Ok! Here is an offering I have wanted to do for some time and in conjunction with my thread, A Box of Discarded Roses - Cygnar Spades WIP. Why am I spending a lot of time bringing a tutorial about conversion and sculpting to the masses? Because when I started I could have used these pictures and tool list to really advance myself quickly. Instead I had to pick through information and really, essentially teach myself. I love this hobby and the community has been so good to me and many of my gaming buddies through the years are now like family.
So here you go! The beginning of some information that I hope builds our community, helps the young buck understand and appreciate the art and overall gets some good discussion going. Please teach me people! Tell me what you know!
To get started and I think the most important part, Tools!
I have been through them all and used various different things right from the get go. Here is a pic with a description of each article and why I use it. I probably forgot some stuff but I will be sure to talk about it if you see something different pop onto the scene.
1. Privateer Pinning Material: This stuff is great. Remember the old days when you had to find the brass rod, then use your micrometer to find the right drill. The brass rod was too stiff and gave you no play whatsoever and pinning was a royal pain! The Privateer stuff is great, has just enough flex to help with slight errors, comes with two drills and is cheap enough to buy multiple sizes. For 30mm figures I use the smaller stuff but my general rule is "Use the biggest pin you can fit without punching holes or giving yourself tolerance headaches". This is the same rule for me and magnets, but that's for a different time.
2. Gloss White Tile: Here is the holy grail for me. Go to Lowe's, Home Depot or your hardware store and pic up a couple gloss coated ceramic times. This is the end all of palettes for sculpting. What? A palette for sculpting. Yes, consider this the desktop for all the magic to happen. In upper left corner of the tile you see an old X-Acto blade. This is where I will pool super glue. I use the old blade as an applicator for less mess and the glue goes only where I put it. I use oil instead of water or spit as the lubricant for all my work. this tends to make "sticking" a problem sometimes. I will use superglue (very carefully) to get the putty stuck and then start working it out from there. When you are done with a job you can scrape the whole tile under hot water and your back to square one!
3. Miniature: The model you want to convert. Make sure you give a good hard look and study what you want to happen. You need to see every cut and the steps involved. This is the most important part. Sometimes I will stare at a model for an hour and still not see the whole procedure. Once I see the whole job it's like "Pop!!!! Ok here we go"! This takes time an practice and constant trial and error. I used to have trouble visualizing until I finally procured my methods. Now I can look at a model and see everything moving about, what I can and can't do and the limitations. You should figure every cut will turn into 1+ hours of work so think about it.
4. Cork Sheeting - I build this up to make shapes on my bases. I use superglue. BE CAREFUL!!!! The fumes will get up in your eyes and nose. This is bad! Do this in a ventilate area. (Don't end up in a roadside ditch!)
5. Vegetable Oil - This is what I use as a lubricant. It's non toxic, stays on your rubber sculpting tool and it requires very little to decrease the friction of the sticky putty. You can use water or spit (yuck) but this is what I found to make the smoothest most enjoyable experience with the least amount of dipping. I put it in a plastic sealable jar and use the cap to pull from which you will see in the following tutorials. I haven't had any trouble with primer sticking and I give the finished model a gentle rinse in water to clean it before spraying. This for me was a ground-breaker!
6. Needle files of various shape. I also use the rubber end for a super hard grey stuff feathering tool. The hardness of this rubber makes it possible to smooth new grey stuff onto previously hardened putty without any noticeable seam.
7. Plasticard (Styrene Sheeting)
8. Superglue - I buy the Locktite brand at Walmart for under 6 bucks. Hasn't let me down yet.
9. P3 Grey Stuff. I love grey stuff. It's strong and easy to smooth. Everything here can be done with green stuff but I just prefer grey. It is also easier to sand, harder once cured and woks very well for me. The other thing is it cures in 10 min's @ 140 degrees. When I pop it in the oven I am ready to go again in 10 mins. Makes progress very easy.
10. Pin Vise - I hand drill everything. It's more work but I haven't drilled through a models foot in 2 years
11. Metal Sculpting Tool - I like the the one with the curved leaf at one and and the sharp needle point at the other.
12. Scratch Awl - Hardened tool steel scratch awl for marking my holes for drilling, pushing nail hole detail in plasticard and sculpting! I use this thing a lot.
13. X-Acto Knife with smooth round handle.
14, 15, 16, 17 Rubber Tipped Sculpting Tool - These are the most expensive and the most important tool to this trade. You can get these at a high end art supply or order them online. They come in various hardnesses. White is soft, grey is medium and black is firm. I use various shapes and sizes. #17 is a larger conical soft for feathering and smoothing. You just need to get some and start working with them. Don't let them touch superglue or it's all over with.!!!!
Disclaimer: As you can see some of these tools are dangerous and I find the conversion process will give you cuts and pokes. I have successfully drawn blood with every tool here and I am very careful (been a woodworker for years and even been a violin maker years ago so I know how to use tools? I still get stuck). The parts are so small that sometimes it takes a huge amount of patience, even pressure and a little luck to pull this stuff off. Please be careful with your tools, don't rush and breath. If it's not working or cutting check your tool. Remember, a sharp tool is a good tool. When they get dull is when you will get hurt. You probably want to wear eye protection when carving resin or pewter. Once you get a shard in your eye that you can't get out you will know what I mean.
Now? On with the Conversion.