Friday, 23 August 2013

Saurian/amphibian Update

I've carried on working on the saurian/amphibian/lizardman described in my last post.

Lizardman WiP
I gave him a loin cloth, then extended it, then took the extension away as it looked rubbish. I tried sculpting some chains to hang instead but that was a complete disaster (anyone have any tips?). I added some scales onto the upper thighs and some horny projections to the lower shins, as well as some feet. The claws are rubbish and I need to sculpt some better ones. I've added on some fine digits as templates for hands as a first trial of a new approach.

The paint job has changed as well, and I'm still not satisfied with it, but I think some of that now is due to the quality of the head sculpt - i.e. it's not very smooth or well-defined.

I also came across Scibor - some true artistry displayed there!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Reptilian Amphibian/Amphreptile/Reptiloamphib

As tortoises are one of my favourite reptiles, I thought I would try making a tortoise man. He has now ended up being some sort of cross between a tortoise man, lizard man, turtle man with a dash of saurian. He's still a WiP so here's the latest:

I used the usual stripped steel wire armature and an initial layer of ProCreate. The head was the most important component for me, so I shaped a turtle-like skull and dropped a couple of 2mm antique glass beads for eyes (which I knew would be facing laterally rather than ventrally). I then built up the head using a couple of turtle images for guidance, using ProCreate, but including a protruding orbital ridge given this creature would be largely terrestrial. I liked the look of the skin around the turtle's head and tried to replicate this by cutting lines in, but as you can see from my paint job, it hasn't really come out well. The solution for a next one would be to drop on patches, rather like GW saurians. The sculpt stands 41mm to eyes and 44mm to highest point.

I then built up some armour plates, a dorsal ridge and a tail. I'm not happy with the paint job on the head, but I can't really strip it off and I don't want to lose more detail by re-priming it. So probably back to a very long-winded patch-up job.

Elephant again

I finally managed to get around to finishing my second elephant. Although for some reason lost to the mists of time, I cut his legs ridiculously short, I completed torso, arms and slapped some paint on. He also seems to have lost his tail along the way too.

I still have no idea what to mount him on with his truncated legs. Any thoughts?

Monday, 1 July 2013


There seem to be as many ways of making an armature as there are sculptors, and I have tried several different ways without really forming a view on a favourite, other than it being dictated by the eventual form of the sculpt. Here I discuss the approaches I've tried.

Jeweller's Aluminium Wire
One of the first places I looked for help on how to start sculpting, was
StormTheCastle on YouTube. Will has a particular approach to forming armatures, and I went to Hobbycraft to grab a load of different types of wire. I started with yellow anodised aluminium wire for making jewellery, which was easy to handle and shape but actually nowhere near robust enough to stand up to a lot of the pushing and pulling that goes with sculpting (well, in my hands anyway). 
I tried 0.6mm diameter wire, which worked reasonably well (see The Woodsman) but is really far too flexible. 0.4mm aluminium wire I find occasionally useful, as when braided this is quite robust but still fine enough to use inside arms, for example. Here's an aluminium armature:

Copper Wire
Copper wire is a bit more robust, whilst remaining easy to shape, and I still use it occasionally. Even 0.8mm diameter wire is a little soft, particularly for fiddly bits of sculpting. Here's another armature, made the same way as I normally do, this time with the anatomical landmarks indicated in black.

Steel Wire
My current normal armature material is steel gardening wire, with the green plastic sheathing stripped off. Although this needs rougher handling to get into shape, it is robust and doesn't move when I work on it, which is particularly helpful when trying to get the armature's pose correct. Aragorn Marks recommends steel wire in his Miniature Mentor tutorial, which is why I tried it. This worked especially well for my elephant men, as the trunk did not move at all, despite how much I was working the putty.

Whole Body and Part Body Armatures
I mostly create one part armatures, with all four (six) limbs, as I find this easiest to visualise when checking proportions, posing the armature, and coming to lay down the muscle layer of putty.
Some sculptors like to build the armature up by gluing/soldering/epoxy-ing spine and arms (e.g. Heresy, Ebob) whilst others prefer to have an arm-less armature (e.g. Aragorn Marks, Ramon Laan). The advantage that part body armatures like this have is the ease with which the torso can be finished.
I've tried both ways, but prefer the easier way by building a whole body armature. 

More to come in due course...

I love elephants!

As elephants are my favourite mammal, it seemed logical to have a go at sculpting one or two of them. 

Elephant One

Without having a clear idea of scale, I made a large-ish stripped steel wire armature, and built the body up with Green Stuff. I made tusks from Green Stuff and dried, before building the head up with Fimo (1:1 MixQuick). Small antiqued glass beads formed the eyes. One I baked the head I was very happy, particularly with the trunk, and sculpted the rest of the body from Fimo (1:1 MixQuick). This took a bit more work, with lots of sanding and replacing with ProCreate, until I was reasonably happy. The flexure lines on his skin haven't worked very well, despite trying to stick to nature, so I will treat them more like human flexure lines than pachydermal. I ummed and ahhed about manipulatory appendages, particularly how anthropomorphic I wanted him to look, before settling on what you see, made from ProCreate. The idea is that - eventually - he will wield weapons or other instruments in each hand. 

Overall, very happy with Elephant One. He stands 35mm tall, 27mm to the eyes, and I think very much in proportion. His trotters are buried in the base, not least because I became lazy and didn't finish them off properly.

Elephant Two
I made a batch of stripped steel wire armatures, using StormTheCastle approaches to including a tail, for some more Loxodonta. This elephant's head is very different from the last, despite being made in the same way, although again I am very pleased with it. Unfortunately, his legs are too short, so he might have to be mounted on something other than his legs, when finally finished. His body is Green Stuff and the head is Fimo again, over Green Stuff. The back of his head could do with some improvement work, as the flexure lines aren't great and the overall shape is too uneven to be natural.

The Mummy Returns

The Mummy
Obviously when considering zombies, one considers the others of the Undead, so I thought a good old mummy would be fun to play with. Around a stripped steel wire armature I built a Green Stuff shape, filled in the gap between the legs with Fimo and considered how to do bandages. I decided to roll very thin cylinders of Green Stuff, flatten it between two sheets of wet baking paper, and wind the resulting thin, narrow strip around the sculpt. I then aged and ragged these with a plain probe. When set, I used some ProCreate to build bits of rotting flesh into gaps. I then noticed that I'd put what looked more like the front face of the mummy onto what was the back of the armature, so s/he is lurching good and proper (quite by accident). I think it's a she as I've ended up with a bit of a bust under the bandages.

Haven't not recovered yet from the hand sculpting traumas of the Blue Horrors, I  opted to leave the manipulatory appendages quite plain. The right arm terminates at the elbow (or near enough) whilst the left ended up with some sort of huge ProCreate paddle, which just looked silly. After painting, sanding, painting, scalpel slicing, sanding and painting, I cut the whole thing off and put an axe head on instead. This looks better, and after some sanding, I made some extra bandages from ProCreate to "hold" the axe head in place. Green Stuff made better bandages. Mummy stands a whit under 34mm top to bottom.

Tentacles and Tongues

An urge to make something with lots of tentacles came upon me, so I started with a plain length of steel wire, put a bit of Green Stuff on it and made some tentacles from Fimo (1:1 MixQuick). I then shaped a mouth and a tongue, and used a Derwent embossing tool to play with the grabbing tentacle. I tried to fashion a sort of lure above the mouth, from Fimo, but without an armature it eventually snapped off. Humph. I slapped a bit of paint on to see how it would look, with a darker wash, but haven't got around to painting it properly. My aim is to dot on some chromatophores to make it look more squid-like, although there aren't enough appendages. Squidley stands 26mm tall.

The Woodsman

I found an old jeweller's aluminium wire armature at the bottom of the box, so decided to try to make a sculpt more close to 28mm than I have previously. I used ProCreate for the initial forming layer, then Fimo (1:1 MixQuick) to build the rest. The eyes were made from very small ProCreate balls. His head ended up being unfeasibly large, and the very poor expression led me to adapt the sculpt to make it look like it had been carved from wood. I took off the initial rear part of his cranium and replaced it with ProCreate to put more carve markings in (a grain, mostly). Following the Undead theme, he's got tools rather than manipulatory appendages. Again my usual splat-and-splash paint job. He ended up being 32mm top to bottom, 30mm feet to eyes.

Bursting Tissues
I had a very large stripped steel wire armature, and decided to experiment with making some different tissue types, from ProCreate, Green Stuff and Fimo. The left leg is Fimo, the right leg is Green Stuff,the torso and spine are Fimo with ProCreate tentacles and skin. The mask is ProCreate, and I have now added a band around the back to make it more mask-like. No idea how to paint him or finish him off; he's still in my sculpt block just washed with black to highlight edges and cavities. 

Any suggestions?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Hellmouth Pensioners 2

Lady With A Flail
I think Lady With A Flail started out as a mini in the pose of Billy the Kid from Black Scorpion, with a copper armature. Again, a Fimo (1:1 MixQuick) dress, and I then decided to put a Ratigo Fear-Woman head onto her (see Jack Vance's Nightlamp), which I modelled in plasticene first. The head was made from ProCreate, using some very fine antiqued glass beads cut in half for eyeballs. I added a plain flail, made from fine jeweller's aluminium wire, braided together and glued onto the arm. I left the right arm as plain bone. I added a horrible knitted blue busby, like Granny Ifness used to have (maysherestinpeace). 

 I then decided that I wanted to repaint the head... and got the Nitromors paint stripper out... disaster! It dissolved most of her head. So I had to resculpt again, from ProCreate, using what was left as a foundation. So, she now has some lank hair, a better tongue, but a less expressive face. I added some leather bands around the flail handle, to make it look a bit more natural. 

I think the expression is better first time around, so I am tempted to go back and add some more features, like a brow ridge and more noticeable cheeks. The dressed was ragged with a plain probe.

Corpse Bride
I put together another quick armature, this time of steel wire (more on armatures in a later post), slapped on a body of Green Stuff and a dress of Fimo. I was going for a bridal dress look, and tried texturing the dress before baking with a trimmed end of green plastic-coated garden wire, ragging the skirt with a plain probe. I then slapped on some coats of red with a dark red wash. Sadly the train snapped off as I was trying to mount the sculpt onto a base :(

Steel wire is now my favourite armature material. You can see here the terracotta colour Fimo I use, which immensely helps with contrast; you can also see several clumsy fingerprints - as these are experimental sculpts, I'm not too worried, but it would ruin this for a professional piece of work. Not sure if I will finish this with head and arms; it's more interesting to consider painting it. The red will go, to be replaced by a grubby white or ivory I think.