Monday, August 24, 2009

Armor Plate and Corrective Posture for BloodLetters Tutorial

Over the last couple of years I've had numerous people at Tourneys, shows, and on-line forums ask me for a tutorial on how I do armor plating. I have recently just gotten around to doing so, and I am taking a number of pictures of while I'm building some models with armor plating, primarily Bloodletters for expanding my current army.

This tutorial will occur over a number of posts as I go, probably over the next week or so.

First off a discussion of tools, for those that are new to this.
Tools Used: Xacto knife, various metal sculpting tools, tooth picks, needles, colour shapers (primarily Royal Sovereign Size 0, for beginners I recommend the Firm), Ball Burnisher/Stylus, Mechanical Pencil, Thin Wall Metal Tubing

The picture below shows the various tools I use:

1 – Large Spoon Spatula: I use this for smoothing larger plate areas. Turned on its edge works great for smoothing out the edges of your plates.

2 – Firm Round taper point. I use this for getting into all of those really tight areas and for smooth curved concave surfaces.

3 – Cup Round. I use this one for general smoothing. Flat for smoothing plates and convex surfaces. Round for concave surfaces and for round raised edges.

4 – Ball Burnisher / Stylus. I use this primarily for chainmail, but also for make holes in putty plates. Has too ball sizes. I also use this for denting and making the ball-peened hammer type look on the plates.

5 – Flat Chisel. General Smoothing. Square raised edges. Smoothing out plate edges.

6 – Metal Tooth Pick Hook. The point is like the Stylus. The bend kind of works like the Round Taper and Cup Round, but much finer than both and moves the putty much better.

7 – Mechanical Pencil. Used for recessed rivets and normal rivets when coupled with an xacto.

8 – Cup Chisel, Soft. When you really need a soft touch. These are the work horses for the way I make the raised edges on the armor.

9 – Cup Chisel, Firm. When you can use a slightly firmer touch. These are the work horses for the way I make the raised edges on the armor.

a – Knife on one end and long narrow spoon of uniform width.

b - Normal style knife, spoon spatula Sculpting tool. When you need to really move the putty. These are the work horses for the way I make the raised edges on the armor. The knife end used for smoothing the edges of the plates.

C - Normal style knife, spoon spatula Sculpting tool, but larger than b.

And now a short discussion of various materials. Materials I'll be using: Brownstuff (BS), or Greenstuff (GS), Water.

General Notes, The More Common Putties
Greenstuff (also known as Kneadatite Blue-Yellow)
It is the most common putty you see used. It will cure solid, but will retain some flexibility. Very similar to a hard rubber. It strength is that it is excellent for making organic shapes. Its weakness is that it does not hold well for sharp edges. If you want really sharp edges, use your Xacto Knife and cut those edges after the GS has cured. GS can easily be cut once cured. GS does not take well to sanding or filing, but that does not mean you cannot smooth it out after it has cured. To smooth it after it is cured, use a sharp razor blade and gently shave the GS with the edge of the blade. Holds detail very well. Semi-sticky like gum in the early stages of curing, after being mixed.

Brownstuff (also known as Kneadatite Brown-Aluminum)
BS is a hard putty that combines a bit of flexibility with the ability to be sanded and filed into sharp edges. It cures harder than GS, and is more brittle. BS is often used for making mechanical looking parts or other metal parts like sword blades. I have also found that BS is much easier to get smooth before its cured than GS. Does not work as well as GS when sculpting more organic looking stuff, better suited for mechanical things.

Apoxie-sculp is a self-hardening synthetic clay that combines the features and benefits of clay with those of epoxy. Apoxie sculp will be very soft when mixed, and has a much longer working time than BS or GS and takes a couple hours to really start stiffening. Once cured it becomes rock like. It can take sanding and filing. Its very strong and rigid. However, it does not take detail very well in my opinion.

Milliput is an epoxy putty that cures hard. Once fully cured Milliput can be machined, drilled, tapped, turned, filed, sawn, sanded, but can be brittle.

Putty Mixing / Curing
After mixing the GS or BS putty, it will be soft and pliable. You will have about 20-30 minutes where it is very soft. This is a good time for basic shapes. After the first 20 minutes the putty will start showing more rubbery characteristics and begin to harden. Most epoxy putties, also depends on the amount of the hardener you use, will have about 1-1.5 hours of working time before it is too hard to work anymore. Epoxy putty will typically cure fully in about 24 hours.

General Tips for Armor Plates
- Recommend using BS, but GS works fine. BS is more forgiving in getting smooth plates, especially if you are new to using putty.
- Sharp edges are very critical to make it look right.
- To make raised edges very gently use your spatula/spoon tool, ball burnisher, or my personal favorites the chisel pointed colour shapers.
- For recessed rivets use a mechanical pencil without the lead in them and simply jab the putty as it's curing with the metal tubing.
- Plastic Rod Rivet method. Use your Xacto to shave off a thin layer of plastic rod. Place a tiny drop of glue on the model where you want the rivet and put the thin layer of the plastic rod over the glue.
- For raised rivets, allow the putty armor to cure (it helps if you put a little tiny divot in the putty where the rivet is going), flatten a small ball of putty over the armor, then use the tubing and press it into the flattened piece of putt. Remove the excess putty and allow it to cure. This is a very delicate rivet, not durable at all unless it is sealed in place somehow. I recommend the recessed rivet for use with your armies and things that get played with, its much more durable and gets the idea across easily.

Next Post, we'll start by correcting the posture of the bloodletters and sculpt some abdominal muscles as we get everything prepared for the armor plating.

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