Over the last several months I’ve been fighting with a bout of depression, and more generally my degree has just taken a toll on my will to do any hobby work. Though now I’m finally overcoming the worse my depression and school is drawing to a close and it’s the perfect time to get back into the some hobbies.
Currently I waiting on a Kick starter I funded back in January 2013 called Kingdom Death: Monster (NSFW). Now this game much of its style, and its largely unparalleled quality are right up my alley, but it’s not coming until July, or if I’m unlucky August and the long wait has had some really negative impacts of my desire to sculpt and build my figurines along with running out of my primary sculpting materials I just put everything to the side. Along with my falling out with GW products (Who are doing a bit better these days in some regard but I suspect they still have some falling to do before they smarten up) I really haven’t had anything I’ve wanted to work on but that’s changed!
I’ve taken on project suggested by a friend to make a sky-clad woman with eldritch-powered bionic legs who kicks things to death for use in our kingdom death games. This gave me a good laugh at the time and I think it should be a lot of fun and will force me to practice a great deal of things I am currently lacking in. Proper human anatomy, proportions and faces being the top of that list of things to improve.
Though my supplies have only just been ordered so I’ll likely have to wait for a couple weeks as I finish my exams though to help keep the excitement I’ll share some tips I’ve pick up for those who want to do sculpting.
Heat hardening clays some in two main varieties I’m aware of.
Potters and sculpting clay:
While there are thousands of different formulations very few are actually meant for sculpting. I’m no expert on these however. Some people have had success with these and if it’s all that’s available give it a shot. When I’ve worked with them I have had little success and shrinkage, cracking and accidentally damaging your work are real problems. And be aware that clay drys, and while you can keep it moist for long periods of time it will eventually harden. As well if you have the choice pick a sculpting clay as they generally with have a much finer texture allowing you to smooth the surfaces and imprint a higher level of detail. finally be aware that while you don’t always have to fire your finished sculpture if you want it to be durable with will have to, and you need to design for it as well (the final sculpture can’t be too thick) and have a kiln.
These I work with more and they are great for kids (generally non-toxic, but check first) and simple works, and has the ability to be the tool of experts as well. Unlike clays these polymers don’t dry out (though they do harden if you let them sit for years). Again I don’t have more experience working with these polymer clays, but sculpt has a wide range I worked with and a large amount of colours if you don’t want to paint your finish product but want it to have colour. Though if you want something cheap and a lot of it super sculpty is a good place to start. It doesn’t hold the best detail, but it will give you a good place to start and you can move to more expensive polymers later if you want to, or need the extra detail. These guys can be oven fired, though invest in a oven thermometer has these polymer clays will burn if baked to long.
Self hardening putties:
The best thing about these guys is they are self hardening and tend to be far more robust then clays, while some can be on the brittle side and some can be a little too flexible if you’re making thin sections. Though the different putties tend to mix well so if you have a couple different kinds and need something with the qualities of two different putties you can just mix them together and get what you want.
You will also need to work in stages. While you can do a lot of work in a short time if you’re not careful you can easy damage work without noticing and have it harden on you before you can fix it. This can lead to a lot of lost progress and just as much cutting and filing to get back to a point where you can fix the damage. As such it’s also good to only work on one side at a time to prevent those damage from occurring in the first place.
Plumbers Putty (Don’t bother): You might be able to find this stuff all over, but it’s quality tends to vary wildly and even then it tends to be grainy and brittle. IF anything use this stuff as filler, but generally I just use tinfoil and/or a wire frame.
Kneadatite Blue/Yellow two part Epoxie putty, “GreenStuff”:
Probably the most common of these putties you can find it over prices in GW stores and all over the place in miniature store which sell games like Warhammer and War Machine. This stuff is great for organic shapes and hold a high level of detail. However it’s pretty flexible when hard and doesn’t hold sharp edges well without a little luck.
Kneadatite Brown/Neutral, “Brown stuff”:
Far less common then green stuff, but a close cousin. Brown stuff is much harder has a longer curing time and can hold sharp edges better. It’s a good alternative if you’re planning to use for geometric shapes, or need something stronger then green stuff.
It’s cheap it’s strong it hold detail well (although it is more grainy). Good stuff to work with and it plays nice with the Kneadatite when mixed and used as a base. It take of their properties and loses a lot if it’s graininess. although it’s significantly more brittle then the Kneadatite putties. I have had a lot of success with this stuff.
This is relatively new stuff to me and I’ll be trying it out soon, not sure how it will work, but I haven’t heard anything bad so I suspect it will be somewhere between green stuff and Apoxiesculpt.
Also haven’t work with this, and it’s is more expensive. From what I understand it hold better detail and cures solid I suspect is more brittle though. However It’s supposedly very good stuff so if you see it don’t be a afraid to pick some up and give it a try.
To wrap up this post I’ll talk a bit about tools. Sculpting tools tend to be the easiest thing to find, and everything from your finger to a pen, to expensive handmade sculpting tools will do the job. I suggest buying cheap ones you can generally find at hardware stores (the bigger the store the better) most are different kinds of spatulas, others look more like spear point, and there tend to also be wire scrapers those a generally meant only removing material. Buy yourself set a cheap set with lot of different shape and play around finding what tools you like best. This you can consider buying more expensive tools. Also stick with stainless steel, as they tend to be superior to wood.
Lights, make sure you have excellent bright lighting for your sculpting, make a world of difference.
The final tool I’ll bring up is one you can build yourself and those are armatures. Thing of armatures as the skeleton of your sculpture. They can be simple twigs or they can be elaborate wire frames, but they can help a lot in laying out proportions, add strength, and can also prevent a lot of waste by bulking the sculpture out. Tooth picks, wire, tinfoil, or whatever you have around that you don’t mind losing to the innards of your project can be used to help give it its final shape. Armature are definitely not to be ignored.