Modeling scale armor with greenstuff

From time to time, as I am walking down the street, people come up to me and ask “Say Xenite, how do you model such wonderful looking scale armor on you small, but terrifying undead warriors?”  The following is what I tell them…

This kind of sculpting is very easy once you get the hang of the properties of greenstuff.  Generally speaking all of the below was done within several minutes of mixing the putty together.  The longer the putty cures, while still being sculptable, the easier modeling in this method is.

Here is what we are working with in this tutorial.  This guy is a member of a 25 man undead unit for my Warhammer Fantasy Battle army.  The little green ball beside him is the amount of mixed greenstuff that we need to do both areas of armor on this model.

This is my home-made sculpting tool.  I have yet to find anything commercially available that works as well.  I based this design on sculpting tools that were made by the very talented Gene VanHorne.  Check out his work at www.reapermini.com.  Also, if you get an opportunity to do one of his sculpting classes at Gencon, I highly recommend it!

my very favorite sculpting tool!

Below is a shot of the spoon tool.

Poker tool

Here I have applied the GS to the model’s thighs.  I tend to use Vaseline to help keep my GS smooth when I am doing surfaces like the tunic that I am building the armor on top of.  This can be a problem when it comes to adding more detail as new GS will want to stick to your fingers more than the cured GS.  In this case, I rubbed the area down with a paper towel, and scored the surface slightly with my sculpting tool.

Shape the GS into  the rough shape that the area of armor is.  To do this I simple worked the GS gently with the spoon end of my sculpting tool.  NOTE: it helps a ton if the surface that you are sculpting GS onto isn’t uncured GS.  Every time you press in detail, the supporting GS will change shape.  No good.  That may be obvious, but I figured it was worth noting.

Adding the detail.  Here I cut with the edge of my sculpting tools spoon horizontal lines.  With a little practice, this becomes very easy to do with consistent results.

Row by row, make vertical cuts until you get a grid pattern.  With the ballooning that GS tends to do when you work with it, this will start looking a lot like a quilted surface.  Well, using slightly less pressure when you make the cuts, that is exactly what you get.  Bamn!  Two tutorials in one!

Once you have all of your rows cut, you need to pat and pull each square of GS.  Pat: gently press on the square with your sculpting tool, and without raising it up again, pull it down slightly.  Because of the sticky nature of GS, this will pull the GS dony a little.  Essentially one of the most annoying aspects of GS becomes a great property to work with.   This is one of several reasons a lot of pro sculptors eschew the use of Vaseline.  If your tool or the GS has a little lubrication, the pull technique won’t work very well.    I still use the stuff because I am not as good as the pros are by a long shot.  If you do, use it sparingly.

Close up of the armor.

Here is an example of several skeleton warriors who have armor made this way.  With a little practice this method is great for armor, quilting, and lizard/dragon scales as well.

If you have any questions at all about this tutorial, please feel free to email me at ahschmidt AT gmail DOT com.

9 thoughts on “Modeling scale armor with greenstuff”

  1. So part of problem is my tools, I am using an xacto knife blade for fine stuff and the GW scuplting tool which is basically only good for gap filling, How did you make that tool what are the tips. also vasaline, is a good tip
    I try to keep the GS wet but I can never seem to get a smooth finish it always seems too sticky or not sticky enough, I haven’t found the sweet spot. How long, once you combine it are you waiting to start working with it?

    This is great, thanks!

  2. I made this tool with bits of paper clip. Here is how you make a spoon tool:

    1. Hold bit of metal from paper clip with pliers, hit end with hammer until it is somewhat flattened.

    2. Here is the secret step. Use a nail file-buffer to smooth the surface of the tool. Use each level of file-buffer one at a time until the surface of the metal is very smooth.

    3. Mount in shaft. I made mine with dowel-rod, and some epoxy, but using an extra pin vice handle would work well.

    Making the poker end is similar, only you are essentially sharpening the bit of paper clip as opposed to flattening it.

    Next time we are at a gaming event, give me a shout and I will bring my sculpting stuff and show you how I work.

    One thing with Vaseline, what I often do is to simply tap the stuff with one finger so that there is a slight film on it. Then I mix the GS up which infuses it with Vaseline. This method works well in 90% of the occasions.

    I usually don’t wait too much to start working, but I will let something sit when its been started to cure a little. Some pros let GS sit for about 15 minutes before they mess with it. If you are doing rough, or large shapes, sculpt early, if you are doing something more detailed, and refined wait a bit longer. Experience (and not much) will teach you what you like with this.

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