Friday, January 20, 2017

How to Sculpt Miniatures 6: How to Sculpt Hoods

When posting photos on them online, someone requested I do a tutorial on how to sculpt hoods, so here it is: my long-delayed return to my How to Sculpt Miniatures series!

So remember these guys? They're my Genestealer Cult Enforcer squad, which is a fancy, made-up name for a bunch of hooded, shotgun-totting Neophyte who are meant to escort my cult's higher-ups into battle.

To make them stand out and seem covert and insidious, I wanted to give them hoods to match the hood I will eventually put on my Primus, based on this guy:
So, without further ado, I'll get into the materials, tools, and process you need to follow for sculpting your own hoods!


For this sculpting tutorial, I am using ApoxieGreen, which is a 1:1 mix of Apoxie Sculpt and Green Stuff. For more details on this wonder material, check out my How to Sculpt Miniatures article on Epoxy Putty, Apoxie Sculpt, and Greenstuff, where I go into detail about the properties/benefits of each medium, and the benefits of combining them.

Virtually all sculpting I do is done with this combination of AS and GS. It is so good at extending the life of the expensive greenstuff, without losing any of its properties, that there is simply no reason NOT TO do it.

Also, in case you haven't seen the Secrets section of How To Sculpt Miniatures 2, remember to only keep as much putty as you immediately need. The rest should be made into small balls...
...stuck in a tupperware or some other container...
...and placed in the freezer.
The chemical reaction that causes epoxy to set is exothermic...or maybe it's thermophylic. If you keep it in the freezer, you can extend the life of it for a day or two. If you need it to set up faster, you can put it under a hot lamp. By storing excess greenstuff in the freezer, you can pop it out a ball at a time as you need it, and not worry about it going to waste.


You could sculpt this entire hood using the following spoon tool (I think the dental tool terminology for it is "Elevator"?) since it provides a smooth, curved surface for smoothing, and a pointer end for poking.

However,  when it comes to smoothing the hood, and working in some folds, I would also want to have a silicone brush/shaper on hand.
Of course, as you know from my How To Sculpt Miniatures: Sculpting Skills post, the other tool you must ALWAYS have on hand is lubricant to keep the putty from sticking to your tools, and to make it easier to smooth the putty. You can use water. I use Nivea cream, and I've never looked back.

With those two sculpting tools, and some Nivea/Lube, you should be good to go!


So here's an Enforcer, pre-hood:
1) Create a ball of Putty roughly the size of the Miniature's head. You could also create a flat piece of Putty on the shape of a hood and drape it, but I found d that too finicky. I start with my Putty on top of the mini's head:
For most of this work, I used the spoon elevator tool:
2) Flatten the Putty across the top of the head, making it look like a floppy hat/bonnet.
Here's a look from the side:
3) Start sculpting the Putty downwards, with a preference to pulling more of it forward. You still want to leave some at the back for the hood, but you'll need more at the front.
4) Stretch/Sculpt the Putty downwards towards the neck line of the armour and form the sides of the hood. Try to ignore the right side on this photo as the shoulder pad got in the way.

While doing this, you also want to be using the convex side of the spoon tool to pull the Putty away from the face:
5) Sculpt the Putty in the back down to the neck line of the armour. You can stretch it pretty thin in this lower area near the neck as you want to leave a little more Putty at the crown of the head to make the point of the hood:
Hwres the Putty flush with the neck line. In situations like this with armour, it's usually best to tuck the material of the hood into the armour. If this was a cloak, you could blend the hood into the cloak.
6) Form a point to for the hood at the back using the Putty you left at the crown of the head. Don't get carried away. We're not sculpting wizard hats here!
Here's a view of the point from the other side:
7) Next we're  going to draw the hood in at the chin and sculpt the fold at rhe bottom of the hood. This is why we needed more putty at the front of the hood than at the back. 

Here's the hood as we last left it. If need be, you can push a little more Putty down the sides, towards the bottom at the neck line. You might need it.
With the pointy end of the Elevator tool, poke in the bottom of the hood towards the models chin. Try to tuck this part into the front of the model's armour. 

You'll notice that this creates a curve in the putty at the level of the model's cheek. Pay attention to this for the next step.
8) Add some gravity to the hood by gently pulling down / stretching out that curve in the putty. This is how you make it look like the bottom of the hood is being pulled down by gravity. 
While doing this, also clean up the edge of the hood, pulling it out from the model's face and giving it more of a rounded A-shape, with the rounded port at the top, and a wider opening at rhe bottom. 

9) Using your silicone shaper/brush and a decent amount of Nivea / lube, you can now smooth out any imperfections in the hood and add in folds or wrinkles. 

Since the model here is turning his head to the left, I want to give the impression that the fabric of the hood is being pulled/torqued. As he's turning to the left, I sculpted the folds running from left to right on an angle. 
All that's left now is a little bit of clean up, and you're done!
Now just rinse and repeat the process for any other models that need hoods!
To introduce different character to your hoods, you can experiment with using less putty to make them tighter, or more putty to make them look more billowy. In the photo above, you can kind of see that the Enforcer at the top right has a tighter hood than the one at bottom left. Bottom left's hood looks more deep, which makes me think more of a monk. This was COMPLETELY INTENTIONAL and not at all a product of me teaching myself how to sculpt hoods WHILE I was doing it 😊

One thing I want to try to get right is larger hoods that hang down in the front to partially or fully obscure the model's face. However, for now these should work for you in most cases. 

What I like to highlight at the end of any tutorial I write is that this stuff gets a whole lot easier when you ACTUALLY DO IT. If you sit around, reading tutorials about sculpting, but never trying it, it's going to remain an unachievable goal of yours. However, when you get off you duff, grab some putty, and try it out, I guarantee it won't be as scary as you think, and you'll actually find it pretty easy! 

And when is say that, I'm speaking from experience. I was never trained as a sculptor, and most everything I know or can do comes from experience of trying it out. 

So please, for the love of the Skymother, get out there and get sculpting!

Also, if you want to see more sculpting tutorials, please let me know what you're looking to learn, and I'll put something together :D

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  1. This was great and really useful. I will try it out soon.

    1. Awesome! Glad to hear it, Alexander, and please share some shots of the results when you do try it out!

  2. Excellent tutorial and I will have to give this a try. I agree that being a good sculpture is really having practise at it. So I may find some random bits to practice this on.

    1. Absolutely Joe. Pretty much everything I know about sculpting I learned from practicing. In fact, I frequently figure out how to sculpt something, then don't do it in a while, then have to kind of relearn it on the fly.

      Once you take the tips I've given and start sculpting, it will get easier with every try.

  3. I have been looking at my ranks of cultists and thinking they could do with some hoods to tie them into my Thousand Sons. I might need to give this a go. Cheers.

  4. I will definitely try this out the next time I need a hood.

    I'm curious. Maybe because you're good at sculpting and it's not an issue, but what if you need to smooth it out once you're nearly done? Namely, once you've got those side folds done and looking good, but it's a bit sloppy on the outside? I picture those nicely done folds caving in if attempting to smooth out the outside. Know what I mean?