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Custom Head Tutorial by Sculpt-bot

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Old 01-28-2008, 05:53 PM   #1
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Custom Head Tutorial by Sculpt-bot

Here is the Custom head Tutorial by our very own Sculpt-bot. We would like to say thanks upfront to Sculpt-bot for sharing this with us.

Hey all! Some had inquired on how I go about sculpting up the heads that I use for my castings. This will be a quick tutorial on the basics. The first pic is of some of the tools that I use, basic sculpting tools, as well as some homemade ones. Dental tools work well for sculpting in this size, and help with the finer details.

Make sure your tools start out clean, and you keep some rubbing alcohol or other cleaner handy, in case things get messy. For this sculpt I am using Super Sculpy (available at most art and craft stores), because it is a one-off and won't be casted. For heads that I am casting I will sculpt in castilene or plastilene for the sake of adaptability. I always mix some colored Sculpy in with my Super Sculpy to give it a tint. Straight Super Sculpy tends to have a slight translucency, that makes it hard to see details or imperfections. Mixing a little color in helps to give it a little opacity. You will need a high temp heat source for Sculpy. I use a heat gun (available in the paint section at most hardware stores), but you can bake it in your oven as well. Follow all directions on the Sculpy box to get best results.

Knead the two parts together until you get a uniform color.

I will occasionally chill my clay in the freezer to help it harden. This allows for sharper edges, and easier carving of mechanical details. I start with a cylinder and carve it to shape.

I continue to cut to shape, until it is the approximate size that I need.

This is just a "skeleton" for the head, and should not be larger than any part of the head. Once you get this done, bake the sculpy to complete hardness. Once cooled build more basic shapes onto the frame work to get the forms of the "helmet" down. I tend to use a lot of block and angular shapes cut to size and blended onto the frame.

You can bake the sculpy slightly as needed to give it some firmness, and protect the work you've done. I never bake it to its complete hardness until the very end, because it allows for adjustments and easier carving of the details.

At this point you can add mass to the back of the head to fill it out. I also add the circular "ears" on the side of the helmet. I do this with two equal sized balls of Sculpy, pressed flat against the side of the head. Make sure you allign them correctly. I keep a mirror handy while sculpting, and look at the sculpture in it often to help with proportion. It sounds funny, but looking at a reverse image of a piece will help bring any balance issues to light. Try this with drawings too, it really helps!

I intentionally leave the face for last, because it is the area that can be adapted the best once the helmet is done. If you try to build the helmet around the face, your head can end up too large or small, and you can damage the work that you did on the face. If your character has traditional "eyes", leave recesses for them, and build up your sculpting material around the sockets. For robotic characters this tends to work the best (not for sculpting natural subjects though), and can be adjusted to give your bot the "optics" that you want. I will do a seperate tutorial down the road on how to do this exactly. The character I am sculpting now has a "visor" for eyes, so a complete fill in of the face area is okay:

Using the same basic idea of adding shaped clay to the piece, you can now build up the face. I did the visor first on this guy.

And then added the nose with a small rectangle, put a small "blob" of sculpy on his chin, and shaped it with a dental tool. I then use a pin tool to do the mouth, and chin, line detailing.

Before baking any of the face, I use a soft bristled brush dipped in Goo-Gone to smooth out any blobs or bumps on it. There is specific Sculpy brand liquid smoothing compound, but Goo-Gone is a little cheaper, gets the same results, and evaporates a little better. I don't brush down any of the helmet area, because I like to sand that area to the proper smoothness. The detail of the face area just usually doesn't allow for sanding. I then add a little "vent" detail on the fore head, and then bake the whole head to maximum hardness.

Once completely baked and cooled, I use various grades of sandpaper, ending with ultra-fine Testors, to smooth the helmet, and sharpen edges a little. I then do a final brush down with Goo-Gone to remove and dissolve any Sculpy-dust. The sculpting is now complete!

The pic here looks a little shiny from the Goo-Gone, but the head turned out well. I will be posting pics of the finished kitbash that I am using it on , shortly in this same thread. I hope the sculpting tutorial was helpful, and allows some of you to take your bashes to the next level. I will do more in the future, that will be more specific (eyes and facial expression), and different themes entirely (weapons, anyone?) Please feel free to post questions if anything needs clarifying, it could help with future thread subjects. Thanks for your interest!
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wait . . . . issa wobot anna twuck?!

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