Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sculpting a human: my first attempt

A WIP: creating my own 4th edition-style Halberdier
I have spoken in the past of the intimidation I feel when considering sculpting models, or even converting them heavily. Sculpting is an art form, and the skill of some people in this field is truly mind-boggling. I have no particular aspirations in this regard, however I resolved a while ago that I would try to get over my fear of wasting time and resources, and be a bit braver with my converting. Since then, I have indeed been a bit braver. In fact, I have fully converted a couple of ogres, and been hatching plans for mass production and multi-pose models. A search of "converting" shows I have been busy over the last half a year.

These things are all very ambitious, however I have largely limited my efforts to Ogres thus far. This is partly because I will only get Ogres to match my units if I do it myself (whereas I have a very large pile of pretty compatible humans), however it's also because Ogres are bigger and easier to work with than their human counterparts. Given I am still learning, I figured I should stick to the simpler stuff for the moment.

Yesterday I decided that I needed to break this trend. In my Empire army I planned to have an entire regiment based around the old single-pose 4th edition plastic Halberdiers. I like these guys - they're chunky and they remind me of the old days when I first started into the Warhammer hobby. Their being identical didn't really bother me - I just saw it as part of their charm. However, having painted up 24 of the models, I ran out of convenient supply. Having realised that even units of 40 Halberdiers are probably not really big enough, I also started to feel that maybe having 40 or 50 of the same model was going to look pretty dull, even if broken up by Ogre unit fillers. So I needed a new plan. I would make my own version.

The single-pose Halberdier stands up tall and straight, however he doesn't really look like he is about to engage in mortal combat. I figured that if I could make a front row equivalent of the model, I could break up the unit, hopefully without breaking its feel. Anyway, this is the plan. I toyed with the idea of finding a suitable multi-part model from one of the newer editions and converting him, however nothing really took my fancy. So, against my better judgement, I am scratch-building my master model (who shall then be shamelessly cloned).
On the right we have what I am trying to match with. On the left we have a piece of wire.
About an hour later we have this...
And this is how he looks from behind.
Above you can see what I had after about an hour of working. I figured I would give him basic legs and the like before worrying about too much detail. I was reasonably happy with him, however I did change my mind about his pose halfway through, which led to a couple of contradictions in terms of his torso facing etc. Even so, I think he's workable. Oh, and the big lump on the top was where I twisted off a bit of greenstuff to reduce the size of the torso. I will probably cut if off in the end, as I may yet use an existing plastic head (there are still limits to my mad ambition)...
Arms! Well, sort of...
He comes with plastic sleeves - the latest fashion in Altdorf.
After quite a lot of fiddling, I ended up with what you see above. This is pretty much the exact same figure, however it has a couple of bits of wire sticking out of it. I know, this is not impressive. It was actually really depressing. I had trouble getting the wire into a pose I was happy with, despite knowing how I wanted him to hold the halberd. I also wasted a lot of time trying to get the wire wrapped around the halberd handle to complete the pose, before abandoning that as a bad cause. Eventually I decided to keep it simple. Or at least it would be simple, except that I decided I might need to be able to remove the arms for casting. Hence the wires not being glued into place, and the plastic guards to stop things sticking together.

The only other development at this point was a bit more shaping of the breastplate. When dealing with Magic Sculp, I discovered it was quite easy to carve and scrape at the putty once it was set. Turns out this doesn't really work with greenstuff - I basically had to cut it away. Not ideal.
And now we start to get puffy.
From another angle.

And another. Not 100% happy with the knee guard, and the arm still needs work.
At this point we have the legs basically complete, a workable torso and the start of an arm. I'll be honest with you - trying to sculpt the arm as a separate piece, with it spinning on its wire rather than staying firm against the torso, is not ideal. In fact it is a flipping terrible idea. As such, I will probably repeat this mistake on the other side. Hopefully the basic shape setting will hold this arm in place better, allowing me to correct the detail without chasing it around in circles with a sculpting tool.

So this is where I am up to after about 2 hours of sculpting. Unfortunately there is an extra hour in there somewhere where I wasted time with wires, trying to get the arms right. Oh well, we live and learn. Regardless, I am on my way. This sculpting thing is not so hard, so long as you don't expect a professional finish. Another sitting or two and I might nearly be there...


  1. This is pretty cool and I think you should definitely keep up the good work! My only criticism, should his junk be that prominent?

  2. Cheers.

    I based his junk on that of the original model, where it is also pretty apparent. Maybe I need to trim it down a bit - I will look into that.

    It's also been pointed out to me just how long that upper arm is. I need to correct that - it may need to be redone entirely.

  3. That's not his junk... that's the power of Sigmar! Seriously good effort though - I've considered having a go at something like this but I'm worried I won't have the patience.