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The Art of Greenstuffing - Sculpting basics by Johnny B

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This article was originally featured in Carpe Noctem's Invocation Magazine.


This article is aimed at green stuff users in general but hopefully everyone will be able to take something useful from it.
Instead of writing some rambling waffle, I’d like to keep it to the point, so it’s a bit abrupt.
Please note I am entirely self-taught, so cannot be held responsible for any outrageous, misleading habits that I may work in.

Greenstuff Basics


= Mixing =

A bit more blue than yellow, about 60:40 is generally the best ratio to mix.
GW GS usually comes in something approaching that, although other places sell better quality GS at better prices.

= Water =

Fingers and tools should be moist but not soaked when dealing with GS.
Too much water and it gets underneath the GS and it comes away from the model.
Too little and it sticks to your fingers and tools.

= Lamping =

Heating GS makes it cure faster. A desk lamp with exposed bulb will do fine. Leave the sculpt a few centimetres from it, and it should cure in 2-3 hours.
Note: This sounds obvious but plastic melts. This technique isn’t advisable on work done onto a plastic figure.
Unless he’s Nurgle, in which case anything goes.

= Mistakes =

If you get it wrong and it’s already cured, you can simply cut the offending piece of sculpting off and start again.
GS generally comes away easily from metal and plastic if you lever it off with a knife/sculpting tool.

= Smoothing =

Use the flat of your sculpting tool/knife to ensure flat surfaces are actually flat, and edges are straight.
Wet it a little, and push it back and forth gently over the surface a few times.
Use the edge of your (wet) finger to smooth organic shapes and remove fingerprints.
GS can also be filed like plastic when dry, so this is also an alternative.

= Symmetry =

When sculpting something symmetrical, there’s an old artist’s trick to judge whether it’s symmetrical or not.
Just look at it upside down and you should be able to tell if it’s wonky. Sounds ridiculous, but it works.

= Easy stuff to sculpt =

One of the best places to start is adding hair or fur to a figure.
It can look pretty random, doesn’t need to be symmetrical or geometric and always looks good painted.

= Tricky Stuff to sculpt =

Men are easy, women are difficult, just like real life.
Horses, hands, faces, feet, fangs, all of these are tricky to sculpt.

= Aftermath =

Be prepared to pick little bits of GS out of your carpet and socks.
Such is the mark of a true Greenstuffer.

Sculpting stuff


Before you dive in at the deep end, some basic tips from someone who did just that and found some helpful clues on the bottom.

= Tip 1: Context =

Before you begin, consider if it fits with the rest of the figure or army (or diorama or whatever).
Right size, appropriate aesthetic, etc.

= Tip 2: What does it look like =

Have a clear idea of what it is that you are making. If you can’t picture it in your head, you won’t be able to make it.
If you are artistic, try drawing it. Try the figure’s pose yourself to see if it is feasible.
On humanoids, the centre of gravity is directly below the head, something to bear in mind when posing it.
Also, for example, if the figure’s cloak billows in one direction and the unit banner billows in another, this will look very strange indeed.

= Tip 3: Reference material =

If you don’t know for sure what something looks like, get a picture of it off the net or out of a book.
If you are sculpting a creature, get a book on anatomy or get medical diagrams off the net to look at skeletal and muscle structure.
If you’re sculpting armour, get some reference on armour and its function. Get other figures of a similar type.
Even if you have a good working knowledge of these things, it always helps.

= Tip 4: Neatness first =

Something simple done neatly always looks better than something intricate done badly.
Be careful not to overreach yourself; it’s good to be ambitious but be realistic as well.

= Tip 5: Take your time =

Do things in stages, don’t try to sculpt too much in one session.
First sculpt the cloak and then when it’s dry you add the fur, etc.

Sculpting from Scratch


This is where it gets really fun, and also very vague, as people have their own styles and ways of doing things.
This part is assuming the figure will be a one-off for gaming.

= Step 1: The Armature =

Make an armature from wire to support the figure. If you don’t do this, bits of it may drop off.
Wire of various sizes is available from modelling/hardware shops. For especially thin bits, like fingers on large models, paper clips will suffice.

= Step 2: The Basic Shape =

Add GS in a rough humanoid (or whatever it is) shape. No need to be neat at this stage, just ensure it isn’t too thick as you will be sculpting the outer layers onto it.
Looking absurd at this stage is fine. It’s later on that you need to worry about.

= Step 3: Compare =

I generally have another model of the same type to compare the figure to as I’m working.
This helps ensure it’s the right size. If there is no suitable peer, draw or make a scale silhouette of the final product to compare it against.

= Step 4: Sculpt away =

Start with the inner layers and parts that will be difficult to reach later on.
Do it in segments and, most importantly, have fun.


Oni Varghulf WIP. Underneath the GS is a complete wire skeleton.

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For all the strange people at various tournaments who suspect loudly to their friends that he’s made of Goblins and Tyranids: He isn’t.


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That beard can’t be real.


Some other sculpts at various stages



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After 20 of these, I never want to see another suit of Samurai armour ever again.


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Sneaky.



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What do you mean, ‘I have to stay in a bunker’?
 

Loran

Destroyer of Worlds
Feb 26, 2008
152
Finland
A great guide to get started if you're new to sculpting!

Something to add would be some basic tutorials on the actual step-by-step sculpting techniques for sculpting stuff (for example fur, a pouch, etc). Yes, the internet is full of these but for anyone starting out, having a guide with the techniques shown (or even links to good ones) always helps lower the barrier when starting. At least it did for me 😁 now if only I could find the website I used back in the day for a link... 😅
 
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Reactions: Raven Torrid

Raven Torrid

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 3, 2011
396
Croatia
Awesome guide! A good read for ANYONE who wants to sculpt.
A great guide to get started if you're new to sculpting!

Yup, it's a really neat guide!

Something to add would be some basic tutorials on the actual step-by-step sculpting techniques for sculpting stuff (for example fur, a pouch, etc). Yes, the internet is full of these but for anyone starting out, having a guide with the techniques shown (or even links to good ones) always helps lower the barrier when starting. At least it did for me 😁 now if only I could find the website I used back in the day for a link... 😅

The aim of these Articles is to revisit some older tutorials (that were either a part of the CN's own magazine Invocation or were posted in the forum by users) and bring them back in a new form of Articles, so more people, especially new bloods, can see them. Of course, anyone is free and encouraged to make their own Article tutorials and post them (I did a miniature photography article recently). 🙂

Meanwhile, there is still plenty of existing tutorials in the Index thread (LINK) especially in the Unvalidated Links section, which will eventually get the new Article treatment.

If you manage to find that website, do share it. 😁
 

Loran

Destroyer of Worlds
Feb 26, 2008
152
Finland
If you manage to find that website, do share it. 😁
Will do! 😁

And yeah, seeing these articles rise again like this is great to keep the amount of hobby knowledge available to everyone. Keep 'em coming, as even if the topic of the article in question might not necessarily be what someone needs at that point, a groovy picture might spark something new! Conversion ideas, painting schemes, whatever, you name it. Looking at that Oni Varghulf pose right now...
 

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