of sculpting secrets. Simply because there aren't any.... It is all a matter of practice, practice....
If you want to give it a try, there is good and bad news.
First the bad: dispite to what some may say: sculpting is not easy. Like I said: takes a lot of practice and patience to get some satisfying results. Especially in the beginning it is very timeconsuming.
One more thing: If you think you can get rich by making masters for producers: forget it!! Competition is dreadfull and everything has already been done.
So why should we bother to do our own sculptings? After all, the availability of high quality figures seems endless.
Well, then there is some good news.....
First of all, it is cheap. Tools and materials are simple and widely available. If you get the grip a little of the techniques and develope some skills, possibilities are unlimited: action figures, drivers, tank riders, you name it. You can do the wildest things!! But most of all, it is fun. And I mean fun to an extreme level. You will be able to create that special unique figure, that no one else will ever posess. There is nothing more fun and satisfying then the face of your fellow modelers you meet at shows, asking what brand your figures are and you can answer: "these are my own brand". Now that's what I call fun...
So,.. give it a try!!!!
Tools and other stuff
Tools? Very simple. The most important: my hands and fingers. Especially the rough shapes and the fleshing out is done with my fingers. For the finer details and hard to reach things I use simple tools like toothpicks, old brushes and cheap commercailly available sculpting tools. So tools are cheap. My advice: make your own.
As a basis I use wire. I use 0.8mm brass rod. I buy mine in a shop specialized in this RC stuff. Any wire will work. Even paperclips will do fine.
I take al lot of stuff from plastic kits: weapons, some gear like waterbottles, ammopouches, gas mask cases and stuff. I also often use boots and shoes from plastic or resin kits.
Plastic hands are also good.
And then: HEADS!!
No doubt the best are from Hornet. Absolutely expensive, but the best in the world. Every once in a while I try to sculp my own heads. But Roger Saunders can not be beaten!. Other brands I use are: Warriors, Verlinden (sometimes), Royal Model, Ultracast and Tahk. Some of the plastic heads from Dragon are also satisfying.
Superglue, a small drill, tweezers, pliers and things like that.
We are all set to go!!
I use epoxy putty. That means a product consisting of a resin and a hardener. I take two equal parts, mix them together with my fingers, and due to some chemical process it hardens at room temperature. It stays workable for about two hours. It is fully set at about 12 hours. You can speed up the curing time by adding some heat, for instance with a light bulb. With the right amount of heat, you can speed up to 20 minutes.
Another good alternative is thermoclay or polymerclay. That's also good stuff. It is cheap and available in some toy stores. You have to bake this. Usually a temperature just over a 100 degrees celsius will suffice. So you can use any normal kitchen oven. René Duret gets super results with this stuff. For my figures it is not suited because I use plastic parts, and they will melt in an oven. Thermoclay has the tendency to shrink a little. The big advantage is that there is no hardening deadline!! Your sculpting time is unlimited. You have the opportunity to stop, reflect and improve before committing to the oven. With epoxy putty the clock starts ticking when the parts are mixed. But the choice is up to you.
I have had experiences with several brands:
A true classic. Widely available and very poular among modelers. It's not my favourite. But this is a personal matter. I've seen sculptors obtaining stunning results with this medium. It sets rock hard. It can be smoothed out with a wet brush. But too much water will turn it onto a mess. It is also difficult to roll out. It cracks easily. But still, good stuff!
A+B putty from Sylmasta.
Super stuff. It comes in a sturdy cardboard box containing 500 gr. I used this medium al lot. Water has no effect on it, so: no mess. It is more elastic than Milliput and can be rolled out. When set, it's rock hard but it gets a bit of a grainy surface. It can be sanded. If you drill a hole in it, your drill will end up absolutely blunt!!
Rather cheap, good stuff!!
The very famous Duro, ribbon epoxy.
The picture shows the Sylmasta version. Also very popular among the wargamers were it is known as known as "green stuff". Simply cut of a piece, knead the yellow and blue till it's green. It has a waxxy appearance and is very sticky, also to your fingers. Water has no effect on it. It is excellent for small detail. When set, it remains a bit elastic, like soft plastic. It is not suitable for sanding. It can be mixed with other putties. Not cheap, but also good stuff.
For me the absolute champion. Available in packaging up to 1 kg. It is true magic. When mixed together it is soft and elastic like chewing gum. Excellent for the bigger shapes and fleshing out. At room temparature it sets slowly. During the curing it gets more rigid and therefore excellent for small detailing. It can be rolled out and smoothed with a wet brush, but it never gets messy. When completely hardened it is excellet for sanding and even carving. There are rumours that is is poisonous. I never saw this confirmed (But I am not an expert!!). I don't put it in my mouth and wash my hands carefully. Tools have to be cleaned immediately, because when set is is very hard to remove.
A bit hard to obtain. So now I switched to:
Even better!!. I think it's the same, but available in several colors and in big, big jars. I got mine through the internet from the states. I bought green one, for easier photographing. Super stuff!!!
There are more brands (Andrea, Verlinden, Tamiya, you name it). No doubt they are good and all have their advantages and drawbacks. Check them out and make your own choice.
You'll know which one works best for you.
"Check your reference". That's the most writen sentence in modelling books and magazines. And I agree!!. But what the hell is good reference?. Books are a good source of course. I seem to have hundreds of them. Books are always good. I want the ones with the pictures.... Sharp and well exposed. Below are a few examples.
There are some fine books on the market. Concorde and Osprey get you some good value for money. Books are good for inspiration and ideas.
But for the best reference there is a much easier way!. It might sound a bit ridiculous: Buy figures. Plastic, resin, metal, the best you can afford. In fact this is much cheaper than books. For example, a recent set of Dragon figures will provide you with a beautiful boxart, instructions with drawings from at least two angles, and last but not least the actual figure. I am not encouraging to copy stuff, but usually they have exact anatomy, correct uniforms and gear. It's much easier to hold a figure in your hand, study it from all angles and use it as reference, instead of staring at pictures. If I want to know how a German winteruniform, or a paratroopers jumpsmock really looks like, with all of its details, I pull out my Alpine fgures. Taesung Harmms did a perfect job already. So these figures ar a good investment and also a source of inspiration.
I hope you get the message!!
This is the more easy approach of sculpting. In fact I skipped the very difficult and time consuming "establishing the right pose" stage. The story is very simple. Take a plastic figure. Scrape off all the detail with a knife or use a motor tool, until you end up with a naked figure. After that it's just a walk in the park :-)!! I chose a very old tamiya figure from the sixties. Underneath the ugly, lumpy details a perfect naked figure, with a fine pose is hidden. This figure is from the crew that comes with the old 88 flak kit. You really should try this!!.
Example two !!
This one, from the ground up!!