Sunday, 1 February 2009

A Man Called Horse

There comes a time in every man's life when he goes a bit mad. He gets married, or he joins the Foreign Legion (or, possibly, having sampled the first he feels impelled to do the second). It seems that it is now my turn. Fortunately, being a wargamer, the forms of madness that are open to me include options that are not quite so hazardous as those available to the mere bulk of humanity. All of which is a painfully long way of saying that I have been having a first few attempts at sculpting my own figures.

There are a number of tutorials on the web on sculpting. While they are useful, I happen to think that they are all in error for one pretty fundamental reason: nobody will be able to create a figure that is up to standard on their first attempt, and they should recognise this before they try. Fortunately it isn't necessary to do this: you can develop your skills by working on less ambitious projects first. In my case I have been using milliput for 18 months now, using it to make a few simple conversions of commercial figures, and making very easy things like trees. What I intended to do next was an evaluation of how far I have gotten along the path to creating my own figures, and the answer was very likely to be somewhere between 'nowhere at all' and 'not very far'.

My first idea was to attempt to sculpt a Grenze infantryman. This did not go very well: two mishappen lumps later I really hadn't anything to show for the effort, although I have to admit it was fun trying. But I had gained a little insight into the problems involved, and my own limitations. Creating an armature and filling that in to create a basic humanoid shape was easy enough. But going beyond that; creating a body correct in all its proportions, and then cladding it realistically was still beyond me.

If I lack artistic ability then I do possess at least sufficient intelligence to look at the processes involved and try to find ways of making things simpler. And I think I have hit on a method that will do this. I'll go into this in a later post, but for now I'll simply show a photo of the progress so far.

'Dobbin' (Right) with Stadden Horse For Comparison

So far I have gotten the basic body shape fairly complete. The legs are still in a very crude state (and parts of the armature are still uncovered) but as they are the most delicate part of the figure I plan on leaving them until last. The hardest part is next: capturing the nuances of a horse's musculature is probably the part where I will fail. But it has been an excellent morale raiser just to get this far.


littlejohn said...

That's a pretty good attempt and actually farther than I've ever gotten with sculpting but someday...and most importantly the proportions on "Dobbin" look correct...the details and musculature will come in time.


Bluebear Jeff said...


It is certainly far better than I could do. . . . and a lot safer than joining the Legion.

-- Jeff

Der Alte Fritz said...

maybe you could practice on an eBob horse armature.

Fitz-Badger said...

Looks like you got the basic shapes and proportions of the horse! Nice start.
I know full well how hard and daunting it can be trying to sculpt your own minis. A professional sculptor once said "you'll sculpt a hundred figures before you make one good one". Basically he was saying it takes practice. Don't expect the first or even the tenth to look as good as your avorite commercial minis.
The thing that freed me to just have fun with my sculpting was the realization that for my own tabletop games I didn't need to sculpt artistic masterpieces.
Just keep on sculpting! :-)