[Archive] Article on Sculpting


Hi all,  Back in 2004 we were lucky enough to get a professional sculptor to come in to our store and demonstrate how he created miniature base models (before molding and producing).  Here is the run-down of the class. :cheers

Well all, we had our sculpting class Saturday, and I will first express a warm Thank-you to Chris Hughes our esteemed guest, Learned sculptor and teacher.

For those who don’t know Chris, he is a professional sculptor for Sash and Saber Castings (as in he does this 8 hours a day as a real job!).  He does historical figures for the most part, but has dabbled in the occasional fantasy mini.  His website can be found here:


Now Chris is a rather unimposing figure, perhaps easily lost in the crowd, but his talents stand out far above his physical profile.  Though he was rather quiet and maybe a bit shy when I greeted him, his excitement for the meadia warmed up instantly.  As people began to arrive (a wee bit after the 1pm mark we had set, but there had been a LOT of construction traffic over the weekend on the main drag leading out to our quiet little town on the edge of mania) He quickly set out his tools and lamps he had brought.  With five ready and attentive students he began to explain to us the mysteries of working with greenstuff.

First and foremost, he told us the secret formulae of the most notable experts, and that was the iconic 3 to 2 (3 parts yellow to 2 parts blue).  Next unraveled the mysteries of small quantities and tiny steps.

He showed us that in order to create a figure, each stage should be done in small layers of green stuff rather than a large blob wrestled with to keep formed.  This was the second greatest of all mysteries, the secret of staggering stages of construction.  To demonstrate, he showed us how to accomplish the feat of creating limbs.

Bending the wire into the right position, he then only coated half of it in greenstuff about 3/4 the final width the limb would end up being.  To the end of this limb, he attached an extra amount (a tab to hold on to while you worked the details!  AHA!  No more fingerprinted projects for me!) With the limb only half formed around the wire, he placed this project beneath the desk lamp to cure.  With a sagely smile, he told us how the lamp cures the putty more quickly and instead of waiting 8-12 hours, you need only leave it there for at most, an hour before you can work with it again.

He then took up a half completed limb that he had done before and completed the other side, showing us it was okay to overlap the edges slightly as they can be smoothed later.  And he let that cure as he showed us the #1 trick of the sculptor�?� spit.  Yup, plain old ordinary spit.  Stringy gooey, yeah, you get the idea.  But what is so amazing about spit is that it keeps greenstuff from sticking to things, especially your sculpting tool!  Eureka!  I just found the secret that allowed me to go from gobby mounds of green goo to works of profundity!  

But that was not all!  Once we learned how stages and spit work, then was the ancient mystery of carving!  Yes, set greenstuff can be molded and carved like wood or plastic with my dremel, and I cackled with evil delight as visions of rank on rank of my dwarfs suddenly turned evil with greenstuff hats!  Yes, the diabolical plan was coming to fruition!  And with malevolent glee I set to work creating my masterpieces of wonton destruction of the warhammer western world.  But our esteemed master of the secret arts was not through with our instruction.

Lastly he showed us the mysteries known as rubbing alcohol, dollies, and casting!  Rubbing alcohol brushed onto greenstuff makes it smooth like glass and ultra shiny! (As well as cleaning every tiny speck of plastic dust off the model prior to casting.) It is great for smoothing over those accidental fingerprints, tiny nicks or grooves you didn�?Tt mean to make, and gives the greenstuff that glossy look you see in the pictures of greens done by professional sculptors.

Dollies are the base figure that sculptors use to make �?~variant�?T figures.  Usually when creating a full figure, they sculptor first makes a dolly of that fig.  The original must be about 5mm larger scale than the final product!  Yes, shrinkage is a problem even in sculpting!  The Dolly is the main body of the fig without pointy-sticky-outy-stuff, and usually without a head (which he showed us how to make one of those too!).  The cast dolly comes out about 2-3mm smaller than the greenstuff original.  The sculptor then takes the dolly and starts molding more stuff to it, the arms (if they stuck out), the head, the pack, weapons, etc.  

The sticky-outy stuff is then carefully removed from the dolly (if attached, either by a fine jeweler�?Ts saw or other method) and the both of them shipped to the caster for final casting after a liberal coating of rubbing alcohol.

And so by the end of our two+ hour session (I had to leave); I had the base workings of my first hat!  Yes!  I was so pleased!  It fit so well on that miner!  I was so happy that my plan was beginning to come to fruition!  I will get pics done of the various stages of my work, so that you all can see my progress and delight in the knowledge that soon these lovely hats will assimilate dwarfs everywhere into my evil legions of Chaos Dwarfs!


Your article has some excellent tips! :slight_smile: I myself typically use some kind of lubricant to make things smooth and to ensure they do not stick to my tools.

There really needs to be a step by step, extremely comprehensive article written about Sculpting 28mm miniatures. You’d think there would be one by now, but there simply is not. There are bits and pieces here or there, but nothing start-to-finish.


Your article has some excellent tips! :)  I myself typically use some kind of lubricant to make things smooth and to ensure they do not stick to my tools.

There really needs to be a step by step, extremely comprehensive article written about Sculpting 28mm miniatures.  You'd think there would be one by now, but there simply is not.  There are bits and pieces here or there, but nothing start-to-finish.

Hmm... I could possibly expand this article and include pics to detail sculpting completely. I'll have to do a lot more, myself to ensure I have enough experience to be able to cover it entirely, and possibly enlist Chris' expertise. I'll see what I can come up with.


A couple of points:

1) Water works as well as spit for preventing sticking, and is much less disgusting :wink:

2) Polystyrene cement has a similar effect on greenstuff to the alcohol mentioned above, and will also bond it to plastics very effectively.


Also alcohol can only be used when the GS is not completely cured. When it’s cured, the alcohol trick does not work anymore. Basically the alcohol ‘burns’ the excess surface off. A tip I got from a sculpting pro is, besides using spit, to use vaseline. Downside of using vaseline though is that you have to clean the sculpt afterwards.

I’ve done enough sculpting lately to get the hang of it. Patience and working step by step are the keywords for me!

I hope to get into sculpting some figures soon. So any tutorials are always welcome!

Still, nice read. Thank you! :cheers:


lol despite my vast collection of sculpted stuff I didn’t know about large sections of that article at all :cheers

Rubbing alcohol? I just used my fingers:hat off

And I never sculpt bits separately, I always make the thing on a complete wire frame. I don’t think it would work for me, I need to see all of it together.

Interesting to see how others do it :slight_smile:

and spit? ewww

Kera foehunter:

thanks for sharing !! some of us would love to have a meeting like that!!

i like to use vasaline !spit just don’t do it for me !it still stick to my tools i find even a little vasaline mix with the green stuff let it smooth at better and keeps it more workable


Phew, looks like I’m doing my sculpting the way you’re supposed to :wink:

That’s interesting about the shrinkage. I always believed it was apprx 3mm for human sized 28mm. 5mm must be an extremely high quality vulcanising press. I assume the amount may also vary depending on the overall size of a model?

I don’t see the need to use alcohol just to make the green shiny? If you happen to use it for another purpose that’s fair enough.

I always use spit. I wouldn’t use a lubricant like vaseline because I don’t know whether it leaves a residue after its dried off? If it did it may make it harder to stick on GS there afterwards. So spit seems easier to me.


The alcohol was mostly to clean and smooth the model to make sure there was no residue left from the modeling and shaping process.  I’m not sure about the actual casting process used, as Chris told me he sent his work off to a larger manufacturer for casting, but he was very adamant about the 5mm shrinkage.  It is likely that might be true for his casting company that he uses.

Also, this was 4 years ago, so methods might have improved significantly since then.

As for supposed to or not supposed to, well there are many ways of doing something, and the article is merely presenting one way of doing sculpting.  The method works well for me, so I still use it. :slight_smile:


re: Rubbing alcohol

I learned of the rubbing alcohol trick from using Super Sculpey and similar media. It essentially dissolves the upper layers of the putty making it slimey and less solid. At this stage you can essentially sand it down - personally I use an old soft brush to smooth out details or repair damage - finger prints, indentations, etc.

Its not just for looks, but a powerful tool for making the model look more professional. It can be tough to get a finger into most sculpted areas and you don’t want to undo nearby fresh work so rubbing alcohol and brushes allow you to have more control over it.


First and foremost, he told us the secret formulae of the most notable experts, and that was the iconic 3 to 2 (3 parts yellow to 2 parts blue). 

A great article, thanks!
I know the thread is a bit old but I'd like to ask, scine I'm not very experienced with green stuff, why is the above quoted mix better than equal parts?



a 1:1 mix is too sticky, it sticks to everything, and takes ages to dry too…