Friday, December 05, 2008

GreenStuff Sculpting Tips from a Master

This week I have the very special privelage of posting the work and tips of a sculptor whose work I hold in the highest esteem - Gene Van Horne.  I met Gene a couple of years ago at Gencon where he was giving great lessons and tips - It was he who first showed me the little wooden sculpting block clamp assembly that I use and have shown on here before (look back to my posts on Alpharius to see it). He is also a member of the 1listsculptors yahoo community that I hang around and one of the nicest people in the entire industry.

A little while ago he posted some tips for another member in that group that just seemed so straightforward and useful that I couldnt let them disappear into the depths of the the groups old posts so instead I asked Gene if I could post them here for people to see and make reference to - He not only agreed but sent along several pics of greens that he has made to be examples. So without further ado - GS sculpting tips from professional sculptor Gene Van Horne!

Sculpting sharp Edges and details in GS - Gene Van Horne

You can sculpt sharp edges in greenstuff, it just takes a little more patience. The thing you have to understand about greenstuff is that it mellows as it cures. What do I mean by mellow? You sculpt a nice sharp edge and by the time it cures it's a blob again. The edge softens or mellows. So here's a couple tricks for you to combat mellowing...

1. This trick is worth your price of admission today. If you ask most professional sculptors how long they let their putty setup before they start to sculpt, they will usually tell you they start sculpting right away. However, if you watch them sculpt, what they usually forget to mention is that they are working on three or four figures at a time. They add the freshly mixed putty to one figure, shape it just a little, set it aside and move on to the next one. Once they've made all the rounds they go back to the first figure and start to work on it after 10 or 15 minutes has elapsed. Now this is not always true in every case, but it is a good rule of thumb. Your working time for greenstuff is usually about an hour before it becomes too hard to work anymore, give or take, and that is dependent upon ambient temperature and relative humidity. If you let the putty setup for about 15 to 20 minutes before you start sculpting your masterpiece, the putty will have setup enough to allow for easier sculpting and sharper edges. 2. The thicker your layer of putty, the SOFTER your final edge will be. The thinner your layer of putty, the SHARPER your final edge will be. More putty = more mellowing. Less putty = less mellowing. Get it? Got it? Good!

3. If there's one word I would use to help you on your path to sculpting nirvana it would be smooth. Putty doesn't like to be moved around a lot. If you use a heavy hand on it, mash it around, and generally mistreat it, the putty will behave accordingly and you will wind up with a sculpture that looks like a chewed piece of bubblegum. Instead, you have use a feather light touch and gently coax the putty into shape. Pretend you are a great Jedi Master and you are using only the power of your mind to sculpt with. That's how lightly you want to touch the putty. I don't care if it takes you a million strokes to get the shape you want. If that's what it takes, DO IT!! You'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.


4. Go with the flow Joe! The next most important thing is to keep the putty flowing all in one direction. When you put a wad of putty on your figure don't just start shoving it around like a younger sibling! Instead start coaxing (see above) the putty in one direction. Either start from one side and work across to the other or start in the center and work your way out. It doesn't really matter which way you go, as long as you keep going in the same direction. You can go over what you've already sculpted, just keep it flowing the same way. Think of it like wood grain except you create the direction of the grain. Once you've created that grain don't go against it. In doing so your putty will get lumpy, which in turn ruins all chances of a sharp edge.


5. Work it baby! Work it! As you progress you'll need to work the same area over and over until it's just about cured. This is the secret to getting super smooth finishes and super sharp edges. Using all the previous tips, just keep working that face or torso or arm or leg or whatever over and over until the putty starts to set up. Remember you've already let the putty sit for about 20 minutes. Work it for another 20 or 30 and you'll be on your way to sharp edged shiny town!

Hope that helps :-D

For even more pictures of Gene's work check out Reaper miniatures or even here in my sculpting gallery section!Cya next week - James AKA Tkkultist

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