Ex Manus Studios

Unique 28mm Miniatures

Tools of the Trade - Part 2

Posted August 4th, 2014
Written by Stephen Mason
Category Making

After the last blog post I got to thinking; the tools I talked about in that post were all tools I use directly on the putty to actively sculpt the miniature, BUT there are a bunch of other tools I use in making miniatures, that are indirectly essential to what I do. So I figured I'd talk about them this week. As I said last time, these are just the tools I, personally, use, and different things are going to work for different people.
So, without further ado; More Tools of the Trade:

Magnifying Headset:

I got this years and years ago, but at first I found it too uncomfortable, and that it didn't add much to the process. As I got better a sculpting though, I found I was working on smaller and smaller details, so I tried the headset again, and now that I was ready for it, it proved invaluable. Nowadays I don't know how I would make miniatures without it.

Armature Wire:

One of the essential parts of sculpting figures is the armature. It provides a (mostly) ridged structure to hang the otherwise soft putty off, and it allows proportions to be established early on in the sculpt. Personally I like to use uncoated 'florist' wire, but other types of wire can be useful as well, so long as the gauge is small, but the wire is still reasonably strong.

Grips and Clips:

When working with the wire you need to be able to hold it, twist it, and cut it, so I have a few little pliers and wire snips, as well as some clamps for holding parts up wile I work on them. The tweezers are good for picking up smaller parts and manoeuvring them into position. 


Cork is a great material, and corks from different bottles make great holders for WIP miniatures. Stabbing the bottom of the armature into the cork allows me to work on a miniature without having to hold the sculpt itself, and thus minimising the risk of accidently putting my finger on an unset part of the putty and ruining freshly applied details.


Ahhhh; plasticine, my old friend. I use a large quantity of plasticine in the course of my work, mainly to quickly 'sketch' up ideas and do mock-ups of models before starting the (much more permanent) master sculpts. It can also be useful for propping miniatures up while tricky areas, or glue, sets.

Tool Protection:

This is one I highly recommend. When working with most forms of sculpting epoxy putty, the putty itself is quite sticky ('Green Stuff' was originally an industrial adhesive), so you need to wet or grease the tips of your tools regularly. If you don't, most tools can become caked in putty. Worse, when applied to a sculpt, the tool will pull the putty when you move it away, making clear marks and shapes, much harder to achieve. There are a bunch of options available for this, and it depends on what you prefer. Some use a small dish of water (which requires frequent refreshing), others a small tub of Vaseline. Personally I use some really oily plasticine I found years ago. A quick swipe, and the tools are not sticky for a while, it's great!

Also Glue:

A small pot of superglue never goes astray. Good for fixing broken parts, attaching new ones, or helping anchor armature wire in cork.

That about wind up my 'Tools of the Trade' articles. Now I have to devise something new to talk about next fortnight. Hmmmmm.

- Pendix Out


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