PAX Aus: From Pixels and Putty Panel

PAX Aus LogoI attended PAX Aus this weekend. Fortunately the Melbourne Exhibition Centre was a much better venue this year, and one of the many excellent panels I made it to was ‘From Pixels and Putty to Awesome Tabletop Miniatures’.

The speakers were:

  1. Andrew Lum and Robert Sakaluk from Aetherworks
  2. Peter Overton from Twisted Miniatures
  3. Kosta Heristanidis from Eureka Miniatures
  4. Craig Clarke from CNC Workshop
  5. Jake Schneider from Dark Wolf Studios

Victoria Lamb was supposed to turn up too but couldn’t make it for some reason alas.

It was a great panel, and covered a bunch of stuff from traditional putty sculpting over a wire armature for figure work, which I’m reasonably familiar with from years of wargaming, to more modern hard edge work using CAD packages like Sketch UP and 3D rapid prototyping.

The panel consensus seemed to be that consumer grade 3D printing was probably ten years away from being capable of producing the sort of detail you’d want on a war gaming figure. However I’d argue that depends perhaps on what scale you’re working in, and what you’re trying to produce. It seems possible to produce reasonably decent hard edged terrain and vehicles with the consumer grade 3D printers you can buy today, if you’re willing to rework the prints a little. Human 28mm wargaming figures are another story of course, there the 10 year window does seem more reasonable.

Sketch Up was mentioned by two of the sculptors as being their preferred tool, and as it’s a free product I definitely need to spend some time practicing with it. CNC Workshop use Sketch Up to lay out their MDF laser cut terrain kits, and Dark Wolf Studios are using Sketch Up mainly for vehicle parts to customise 40k kits. Dustan also bought himself a Makerbot 3D printer a while back and is going gang busters on it too, so I know at least one local who can render Sketch up plans into ABS plastic.

The panel also lamented how awful Shapeways was for any kind of figure or small scale war game work. Somebody recommended Moddler instead for producing finished resin masters from your plans. They look very professional though, and quote for individual work so best make damn sure you have something in a final form to print.

I live in Ubuntu these days because I find it a heck of a lot more productive than Windows. Fortunately Sketch Up can apparently run under Wine according to these instructions. Time to try putting together something to send to Dustan!

Musketeer Miniatures Sculpting Tutorial

Musketeer Miniatures Pirate Recently I stumbled across an excellent, step by step photo tutorial of a 28mm pirate sculpt by the gentleman behind Musketeer Miniatures.

In nine parts he takes us from creation of the wire armature to a finished sculpt using ProCreate epoxy putty which has recently appeared on the market. Frankly this has to be one of the best sculpting tutorials I’ve found on the web to date which is why I’m reposting it here. It’s so good I’m considering using it as a copying exercise and attempting to create my own version of this pirate from green stuff just for practice (of course).

ProCreate putty sounds like an improvement over green stuff as well, which I find a little annoying to use simply because it’s so tacky. Musketeer Miniatures sell ProCreate too, and I’m tempted to pick some up, although I should use up the foot or so of green stuff tape I have left first.

PitYak Burnisher

Pityak Burnisher I’ve bought several very useful sculpting tools from Phil of PitYak Studios in the past. Unfortunately one tool he didn’t have was a small ball burnisher which I was after for smoothing sculpted green stuff.

Recently he told me about a craft store he’d found locally in Wellington that sold some cheap and useful tools. In particular they had a 0.5/1mm ball burnisher tool that he picked up and was good enough to send me gratis. Thanks Phil, I definitely owe you one!

By the way PitYak Studios sell a fine range of detailed resin 28mm figure bases as well as a wide range of modeling tools and basing materials.

Sculptors Do It With Small Tools

Prophet Minis recently announced their new ‘Sculptors Do It With Small Tools’ product which is a kit that contains enough materials to sculpt up to half a dozen 28mm figures. For the tools and materials supplied it looks to be pretty good value at $34.99us. Unfortunately I already have plenty of sculpting tools, dollies and green stuff littering my paint station.

However I noticed they also sell the sculpting tutorial included in the kit as a separate, downloadable PDF for a mere $7us. For that price I figure it’d be hard to lose so I grabbed a copy.

It’s not a bad tutorial at all. Most of the basics are covered included the working properties of green stuff, how to use and create your own armature dollies, various figure proportions and ratios (for men and women), dynamic poses and visual balance for figures.

The tutorial also contains some specific methods for creating hair, fur and thin sheets of green stuff for clothing and cloaks as well as a two page step-by-step on sculpting faces. Finally it includes a couple of handy reference pages giving figure ratios in various scales (54mm to 10mm) and front/back pictures of showing stylised male musculature.

There are a couple of gaps in the tutorial. For example I would like to see a step-by-step of an entire figure being sculpted and while creating faces is covered there’s no tips for sculpting hands which can be another problematic area in my experience.

Even so $7us well spent I feel and the PDF has been carefully filed into my ‘sculpting’ folder.

Update: According the to the Prophet Minis forums a tutorial for sculpting hands should be appearing on their web site in the future.

Via Tabletop Gaming News.

Carving Pumpkins!

Sculpted Halloween Pumpkin Ok a little off topic, but here’s some lovely (relatively speaking) Halloween Pumpkin Sculpture from Villafane Studios (warning annoying Flash front page), with a how-to photo tutorial even!

We’re not quite as Halloween crazy here in New Zealand as people are in the States. We’ll do a bit of trick and treatin’ in the street with the kids but nobody wears costumes to work or anything. I tell you it was a bit of an eye opener catching the Silicon Valley Light Rail during Halloween while I was working over there several years ago!

Via Boing Boing.

Games Workshop Rapid Prototyping

CNC Milled Tyranid Claw Here’s an interesting trade article about the systems Games Workhop are now using for rapidly creating their new plastic figure lines. Gone are the day of ‘3 ups’ and pantograph machines.

I assume they’re still using the old fashioned sculpt and vulcanized mold system for metals but who knows?

There’s some interesting tidbits in there too, like the fact that GW used to produce 60 ‘tools’ (ie. new molds) a year but now they’re looking at 100 ‘tools’ a year with the new system. I assume this means we’ll see a lot more plastic regiment boxes in the future. Apparently they also run the plastic molding process ‘almost 24 hours, 365 days a year’.

As a gamer it’ll be very interesting to see what their sprues look like in several years once GW are old hands at this method. I haven’t been that impressed with the newer sprues (eg. Dwarf Warriors) because of their limited poses and loss of some detail on some surfaces which is presumably a side effect of this newer method.

Article spotted on The Darkwing.

Detailed Press Molds

Detailed 28mm Scale Armor There’s an interesting technique described in the www.creafigs.com forums here. How to create detailed, custom press molds by scribing with a sharp tool and then using them to create fantastic looking armor details.

This is a French site, so the instructions are in French, but the pictures pretty much tell the story…plus you can always try translating the page.

There’s a fine example of this technique on www.coolminiornot.com.

FreeBooter Miniatures Tutorials

Werner Klocke of Freebooter Miniatures is a superb, independent sculptor of 30mm figures. I frequently visit the site to check up on his latest greens.

It also seems he may be posting some sculpting tutorials in 2006 on the Freebooter forums which should be very interesting to follow! Most of the forum is in German, but WIP photos tell the story anyway for sculpting.