Monday, 25 February 2008

Officer almost commissioned

Made some progress on the first officer this weekend, he's just about there now, one more session on the detail and he should be complete. Here's how he looks at present.

For interest I've also included a comparison photo of a casting of the fusilier alongside and RSM 95 Prussian Grenadier figure (Neither figure cleaned up in this photo). As you may recall at the start of the blog, I'm making figures which will hopefully fit in with this range and the likes of the Hinchliffe X-range AWI, figures which I use a lot and really love.

Now I'm certainly not claiming that my figures are as good as the one's which Steve produced, but I'm quite pleased with the end result, I think its a reasonably good fit in respect to heft and height.

I must confess in respect to the fusilier, that this is not a figure I have cast myself. Because I will require quite a lot of these particular figures (I use 40+ figure units) I decided it wasn't worthwhile drop casting them individually. Don't get me wrong, as I've already illustrated you could drop cast this figure, and if I wanted 40 or 50 of them only, that's exactly what I would do. However as I probably want several hundred, I've had the master figure used to make up a master figure mould, from which the figure in the photo was professionally cast. These metal master figures will then be used to make a production mould for a centrifuge based casting machine. In terms of cost, even doing it this way, assuming that you are going to get a few hundred cast, its very competitive with buying commercial figures.

Whilst this approach will be fine for the "high volume" figures, I think I'll stick to drop casting for the more specialist type figures.

Next time, hopefully finishing the officer and starting the next, probably a drummer.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Order in the Ranks!

With the Fusilier master now complete, its time to move on to other figures which will be required. Clearly our man will not be led to the path of glory without adequate direction, so its time for the first officer.

As initially assembled from a selection of the previously made components, he looks like this, at this stage he's had a few bits of greenstuff added as per the previous figure. I've also remodelled the hands to accept the pistol and into a pointing pose.

At the next stage I've added the coat sleeves and collar as well as the waistbelt for the sword, and associated attachments on the sword itself. You could put the waistbelt on flat, but I've added an area of greenstuff to the waistcoat and then drawn up the belt etc. This leaves a little bit of greenstuff on the original waistcoat, which I've given a little texture to. This will hopefully make it look like the belt is "pulling in" the waistcoat a little, rather than just sitting on top of it. Its fairly subtle, so we'll see how it comes out in the end.

There was a query about how I do buttons and other "detail" areas like cartridge box plates. For buttons I use a little tool that I have made from a plastic golf tee/peg. All I have done is take a plastic golf tee, cut the pointed end flat and drilled a very small hole in the end. Making buttons with this is simple, similar to cookie cutting in dough. I apply a small quantity of greenstuff to the area in question and flatten to roughly the required height. Next apply the tool and press lightly. This effectively "cuts out" the button shape. Then simply remove the excess greenstuff from around the button and there you have it. You can subsequently tidy up the edges/shape if its slightly incorrect, its also worth very lightly pressing the button down to make sure its stuck down well to the figure. I'm sure there are other ways of doing this, but this technique works for me.

For other areas of detail I just try to create a raised surface that's a bit similar to the design in question and then roughen it a little to create a surface for painting. I don't try to recreate the exact detail, lets face it, its unlikely you will paint it anyway and even if you could it would be lost at anything more that very close inspection. Figures with too much detail in a restricted area can look a bit busy when viewed at any kind of distance and the overall impact is lessened, well in my view at least.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

He's Finished!

Very busy this week, so progress has been slow, however the first master is now complete. Here's a few photo's to give you an idea how he turned out.

Finishing the figure involved adding more buttons, the plate on the cartridge box, bow/ribbon in hair and generally tyding up any little bits that weren't quite correct (e.g. one of the musket bands was slightly damaged). As I said before adding detail is a compromise, I want the figure to look right, but don't want to overdo detail, as this takes you down the route of the oversize "modern" figure I talked about at the very start of this Blog. I'm aiming for a figure that will be clean, easy to paint, but that will still have the key details that define the uniform. In this case for example I've put buttons on the cuffs and vents, but less than the "correct" number, as I felt it looked a bit fiddly with that many. Anyway, on balance I'm happy with the result.

Time to move on to the next masters, probably an officer or drummer.

At this stage I've effectively taken you through the whole process, sufficient that you can, if you want, try this yourself. Making final figures is just a repeat of the process I illustrated previously while making the intermediate castings.

I'll continue to post up photo's of the other masters etc as I complete them, in case anyone is interested in how they work out.

For those planning on having a go, good luck, as I said at the start its not as hard as you might think, however, be realistic, its a bit like anything else, you won't be great to start with, but if you persevere, I'm sure you can achieve acceptable results.



Sunday, 10 February 2008

Almost there

Firstly thanks for all the positive feedback, It's good to know that this blog is of some use/interest.

Having done the initial assembly that I detailed in the last post, I decided that I didn't quite like the musket position on the shoulder. I felt it looked like it was about to fall off his shoulder, so I have re-aligned it slightly more towards the head.

In respect to this, I fine that the human eye is a good guide when scuplting figures, this may be a somewhat obvious point, but things that aren't quite right tend to jar on the eye, somehow they just look wrong.

The next stage with the figure was to add the cuffs (including the linear vents) and collar on the coat. I also added the belt for the cartridge box. In addittion to this, I added a little extra length to the tips of the fingers under the musket butt, as I felt they didn't look like they were really holding it properly prior to this. At this stage he looked like the first photo, I then left him to harden.

Once this work had hardened, I added the cartridge box, the bayonet (which is made from bits of paperclip, suitably flattened and pointed where appropriate) attached to the cartridge box belt, the shoulder straps and the back of his hair and pigtail. I also "filled up" any small gaps between anything I've added to the basic figure, i.e. underneath the bayonet, the small area between the palm of the hand and the musket butt. This is to prevent the final mould having small voids/slivers, which won't work properly during casting and will ultimately lead to the demise of the mould. In essence you need to create a fairly "solid" figure avoiding small gaps between elements of it. At this stage this first figure is almost finished, I still need to add a few small details, mainly buttons etc, but don't intend to add any more equipment. He currently therefore looks like the second photo. Next time, should see this first figure complete!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Final assembly

A bit of a delay for this post, as I've been making moulds and casting the weapons and heads required. And this is only a hobby for me so other pressures inevitably take precedence.

Casting the weapons and heads to a satisfactory standard is difficult using the "drop casting" technique. The basic problem is that as the individual items are small, there isn't really enough mass of metal to keep the heat as it goes into the mould, the result is that it cools more quickly and its difficult to achieve the fine detail. This is an area where a centrifuge would pay dividends. However after a bit of perciverance I've got a reasonable stock of heads and weapons that I can use.

For the first figure, I intend to do a marching fusilier, as its a good "generic" pose.

In this photo, I've just assembled the figure with the basic components I've cast, so a body, head and musket. The head is attached to the body with a metal pin, drilled and glued to both parts. At this stage I normally bend the arms, move the head etc, until I get a pose that I'm happy with.

The next step is then to start to build up the figure working towards a completed master. Initially I will add the basic, form of the coat sleeves, the shirt around the neck area, and some minor repairs and beefing up of the vulnerable areas on the coat/turnbacks and between the legs that the master for the Torso suffered from.

Here he is having completed this stage of the process, I have also added a little more to the nose, as whilst it was ok looking from the front, in profile it was still a bit weak. I'll stop, now to let this harden, next time finishing the coat, and adding the cartidge box and belt.