Scratch Builds: Re-structuring

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Wikkid, Sep 3, 2012.

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  1. Wikkid

    Wikkid Semi-retired customizer

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    This is a full-on in depth tutorial on how I build customs from the ground up. I call this technique "Re-structuring". This does not mean this is a tutorial on how to build a Masterpiece Slag, it is only intended to show the process of a re-structured build.

    First we lay out our base components. I like to use pre-existing figures as it allows you to utilize there ratcheting joints, ball joints, or other articulation points:

    [​IMG]


    Get a rough idea of how you want him to transform. This mode is your most important because you'll be working towards making something out of this mode:

    [​IMG]


    This layout could be used for several different transformers as it's a fairly basic configuration. (Arms fold away, legs roll over waist) This was originally going to be a 1/25 scale Scrapper, but we'll make Slag instead:

    [​IMG]


    The legs are donated from a Cybertron Primus figure. They do not roll over the waist as is but offer a knee joint that would allow it to do so. We begin by mapping out an area to be removed:

    [​IMG]


    I only notch out as much as I need for clearance. You never know how something’s going to shape up closer to completion so make minimal cuts. The waist not fits within the lower legs:

    [​IMG]


    Scale is an issue in this case. The upper body is too wide in relation to other figures within its size class. We'll need to narrow the body:

    [​IMG]


    The arm hinges are a primary point so don't alter those:

    [​IMG]


    By cutting away the excess body fat we . . . .

    [​IMG]


    . . . . narrow it down like so.

    Once happy with the scale of the body, you can create structural supports and install mechanisms that will come into play later in the build. In this cause, there's a square tube that runs vertical down the center of the body. This will allow the neck of the Triceratops to extend. (Some pre-planning is required.):

    [​IMG]


    I now begin building other components that will help determine scale along the way. The Triceratops head is important the help insure the rest of the dinosaurs body is in proportion. It'll also determine how much space the robot head gets to move around in:

    [​IMG]


    With the dino head basic structure complete. I build my robot head and base plate. Check to be sure he can look up and down and side to side. The neck extension is in place and a forward flap installed which will become the alt modes lower jaw:

    [​IMG]


    You'll need to find a suitably sized face for your build. The helmet size can be altered so focus on getting a face that within the realm of other figures in the same line.
    (The construction of this particular head will be featured in an up and coming tutorial titled "head construction and alterations."):

    [​IMG]

    Now let’s get the waist attached to the body. The two components are not designed to just join up so we begin by opening the crotch area to see what internal components we are dealing with. In this case, we have a large, open area in the top half which will allow for a nut in the crotch....get it, a nut in the cro . . . . never mind:

    [​IMG]


    Drill a hole in the top that matches the size of the bolt you intend to install:

    [​IMG]


    You can now glue the bolt into place but I advise you keep the bolt tightened in place until the glue dries. (Keep glue of the threads or you're in for a world of pain):

    [​IMG]


    Put em together and see how sturdy he is. As is, this guys about the exact scale a Dinobot should be in relation to MP-10, but is far too tall to scale with MP-08:

    [​IMG]


    The bubble thighs are too big and too not G1 so I tackle them first. They will set the tone for the rest of the build. I shave them down as much as possible without damaging any of the internal structures and cover them in styrene paneling:

    [​IMG]


    The entire leg is covered to tie the aesthetic together. The top is left open for now but will be filled later:

    [​IMG]


    I now cut down my lower legs. He may look a lil dwarfish now but the articulated feet will adjust the height down the road:

    [​IMG]


    It now becomes obvious he's got serious monkey arm syndrome. We'll have to fix that by . . . .

    . . . . locating excess on the donor arms. In this case we can shave out this section shown below:

    [​IMG]


    . . . . and re-glue them like so. This will shorten the arms 3/4 inch:

    [​IMG]


    Comparison:

    [​IMG]


    I still want the arms shorter so I look for another place to splice. By removing the slide flap, I see there is an unused area in the upper forearm:

    [​IMG]


    Shown above, I removed the plastic between the green lines and re-glued the panels:

    [​IMG]

    The forearms were then sanded down to the thinnest tolerances possible then supported with styrene plastic to smooth out and straighten the arm (be sure all the internal parts still work). The upper arms remain unchanged and a large circular plate is grafted to them:

    [​IMG]


    The dino feet are made to fit snuggly over the forearm and the elbow details are now in place. The upper arm is also rounded out but not completed at the inner point. I do all the details first as this arm will need to be glued into place so it's much easier to do separate from the complete figure:

    [​IMG]


    Using epoxy, I glue a sheet of styrene across the entire lower leg. It's much easier to work with a common plastic as a base for the detail work.
    Now it's on to the feet. This component is from a 2007 movie leader class Optimus. It allows for rotation, swivel, etc. By notching out the top, it also get more range of motion:

    [​IMG]


    In dinosaur mode, it'll sit atop the figures back:

    [​IMG]


    Be sure the component clears the internal parts:

    [​IMG]


    I'm now going to get into detailing. I grabbed this model kit at $80 as it comes with an assload of detailed internal parts which are a goldmine for customs:

    [​IMG]


    Not only does it come with an arsenal of bombs, it's got all this tech stuff (which is probably pretty simple in reality, but makes for great robot details):

    [​IMG]


    Anyways, I didn't like the initial body, so I re-engineered him to have more detail as seen below:

    [​IMG]


    Check your scale periodically. Slag is not meant to be as narrow as Hot Rod, so I'm more focused on height. You can then proportion him to his own body type:

    [​IMG]


    With the torso now complete, the arms can be epoxied on and the upper arm finished:

    [​IMG]

    I'm now getting the rear dino legs together. These use a larger mag than the front legs and are meant to be beefier. Be sure not to oversize the height or he'll always be walking downhill. There is also a ball joint receptacle put in place to attach to the body:

    [​IMG]


    Now we get the mounting location in place with a roller assembly to allow the leg to fold to the back of the leg:

    [​IMG]


    Be sure it clears any obstructions in the back:

    [​IMG]


    Test fit the parts:

    [​IMG]


    Check the leg height. In this case, I want the leg to be constantly bent so the foot will compensate for the slight loss of height:

    [​IMG]



    It's now time to get the rear dino body built. I start by getting the robot feet/upper body perimeter in play. The tech detailing is also fit into place as you build these from the bottom up:

    [​IMG]


    I complete the rest of the upper back and fitting in more tech stuff. The feet are also complete at this point. I then use square tubing to create a boundary. I also have the rear dino leg in place so I can enclose it with a strip of styrene matching the outer edge. This sets up my boundary to keep the bulk from interfering with the leg:

    [​IMG]


    Now we begin the plunge into squaring everything off and adding detail. This panel connects from the lower leg and squares off at the knee:

    [​IMG]


    Drawing out the shape I'm going for and setting it where the robots leg ends:

    [​IMG]


    I now install styrene supports to keep everything where it's supposed to be:

    [​IMG]


    Now I fill the voids with TR-114 by Fuzor. I found this makes for one helluva solid figure:

    [​IMG]


    Sculpt and shape and sand. All these techniques can be found in my "Bodywork 101 tutorials":

    [​IMG]

    It's now time to create filler panels so everything looks complete. Filler panels can be found in the "Basics of Styrene" tutorials:

    [​IMG]


    At this point, we now have a gutless Dinobot:

    [​IMG]


    We fill the void between the head and ass by locating a piece of tech panel that fits nicely between the two sections. Again, we build from the inside out:

    [​IMG]


    I lay up another perimeter by matching the panel we used on the robot leg/dino butt. Use more styrene to support the joint on these pieces:

    [​IMG]


    Using the same bodywork techniques, create solid panels and tape them into place. At this point, they aren't connected to anything and are basically floating:

    [​IMG]


    With him in full-on dino mode, we can see areas we need to work around. The main backbone is a separate unit that connects to the body:

    [​IMG]


    Build your styrene barrel hinges (See basics of styrene tut) and glue their appropriate sections to the backbone. You then install panels that connect from the barrel hinges to the wings/ribs:

    [​IMG]


    FINALLY, we install our last details revealing the end product of all this work. The main body is now complete:

    [​IMG]


    I put it in its first stage of primer at this point. The first stage primer is a high build and will reveal imperfections in workmanship and pin holes in the filler. (See prep work start to finish tutorial) Do NOT apply high build primer over the detailed parts. Be sure to mask them off:

    [​IMG]


    Now we move on to the tail. The base for this needs to fit the contours of the butthole:

    [​IMG]


    Depending on what you're building, you'll want to preplan. In this case, I wanted to try an articulated tail that breaks in two and transforms into a rocket pack. To do this, the tail needed to be in two halves. Turbines were also sized within the structure:

    [​IMG]


    The outer skin is applied and the two halves are connected with a barrel hinge to allow them to separate. I now begin the second tail section which forms the intakes:

    [​IMG]


    The two sections are connected with a tube slide and ball joint on the end in each section. This allows the tail to extend on either the right or left side to allow articulation. The tip of the tail is now built which will only articulate up and down:


    [​IMG]


    And here's the finished tail . . . . :

    [​IMG]


    . . . . which transforms into a rocket pack. (This design was scrapped in favor of one that folds up within itself):

    [​IMG]


    And here it is in its final stage of primer. Everything gets a light spray this time:

    [​IMG]


    Robit mode:

    [​IMG]



    In my first stage primer, I typically mask pins and ball joints. Reason being is that the high build primer is thick and can add a lot of mil thickness. The joints, such as the elbows for the robots arms, are sprayed in order to test tolerances but are later sanded down, sometimes right off. The final stage primer is very thin and is only intended to give the figure a uniform base.

    If you're asking if the parts get stuck together when primed, then no. I prime figures completely disassembled and suspended in the air. If anything needs to make contact with a surface, it will be a backside that is never seen and the blemish will be sanded out later once dry.
     

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