Monday, 29 November 2010

Tutorial : How to sculpt green stuff cloaks and capes

As part of my ongoing adventures in sculpting, I've been adding cloaks to Harker's squad. As part of this process, I scoured the net for tutorials on sculpting flat cloaks out of green stuff. To be honest, the results were pretty disappointing.

So, whilst doing Harker, I took plenty of photo's so I could write this tutorial. As I've said before, I'm relatively new to sculpting, so this isn't a masterclass, more a guide on how I did mine for those who've never made flat cloaks before. I should also say that this is more a tutorial on how to make a cape as cloaks have hoods and Harker doesn't have a hood, but at least it will show you the main part and adding a hood is relatively simple.

So, here's a pic of what the finished piece will look like ...

First off, you'll need a few tools. The main ones are the standard sculpting tool, a scalpel and two clay shapers, one with a flat edge and one with a rounded end. You'll also need some vaseline and a flat non-porous surface like a tile, base of a plate or glass bowl lid.

Mix a reasonable amount of green stuff together, I recommend using a mix with more of the blue putty in than the yellow as this will harden quicker making it easier to work the folds of the cloak and it will also produce a harder final cloak when the green stuff cures. Using plenty of water, spread your green stuff into a large flat piece that's larger than the model it's for. Don't worry about finger prints at the moment, just try to get it a about 2mm thick and as flat as possible.

Once you've got your flat piece, get your non-porous surface and spread vaseline over it. This will ensure your green stuff doesn't stick to it whilst you're cutting out the shape. I actually pushed the piece around the glass in small circles a couple of times first so smooth out any finger prints and then used my fingers to smooth out any remaining lumps to get it as flat as possible.

Next, with a wet scalpel, score a line across the bottom of the piece to form the bottom edge of the cloak. Then get your model as a reference and put a little mark in the piece where the collar line will go.

After that, use your wet scalpel to cut out the basic shape of the cloak. The top should be roughly as broad as your models shoulders. You can make the bottom as wide as you like, the more triangular it turns out, the more folds you'll need to put into it to get it hanging naturally from your models shoulders. You'll also notice that there are two points which extend beyond your collar line marking point, these are for going over the models shoulders and wrapping around the front of the model.

Once you have the shape right, careful lift the piece from the surface using your scalpel or the blade of your sculpting tool. Remember at this stage that the bottom is covered is vaseline from the surface, so you'll need to flip it over when you place it on the model, so the smooth side is showing and your non-vaselined side is against the model. Using your flat edge clay shaper, gently push the flaps against the top of your model's shoulders to fix the cloak in place. Don't worry about the tips of the flaps at this stage, just concentrate on fixing the cloak to the model.

You'll notice that the main bulk of the cloak hangs over my finger at the back of the model, this is to make sure that it doesn't stick to the model whilst you work on the shoulders and also ensures that you don't get any finger marks on the main surface.

Once the cloak is fixed, use your flat edged clay shaper to bring the flaps together at the front of the model. It's also a good idea to tidy up the edges of the cloak at this point, both the outside edge and the collar edge.

Next use your wet sculpting tool to score two lines in each flap radiating from where the flaps meet at the front, going across the top of the model's shoulders.

Then use your round ended clay shaper to smooth out your scored lines to form the front folds of the cloak where the material is gathered together. I can't recommend clay shapers enough for this job, they really do help make good looking fabric and clothing.

Once you've got the shoulders and front of the cloak sorted, it's time to work on the back of the cloak. You first need to put the main fold into the cloak. To do this, simply drape the cloak over the handle of one of your clay shapers. Make sure there's vaseline on the handle so it doesn't stick. You may want to help it bend by gently pressing on the edges of the cloak with wet fingers. Once you have the main curve in place, let gravity bend the cloak down naturally. Don't force it, as this could cause it to stick to the back of the model and could end up looking unnatural.

(It was at this point that I realised that I'd made the cloak a bit too long. To solve this, I placed the bottom of the cloak on my vaselined glass lid and trimmed 5mm off the bottom. There's a lesson in that - always measure twice and cut once!)

Next it's time to curve the outer edges of the cloak. Cover your round tipped clay shaper with vaseline including the ferrule (metal bit) and use your flat edged clay shaper to curve the outer edges of the cloak around the ferrule of your other clay shaper. Don't worry if the edges get a little wavy (you'll understand when you do it), just concentrate on getting the basic shape of the folds right.

Once you have the basic shape of the folds right, leave it for ten to fifteen minutes to cure a bit. When it's a bit firmer, you can go back with your clay shapers add smooth out any edges that don't look natural.

Next tidy up the folds as they flow over the shoulders with your rounded tip clay shaper.

Finally, extend the shoulder folds down the back of the cloak by gently scoring lines with your clay shaper. Have the outer lines run almost straight downwards and the inner lines downwards and inwards as if the were going to meet in the middle of the models back.

At this point, the main cape part of the cloak is done. As you can see below, you can easily make a number of different looking flat cloaks using these simple techniques.

You can take the cloak further once the green stuff has hardened by adding a clasp where the cloak meets at the front or by adding a hood. You could also modify the technique I've shown you here to make more realistic cloaks by feathering the bottom edge and adding tears into the fabric at the cutting stage but I'll save those for a future tutorial.

Hope you find it useful guys and as always, if you've got anything to add, add it in the comments. I'm always interested in learning more.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Update on Harkers squad

I thought I'd do a quick post on the progress of Harker's Squad. As I posted earlier, Harker's cloak got broke. This wasn't an accident, I did it because I've been playing around with sculpting cloaks and I reckoned that my newer type cloaks looked better than his old one which was very bumpy and patchily put together.

I've always liked the look of the flatter cloaks, compared to the more bulky fold styles ones. Dave Taylor has some excellent ones on his Tanith squad over on his blog. So, I bit the bullet and gave it a go. They're not perfect but for a first go, they turned out ok. First off, here's Harker ...

Next up, we have the lasgunners ....

Then the special weapon guys ....

Finally, here's the missile launcher team and the demo guy ...

There's still a bit of work to do on them such as adding the hoods and clasps on the cloaks. So guys, what do you reckon, do you think I've managed to pull it off?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Parade Ground New Recruits

Here's the latest additions to The Parade Ground blog list. As always, if you have a guard blog or know of a good one, drop me a line and I'll get it listed. Anyway, here's the recruits, sorry about the delay guys.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Harker got broke!

That's right, my Harker model got broke, the cloak has come well and truly off!

So, how did this happen? Was it an accident? Was it done maliciously? Am I heart broken considering the hours I put into sculpting the cloak? Can it be fixed?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hobby goldmine and the kindness of friends ...

Recently, I stumbled across a hobby goldmine whilst out shopping with the family. We were in our local shopping center or mall for those across the pond. In the basement, there's a large market area that's made up of lots of small independent traders. We'd nipped down to get some food from the cafe and after eating, little man needed the toilet, so I took him. As we rounded the corner to the toilet I spotted this tiny hobby shop, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. It was 8ft square and packed full of hobby goodness, models, tools, paints. So, after a delve into this goldmine, I came out with a few bits.

First off, I picked up a 1/35 scale military accessories kit from Tamiya. Quite a bit of the stuff on the sprues is a little overscale for 40K, but there's plenty that I can use as stowage on my vehicles.

One of the bonuses of the overscale stuff is that they'll be perfect to use as guides for my sculpting, so expect more green stuff stowage coming soon. There's also a little dog on the sprue, so you might even see a regimental mascot a la Admiral Drax style.

I also pickup these Tamiya weathering kits. I've never used used powers before but I've seen great results achieved with them. My only concerns is I'm not sure how to fix the powders in place on the models so that they don't come off and also, I'm not sure how they'll look on my models with them being heavily washed in devlan mud already. I'd be grateful for any tips or links you guys can provide.

My other purchase was the Microscale range. Once again, I've never used them before, but the results I've seen are great, so I'm going to give them a play and let you know how they turn out.

Finally, I wanted to give my mate Mike a shout out. Me and Mike are always swapping bits and recently he passed me some IG models. First off, he gave me a completed chimera. It's already been built and primed white, so I'm not sure whether to strip it or just go over it with black as I prefer all my models primed black. Also, it's the new style chimera which doesn't really fit with my current forces which are all old school. Since it's got a more advanced look to it, I might convert it up as the regimental command squad transport which means I'll have to put a regimental command squad together. I think I've got the making of another 'project'!

Mike also gave me one of the new punisher tanks still on the sprue, so that'll help bolster my armoured company - Thank Mike!

So, plenty of hobby goodness and more plastic for the plastic crack mountain!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Harkers squad got badged

I broke out the green stuff and sculpting tools this week and managed to make a little progress on Harkers squad. My plan was to get their cap badges done. It's been a while since I last sculpted so I was a bit worried that I'd wouldn't be able to pull it off. Surprisingly, they came out pretty well, although it took a few attempts to get it right. Here's how they turned out ...


Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. Some of them are pretty good and some are a bit iffy, but I'm not being too critical on myself as it was my first attempt at sculpting such small details.

What I've learned this time ...
  • When doing small details, it's best to push the green stuff completely flat to ensure it sticks and then push it toward the center to build the details.
  • Don't sculpt small details late at night when my eyes are tired.
  • It's easy to keep going over the same sculpt trying to get it perfect but at this stage in my sculpting, it's best to get it pretty good and leave it there rather than overworking it and getting annoyed.
I also finished off their bases, which means all I need to do now is to give them cloaks. Unfortunately, they're going to be on hold until I can find a decent tutorial on how to make simple cloaks from green stuff.

Hopefully, I'll find one soon and get these guys finished and ready for painting. In the meantime, I'll be cracking on with my Starstreak Hydra's.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Incursion Board Game

During a recent visit to Worlds Wargames at Derby last month with little man and my good mate Mike, I picked up a copy of the board game Incursion from Grindhouse Games. Some of you might already know it or have seen the excellent charity auction copy over on Dave Taylors blog. With my gaming time been limited recently, it turned out to be an excellent buy!

The game is based in an alternative WWII setting, and by alternative, I mean alternative. The German special weapons division has managed to create all sorts of weird and wonderful weapons including a gas that reanimates the dead into German zombies, as well as Werewolves, superhuman sexy Nazi guys and a whole load more. Now, you may say how do the allies possibly stand a chance against things like that. Well, they’re packing diesel powered power armour that been reversed engineered from a spacecraft that crashed in the New Mexico desert. The action itself takes place in a tunnel complex under the Rock of Gibraltar where the Nazi’s are holed up and striking out at the shipping through the Gibraltar straights and it’s down to the Lucky 7th to go in and ‘resolve’ the problem with excessive force. With a background like that, it’s hard not to get dragged into the story!

The game itself is board based, with everything you need in the box, including the rules, reference sheets, special effect and event cards, diecut standup model pieces and doors. Overall, the production is a top quality one with excellent graphics with only the odd ‘photoshopped’ bit on the board and you only notice them if you really going looking for them. The graphic design done by Tears of Envy is truly excellent and just drips comic book gruesomeness and really adds to the game itself. 

It plays a lot like Space Hulk, we've each side getting picking their forces based on a number of requisition that's specified by the mission brief. Various troopers in the force have various abilities including the ability to effect the other troopers in their force. Roughly speaking, the allies are slow moving, heavily armoured and packing serious firepower whereas the axis are made up of waves of close combat zomies, fast moving werewolves and other nasty's. 

The game is turn based with initiative been decided by a bidding system using command points, which can also be used to supplement an individual models actions. Another interesting element are the event and effect cards which have various effects on the game and can prove game changing. These cards can be voided by other special cards or by spending more command points, and so the game has lot's of twists to it.

It plays very well, with you getting to grips with the rules relatively quickly. There's an overwatch rule which is a bit silly as it allows unlimited firing during the opposing players turn as long as you didn't have a line of sight to any opposing models at the start of the turn. Also, the command points and cards can allow certain models do cover serious ground or killing loads in one turn, which can leave the other player feeling like they've just got no control in the game. Luckily, these things happen very rarely, and so don't really dampen the game at all. 

Overall, it's a great game, supported by an excellent range of models for those who like a more miniature based game. There's also a missions supplement coming out soon, which I'm really looking forward to. So, if you're looking for a board game to have a laugh and a good night's gaming with a mate, I wholly recommend Incursion.

Finally, check out the charity auction on Dave Taylor's blog, if only to see his excellent Incursion models up close. Right, time to crack on with some 40k stuff, more posts soon guys!

A quick update ...

I just thought that I'd post a quick update for my regular followers ...

Although life's been tough recently, things have started to take a turn for the better. The kids are more settled now, we've started to balance the finances, my wife has landed a good job and I've had a cracking promotion at my new job that's made quite a bit of difference. We're not out of the woods yet, but at least we're moving in the right direction.

All this has given me a new lease of life for the hobby as I don't feel as guilty now for spending time on little toy soldiers when my family was struggling so much. I certainly don't have the time I use to have for the hobby, but one of the bonuses of this hobby is that you can do as much or as little as possible.

So, I'm dusting off the painting station, shaking the paints and pointing the brushes, expect model updates coming soon!

Yours ..... A Happy Hobbyist!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget.

For all those who have made great sacrifices in the past for our freedom and for those who fight courageously for our freedom now, we thank you.