Monday, November 14, 2011

GreenStuff Tools & Tips

I've been asked by several people how I pull off some of the sculpting feats that I've done. These involve some of my posts you'll see on this blog; including the Reikland Ogres, and the Chaos Giant. There are many other advanced sculpting projects on my various web sites, but I'll focus mainly on these as I do this blog entry.

There are two things you need to accomplish fantastic sculpting projects. They are skill (which comes from practice, practice, practice), and the right tools.

As far as skill goes: Stick with it, and you will get there. Challenge yourself every time you do a conversion. Look for examples of other models that resemble what you want to achieve, and think about how to accomplish it. I have spent hours sculpting things, only to hack it all off with a modeling knife and start over. If it doesn't look how I want it to, I keep trying til it does. That's how you get better.
As far as tools go, this lot are pretty much the only things I use. The first six (A through F) are soft tipped Colour and Clay Shapers. They come in sets of 4 to 6 such tools, available from Dick Blick art supplies (Google that if you're interested). The other tools in the sets are occasionally useful, but the taper point and flat chisel points are phenominally useful. The 3 metal tools in the picture (G, H, and I), are as follows: G has two pointy tips, H has a sharp blade end, and I is the most useful of all these with it's small, flat, rounded tip.

Here's how I usually go about a project, and how these tools generally get used.

Start with a ball of GreenStuff. Use the small end of tool I (the big end very rarely gets used) to spread and roughly shape the putty ball over the area on the model that you intend to cover.

If you're doing a large flattish area, for instance cloth, fur, chainmail, and the like; then use the flat sides of one of the tools labeled B, C, or E to smooth out the putty. Which tool you use depends on the size of the area you are trying to smooth. These tools will perfectly smooth GreenStuff. I usually use spit to keep the tools from sticking to the GreenStuff, but other folks have told me they use water, or a little vaseline. Once the area is perfectly smooth, you can add the detail. For doing chainmail, I use tool G's pointy tips. Just poke rows across the GreenStuff. It takes a bit of practice to get it to look just right, you need to do each subsequent row of holes at a different angle from the last. Look closely at any hand sculpted chainmail, and you'll see what I mean.

For doing fur, I also use tool G. I use the side of the straight pointed end, instead of the point itself, for doing most fur. The exception to that is described below in the minotaur fur section. Start at the top, and go across, pushing the side of the pointed end into putty over and over. Again, with a little practice, you'll find how it works best.
 For cloth, start with the smoothed out GreenStuff, and then use one of the tools labeled A, D, and F. When sculpting cloth on a model, I've found that you generally want the smoothed GreenStuff to be a bit thicker than you do for either chainmail or fur. Use the taper point tools (A, D, and F) to add folds to the cloth. Typically I'll use more than just one sized taper point tool (A, D, and F) here, to get different fold sizes in the cloth. If you want sharp folds in the cloth in places, it works to use the tool labeled I for rough shaping, and one of the flat chisel tip tools (B, C, or E) to then smooth the putty while adding the crisp fold edges.
 The last tool in the pics that I haven't written about yet is tool H. It is the least used of these, but still fills a vital role. Whenever I have need of straight lines, or rough shaping that requires larger straight sections; it is great. It is also used to give detail on occasion; scoring the hooves of minotaurs for instance.

Some examples of the things mentioned here are as follows.
The Reikland Ogre puffy sleeves and pants. Each layer of puffy pants/sleeves were done by starting with a ball of GreenStuff. Rolling it out into a tube of whatever size I thought I needed. You always end up with more than you need! Then taking that tube, and wrapping it around the leg or arm that it was to go on with tool I's small and large ends. A part of that process also involved using the edge of tool I's small end to cut off excess putty. From there I would rough shape the entire piece using tool I's small end, all the way around the arm/leg. Next, use one of the taper flat chisel tipped tools (B, C, or E), to smooth out the entire putty surface. Then I would use tool I again, to break the large GS piece into the individual puffy sections. From there use the two smaller flat chisel tipped tools (C & E) to smooth each section out again. Tool C worked great for adding space between the individual sections of puffy cloth. Then the details on each actual puff was added using the taper point tools (A, D, and F). I would use the bigger taper point first, that's labeled tool A, over most the length of the cloth. Then the smaller ones for little details as needed.
The fur on my minotaurs was done as follows. This fur is done to match the old style metal GW minotaurs, so it's real kinky type tight packed fur. Start with a GS ball, and spread it over the area you want to add fur to using tool I. Once the GS is spread out, use one of the flat chisel point tools (B, C, or E) to smooth out the putty. Then simply use tool G's straight point end, and stab a million holes in the GreenStuff until it looks like fur. As you do this, the GS will seem to shrink. You can add musculature while doing this just by poking lines into the GS, then working around them a bit more lightly. At the edges, it looks much better if you turn tool G on its side and use just the tip of its edge after you've finished stabbing all the holes into it. This will help to flatten out the putty edges, and create a more natural transition.
The scales and musculature on the jabberslythe. The scales were done by evenly spreading a GS ball over the area using tool I, then smoothing with the flat chisel tipped tools (B, C, and E), then scoring diamonds into it with the edge of the small end of tool I, and lastly by cleaning up the scores and adding detail using tools B, D, and E. For that last bit, you have to use not just the sides of the chisel tools B, C, and E, but also the flat end. The musculature started out the same way. Spreading a ball of GS using tool I, then rough shaping shaping it with the small end of tool I as well. After that, the flat chisel tools (B, C, and E) were used again to make everything nice and smooth. From there, the edge of tool I's small end was used to shape the muscles. Lastly the ends and sides of tools B, C, and E were used again to smooth out the muscles and further define them where necessary.

Be aware than when using GreenStuff, you have to work in layers! Those Reikland Ogres were done over many days, one section at a time; as were the scales on the jabberslythe. You don't want to sculpt something awesome; only to pick the model up for more work, and put your finger print right into your awesome sculpting. Be patient, and let it dry overnight in between sculpting sessions on the same model. Lastly, I will again encourage you to practice your hind-end off if you want to get good at this.


noeste said...

Thanks for sharing!

Some very impressive work you have done. Any words on greenstuff vs brownstuff or other putties? From the pictures of your Ogres, you seem to be favouring the brown stuff for armour plates and the like; why?

I've only tried GW's greenstuff myself, and any (more) tips would be greatly appreciated.

Johnny Hastings said...

Brown Stuff will hold a much sharper edge than Green Stuff as it dries. Green Stuff will lose a tiny bit of the sharpest details. Based on that, Brown Stuff works better for doing armor plates, and anything else along those lines. Green Stuff is preferable for things like cloth, fur, skin, and such. Either one will work well enough for either application though.
As for which GS to use, get an 8" tube of Kneadatite. It comes with the yellow and blue parts separated, versus the way over priced GW tape kind where they're touching in the package. You can get the 8" tubes for around $15 on eBay, and you get 10 times more than the little GW tape lengths.

retroalias said...

John Shaffer also mentioned the color shapers to me. After to seeing what you can acheive with them I reallly need to pick some up. :)

Minigiant said...

Im looking at sculpting on some camo smocks onto some of my 28mm heroic models and struggling to decide how to achieve this.

Do you have any tips?

Johnny Hastings said...

Send me an email, and I'll think about it. I'm not sure what look you're trying to achieve there Minigiant.

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