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Making a large-scale figure
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 Posted: Sat Jun 25th, 2011 03:23 pm
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clive_t
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Hi folks, I thought I might share with you how I have, over the course of a couple of years, put together a technique for making my own figures. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's sculpting, because as you will see I am just taking an existing figure and rearranging the pose a little to suit my own purposes. Here of course I am doing 'G-Scale', being notionally around 1:20 up to about 1:24, but there's nothing to say it wouldn't work at smaller scales. You'd definitely need better eyes than mine though!

Anyway, to work. I tend to use Preiser figures as my base, as they are pretty good detail, and a good quality moulding too particularly true of the facial features. You could do this with painted ones, but to be honest the added cost would have to be a consideration, as it almost certainly require a radical repaint afterwards; hence I stick to the unpainted variety. In this sequence of pics, I am showing how I made an engine driver, posed in such a way as to be leaning on the cab sill, with his arms folded, looking along the loco - or to the rear of the loco, as my mood takes me.

Here's my start point:


If you're interested, I can tell you that this is one of the German track-worker set (six figures in various poses) - if he were made up to Preiser's specifications, he'd be wielding a big old rail lever.

I set about rearranging the pose, by cutting the limbs with a thin hacksaw blade at the appropriate joints - ankles, knees, hips, shoulder, elbow etc. Whereupon I drilled a small hole in each cut end, and pushed in some  short lengths of flexible wire to re-establish the joint:

The wire I used was the copper wire you get from electrical flex, but you could use any flexible wire really, including florists' wire - which I have used on some of my other projects. The great thing about the wire is, you can rearrange the pose (within reason!) so that it fits exactly how you want, before you make it permanent.

Once I was happy with my figure's pose, I then set to work filling the gaps - for this, I prefer to use Milliput - it's a two-part epoxy filler, which starts to set after about an hour of being mixed, but needs about 24 hours to go rock solid. During that first hour, and having filled the gaps, I tried to 'sculpt' some folds into the filler to blend in with the existing clothing folds:


Also during that first hour, it's the last opportunity to ensure that the pose is still 'right' - minor changes are still possible in that time, albeit possibly a small touch-up on the filled gaps to make them smooth again:


24 hours later, I was able to sand the Milliput smooth (I used a 'Dremel' drill for this, but sandpaper or files would have done a similar job):


Milliput does come in different formulations for different applications - I choose the terra cotta colour as it's a great contrast with the white plastic, so much easier to see what's going on.

The next step was to spray the figure with a grey undercoat. 2 reasons for this: to act as a good key for the painting when I got round to it, and, more immediately, to highlight any bumps and lumps which I had missed when sanding/Dremeling:


The spray paint I used was just ordinary car body primer, pretty cheap and plentiful in supply, a perfect combination for me! After a bit of careful scraping and sanding to remove some obvious joints between Milliput and plastic, I was then able to add the hand to the right arm. The same principle applied: drill holes for some thin(ner) copper wire, fill the gap, sand it smooth when fully cured. I decided the left arm didn't need one as it would have been obscured by the body anyway:


Next step was to add back the layers of clothing that were lost when I had to cut and trim the limbs. Also, I took the opportunity to sand down the hat so that it looked more 'British'. The thin layers of clothing were made using another 2-part putty, called 'Green Stuff' - The interesting feature of this is that when mixed, it can be stretched extremely thinly, like chewing gum almost; even when set, it still flexes. Ideal, I thought, for thin, flappy layers of clothing:


My next step was to make the face a little more 'lived-in' shall we say... so a beard and moustache were called for (from Milliput again, as it's easier to scribe lines in it to make a 'hairy' appearance, than GS). I  did add a neck-scarf from GS though, just because I thought it would look good on him! Actually, it's because I made up too much GS and I didn't want to waste it:


Another quick spray with undercoat, and I was ready to begin painting.

I am a big fan of Games Workshop paints, primarily because of the huge range of colours. I used to have a bit of an issue with the screw-lid containers, which allowed the paint to go off if left for long periods; however, they have apparently redesigned the lids now, so it's not such a problem Anyway, here's the result:


Finally, a shot of our hero at his station:


So, that's how I do my figures. It's certainly not the only way, it very probably isn't the best way, but it works for me and is a lot of fun.

Anyone else have any techniques for doing their own figures?




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Clive
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 Posted: Sat Jun 25th, 2011 03:34 pm
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W C Greene
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Clive-EXCELLENT! I use 1:35 military figures all whacked up in a similar fashion. Looks like you read what the figure modelers and military types do as well as using Citadel paints. Model railroaders that don't look at other hobbies for inspiration are missing the boat!

                           Woodie



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 Posted: Fri Apr 26th, 2013 11:28 am
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robin224
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Really useful, Clive. Can I also suggest the use of Acrylic Texture Paste (from your local art shop) as a filler? it's cheaper than Milliput, and works with cheap soft plastic figures from the toyshop.

Robin Jones

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 Posted: Fri Apr 26th, 2013 02:40 pm
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clive_t
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Thanks for the tip, Robin. Out of interest, does this stuff set hard, and if so how long would it take typically to do that?



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 Posted: Fri Apr 26th, 2013 03:18 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Clive-

Great "how to" and excellent result!!

Rates a in my book!!

Herb



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 Posted: Fri Apr 26th, 2013 09:25 pm
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dennischee
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Great work Clive :2t:

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 Posted: Fri Apr 26th, 2013 09:41 pm
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Dallas_M
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Nicely posed! Well done.



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 Posted: Sat Apr 27th, 2013 07:06 am
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robin224
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Clive,

ATP does set hard and can be filed and sanded just like Miliput. A thin coat sets in minutes. If you were filling, say, a knee joint, I would leave an hour or so before working on it. One further benefit of the stuff is that you don't have to mix it.

Robin

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 Posted: Sun Apr 28th, 2013 01:55 am
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Ray Dunakin
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Good job!



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 Posted: Sun Apr 28th, 2013 09:23 am
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dtsteam
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Now you've got Clive out in the daylight again, you really need to encourage him to post a few pix of his other figures....:rah:



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