Green Stuff - Introduction & Brief Tutorial

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Green Stuff - Introduction & Brief Tutorial

PostAdded by LEAF Bot » December 30th, 2009, 19:16

Green Stuff - Introduction & Brief Tutorial

At some point it seems like everyone decides that they want to touch up, improve, personalize, or just fill the holes in their armies and so they invariably buy a tube of Green Stuff, and then are completely at a loss of how to work with it. Green Stuff is weird stuff, and it's got a steep learning curve.

There are two things that everyone needs to keep in mind when they start working with Green Stuff
    # Sculpting is extremely tough. I find it a great deal harder than painting, and it can get frustrating.
    # Green Stuff itself has a steep learning curve. It is hard to work with, and get pretty stressful early on.

If you haven't noticed yet, working with Green Stuff can be tricky, and it's easy to get frustrated and give up. Don't! The more times you mess up and do something terrible the more you've learned towards making a really stunning and unique model. If you really can't stand it, take a break of a week or so. Try not to just can the whole idea though: even simple added details can go a long way towards making a unique force. Even the Golden Demon winners that scratch-build entire models started with ungodly messes (check out some of their sites if you don't believe me!). What made them really good was that they were willing to work through it. So don't give up!

I personally feel like I'm starting to get competent, and I've gone through a full tube of Green Stuff. It takes time to get used to the stuff, but here's what I've learned so far. You learn by doing, so make sure that you mess around and experiment (and by competent I mean I can make feathers and small embellishments that look like something more than gooey blobs).

The first thing you need to do depends on how you buy your Green Stuff. If it's in a tube with two separate sections it's less imperative, but if you get it in a roll with the two side-by-side you need to cut the very center out, throw it away, and put them in separate bags. Any time the two different colors touch they will cure.

Mixing Green Stuff
    First things first: making up the Green Stuff. The two separate putties have two very different qualities to them, and it seems that you can mix almost any shade of green (I've gone to 2:1 and a bit over) and still have it cure.

    The yellow putty is highly sticky and very soft. It seems to give the Green Stuff a lot of its detail ability, and it definitely makes it easier to sculpt. When more yellow stuff is mixed in, the Green Stuff is softer and more elastic and gummy. It also takes longer to cure. A strong yellow-to-blue mix is very useful for fine details while sculpting, and the increase in "stickiness" makes it useful for adding small details to models.

    The blue putty is hard, tough, and resilient. It makes putty that cures faster and is tougher when mixed more towards blue, but it will still have some of the rubbery nature of all cured Green Stuff. It does make it very difficult to add detail. I like to go strong on the blue if I’m filling gaps or ‘bulking up’ an area without much need of detail.

    Since mixing can create different properties, you can use this to your advantage. For example, using blue-heavy mix will create a stronger more rapidly curing putty that is really good for bulking up the basic form and then using a more even or yellow-heavy mix for details on top.

    Mix small batches. It is ridiculous how far a tiny pinch of Green Stuff will go. While not particularly expensive, waste not. You can always mix up more, but once blended it will cure.

    Make sure when you mix it you mix it all the way into one smooth color. Once you mix it the clock starts ticking and you will have roughly one hour before it become more or less unworkable. Still, that is not rock-hard; it will still be squishy and I find I can race through details at up to three hours after mixing the putty when I have incorporated a lot of yellow.

Advanced Mixing
It is possible to mix Green Stuff with other forms of putty. I personally only have experience with Brown stuff.

    Brown stuff is a white strip and a brown strip. It is not quite as soft as Green Stuff, but it has very little stickiness to it. In addition, while Green Stuff cures fairly rubbery and flexible, Brown Stuff is far more rigid and hard. It can be sanded and filed after it's cured more effectively than Green Stuff. It also seems to hold flat surfaces and sharp edges better. You can add Brown Stuff to Green Stuff in order to make it less sticky or more rigid and tough. In exchange you lose softness and stickiness (which can actually be a good thing), and it is much harder to put small details in. It's worth noting that because it's more rigid a long piece of a model that is Brown Stuff is more likely to break than if it was made of Green Stuff, which is more likely to bend.

    Milliput: I have fairly limited experience with this. It seems to act a little more like clay than the "Stuffs". It cures rock hard and can be filed into very sharp edges very well. It is also extremely rigid, so despite its hardness it's more likely to break than even Brown Stuff. It is never quite as sticky as green stuff, and begins much softer. As it cures it seems to get a little better. It also responds to water very differently, more like clay in that it will slowly start to dissolve. This does mean you can get some very smooth blends into other areas, but the 'grittiness' of it makes working with it grossly different from green stuff. The amount of detail you want will determine the grade; there are several grades of 'fineness' and the finer the grade the smoother the putty is. This stuff is very good for making things with sharp edges and angles, such as weapons and armor.

    So, now you've actually got a small lump of green putty.

Working with Green Stuff
    In most cases, it is best to wait. While it is entirely possible to sculpt with fresh putty, it is exceedingly sticky, stretchy, and generally a pain. For large jobs, apply the putty where you need it or just let it cure for about 15-25 minutes as this will make it less sticky and much easier to work with.

    Keep everything wet. This is super important, as Green Stuff will stick to anything. If it's not wet, it will stick. There are a lot of lubricants you can use:

      # Oil (Cooking): I've tried this and it's actually very helpful. It doesn't evaporate and is very effective. It's also hard to glob on. However, it leaves a film that must be washed off with soap and water before you do more sculpting on the model (or painting on the model!). This can be helpful when starting as the chance to stick to everything is really one of Green Stuff's worst properties.
      # Vaseline: This is my second-least favorite. It's thick, is harder to wash off than oil, and doesn't seem to do a better job at lubrication. Not a favourite.
      # Water: This is, I believe, the best choice. It works and evaporates without much residue. There's no need to wash the model. Tools will have to be re-wetted consistently. I dip mine almost every time I take it off the model.
      # Saliva: I hear this one a lot, although I personally wouldn't recommend it, but people who do use saliva tend to spit instead of licking the Green Stuff or tools. A word of warning though: Green Stuff is toxic, and should not be ingested. There is Green Stuff on your tools; if you lick them, you will be consuming small amounts. I would suggest you not lick your tools. If you prefer to use saliva for lubrication then I would advise spitting rather than licking anything. I know of no advantage saliva has over a little cup of water at your work station though, so out of preference I would use water instead.

    One more word on lubrication: it is possible to have too much of a good thing! This is most pertinent with water and saliva (as one 'wipe' of oil ought to do it for an entire session), and if you overload your tools water can and will run across the model, making it difficult to see details and preventing additional Green Stuff from sticking to it. You can avoid this by dabbing your tool on a paper towel (or regular towel), tapping it hard to knock off water, or just running it across your finger. If you do soak your model it's not a big deal, dab it with a towel (the corner of a paper towel will soak up a LOT) and give it a moment to dry before trying to add more Green Stuff.

    There will, however, be objects involved in your sculpting, such as your desk, which cannot be kept wet throughout the process. In these cases it would be best to have the surface protected by something non-porous or disposable (wax paper is exceptional here). Cutting mats are excellent working surfaces as they will do a good job of protecting your table and don't seem to attract Green Stuff too much. Flat, non-sticky surfaces are also highly useful for rolling Green Stuff flat and smooth. Do not underestimate how useful your table may be while sculpting. Just be careful, as I'm sure everyone has wrecked their work at least once by trying to pick up a piece of Green Stuff that was stuck to the table.

    Another aside: some people have allergic reactions to Green Stuff. It may behoove you to get some gloves, but you do lose tactile response. I wouldn't bother with it unless you have problems.

Sculpting Tools
    An inevitable question any time someone posts a conversion or sculpt: what do you use to sculpt with? This is a list of popular ones, or the best description I can connect to some. Everyone has personal opinions, and you can use darn near anything. A lot of veteran sculptors have dozens of tools: I'd start with just a few. You can always get more!

      Just because they're big, bulky, and ought to cost you nothing does not mean they aren't a wonderful tool. It's often far easier to use your fingers for initial shaping than anything else. Finger prints can, however, cause problems in that they will need smoothing out later; a pair of latex gloves will solve this problem though at the expense of some tactility.

      The "Knife-Spoon"
      This is one of the standard tools Games Workshop sells. It has a straight one-sided blade on one end and a small, round spoon at about 45 degrees on the other. The knife is mediocre and okay for some detailing, but it's too thick for most of them. The spoon-end is helpful for smoothing things out and pushing putty around a bit. Honestly this is one of the things I use the least.

      The "Double-bladed one"
      This is another standard tool, I think Gale Force and possibly Games Workshop sell this in a 3-pack or 6-pack with the above and below. On one side it has a double-sided blade that is thick and rounded, not particularly sharp. The other is a curved blade that is fairly sharp. This one is quite useful, especially the larger blade. Both ends are great for details and smoothing. I very much like this one.

      The "Needle"
      This is exactly what it sounds like, a sharp pointed needle included in a few sculpting packs. You want as sharp and well-tapered a one as you can get. This is exceptional for fine details, and you can roll it along to smooth or flatten putty.

      An X-acto Knife or Scalpel
      This is my single favorite tool. You can cut putty, shape putty, use the pointed blade's tip for small details and when it gets dull or mucked up you can just replace the blade. It should probably be pointed out that in general, X-acto blades are essentially a non-sterile, non-surgical steel version of a scalpel blade. The ones I use most are (I believe) #2s, which are the pointed triangular blades with the straight edge. The choice between a scalpel and an X-acto handle is largely personal, I prefer X-acto due to the round grip (scalpels tend to be flat) and the screw system for holding blades (scalpels use a slide-and-lock type set-up).

      Dental Tools
      These are popular, and I've only got to use one once. They are amazing if you can get hold of one. They have fine points and are designed to allow easy access and manipulation of small objects. They’re also somewhat expensive, but you can always ask your local dentist if they have any used tools and some online retailers sell them for reasonable prices. Still, many sculptors swear by them. I assume they also have very clean teeth. There are a dizzying array available.

      Clay Shapers
      These are nice, especially for smoothing out larger areas. They can also be used to create some soft organic shapes as well.

    One word about wooden tools: while you can use toothpicks, dowel rods and the like, two things make them less fitting. They are highly porous, and tend to really grab putty. Second, if you keep them wet enough they start to fall apart. Still, toothpicks and disposable wooden objects can be really helpful.

    Keep everything clean. It doesn't matter what tools you have, if they aren't clean they are not going to do what you want. This means that you need to keep dried Green Stuff off them and keep them from being nicked and damaged. I'd suggest you keep some steel wool on hand to buff up your tools, and make sure you scrape any notable chunks off. Dirty tools will mess up your work, make cuts and smoothing actions rough so don't use them, keep them clean instead.

Thus far some of the basic ways of dealing with Green Stuff have been covered. Next we'll go over some basics for sculpting.[/list]

    Here are some general guidelines for sculpting. In general, these apply to any scale of sculpting.

      Work in stages
      This applies to two separate "dimensions", on the surface and from inside to outside. Anytime you are happy with how your sculpting looks put it down. Resist the urge to keep the roll going. There is nothing worse than finally getting that cloak just right; and then messing it up accidently while you work on something else. I've put my thumb into so many finished things, it's just not worth it.

      Work in layers
      This is similar to the above, but inside out. If you're doing more than surface details, you need to build up an interior structure. This will make it much easier when you go to sculpt details on it, as the underlying shape won't be turned to mush while you push the putty on top around. While you're doing this make sure to keep your layers thing. Remember that you are building up. Your detailing on top will inevitably add bulk, so make sure you have the space for it! You can always add more, but taking it off usually means taking a knife to it and starting over.

      Have a plan
      This might sound like it's obvious, but it's soooo important. Know what you're trying to do. If it involves a lot of sculpting (say new arms), try to draw it out. Preferably from two angles. This way you know that what you're working towards is what you want to work towards. Even if it's stick figures, it will help you keep the angles and proportions correct.

      Don't be afraid to start over
      You will mess up. It's inevitable. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet. If something doesn't look right or you aren't happy with it; chop it off! A sharp X-acto blade will cut through Green Stuff without much problem. It's better to have a finished product you're happy with than a model you've simply finished.

    Now you've got a decent idea on what the mysterious "Green Stuff" is, an idea of how this stuff actually works, and some pointers on what to do and how to do it. And that brings me to the two single most important rules for working with Green Stuff.

    Get in over your head, and never give up: You learn to sculpt the same way you learned to swim (if your parents were a bit sadistic): throw yourself in the deep end. As soon as you're comfortable with something and happy with how it turns out it's time to push the limits. Start with small things: if you've never used Green Stuff stick to filling gaps for a little bit. As soon as you can get a smooth transition, move on! Never tried to repose a model? Chop that thing's legs off into sections! Dig yourself a big hole! Climbing out of it you'll get better faster than any other way I've tried. Will you mess up? Of course! Will it get frustrating? Of course! But that's how you get better. Just don't let it stop you.

Keep trying, and after a while you'll get something you'll be really proud of. It helps if you can hold on to your first attempts. You will get better if you keep at it! And it will seem like no time at all before you can't even remember why you were so afraid of this stuff.[/list]

Written by: JRGrumby

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