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An Amateur Sculptor's Not-So-Useful Materials CompendiumAn Amateur Sculptor's Not-So-Useful Materials CompendiumDiary

plasticizerplasticizer25 giorno/i fa
I'm over 18
*Updated 11 July 2020, added more materials and images*
Dear FUCKING Diary,

It's been at least 1 year since I've last graced upon this E X Q U I S I T E website to write a cringe-inducing educational shitpost on something only vaguely related to figures.

Since a year ago, I've bought exactly 0 figures (excluding my hypebeast techwear waifu Torabishi Lana:ITEM #676049 stuck in perpetual production limbo), and I've been itching to procure some figures to appease my agalmatophilia. Right when I landed myself a stable job to make me feel like a responsible do-good adult -- thus justifying my previously unhealthy spending habits, the goddamn virus decided to hop out of the Great Wall to decimate the economy, shutting down overseas delivery and killing the peoples. OH THE HUMANITY! but most importantly, OH MY BURNING POCKETS!

But I've digressed, what I want to talk about this post is my own biased review on various materials and tools I've used so far to make dozens of forever incomplete animu figures that will NEVER see the light of day.

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Credentials-wise, I've started to seriously sculpt as a hobby (meaning off and on with months of breaks in between, dropping projects after getting bored and in general never finishing a single one) since about 5 years ago to fill up my time that would usually be spent crying in bed at the pointlessness of our existence. :^)

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Now with absolutely nothing in my portfolio, I think I'm in the perfect position to beseech some learnings into y'alls noggin'.

Sculpting Mediums.
These are the putties and clays to which you make your figures out of. There are a few broad categories:
1. PVC clays
2. Oil-based clays
3. Sculpting putties
4. Modelling compounds (aka the other)

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PVC clays
Sculpey, Fimo, any generic bakeable clays at your local hobby stores.
These things are probably the most accessible medium you can get your hands on. They come in various colors and effects... but for convenience's sake, you should only get Sculpey Original or Super Sculpey for figure sculpting, to which you can get in a convenient 1lb block in gray or flesh tone. Though they are a tad hard at the start and they are needing some kneading to get them to a workable consistency, they are a fairly clean and easy material to work with. They are rather forgiving, and after baking for a few minutes, hardens to a state where you can carve, sand and prime. With liquid Sculpey, you can join new unbaked clay to baked clay and rebake them a few more times.

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Be cautious though, if you overbake them, bake at a too high of a temperature, or bake it too many times, the clay may either char, discolor, bubble, or become very brittle. Plus, they release VOC (volatile organic compounds) as they bake that is probably carcinogenic and might make you more sensitive to them as you keep using them. I don’t trust these things and even bought a separate small toaster oven to bake them away from my frozen pizzas. These days, I’ve grown to dislike the inconsistency of the clay when I bake them (if you burn them, you won’t be able to savage them easily) and the fumes they give off during baking fucking stink so I’ve stopped using them altogether.

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Oil-based clays
I’ve worked with 3 kinds: Chavant Plastiline, Monster clay, and Industrial Plasticine (Kolb TecClay). Technically, Monster clay is a wax-based clay, and I guess carving wax can technically be lumped in together with this group, but whatever. These are non-drying clay, so they’ll never harden, although you could freeze them to carve them… and torch them to soften them up. Personally, I dislike working with these to make figures since they don’t harden and are generally difficult to make molds. I’d rather use them as practice mediums to create quick mockups before moving to a different more permanent medium.

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One good side of Chavant Plastiline though, is that they are sulfur-free, ideal for silicone molding purposes. That said, the softness is the reason why I still avoid using them to make the actual figure, but I do use it to help make 2-part molds.

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Monster Clay is awesome to play with and can hold quite a bit of detail. They are tad soft, but because of that can be worked fairly easily. It’s used heavily by the SFX industry to make highly detailed mask sculptures and other stuff. I recommend this simply because they are inexpensive and really fun to play with.

Industrial plasticine is basically automotive clay used to make scaled prototype cars. They are like a hybrid of plasticine and wax-clay and have a unique consistency. I recommend skipping this out since it’s difficult as heck to get a hold of and not really all that special.

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Putties
Wave Epoxy Putty, Tamiya Epoxy Putty (smooth type, quick type), Milliput putty, Apoxie Sculpt, Citadel’s Green Stuff, (those cheap 5-minute plumber’s epoxy putty crap you get at a dollar store). These are basically what professionals use. Kinda hard to use, but they have the widest flexibility and consistency in comparison to other mediums.

You can get Milliput or Milliput-equivalent putty at any hobby store that sells airplane modelling kits. These are very good. They do leave a bit of a residue on your work tools and everything it comes in contact, but that’s basically all putty, so get used to it, buddy.

Apoxie Sculpt should be available at most serious art stores. They don’t leave as much residue as other putties, but they’re a little bit bouncier. It’s a solid putty even though they are a little crumbly when carving. I think they work better as a gateway drug to the world of putties.

Tamiya Putty is available on e2046. e2046 also carries their own off-brand putty. I’ve ordered it, so I’ll get back on my review of them. Tamiya Putty and WAVE putty are some quality Nippon products. Great consistency, very smooth, but very sticky. The closest thing to this is Milliput, but you get more out of Milliput, for basically the same price. Prolly should go for that instead to get the bang for your buck.

Citadel’s green stuff is sold at GameWorkshops, but they are a tad bit overpriced. Never used it, not interested. It’s like being forced to use a claymore after using a katana for 2 years.

Avoid the dollar store 2-part epoxy putty for detail sculpting. They are hot garbage (literally gets hot). Lumpy, hard to work with, cure way too quickly and just manifests endless suffering. The only place I can see this being used is for bulking purposes or quickly joining wires together during the armature phase.

I came across a sculpting medium called Fando Clay in an anime figure-sculpting book, but I’ve not an opportunity to use it. If I do find some, I’ll probably write another diary later on (and probably complain about how garbage it is).


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Now off to the tools:

Armature Wires
There are steel wires and then there are aluminium wires. Avoid steel wires because they are hard to work with. Aluminium wires can be bought at most art and hobby stores in different gauges. They are:
Thicc
Medium Thicc
Thin
For larger figures, people will use the thicc wire, but for most projects either the medium thicc or thin will work.

Sandpaper
I use hobby sandpaper which comes in a package with 400-1000 grit sheets, but I’ve also bought some ridonkulously fine sandpaper from 1200-5000 grit. Always get the waterproof ones and always use water when sanding for the best results. If you want to be extra fancy, GodHand’s sponge-backed sandpaper is some luxury shit.

Tamiya Polishing Compounds
Most efficiently used with polishing bits on a rotary tool, but for most of my life, I’ve just done the polishing thing by hand. Not super necessary, but it’s good to have if you want to make extra baby smooth skin.

Cyanoacrylate (super glue)
I use Gorilla Glue! The real professional stuff has a syringe needle attachment for super precision.

Primer
There are the Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer and the aerosol spray version. The liquid version is for precision use while the spray version is for spray and pray. Don’t overdo the spray, light spritz from a foot away goes a long way. Let the first layer dry before spraying another coat. Sand it and repeat ad nauseam.

Hobbyist Masking Tape
These come in a variety of width, leaves no residue, and has very good adhesion for painting and stuff. Plus, they’re good at hiding nipples at WonFes.

Petroleum Lubricants
Vaseline is a brand, these are great for coating cured parts so that new putty won't permanently adhere to it. Think like, hair and stuff. If you want to be a real professional, buy the unscented chapstick you get at the local drugstore. Those things are easier to apply since they come in a stick.

Silicone Moulding Material
I predominantly use Smooth-On products for their availability in the West. Be sure to check if they are Platinum or Tin-cure, though, because these things are more sensitive than Twitter users and a slight amount of sulfur will make them go REEEEEEEEE.

Smooth-On's MoldStar 30 is my go-to silicone. They have the perfect balance of good viscosity and cure time to make for some high quality, low-bubble molds.

If you want to get real fancy and pretentious, you can fork over like a grand for a vacuum chamber to degas the silicone before pouring. You can also obviously use them to make vodka infused fruits too, so I think that's a real bargain right there.

Other Molding Materials
There are other molding materials available on the market excluding silicone. Latex is one that comes to mind, but I've never got a satisfying result from latex (plus the added ammonia smells putrid, like aged urine). Plaster is another, but they're not really suitable for resin casting.

Then there is the Composimold, a gelatin-based mold. Beware, since these are literally just concentrated orange Jell-o marketed as a reusable mold (I ate some on "accident", it's literally orange Jell-O). They kinda suck, mostly because they don't hold detail all that well, traps a metric shit-ton of bubbles, and if you use exothermic resins -- like literally every resin out there -- the heat released may deform the mould. But if you are interested, the gimmick is that you can microwave it to turn it into a bucket of molten gummy to be poured on your sculpts. I recommend you to just skip this (or just make your own using a few packs of Jell-O, sine you can get other technicolor molds for a fraction of the price)... even the Oyumaru reusable mold is a better product than this.

By the way, Oyumaru is more of a toy mold than anything serious, but it can be used for small parts, such as recasting Nendoroid hands or small accessories. The good thing is that it can be dipped in a cup of boiled water and reshaped however many times you want.

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Resins
Urethane Resins
If you buy GKs from WonFes or e2046 they are likely cast using urethane resins. Smooth-On's flagship product Smooth-Cast 300 series are super easy to use due to it being a mix ratio of 1:1 by weight/volume and the very decent viscosity and fast cure time mean that you prolly don't need to worry about entrapped bubbles.

If you do want to make some ridiculously high-quality casts, you can try using a pressure chamber (set you back a good grand). They basically compress the bubbles in the resin and make the overall resin nearly flawless. They're mostly a necessity for clear parts, since entrapped bubbles will make your clear casts look sloppy, but if you do have an extra grand burning a hole in your pocket, these things are a decent purchase.

Polyester Resins
I know these as auto body fillers, but I think Tamiya putty that comes in a tube is basically these things. They are very toxic. They smell like industrial suicide in a can. Not really great for casting -- I can attest -- but they are good for the sculpting process or for fiberglassing. Comes with a small tube of catalysts.

Epoxy Resins
I mostly use epoxy resins to make crystal clear parts together with the aforementioned pressure pot. You can get some insane epoxy resins like medical/scientific-grade optical epoxy resins or fire-resistant resins. Epoxy resins are also good for fiberglassing and even vacuum impregnation if you're a super-serious material otaku like me.

Pigments/Dyes
You can buy highly concentrated tubes of pigments and dyes to give your material some flare. These can be stuff like a metallic powder for cold-casting, phosphorescent powder for glow-in-the-dark, UV powders that light up under blacklight, or regular old colors. If you want to go edgy McEdgelord mode, you could buy some Vantablack, the blackest material on Earth in powder form and mix it into your casts for the LULZ.

Decal Papers
Waterslide decal paper is awesome. You can get them in Transparent or colored (usually white) backgrounds for either Laser or Inkjet printers. These are simple to use. Put them in your printer, the correct side up, find a few images, and then presto! You got yourself some kawaii AF anime eyes, slave tattoos, whip marks, nakadashi tallies, blush stickers... anything you can think of!

You can sometimes find pre-printed ones at your local Gunpla/hobby stores, but I highly doubt they have any uguu eyes in stock.

Apparently, if you want to stick them on complex surfaces without having 'em crack and buckle, commenters on THIS ARTICLE recommended using MicroSol or Mr. Mark Softer to make them more pliable. Will take a look once I have them on hand.

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Extruded Styrene Rods
These are used as keys for joining parts together once you separate them for molding purposes.

References
The most important thing to have when you sculpt a figure. Use references of the character as well as real-life poses posed by real-life people. This is crucial to the success of the figure since the nuance of balance is hard to get right if you rely solely on art mannikins, male/female figmas, or even illustrations. Only amateurs use their imagination. Real pros use references to bring out the best figures they can.

LEGO-like Toys
LEGO 2x4 blocks are HOT GARBAGE for making walls for silicone rubber moulds. The tolerance for making them easy to play with backfires and becomes a leaky mess like my bowels the morning after drinking too much vodka the night before. Even the Walmart off-brand blocks are better. The best block is hands down the stuff that’s made specifically for the purpose of silicone mould wall-building.

Sculpting Tools
List of tools I regularly use:
• Stainless steel dental picks and spatula
• Ball-pointed embossing stylus
• Hobby wood carving chisel set
• Hobby files
• Jewellers’ saw
• Pin Vise
• Sonic toothbrush with sandpaper taped to the head

OLFA Knives
I’m an OLFA fanboy, so I only buy OLFA related products when I can. The OLFA art knife is absolutely amazing to carve material and finger meat, and I can’t recommend them enough. OLFA retractable knife with a pull saw replacement blade is super handy for cutting small parts out efficiently.

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Recommended books for learning (aka, the stuff I have on hand):
Classic Anatomy
Anatomy Sculpting by Katagiri Yuji
Modeling Heads and Faces in Clay by Berit Hildre

Anime Figures
Figure no Tsukurikata 1+2 by Shigetoshi Fujita/POP
How to build Garage Kit vol.01 by Model Kingdom

I might make a part 2 soon or in a year.

If you've gotten this far, congrats. Have a cookie. Fresh from the Sculpey oven.

If y'all got questions, just comment below and I'll get to it... eventually.
742 visite • 28 preferiti8 commenti

Commenti8

plasticizer very mild
ProbablyANinja10 giorno/i fa#80850965Awesome guide! This is something I've wanted to get into for a long time. Unfortunately I have hand tremors and large man-hands that aren't good with delicate work outside of drawing. XD Oh well. I guess some dreams aren't meant to come true. lol

If working at a small scale like 1:8 is difficult, you can always scale up and try working on bigger at 1:4 or 1:3. If busts are your thing, Sculpture_Geek on YouTube is a good reference for almost-life-sized busts of anime-styled characters.
10 giorno/i fa
Awesome guide! This is something I've wanted to get into for a long time. Unfortunately I have hand tremors and large man-hands that aren't good with delicate work outside of drawing. XD Oh well. I guess some dreams aren't meant to come true. lol
10 giorno/i fa
plasticizer very mild
lesser-robot-cat24 giorno/i fa#80251843This is a good, solid Custom Figures 101 article. The images aren't working, but the writing makes me want to break out my putties and make stuff right this very minute.

Thanks for the read! I'm hoping this will break the ice for those that are just embarking on their sculpting journey, so having a fellow sculptor approve of this article makes me vibrate in happiness.
24 giorno/i fa
plasticizer very mild
salvo_one24 giorno/i fa#80286072I have pretty much zero interest in attempting to make my own figures, what with my lack of artistic talent/ability and quick temper (the change from excitement to anger to agony over assembling a gunpla takes about 45 minutes) but I found this really interesting, thank you :)

Thanks for taking the time to read through it and leaving a comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

It's true that sculpting your own figure or even building a Gunpla feels like a self-imposed torture session at times, but I think even just reading articles like this and understanding the process behind the hobby that we love gives a whole new look at the figures.
24 giorno/i fa
I have pretty much zero interest in attempting to make my own figures, what with my lack of artistic talent/ability and quick temper (the change from excitement to anger to agony over assembling a gunpla takes about 45 minutes) but I found this really interesting, thank you :)
24 giorno/i fa
plasticizer very mild
Kemcy24 giorno/i fa#80251808Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for this! I'm making custom nendos so this is really useful for me :) Though I wish we could see the images. :/ MFC doesn't support Imgur. Maybe use another image host like imgbb?

ImgBB is also being a feisty little bitc-- All is Gucci, I just uploaded to MFC.

Thanks for reading the article! I'm glad this not-so-useful compendium is a little bit useful.

Good luck with the Nendos!
24 giorno/i fa
This is a good, solid Custom Figures 101 article. The images aren't working, but the writing makes me want to break out my putties and make stuff right this very minute.
24 giorno/i fa
Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for this! I'm making custom nendos so this is really useful for me :) Though I wish we could see the images. :/ MFC doesn't support Imgur. Maybe use another image host like imgbb?
24 giorno/i fa
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