Sunday, 15 May 2011


The stuff from which green legends are made
 I have spent most of my gaming life in awe of people who can sculpt. The amount of detail involved in a wargaming miniature (be it 6mm, 15mm, 28mm etc) is incredible, and I find the skill involved in designing and realising these models to be remarkable. Much as I would love to be able to do something like this, it's one of those things I'm willing to dismiss as impossible and give credit to those who can and do. If anyone could do it, it wouldn't be called "talent".

To a certain extent my modelling envy extends to those who produce high-quality conversions, effectively creating their own models by using something created by someone else as a base. Sometimes the amount of work that goes into these creations is almost on a par with that which went into the original, making you wonder why the modeller didn't just build it from scratch. However, the beauty of conversions is that they can be as simple or as detailed as you like. You don't have to go all-out in your quest to make the original model unrecognisable - that is not really the point. Sometimes half the fun of a conversion is trying to identify what came from where.

I spent years reading White Dwarf, looking at articles in which modellers discussed converting models and encouraging readers to try it, before I was ever even tempted to have a go. For a long time I figured that I liked the models the way they were - why would I bother trying to change them? It was probably only when we started to enter tournaments and had direct exposure to a lot more gamers (and they armies) that conversions started to appeal. Now you would see not one, but as many as 10 of a given army. If everyone uses the same models, it can all get a bit dull. And then there were the players who had already converted their stuff, making it more apparent what was possible, and the fact that people who didn't feature in White Dwarf could do it too.

The simplest conversions tend to involve just chopping and changing parts from existing models, often with no putty at all. This was how I started out. Using this simple approach, I was able to make a number of unique models, such as my Black Orcs below.

The unholy offspring of plastic orc archers, ogre bull hands and weapons, and the odd component from other orcs
As simple as chopping and changing components from existing models is, there are limits to what you can do without using modelling putty. This has been a problem for me because, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, I am scared of putty. I think this is partly because it has always struck me as the domain of serious sculptors, however irrational that may seem. Knowing what talented people could do with the stuff just made me feel guilty about using it in my own plebeian schemes.

The other thing that scared me about putty was fear of waste. Buying "green stuff" from Games Workshop is an extremely expensive proposition. You get perhaps a foot of the stuff for the price of a blister pack, which makes it feel like you're trying to model something out of solid gold. Knowing that you don't know what you're doing, and will therefore probably waste quite a lot of the stuff figuring it out, was enough to put me off for a long time.

Eventually my desire to make certain things started to overcome my hesitation. I decided I could probably achieve these things with minimal waste as they were not too ambitious, so I took the plunge.

My most major putty project to date is the Ogre Baker. Nothing too fancy, but the hat, apron, rolling pin, fashionable mustache and human baked goods used a fair amount of green stuff.
After a few projects where I came away satisfied with the results, I am starting to get braver. However, the knowledge that being braver probably means greater waste has led me to seek out cheaper alternatives to the Games Workshop green stuff. It turns out alternatives abound...

This is not so much an alternative to green stuff, as it appears to be green stuff. The containers give you 36 inches of the stuff, for a very reasonable price when bought online. I bought several of these.
Magic Sculpt. Some people online seem to rate this stuff highly, so I bought 1kg of it on Ebay. It seems to be more like modelling clay than putty, but I think I will come to like it. And no, it did not arrive in a glorious pyramid of containers - just 2 small buckets...
OK, so now I have no excuses. I have tons of putty, I have sculpting tools, I have outlandish ambitions. Now all I need is skill...

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