15 February 2014

Monster Sculpt WIP: Learn From My Mistakes

Started over: much happier with how this is going

So I started a sculpt of an 80mm tall monster quite some time ago.  I meant to track the work-in-progress here on the blog, but I ran into some problems.  However, this is a good thing.

One thing I've noticed with most tutorials out there on the internet is that nothing ever seems to go wrong: the tutorials show the project proceeding flawlessly from start to finish.  Of course we all know that is never the case and I think maybe more is gleaned from mistakes than from successes.  Therefore I present a few "don't do this" tips for sculpting a giant monster.

To recap, I was attempting to sculpt a giant monster and I wanted to use super-sculpey for my medium.

Mistake #1: In an effort to be "thrifty", I used multiple strands of very thin (32 gauge) copper wire as the armature.  For a sculpt this size, I needed much stiffer wire I soon realized, as every time I tried to manipulate any portion of the armature the entire thing twisted in unpredictable ways.  In an effort to stiffen up the armature, I decided to coat it with standard Milliput.  This helped initially but would prove to be an issue later...

Mistake #2: I let the Milliput set first.  I knew that polymer clay doesn't stick well to wire armatures, so I knew I'd need an undercoat of a different material.  I didn't think to use the Milliput as the bonding agent, applying the Super-Sculpey to the tacky Milliput.  Instead, I let the epoxy set, and then I used a layer of Sobo glue to bind the Super-Sculpey to the armature.  When the Sobo glue set I made...

Mistake #3: baking the armature.  I was attempting to make a solid "dollie" and I thought the initial layer of polymer clay over the glue and epoxy would make it solid.  Unfortunately, as I tried to apply subsequent layers of clay a few problems developed.  First, the fresh clay wouldn't stick to the baked clay without extreme pressure.  Second, this amount of pressure resulted in the armature cracking at the joints, and whole pieces of baked Super-Sculpey just falling off.  I tried to salvage my work, but as you can see in the picture below, the whole effort was just a mess.

Failed first attempt

So I did some research and found this great post on another blog.  Following this advice, I threw away the sculpt and started over, applying my lessons learned.  I used a clothes hanger for the armature wire, which proved much sturdier.  The next thing I did was apply "Greenstuff" Kneadatite to the wire and then quickly added the Super-Sculpey over that before the epoxy set.

Twenty-four hours later the Kneadatite had set and the unbaked clay was firmly attached.  By leaving the clay unbaked it was a breeze to add more layers of clay and shape them.  The sculpt is a long way from done, but this second attempt is showing way more promise, as can be seen in the first picture of this post.

I've always hated working with Greenstuff.  This new technique I was introduced to gives me hope I can make some 28mm figures using polymer clay instead!