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28.07.2009, 13:07
As this is only the second attempt of mine to sculpt a mini, this is not a how to, but rather a what not to do article. A sharing of my mistakes :oops: and discoveries.

Firstly, please excuse me for not having the time to translate this to German. Plus, I'd probably fail at translating complex things anyway. So, here I give you the English version instead.

I decided to sculpt the shadow warrior from Warhammer online, to enter as a GD project later this year. That is, the GD here in oz, later in Oct.

http://s89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_art.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_art.jpg)

Sculpting tools used include a wax 5. A must have I reckon. I use the curved pointy end a lot (the other carvy end Ive never used Id imagine that end would be more suited for large scale minis). Other assorted dental tool, different size pins, scalpels.

Wire for the armature was jewelry hobby type wire, 20 gauge. I found it a bit thick, for doing thinner areas (especially the hair, ankles). 24 gauge is thinner, but too flexible for an armature. Im not sure how the gauge values compare to imperial / metric standard, especially since the gauge values increase in number while the thickness of the wire decreases.

Jan 18

I decided to change the pose to make it more dynamic. To start with, I gathered a few minis that I would use as references, so that I can compare things like proportions and how bad my details are.

The armature was made from 3 pieces of wire twisted together. I am lazy and this was the quickest method. I have used this method before, and know that one of the downfalls is the bulk of twisting on the torso area may later screw up the sculpt if its too thick, so I tried to make the wrap arounds as little as possible. Most people solder or use putty to join their wires. Im lazy :D and as it turns out later, I just scraped through, with some details on the rib area exposing a tiny bit of wire.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip001.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip001.jpg)

I have put a previous armature through cork, and its not that good for the feet as the armature wobbles too much and the feet end up not being flat. So this time the armature has been put through layered plywood (a kiddy puzzle piece). The I used a sentinel as a guide to position my pose.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip002.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip002.jpg)

The extra lengths of wire from the feet were bent flat against the other side of the plywood and clamped down with a piece of cork, to make sure there would be no wobble issues. A 25mm square is shown drawn on the wood. I used super sculpey to start off the bulk. It was applied straight onto the armature. This is not the best way to do it, but super sculpey is soft enough most time, to not delaminate off the wire when pushing it around during shaping. I sort of got used to pushing bits around in directions which were along the wires, rather than at right angles to the wires, so I think that helped with the putty staying on the wires. The proper way to apply polymer clay type putties I will mention later.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip003.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip003.jpg)

You can see the front rib area, wire showing. Super sculpey is still too translucent to work fine detail at 30mm scale, in my opinion. You can see its just so shiny and hard to photograph. The wire tail was bent around in anticipation of supporting the cloak. In hind sight, I should have left a massive length of wire for the hair too.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip004.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip004.jpg)

Jan 24

The good thing about polymer clays are that they dont set until they are baked. So I just added more clay and kept working.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip005.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip005.jpg)

It was difficult seeing how well the details of the scales were due to the lightness of the sculpey.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip006.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip006.jpg)

For the cloak, I rolled out a flat sheet of sculpey, cut out a shape, and placed it on.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip007.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip007.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip008.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip008.jpg)

Jan 28

Here I have bent the cloak and also added extra chunks on both sides to make the creases and folds. If I added some on one side, I would then carve out a little on the opposite side. The cloak held well and did not flop.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip009.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip009.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip010.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip010.jpg)

I added some sculpey extra firm for the back hood. I decided to bake it now, as I cant see much detail and cant tell how smooth the cloak is.

Feb 15

On the bottom left, is the sculpt after being baked. I cut off her hands, washed the mini black, and did some sanding. I got pretty frustrated with the sanding results on the cloak and thought I would start again using sculpey extra firm (dark grey incolour). The sculpey extra firm is very different to super sculpey to push around. It's a lot harder and doesn't stick much at all. I was having trouble trying to get the extra firm sculpey onto the new armature. I tried cutting strips and wrapping it around the wire to start things, but sure enough, once you start putting more on and trying to carefully push sections around the sculpey just peels of the wire. A fail!

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip011.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip011.jpg)

I made these little sanding sticks using wet and dry sand paper (400, 600, 800, 1200 grit) superglued onto ice cream sticks (which were cut into small pieces using tin snips and a stanley knife). The 800 and 1200 grit sticks were not used at all, as I found the 400 and 600 clogged up and smoothed out (like turning into a finer grit) anyway from sanding the baked sculpey, and I could continue to use it until it gradually had no sanding ability. I did not trim the sand paper on the sticks, and left the overhanging bits - they turned out very handy as the stiffer 400 grit ones, you can get into narrow spots.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip012.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip012.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip013.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip013.jpg)

I went back and diligently cleaned up the first sculpt and found it wasn't too bad to sand and carve. I did not succeed in sanding concave surfaces, such as the cloak, but all other areas were fine. Some areas were even sanded back by scrapping with the tip of my scalpel. For one of my old scalpel blades, I used a dremel grinding (stone) tool and ground back the tip of the blade so that it had a 90 degree bend in it. This ground blade was handy in scrapping the scale armour (the surface, definition and recesses), and the cloak recesses on the top shoulder area and face. I managed to salvage the first sculpt, so abandoned the second one. The scales on the armour could have looked so much better if I could have seen what I was doing in the first place.

It was later that Seb told me that, the way most sculptors overseas start with sculpey on the wire, is to first put a thin layer of epoxy putty (eg greenstuff) on, then a layer of polymer clay. That way the clay will stay on the armature, and if bits break off, its off the clay itself (which is easier to reapply than on bare wire).

I did give it a quick go on the second armature, but I was an absolute hack at using the firmer sculpey. Due to time constraints I abandoned it.

If you are thinking of giving sculpting a go, and think that acquiring sculpting tools are a hassle, eg all those other dental tools and what not, think again. I reckon you could get away with only a wax 5, scalpels, and different size pins. I remember reading articles by sculptors years ago, and some of them just make their own tools (ie, the end bits to do different things). Give it a go.

I have colour shapers, and did not end up using them at all. Not even on the cloak.

Mar 17

I had some brown stuff and tried it on some fine detail. It was nice to work with, kind of like green stuff but sets harder.

I used brown stuff for the blades. That was a mistake. I should have used milliput. I used brown stuff eventhough I knew the norm was to use milliput. A tweezer came in handy when making the blades with the initial brown stuff applied as I could put pressure on both sides simultaneously so that the putty wasn't pushed to one side of the wire. After the first lot of brown stuff dried, subsequent layers were no problem with just the wax 5. The tweezers worked really well for the sword handle guard bits (on the left sword) which did not have any wire support.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip014.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip014.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip015.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip015.jpg)

Mar 24

Bulking out the blades and sanding. Sanding the brown stuff blades was tricky. There was no way, files and sandpaper would have done a good job to get decent edges. I got away with using my dremel and a grinding tool, to shape the blade.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip016.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip016.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip017.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip017.jpg)

Apr 26

Milliput was used to fill in rough bits on the blades, then sanded back with my wet & dry on sticks. I brown stuffed on some thin bits of wire for the sword handles. When that dried, I added more brown stuff for the grip, then later the hands.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip018.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip018.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip019.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip019.jpg)

May 02

The two hands are not proportional. The fingers on the right hand are a lot longer.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip020.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip020.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip021.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip021.jpg)

May 09

The height of the cloth covering the face was reduced by scalpel scrapping. I pulled off the brown stuff leg straps and redid them with greenstuff. Added bits on the vambraces. Bulked out the knuckles and did some filigree on the chest. For the filigree on the chest, I found the greenstuff really difficult to apply on to get a thin line.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip022.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip022.jpg)

For the face I tried to sculpt it using sculpey extra firm. I failed miserably a couple of times. So, I did a short cut. I got some scupley extra frim, pushed it onto Seb's DE sorceress' face and baked the stamp ould. The sculpey extra firm was great to make this mould as its not ticky at all, so I did not need any powder or anything before I pushed t into an existing sculpt. One of them as seen had half the face sliced of prebake (the same one that's overbaked and brown).

Once baked, I coated the inside of the stamp mould with a little talcum powder, and pushed it onto some sculpey firm on the head. Next, the face had to be baked. I carefully wrapped aluminium foil on as much of the sculpt (except the face) before putting the whole thing to bake, so that the areas being baked a second time (especially thin parts) would not be overburnt.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip023.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip023.jpg)

May 10

When the face was baked, some parts of the original fringe was scraped off with a scalpel.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip024.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip024.jpg)

May 23

Ripped off the filigree on the chest as it looks lousy.

Procreate is heaps of fun to use. It is kind of like greenstuff but softer and stickier to use. That helped a lot to rebuild the nose a little. I know I would have struggled to get such a tiny amount of greenstuff on the tip of a nose, but with procreate, it was no problem.

Then I continued to sculpt the rest of the hair and hair ties with procreate, the wax 5 and a scalpel blade (to draw the hairs). This was rushed a bit (did it all in one sitting) and could have looked much better. A month or so back I decided to enter the sculpt in Chick Challenge, and with the original due date for the competition being June 7 I had to rush things.

I found procreate to be amazing to use. I will definitely use more of it in the future.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip025.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip025.jpg)

Just below her left ear (bottom right of pic), you can see the wire is causing problems. 2 thick wires next to each other, not much room, thin neck, equals a protruding area I could not get rid of. There was no way to get around it unless I gave her big earrings or something.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip026.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip026.jpg)

June 06

The chest was significantly reduced. I scraped and sanded them back. I finished off filigree on the chest with a simple pattern using procreate. Procreate rocks. It was ideal for the job. Nice and sticky (onto the baked clay surface) and easier to get thinner lines than greenstuff.

I undercoated the mini to be photographed, as it was just a mess with all the different puttys and shiny areas.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip027.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip027.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip028.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip028.jpg)

June 14

The painting has begun. When I found out games day Germany was in mid August, I decided then to take a holiday to Germany and enter her in GD there. Shell probably be disqualified from entering due to the strict base rules, such as no overhangs, and also with an elf on a 25mm base might be another problem. But I dont care, as I believe its just wrong to have a mini so disproportionately framed by a base. If I can't enter her, its no big deal anyway, as I'll then have something to show at the painting demo area. :)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip029.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip029.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip030.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip030.jpg)

June 27

Painted some patterns on the leggings. I couldnt quite work out the cloak pattern from the original artwork, so I decided to make up some pattern. Which looks, well, not so nice.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip031.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip031.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip032.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip032.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip033.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip033.jpg)

Later that night, I decided to take a look at the video clip to see if it shows it any better. Many pauses and digicam snaps later (printscreen was not working well):

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip034.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip034.jpg)

July 11

I sketched out the cloak pattern and shoulder symbol according to a few key frames captured.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip035.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip035.jpg)

Some colours on the base, and the pattern done on the top side of the cape.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip036.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip036.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip037.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip037.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip038.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip038.jpg)

July 17

Did the pattern on the bottom of the cape, and dulled down the blue a bit. Changed the tiles to terracotta colour, thanks to Sebs tip. Started some shading, highlights on the blades and scale mail.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip039.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip039.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip040.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip040.jpg)

July 18

Some more highlights on the blades, weathering on the tiles, and freehand on the black areas and shoulders. The freehand was an absolute displeasure to do.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip041.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip041.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip042.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip042.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip043.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip043.jpg)

July 25

Did the gems, chest, shin armour bits, sword grips, and most importantly, tinted dark and light areas onto the cape.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip044.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip044.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip045.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip045.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip046.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip046.jpg)

July 26

Reduced the size of the eyes; did the grey cloth bits; highlighted the brown leg bits; did the gloves; tweaked the blades up and down (still not finished yet); did the hair and hair ties; tinted dark and light areas on the face.

Eventhough the dark areas on the face looks ok in real life, it does not show up well enough in photos, so I will re-tint some dark into it. The blades are not finished yet Ive only been painting them because Ive had greys in use in other parts.

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip047.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip047.jpg)

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/th_ShadWarrior_wip048.jpg (http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k218/weisern/shaddow_warrior/ShadWarrior_wip048.jpg)

At the moment, the blades need the be finished, the face needs to be tweaked, and whatever else comes up. With only 2 weekends left, Id say 1 weekend to finish it off, and the other weekend to pack and organise stuff.

Hope you found some of the ramblings interesting. If Ive neglected to mention something you think is important, please let me know.

Comments, questions welcome.

29.07.2009, 09:37
well it turned out well didn't it ? a little more practise and you'll be doing some very nice minis. I'd recommend you to use super sculpey firm instead of the standard as it is easier to see ( not that transparent touch the normal schulpey has ) and is a little more...well firm.

the thing I dislike in the mini is the face. you should have given it a try on sculpting it yourself. stamped faces always look a little soft.

looking forward to see the mini at cologne !

01.08.2009, 14:23
I wouldnt be able to do this - so you got all my respect for your job. Of course it can be better here and there but i think youre getting better with each mini youre sculpting!