Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
as promissed, I have updated my downloadable ebook again.
It contains all the tutorials from my blog: "make your own sculpting tools" and you can download it for free if you like.
Once again I've made several different versions:
The "print"-version has the best quality if you want to print it out.
The "ecoprint"-version has the same quality for print, but text and pictures are on plain white paper for saving printer ink.
The "ebook"-version has a lower quality with a smaler file size and is made for reading it on the screen.
And finally there is the new "epub"-version. I've made it for viewing it on Apple's iPad.
It has a browsable table of content, so you can jump right at the position you want without the need to scroll through the whole ebook. I hope, you'll like this.
Here are the downloadlinks:
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I just want to inform you that the ebook version of this blog will be updated soon, so it will contain all tutorials posted in my blog again.
Because I have an iPad now, I had a look into the epub-file-format for ebooks because these can be read directly on the iPad. There are also apps like "GoodReader" that makes pdf-files readable on the iPad, but the ebub-format has some advantages.
So I'm quite proud to tell you, that beside the different pdf-versions of my ebook, there will be also an epub version that can be read with the App iBooks directly on your iPad.
Of course all versions of the ebook will be free as always.
I will post the downloadlinks for the ebooks here in my blog during the next days.
This time I want to share a little idea for new sculpting tools: The Multi-Blades.
In fact they are more a kind of “sculpting aid” than a real tool.
The basic idea behind that is to place some hobby knife blades side by side to each other, to they will produce exactly parallel cuts.
I call them “experimental tools”, because by now, I’m not so sure about them. So if you like, just play around with them and maybe you will get some nice results. At least, I got some :-)
Here are some examples:
While sculpting miniatures, you also have to sculpt belts and other kinds of straps sometimes. For doing this, there are basically two ways:
You make a separate “belt” by flattening a piece of putty, cutting out a belt of that and fix this to your miniature.
You sculpt the belt right out of the miniature without adding new putty by making two parallel cuts directly on your miniature (the putty have to be fresh of course) to form the basic shape of the belt and refine this to form a real looking belt.
Usually I prefer the first method, because in my eyes the results look better most of the times. That’s because it’s not easy to get perfectly parallel cuts right on the miniature itself, so a separate cut belt looks more convincing. But sometimes, there’s the need to form the belts and straps right out of the putty that is already placed on the miniature. That’s especially the case for very small belts and straps.
So I thought about a way to ease the way to “cutting a belt right on the miniature” and I came to the idea, to get a small knife with two parallel edges. So you have to press this knife only once into the putty and you’ll get two perfectly parallel cuts simultaneously. That’s all.
To realise this idea, you just have to get some of this blades for Hobby-knifes, like x-acto, Martor, Ecobra, pro edge etc. You don’t have to use new blades. In fact it is better to use and blunt blades for that, because it’s not good, if the edges are too sharp. Too sharp edges would cut too easily through the putty and form too sharp edges. If the blade is a little blunt, it will drag the putty a little down on each side of the cut when you press the blade into it. This helps to get the right shape.
I made two versions of this double-blade, a thin one and a very thin one :-).
The first “very thin” version will do two cuts with a distance of less than a mm. So this is for very tiny straps or for cutting strands of hair!
You just need two hobby-knife blades. From one of this blade cut away the lower part of the blade that usually sits inside the knives handle. You can do this also by breaking the spare part off of the blade, but be very careful while doing that. You have to use two flat nose pliers for that to hold the blade tight while breaking it. And be sure to protect your eyes while doing that.
If you managed this, just glue the remaining part of the blade to the side of the other complete blade with good metal glue. You have to be accurate at this part to place the two edges exactly on top of each other.
On the following picture you can see the stages of creating the double blade:
You can place the finished double blade into the handle of the hobby-knife, like any other blade. That’s the reason, why you have to cut away the back part of one of the blades, because two blades wouldn’t fit into the handle at the same time. At least that’s the case with my hobby-knife handles. If you got a handle that can hold two parallel blades at the same time, you don’t have to cut away anything, just glue two blades together and you are done.
But if you haven’t got such a handle, just do it as described.
Ok, the first double-blade makes quite thin belts. So I made a second version which makes a slightly broader belt/strap.
For doing this, you need three hobby-knife blades.
On two of them cut or break away the back parts just as I’ve described before.
On the third cut away the sharp edge over the whole length of the blade. Remove about two mm of the edge. Look at the following picture to see better what I mean.
Then just glue the cut blades on each side of the remaining full length blade, like explained before.
On the next picture you can see the different stages:
That’s it. If pressed into the putty, this double blade will do belts / straps that are twice as broad as those formed by the first version of the double blade.
After doing the two “Double-Blades” that I’ve described before, I just do a third version, this time a “Triple-Blade”.
The idea behind such a triple-blade is to use it for sculpting fur. You can make a series of small cuts into the putty (drag the blade out of the putty at the end of the cut) to make a nice fur structure.
The building process of this “Triple-Blade” is nearly the same as for the second “Double-Blade” except that you don’t have to cut away the edge on one of the hobby knife blades.
The next picture shows exactly, what you have to do:
If you got the idea behind that, you can easily make other multi-blades with other distances between the edges. You just have to glue “something” between the blades to form the distance and get the whole thing on a kind of handle.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
When I started this blog here, I made it about tools for sculpting in small scales like 30mm or 54mm scale. But there are also a lot of people around, who do sculpting in a quite larger scale. Especially comic-style characters are quite popular. A lot of these people do their stuff with super sculpey or super sculpey firm (grey). The height of these Marquette’s is 15 cm and above. I found this interesting and so I would like to try out some sculpting in a larger scale on my own.
For that I thought about a simple sculpting tool for getting started with larger sculpts.
I had a look on the web for tools that other people use for that kind of sculpting and decided to make my own two sided tool.
In the end it is just a two sided tool made of a stainless steel rod with 5 mm diameter and with a “finger-tip” on one end and a “sculpting-knife”-tip on the other.
I made it this way:
First I took a stainless steel rod with 5 mm diameter and cut of a piece with about 17 cm length. Maybe it’s a bit too long, so you do it just a bit shorter.
After that, I fixed the rod into an electrical drilling machine, set it into rotation and pressed it slightly onto a grinding machine, like you can see on the next picture.
By doing this, I formed a pointed tip on one end of the stainless steel stick.
After that, I just flattened the end of the stick. To do so, I heated the pointed end of the stick up until it glows and than hammered it down on an anvil. It’s just the same procedure as I’ve explained for making 1mm tool tips (look there: “the finger tool”) beside the fact, that this time the steel has a much larger diameter. The flattened end looked like that:
Then I moved to the other side of the stick. This end, I grinded down a bit as you can see on the next picture. The idea here is to give the end already the rough shape of the later blade of the sculpting knife. I use also the grinding machine to get this done. It’s better to “pre-shape” the steel that way because it saves you a lot of work later and helps you, to get the right shape.
After that, this end was also flattened with heat, hammer and anvil. Again it’s the same as I’ve explained in my post about the 1mm tool-tips for the “sculpting knife” just in a larger scale. The flattened end looks like that:
After doing the forging work, I had to refine the two ends of the tool with the grinding machine. After that, the tool looked like that:
Finally I used abrasive paper and a polishing machine to remove all scratches from the tool and to give it a clean surface. In the end it looked like you can see on the next picture.
After that, the new tool was done. As I said before, it has a diameter of 5 mm, which is ok for most hands (except troll and orc).
I made two alternative versions of the tool.
The first alternative was made of stainless steel which profile wasn’t round but hexagonal (like a screw nut). The screw-wrench size of this hexagonal steel rod was also 5mm which makes it a little larger in the hand than a round 5mm rod. Beside that some people prefer a hexagonal grip on their tools for having a better control over the tool.
If you want to use such a hexagonal steel rod, I suggest grinding down the tool ends to a round shape before forging the tool ends. This helps to flatten the ends more evenly.
The tool from the hexagonal steel rod looks like that:
For the other alternative I used a round profile stainless steel rod again, but this time smaller with a 4 mm diameter. There’s nothing special to explain here because the procedure is the same as I’ve explained for the first tool. This tool looks like that.
So the tools I’ve made by now have a diameter or “grip size” of 5mm and 4 mm.
Maybe you prefer tools with a larger diameter at least at the handle. If so, here are two ways to get a thicker handle on these tools:
You can just “add” a larger diameter to this tool, by using a heat shrink tube (I hope, this is the right word in English for it).
A heat shrink tube is a tube / hose made of some kind of rubber-like material. If heat is applied on it, the diameter of this tube shrinks down. There are different kinds of heat shrink tubes around. I suggest getting those with a high shrinking ratio. I took one with a 4/1 shrinking ratio. That means, the diameter of the tube was originally 16 mm. After heating it up, it shrinks down to 4mm diameter. The shrinkage in the length direction is much less. It’s less than 10% (at least for the heat shrink tube I use).
I also choose a heat shrinking tube with hot glue already applied to the inside of the tube. This helps to fix the rubber grip very tightly to the steel.
I bought this heat shrink tube on ebay.
I cut up a piece of the tube that is just a little bit longer than I want for the final “grip”.
I just pulled it over the tools handle and applied heat on it. I used a heat gun for that like that. That’s a kind of hard-core hair dryer that produce much more heat than a usual hair dryer. I guess you need about 120 to 150 ° (Celsius) for activating the shrinkage.
While applying the heat on it the diameter of the tube starts to shrink dramatically until it sits on the metal tool very tightly (even more because of the heat glue inside the tube).
Because I choose a quite large heat shrink tube, the final diameter of the tool grip was quite large. So after that my new tool has a diameter of about 8 mm, that’s the same as the handles of hobby knifes like x-acto or Martor etc. Finally you just have to cut of a part of the tube away on each end, if it is too long. The final tool looks like that:
Here you can see the relation of the original heat shrink tube before and after heating it up:
I just made two other tools in smaller sizes that way. One is made of 4 mm steel, and one of 3.5 mm steel. For those I took heat shrink tube with the size 12/3 mm (12mm before heating / 3mm after heating).
For the second version I used once again an aluminium tube as a handle.
I made this handle for the smaller tool made of 4mm steel, because this might be a bit too thin for the hands.
I took an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8mm and an inner diameter of 4 mm (Material strength = 2mm). I just cut off a piece of that tube with the desired handle-length and rounded up the ends. Once again I’ve done this by fixing it into the electrical power drill an hold it slightly onto an electrical grinding stone machine like I’ve explained above for giving the steel rod a pointy tip.
After that, I just cut the forged tool in the middle and glued each part into one end of the aluminium too with good metal glue.
If you want to make a lighter tool, just cut off a little more of the non-forged side of each tool tip before gluing it into the aluminium handle.
You can do just the same with a 5mm diameter tool. For that you just need an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8 mm and an inner diameter of 5mm (material strength = 1,5mm). If you can’t find that size, you can do it with a tube combination (a tube with outer diameter = 6mm and an inner size = 5 mm inside a tube with outer diameter = 8mm and inner diameter of 6mm).
I’ve explained that in the post about “tool handles”.
That’s all about my first excursion into larger tools for sculpting.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The ebook now contains all tutorials from my blog again.
As before, you can download the ebook for free for personal use. Any use in a commercial sense is not allowed without my permission.
I've made different versions of the ebook:
Version one ("_ebook") has a lower resolution and is made to be watched on the screen like an ebook.
Version two ("_print") has a higher resolution for printing it out.
Version three ("_ecoprint") is new. It's also in higher resolution for print, but this time the book is written on plain white paper instead of the coloured and structured background of the original. I made this for those who didn't want to waste too much printer ink when printing it out, because now only the pictures and the words have to be printed and not the background.
The "_ebook" and "_print" version looks like this:
The "_ecoprint" version looks like this:
Here are the downloadlinks for the ebook:
I hope, you will like this.
Any comments remarks or critiques are highly welcome
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Today I want to talk a little bit about what I called stamp tools.
In a former tutorial I told you how to make the “rivet tool” (see tutorial about making 1 mm tool tips). This rivet tool is nothing more than a tiny tube that makes rivet-like shapes if pressed down into the putty like a stamp. So the rivet tool is a most basic kind of stamp tool.
Basically a stamp tool is an object with some kind of structured or engraved surface.
If you press it on or into your putty, it leaves a mirrored-inverted mark on the putty.
By using stamp tools, you can save a lot of time and you can do details that are nearly impossible to achieve by trying to do them by hand (unless you are Tom Meier).
Especially if you need a homogeneously structured surface (like some kind of rough fabric) or if you need a lot of exactly the same pattern (like a symbol on several shields or on the armour) stamp tools can save your day.
But one advice right from the beginning: Don’t overdo using stamp tools on your sculpture.
Stamp tools are a fine addition to your sculpting tool set, but the results are the best if you use them sparingly
In general a lot of things could be used as stamp tools. You should have a look for small objects with interesting surface structures or with engraved objects and you have to experiment a little by pressing them on your putty to see, what effect could be achieved with them.
For example I found a piece of rubber that has an interesting rough structure on its backside.
When I pressed it on my procreate putty, I found out, that the result looks exactly like braided willows (the kind baskets are made of).
Other interesting structures could be achieved by using for example rough sandpaper (abrasive paper) that is pressed onto the putty.
Or have a look on this structure:
used an old toothbrush for that.
If you think a while about this technique, I’m sure you will find some nice uses for that, so I won’t talk too much about all the possibilities for using stamp tools.
Beside stamp tools there are so called press moulds. As the name indicates, a press mould is a kind of small mould (usually a one-piece-mould) where the putty could be pressed in to give it a special shape. So as the idea is the same as for the stamp-tools, there is no really difference between a stamp tool and a press mould.
Maybe you can say, the difference is how to use it. If you press it into the putty, it is a stamp tool and if you press the putty into it, it’s a press mould. Generally a press mould is larger to form the whole shape (like a complete shield or a complete weapon) while the stamp tool is usually used to form smaller things like a part of a structure (rivet). Anyway, those categorisations are only of academically interest as both are sculpting aids that use the same principals.
So in the following, I want to give you a few examples about what can be done with stamp tools (from now on I will only say “stamp tool” as a synonym for stamp tool and press mould).
THE CELTIC PATTERN
This is a little bit more sophisticated way to make a stamp tool.
The idea was to use a technical trick to get some details that are hard to sculpt by hand. I wanted to have a Celtic-pattern-like structure on the clothes of a dwarf that I’ve sculpted. Celtic knot-like patterns are beautiful, but hard to sculpt, because it’s a kind of braided structure that has to be exactly symmetrical to look good. And to sculpt such a symmetrical structure by hand is really hard.
So I thought about a way to get a perfect symmetrically Celtic knot pattern.
Then one day when I was walking home from the city, I passed a shop where you can copy keys and where you can order these small engraved name plates made of plastic that are placed beside the doorbell. In the shop-window, I saw examples of these name plates and I saw, that not only letters can be engraved on these plates, but also little symbols and icons. So I went into the shop and ask how these plates are made.
It is quite interesting. The plates are made with a machine that uses a laser to carve out the letters and icons from the plastic sheet. Even more interesting is that nearly every black and white icon, drawing or pattern can be carved out of the plastic. You just need the drawing or icon in digital form (like .jpg, .tiff or even better some vector graphic file formats from corel-draw of inkscape). The black parts will be cut (or better: engraved) while the white parts remain. The laser engraving machine is connected to a PC that runs a special graphic software. The digital graphic (tiff, jpg, …) will be imported into this software. Then the size for the output and the “deepness” for the engraving (that indicates, how often the laser “runs” over the same spot) are set. After that just the pres of a button starts the engraving-process and the desired shape will be cut out of a large sheet of plastic (some of this plastic sheets have a thin metal coat to give them a metal-look. That’s why on the following pictures they seem to be made out of brass).
Because you can adjust the size of the desired shape in the software, you can engrave really small structures. Just make your original graphic a little larger to get a clean shape. Of course it’s the best to use a vector graphic file format because it can be scaled without loss of quality.
So I came to the idea, to create a Celtic knot pattern with a graphic software on my pc and to use it to get such a carved out plate from it.
So I started with making the Celtic pattern, you see on the next pic.
You don’t have to fight with software to get this done. There are several kinds of “KnotCreators” available on the internet. Some of them are webtools, where you don’t need to download and install anything. You can directly start to create a Celtic knot online.
Try Google to find them.
With this pattern I went to the shop and the guy there made a “name plate” from it (see next pic.). The guy was very friendly and interested in what I wanted to try, so I only paid a few cents for that plate. But I guess the usual price for that would be about a few EUROS.
The rest of the story is quite simple. I mixed some putty (procreate in this case) and pressed it onto the plate.
Then I sprayed !!! cooling spray !!! onto the putty. This trick makes the putty quite hard for a few seconds. This short time I used to peel of the putty from the plate. Don’t use too much cooling spray. If the putty gets too frozen, it could break.
After that I cut the putty stripe with the new Celtic knot structure into shape and fixed it onto the dwarfs clothes. The whole thing looks like you can see on the next pic.
I used the same “stamp” to create a decorated sword scabbard for a halfling sculpt as you can see on the next pic
THE “BOOK OF GOLD”
As the Celtic knot pattern worked quite well, I just tried another stamp tool.
For the dwarf I’ve sculpted, I wanted a small book that is bound onto his backpack.
The book should have an embossed readable title and some embossed decoration.
The “title” should be “GOLD” (as a tribute to the dwarfs in Terry Pratchetts “Discworld”, who are quite mad about gold)
So first I made a simple graphic of the book cover with the word “gold” on it and some decoration you can see far left on the next picture. Then I mirrored this graphic before I created an engraved plate from. That’s important. Otherwise the stamp tool would have produced a book cover with mirrored letters.
The rest is exactly the same like I’ve explained for the Celtic knot pattern.
In the end it looks like that:
As you might have noticed, for his „stamp“ I didn’t used the hard plastic to engrave the pattern in. The grey material, you can see on the picture above is the rubber, that real stamps are made of (I mean those that work with colour on paper). This material can also be used, because with those engraving machines not only name plates can be cut, but also traditional stamps with letters or symbols. Because this rubber is more flexible that the plastic for the name plates, in some cases it might be better to use this rubber.
OTHER IDEAS FOR STAMP TOOLS
Once you got familiar with the principles of the stamp tools, you’ll discover a lot of things that can be done with stamp tools this way.
For example you can make a stamp for tiny insects like spiders or little lizards. This would be a nice addition to the base of a sculpting (or even on a plate armour or shield), see the next pic.
For shields and armour the shapes of dragons, unicorns eagles, griffins are ideal.
Here are some examples I found on the web:
Basically you need a quite simple black and white drawing. You can draw this on your PC with a 2d graphic program. If you don’t want to draw them on your own from scratch, here’s a tip for you: Have a look for “dingbats” and “wingdings” on Google’s picture search. Here you’ll find tons of little icons and symbols that can be used perfectly as a template for a stamp tool. There can also all kinds of mythical creatures be found. But be sure to respect the copyright. So only use those stuff, that is open source or free to use. Or use it only for inspiration to create your own stuff.
If you make very small stamp-tools, it might be useful to fix them on a kind of handle.
For that I used a simple piece of wood and glued a stamp on each side. One tip for that: Make a sign (like a little dot or something like that) on the handle that indicates where the top of the stamp is. Otherwise you would have problems to place the stamp exactly on the putty.
I guess that should be enough to give you an idea about what this technique could be used for.
I confess that the stamps you can see in this tutorial are really small. You don’t have to do them as small, but I wanted to test, how small I can go while still getting good results.
In some cases, the stamp could be a start for a detail that has to be worked over to get good results. So always have a look on your “stamped” pattern, if it could use some improvements by hand. For example the little lizard you can see on the picture 12 above might need some improvements especially on its feet.
On the last picture for this tutorial, you can see some more stamped pattern for inspiration.
If you like this kind of technique but you don’t have access to such a laser engraver, you can simulate this effect by using Fimo or Super Sculpy to make your press mould.
Just roll out flat a piece of Fimo/Sculpy and press holes and patterns into it by hand. If you got your (negative) structure, just harden the Fimo/Sculpy in the oven and your press mould is ready to be used.
Of course you could also user Greenstuff or Pro Create for that, but if you user Greenstuff or Procreate for your sculpting and also for the pressmould you might get the problem, that the putty sticks too much in the mould when it is made out of the same material. So better use Fimo or Super Sculpy for the mould, because Greenstuff and Procreate will stick much less in it.
Scibor made a nice little tutorial about this way to make a press mould with lots of pictures that explain this technique much better than my words. You’ll find it on his website in the articles section:
If want to do a larger press mould maybe to reproduce larger parts, there’s another material, that such a press mould could be made of. If you have a look around, you can find a special two-part silicon rubber. This rubber is made of two components that are not fluid, but have a putty-like consistence. When you knead these two parts together, the silicone will harden in a few minutes to a rubber-like consistence. So you can use this kind of silicone to create press moulds quite fast even those with a more complex shape and undercuts. Unfortunately this silicone rubber isn’t cheap. But you can also try eBay for that. These kind of knead-silicone is available for hobby-purposes and modelling but you can also find them in the dentists supply (eBay). If you want to buy some of this keep an I on the final hardness (shore-hardness) I recommend not to use those silicones that are too hard, because they aren’t as flexible and might break faster especially when it comes to undercuts.
You can sculpt a small pattern or detail with greenstuff or procreate once and then make a press-mould to reproduce it several times with this kind of knead-silicone.
One last tip: When you make your own press mould or stamp tool, remember that it will work like a stamp.
That means the mould has to represent the negative of would you would like to achieve.
You have to keep this in mind otherwise your pattern will be “mirrored” later and this is something you won’t like especially if your pattern contains letters. So if you’ve created your desired pattern in Photoshop or Coral Draw (or similar) be sure to “mirror” it before you hand it to the guy with the laser engraving machine.