Sculpting Textures

Sculpting Textures

Chainmail, Knobs/Scales, Cobblestone, Flagstone, and Brick
 
Chainmail:
Tools: pick/needle for fine chainmail, small ball burnisher for larger chainmail

 
 
Steps: After the major form (torso, arm, etc.) is hardened, apply a very thin layer of putty over the area to receive the chainmail texture.  (Do not try to model the torso and apply the chainmail texture all in one step or you will have problems).  To make the texture come out correct do not place the holes randomly.  I generally work from left to right and from top to bottom.  At each indentation that you make with the tool lightly push the putty back toward the previous indentation collapsing it to form a crescent shape.  When I reach the end of a row, I start the next row at the end and just below the previous row.  I reverse the direction and work from right to left.  I then repeat the steps above until all of the uncured putty is textured.   
Sometimes you may find it easier working with putty if you mix and apply the thin layer and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  When the putty is firmer from being partially cured it will not stick to the tool as badly and will make a crisper texture.

Keep the tip of your pick or burnisher moist or lubricated with petroleum jelly, Vaseline, etc.

 

 
 
  
Knobby Scaly:

Tools: mechanical pencil (5mm, 7mm, and 9mm if you can find one),other small diameter tubing, and a small ball burnisher

 
 
Steps: After the major form (torso, arm, etc.) is hardened, apply a very thin layer of putty over the area to receive the scaly/knobby texture.  (Do not try to model the form and apply the texture all in one step or you will have problems).  Completely texture the thin skin of putty with uniform or varied diameter tubing.  (Be sure there is no lead in the mechanical pencil.)  This will give you little rivets or knobs. The pattern can be random but keep the circles as tight as possible.  If you want it and are careful you can get a very regular hex grid pattern if using one diameter of tubing. 

 
 
With the burnisher, flatten or dimple the knobs.  Flatten all of the knobs and spaces between to get a scale look or leave a few to look like knobby scales.  If you vary the size of the tubing (hence knobs), this can give you a great look.  

Keep the tip of your tools lubricated.

 
 
Cobblestone:

Tools: 1/8” diameter metal tube, needle nose pliers, flat bladed spatula tool (or big ball burnisher), stiff bristle brush

 
 
Steps:  With the needle nose pliers crimp the circle end of the tube into more of an egg shape (not a uniform ellipse but rather an irregular form with a fatter bottom and more narrow top).  Apply a thin layer of putty (I’ll assume that it is a base).  Imprint the putty with the egg shape tube end.  Keep the imprints close and tight but turn the tool to keep the pattern random.  Go all the way to the edge imprinting arcs where the putty ends.  With the flat bladed spatula or big burnisher flatten the cobbles to your liking.  As you flatten then push the putty of adjacent cobbles toward each other to lessen gaps if necessary.  A few irregular shaped cobbles will add to the effect.  After the cobbles are almost fully cured 30 minutes or so later (less with a heat lamp), take the stiff bristle brush and texture the firm putty giving the rocks a stippled look.

Keep the tip of your tools lubricated. 

 
 
Flagstone:

Tools: small flat head screwdriver, flat bladed spatula tool, stiff bristle brush

 
 
Steps: Apply a thin layer of putty (I’ll assume that it is a base).  Imprint the putty with the flat edge of the screwdriver.  With the edge of the screwdriver form varied sized irregular polygons.  With the flat bladed spatula flatten the flagstones to your liking.  As you flatten the flagstones push the putty of adjacent stones toward each other to lessen gaps if necessary.  Use the spatula tool to put dents into the surfaces of the stones.  Do not make the stones too smooth.  Flagstones are sheared off from each other in sheets and have an irregular surface. After the flagstones are almost fully cured 30 minutes or so later (less with a heat lamp), take the stiff bristle brush and texture the firm putty giving the stones a stippled look.

Keep the tip of your tools lubricated.

 
 
Brick:

Tools: rectangular metal tube (about 1/8”x1/16”), flat bladed spatula tool, stiff bristle brush

 
 
Steps: Apply a thin layer of putty (I’ll assume that it is a base).  Imprint the putty with the flat edge of the rectangular brass tube.  Apply any brick pattern you like, the one here is called “herringbone” and is a common brick paving pattern.  This pattern is formed by imprinting the rectangle at 45º with each brick overlapping the previous by ½.  The next row of bricks do the same but turned 90º.  This still confuses me sometimes while I do it and I have to stop and think.  Form partial bricks at the edges of the base.  Use the spatula tool to put flatten out the bricks.  As you flatten the bricks push the putty of adjacent stones toward each other to lessen gaps.  With other tools indent some of the bricks or flatten corners to make them more random and aged.  Often I taper the putty to nothing at one corner or edge.  This gives the look of sunken bricks.  After the bricks are almost fully cured 30 minutes or so later (less with a heat lamp), take the stiff bristle brush and texture the firm putty giving the bricks a stippled look.

Keep the tip of your tools lubricated.

 
 
Rivets: (from Sculpting Little Guys by Bobby Jackson):

Tools: tubing or mechanical pencil (without lead), x-acto knife, ball burnisher (optional), pin vise and tiny drill bit (optional) 

 
 

Steps: Position a tiny bead of putty where you want the rivet to go. Get a tiny tube that has an inside diameter that is the same as the rivet you are trying to create. Simply push the tube down on the bead of putty, mashing the excess putty out of the way. Then use your x-acto knife to remove the excess putty and voila, rivet. 

Sometimes I come back with a ball burnisher and flatten the top of the rivet giving it a peg-like appearance.  Also, if I find that the rivet keeps coming off, I  will drill a small hole where the rivet is to go and push the putty into the hole before forming the rivet.  This gives it better purchase. 

 

Ringmail or Ring Decoration Detail:
Tools: as per Rivets above and a fine pin or pick 

 
Steps:  I often use the ring as a decoration on a scabbard or a belt and I plan to do a whole bunch as ringmail armor on a halfling figure that I am planning to sculpt.  Anyway, make a rivet as described above where you want the ring.  With a ball burnisher flatten the rivet to a small disk.  With a fine pick or pin put a hole in the middle of the disk thus forming a donut or the ring.  I some times come back with the burnisher to square off the top of the ring.  
  
Nipple or Decorative Detail:

Tools: as per Rivets above 
 
Steps:  The nipple can be used as a nipple or as a decoration detail on armor, weapons, etc.  After forming a rivet, flatten it slightly to form a thick disk with a burnisher.  With the metal tube initially used to form the rivet, carefully center and gently press in onto the putty disk about half way.  You then have a stepped rivet or a form resembling a nipple.  
 
Chain: (from Sculpting Little Guys by Bobby Jackson):
Tools: small ball burnisher and flat bladed spatula tool
 
Steps:  Roll out a thin “snake” of putty that is about half the diameter of the chain you want. Position this where you want it on the figure and find a tool with a round end that is the size that you want for the holes in each link. Use this to poke holes down the length of the chain to simulate the links that are laying parallel to the surface your chain is laying on. Then take a sharp bladed spatula and push in the gaps between the links to more clearly define each link. Next roll out another “snake” that is the same diameter as one of the “walls” of the links you just made. Lay this “snake” on top of the first one and use a small pointed tool to poke it down into each hole that you made in the first snake. This will simulate the links that are perpendicular to the surface your chain is laying on.

The above steps are for a single sided chain.  If you wish to form a 3 dimensional chain (on a flail for example) form your initial putty “snake” around a fine gauge piece of wire.  After you complete the steps above and the one sided chain is cured, flip it over and form the links on the opposite side in a similar fashion to that described above.

 
Fur: (From Darryl Le Grange of yahoo Groups:1listSculpting):

Tools: Pick

 
 
Steps:  Apply a thin layer of green and using your pointer tool, make short strokes in the direction of the “grain” of the fur or hair.  I find I get a better look if I start at the base of the grain.  For example: When doing hair on a head, start at the base of the neck and make short stroked downward, while working on the crown).

If the area to be “furred up” is a cloak, saddlebag or other, build up the basic shape first and cure, then add a thin layer as above.  On really large areas of fur, start at the bottom and work your way up the “grain” putting down small amounts of green as you go.

Depending on how course or fine you want your fur, experiment with different pointers.  For example: different size needles, toothpicks, sharp/blunt pencils, etc.

  
Elephant Hide or Winkly Skin:

Tools: 2”x2” square of fine mesh or screen (I use is vinyl screen) or for “mini-mesh” described below, the fine brass screen filter from a faucet (or hardware store plumbing section)

 
 
Steps:  I have also used this texture to make wrinkly leather armor by just adding studs.  Apply a thin layer of putty where you wish to apply this texture.  Wad up the screen and press it on the soft putty.  Apply lubricant to the screen if necessary.  On the first press you will get a grid pattern, on the second pass you will get many random triangles which resembles elephant hide to me.  The more you press it, the more random the pattern will become.  This is a good method to quickly patterning a large area.  I use a piece of plastic or vinyl screen that is easy to form into a pointed shape to get into small places.

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