+ Common Core Concepts +

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

+ inload: Tutorial – building 'true-scale' Astartes part III +

+ This inload forms part of a tutorial, which begins here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] +

+ Part 3: Torso I +

+ Preparing and cutting the torso to shape +

+ If you've worked through the earlier parts of this tutorial, you know all you need for this part, which is often the sticking point for true-scale marines. I've made torsos for my marines in a number of ways, but the inspiration for this one comes from an excellent Iron Hand, Legionary Azhuk, made by MonkeyBallistic of Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +

+ Because this approach uses a grey knight torso, it relies less on free-sculpting, and is thus a fantastic way of making these marines easier to make. It also means that we can make use of the sharp lines of the original sculpt, for a crisp finish. The final part of the choice of the Grey Knight Terminator torso as a basis for this tutorial is expense: if you've bought the box for this tutorial, I'd like to get most out of it we can. +

I_ Assemble the torso as normal using polystyrene cement. Use a knife to trim away the psychic hood, leaving the rim at the height as shown. 

+ While not essential, I prefer to cut away the D-shaped detail on the back behind the hood's rim and scrape out the wires inside the remnants of the hood; just to further disguise the source of the parts. +

II_ Cut away any detail overhanging the edge of the chest plate. Follow the curve of the plate to guide you.

+ Try looking at the chest from underneath if the detail is obscuring the line of the chest plate. It's more obvious from this angle. +

III_ Carefully cut upwards from the bottom of the chest plate to remove the surface detail, as described in part I of this tutorial. As before, work gradually to ensure a relatively smooth finish. Follow the curve of the armour plate, and avoid cutting into the collar. 

IV_ To check you have shaped the piece properly, look at it from underneath. Here, you can see that the curve is not even, and that a layer of what was decoration remains in place.

V_ Continue gradually shaving away layers until the chest plate is correctly shaped in a smooth curve or even depth. You should be able to see the collar, as shown.

VI_ Trim away the belt detail on the back with one smooth cut. If you are careful, you can slip the blade in flat against the bottom and cut upwards without touching the surrounding area. 

+ Again, this is not essential, but removing parts that are distinctive of terminators helps to hide the source of your marine. +

VII_ Cut into the back of the torso, just to the side of the vent detail. Use the curve of the lower corner to help you get a straight line (see the following step for clarity). Press down carefully until the blade sits at the depth shown. 

+ Hopefully it goes without saying that you should be careful, cut away from you where possible and use a sharp – ideally new – blade. +

VIII_ Remove the blade and cut back into the side as shown. 

+ This shot should clarify where the cut in step VII was made, too – a straight vertical just to the side of the vent detail.+ 

IX_ This will cut away a square section from the back.

X_ Make a guide cut near the top of the shoulder joint at forty-five degrees, as shown. Make this cut shallower than the one in step VIII – approximately half the depth.

XI_ Cut in from the other side and trim away a triangular section.

XII_ Round off the corner; either with a file or simply by making a series of additional and increasingly smaller angled cuts.

XIII_ Repeat the process on the other side.

XIV_ Trim away the remaining vent detail, aiming to get the back section as evenly flat as you can. The backpack will sit here eventually. 

+ For a smoother finish, use a needle file to refine the edges. +

+ This completes the carving and shaping of the torso +

+ Torso sculpting +

+ Phew, you can relax a bit. The carving's the hard bit of the torso. The rest is essentially an extension of the greenstuff techniques we looked at in part II of the tutorial. +

I_ Start by rolling a small ball of greenstuff, using the neck of your space marine head as a guide for size. Drop it into the recess in the torso. 

+ If you are working straight through the tutorial from the start, the greenstuff you mixed up earlier will likely still be within its working time. If you are starting fresh from this point, mix up some more greenstuff and let it cure for fifteen or twenty minutes before beginning. +

II_ Use the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool to press the ball down and fill the entire neck area as shown.

III_ Fill any recessed surface detail on the front of the Grey Knight torso as described in steps XVIII and XIX of part 2.

IV_ Roll a smaller ball of greenstuff – approximately three-quarters of the size of the one used in step I – and place it towards the back of the inside torso as shown.

V_ Smooth the ball out with the same circling motions used earlier, to create the basis of the neck piece. It is important that this sits towards the back, against the collar, or your finished marine will look hunched forward, rather than throwing his chest out proudly.

+ Because you are working greenstuff on top of greenstuff, be very gentle. I suggest using greenstuff towards the end of its working time (see the notes at the start of part 2 of this tutorial for more on working time) as it will resist pressure better and not distort. +

VI_ Make another similarly-sized ball and place it on top of the first. 

+ When working layers like this, a balance must be struck in the working time so that the underlying layers resist distortion, but not be so rigid you need to use lots of lubrication – or you risk the later layers simply falling off in future! If this does happen, simply use superglue to secure the piece. +

VII_ As before, smooth it out. This creates a simple internal collar.

+ This technique can be used in lots of places. It's good for ribbing or tubing; such as that used in space marine undersuits. +

VIII_ Before the greenstuff cures, use a spare marine helmet to create an impression in the neck area. Push it down gently until it sits where you want the final head to be.

IX_ Carefully remove the head to reveal a dip that will hold any standard marine head and give your true-scale marine more poseability when you are assembling him. If the greenstuff sticks or starts to come away with the neck, leave it to cure completely and simply remove the head later. 

+ Greenstuff is not a glue, so you'll easily be able to pop the temporary head out of place once cured. +

+ At this point, the torso can be used as-is (once cured, of course), but if you wish to add more detail or make a specific mark of armour, then carry on. The instructions below are for Mark IV Maximus armour. In future, I aim to add instructions for different marks – let me know if there's a particular type you'd like to see. +

+ Mark IV torso armour layer 1 +

I_ Place a sausage of greenstuff across the upper part of the torso, running from shoulder joint to shoulder joint.

II_ Use your thumb or finger to secure it to the surface, being careful to keep it from spreading over the collar or onto the shoulder joints. Use the modelling tool to 'rein it in' or trim if necessary. Use this sticky surface to add a small ball – roughly half the size of that used in step I of the basic torso (above) – in the centre and press that down too.

+ It looks awful at this stage – but don't be disheartened. That's the joy of greenstuff. It's very malleable and will smooth out beautifully. Think of this stage as the messy basecoat when painting. +

III_ Use the now-familiar small circling motions of the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool to gradually smooth out the surface. Press gently to flatten the torso plate to a uniform thickness roughly the same as the collar. You will likely end up with excess putty – simply use the edge of the modelling tool to cut it away, then smooth back over with the spoon-ended part. +


IV_ Use the flat and edge of the spoon-ended part to create a symmetrical shape with curves that lead towards the abdomen. Continue to refine the sculpting until you have a smooth finish as shown.

+ This completes the basic Mark IV torso. I may well come back to refine this at a later date with the distinctive surface detail. +



+++
+ Next up, in part IV of the tutorial, are the arms and assembly of the basic Astartes. Nearly there! +


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

+ inload: Tutorial – building 'true-scale' Astartes part II +

+ This inload forms part of a tutorial. The first part is here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] +

+ Part 2: Legs II +


+ We left the legs looking like this, with much of the detail removed or trimmed back using a craft knife. This stage will show you how to use greenstuff. If you have never used modelling putty before, don't worry. It's much easier than it might seem; and a lot of the skills you have in modelling or painting will apply: patience, a sharp eye and a steady hand. +

+ Working time and lubricant +

+ When freshly mixed, Greenstuff can be sticky. As it cures, it gradually becomes less sticky and more manageable – until eventually it is stiff and unresponsive. Eventually, it will cure completely rigid. The time between mixing and curing is called the 'working time'. +

+ Experience will teach you about best working time for different effects. For hair and similar textures, you generally want a stickier consistency, so the best working time is within a few minutes. For smooth areas, you will want the green stuff to be more resistant, so you will need to wait a little longer. Wait too long, and the greenstuff will not attach to the area you are working upon – it's all a balance. +

+ For this project, we will attach freshly-mixed greenstuff to the area, then let it cure in place for a bit. Once it is more workable – i.e. it stops sticking to your tools – you can use the sculpting tool to smooth it into shape. +

+ This is all very well in theory, but in practice, it's very dull to mix tiny amounts to do a small area. You will more likely want to work more than one bit at a time, and this means working with greenstuff that is slightly too sticky or stiff. A tiny lip balm of vaseline is your friend here. +

+ You can use any lubricant – sunflower oil, water etc. – the critical point is that it keeps the modelling tool smooth. This is what prevents the greenstuff from sticking to it. My tips are simple:


  • Use clean tools – any nicks or blobs of old putty will cause new putty to stick to them.
  • Use a tiny amount of lubricant – just dab the tool lightly on the vaseline.
  • Do not use it at all if you can get away with it. I only tend to use it when using very freshly-mixed greenstuff, or trying to smooth the very top layers.
+ That said, experiment – you should find what works best for you. +

+ Sculpting upper leg detail +

I_ Use your sculpting tool to carve off a small amount of two part greenstuff putty. I suggest a ½cm (¼in) length as shown. This will give you enough to do all the legs, chest and arms in this tutorial. 

Cut away and discard the tiny bit where the two colours meet. This will have mixed and cured a little; creating a hard bit.

II_ Begin mixing the two colours together using your fingers. The image above shows the green colour starting to appear as the blue and yellow mix. 

Note the 'marbling' effect, which indicates the putty has not been sufficiently mixed. It is important to get a uniform colour and texture, or you risk parts curing at different rates (or not at all).

III_ To help mix the greenstuff, stretch it into a rod, fold it back on itself and twist it into a spiral as shown. Repeat this five or ten times until the putty is thoroughly mixed.

The putty is now beginning to cure; but don't panic. There is plenty of working time before the putty becomes unusable, so don't rush.

IV_ At first, the putty will be quite sticky. Leave it for five or ten minutes, then tear off a small piece and roll it into a rod that is approximately the same height as the shin, as shown.

+ While you wait, you might remove the second hip plate in the same way as the first; or spend the few minutes trimming the next set of legs. +

V_ Use the stickiness of the putty to stick the rod to the centre of the inside of the thigh.

+ Ideally, you'd do each greenstuff element separately, but this is not always practical. I tend to start on the upper legs, as they're protected a little if you want to work more than one part at a time. +

+ An alternative approach is to use a 'factory-line' method and prepare ten or so sets over the course of a few days, leaving each element to cure overnight. This reduces the risk of accidentally squashing or distorting your work. +
VI_ Press the putty gently into place with the spoon-ended part of your modelling tool. Aim to fit it within the existing plastic detail of the thigh plate, and do not let it overlap the top or bottom of the armour. If it does spill, scrape it away with the sharp edge of the modelling tool and use the spoon-ended part to smooth the cut.

VII_ Work gradually round the whole thigh, so that the putty wraps round the leg within the boundaries of the armour as shown. Don't worry about it being messy at this stage.

VIII_ Let the putty cure until it is no longer so sticky. Place the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool flat on the surface and use tiny circular movements to gently begin to smooth the putty into the surface.   


IX_ Continue smoothing right round the upper leg. Aim to fill the recesses in the armour between the supporting rods of the armour, working the putty right up into the crevices of the leg armour, creating a smooth cylinder. 

You can see in the image that the putty does not work right to the edges of the original plastic detail, but uses that. Aim to create a smooth transition so that the putty blends into the existing detail.

X_ Repeat on the other leg (ideally, leave to cure overnight). 

You can leave the greenstuff work here if you are happy. Alternatively, you can sculpt a more natural and realistic-looking leg, which suggests musculature. 

XI_ For the more developed leg, tear off a smaller piece of greenstuff than before (approximately half the size), roll it into a rod, and place it over the top part of the leg as shown. 

If – being an impatient soul, or carried away with enthusiasm – you are working straight on top of uncured greenstuff, be careful not to use any pressure or you risk distorting the underlying greenstuff work. If you have let your greenstuff cure, you don't need to worry.

XII_ Using the same smoothing technique as earlier – tiny circular motions of the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool – gradually work the greenstuff into the upper part of the leg, creating a curved cylinder. 

+ Find some examples of real plate armour for reference to guide your work. +

+ Sculpting lower leg detail +

XIII_ With the upper legs complete, tear off a small piece of greenstuff – approximately half the height of the shin [+see step IV+]. Roll it into a rod and press it firmly onto the back of the calf.

XIV_ As before, gently but firmly push the greenstuff into the recesses of the leg, using the existing plastic detail to guide you. 


XV_ This image shows how the putty has filled the recesses, creating a smooth transition between the plastic detail. Work right into the very corners.

I prefer to look of a reinforced front plate and lighter rear armour on the lower legs, but if you want a one-piece lower leg, then use more greenstuff and the edges of the front plate to guide your placement instead of the reinforcing rods. +

XVI_Continue working round the lower leg. If you have some excess greenstuff at the end, use the sharp edge of the modelling tool to trim it away before smoothing it back over the area.

XVII_ Repeat the process on the second leg. If the result is not smooth, then use a little vaseline to smooth the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool and draw it across the surface in vertical strokes. Continue until you are happy, and the greenstuff follows the existing lines of the armour, with no bulges or lumps.


+ This completes the lower legs. Before continuing, it is safest to leave the legs to cure completely overnight. If you choose not to, then be careful not to touch the smooth greenstuff work or you risk spoiling it (or at least creating more work for yourself as you tidy it up). +

+ If you decide to continue before the greenstuff has cured, you have the option of creating inlaid detail (see step XIX below) – just be careful to hold the part by plastic, as shown in the pictures below. +

+ Infilling and creating detail +

+ In part 1 of the tutorial, we looked at carving away plastic detail, but what if it's recessed into the surface, like the text on Grey Knight legs? In these case, we're going to fill them in to create a smooth, unbroken surface on the plate. +

XVIII_ Take a tiny piece of greenstuff and draw it out so that it sits over the area you want to fill. 

+ It's better to start with too little greenstuff than too much, as it can be a pain to clear away and you can always add more. +

XIX_ Use the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool to smooth it into the recesses with the same tiny circular movements you used earlier. If it overflows the area just a little, that's fine. You're aiming to break up the underlying shape, so drawing the surface out very thinly over the surrounding plate will help to hide the work.

This shot also shows a small panel line in the thigh on the left-hand side. These details are optional, but easy. Simply use the edged part of the modelling tool to create a rough rectangle by pressing very gently into the uncured surface.

XX_ Use the point of the modelling tool to add a couple of dots in the middle. You don't need to worry about neatness too much, but try to get them central and the same size.

XXI_ Working from the centre of the detail area outwards, use the spoon-ended part of the modelling tool to smooth the surface ever so gently with the same circular motions. Work very gently to avoid distorting the detail. You're aiming to close the displaced putty in on itself evenly, to create a sharp recessed line or dot.

+ The tip of an empty propelling pencil is great for creating recessed buttons with this technique. +

+ This completes the basic legs. We will return to them for an example of detailing (with Mark IV kneepads), but for the moment, put them safely to one side to cure. +


+ Coming up in part III: The torso +