How to make candles – tutorial

It’s been some time since Urbik described how to make candles for your miniatures. Still, after all this time the tutorial may still be interesting for many hobbyists, so we’re making it available again. Urbik wrote:


I thought that since I already registered here and have been browsing the forum for a few days, it would be nice to write something too. And because I have a lot of time, I decided to describe my own way of creating candles in scale of Warhammer Fantasy Battles miniatures, like the ones I presented during Polish edition of Golden Demon.

Note: If anybody had a similar idea and published it before me in the internet/paper/radio/poster/leaflet/TV/another medium, I would like to explain that this idea is my own and hasn’t been stolen from anyone. In case of any similarities, I am not responsible. 😉

OK, so you want to know how to make candles? Let’s get started!

What we need

  • wire or a piece of “something” of 1-1.5 mm diameter
  • thin string or thread (much thinner than the wire above)powyżej)
  • PVA glue
  • greenstuff

Step 1

At the very beginning we have to decide about the size of our candles. After a few attempts I found that their standard height would range from 3 to 6 mm.

We divide the wire (or “something” else) into pieces of our chosen length. These bits will become the main (wax) parts of our candles. I used a chopped spear of an Empire soldier, something that I have a lot of, so I could use it with no regrets. 😉

Step 2

We make a small greenstuff ball (proportional to the size of our candle) and press it to a chosen part of our model. We put a piece of wire into it and wait for the greenstuff to harden. Whe wire is to become our candle.

It looks more or less like this:


Step 3

Now it’s time for the most important part in the whole process of candle creation. Sounded very serious, didn’t it? 😉

Because burning is the most important job of a candle, we should create a few drips of wax – just like we tend to see on real candles.

We’re going to use PVA glue for this purpose. We thin the glue down a bit with water (don’t overdo it!) so it has convenient thickness for us to work with. Then we use a toothpick (or some other little thing) to apply some glue onto the candle body, creating “spots” in several places of our choice. When the first application of glue is dry, we can add some more in the same places. Usually it’s enough, but if we want even more prominent drippings, we can add even more layers.


Step 4

Now it’s time for proverbial icing on the cake. What would a candle be without a wick?

We make a wick from thread (which can be hardened with some superglue) or thin string. Then we glue it to the top of our candle with strong glue.


Step 5

Painting! As we should know from our experience, candles can have very diverse colors. And I don’t really mean cheap candles in bad taste that you can buy at fairs, but different colors that can be spotted in various lighting conditions.

I tend to use two ways of painting my candles:

Method 1:

  • basecoat of Rotting Flesh (maybe slightly darkened with a little black or Catachan Green)
  • highlight up to white

Method 2:

  • basecoat of Bleached Bone (also darkened – for example with light brown)
  • highlight up to white or to Bleached Bone (if the basecoat was darker than that)

This time I decided to use the first method, which is the best imitation of wax in my opinion. I recommend using naturally smooth transition of colors, without rapid changes or radical contrasts. The results may look like this:



That’s it. As you can see the technique I use to create candles for my miniatures is not that complex and one doesn’t need to prepare more greenstuff and then remove excess with scalpels. How precise your approach is going to be depends only on you.

Such candles look great on religious-themed models – like flagellants, war priests or inquisitors.

how-to-make-candles-tutorial-5 how-to-make-candles-tutorial-6

It’s a pretty original method of making the model look more unique and interesting, and many Games Workshop models don’t include candles at all. Well, there are some exceptions, but they only prove the general rule 😉

I hope you find this tutorial useful and now you know how to make candles for your miniatures.

— Urbik

Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting

There’s a saying, which is often said to be a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. Whether it’s a true Chinese curse or not, it doesn’t matter. But one thing is sure – we’re living in interesting times, indeed. Many new technologies made it to our lives and hobbies. Digital sculpting is one of them…

Many people are sceptical to innovations and refuse to treat them on par with the old methods.

Just like with most new technologies, there are as many people fascinated with the new possibilities as others – criticizing it. Not only being critical and sceptical about it, but also refusing to treat it on par with traditional sculpting. And we’ve had an interesting discussion about digitally sculpted miniatures on our miniature painting forum, but let’s start from the very basics.

What is digital sculpting?

You surely know what traditional sculpting is: The sculptor takes a lump of putty or clay and shapes it with his hands and/or sculpting tools. You know the kind of tools used for sculpting, right? You surely do.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Traditional sculpting tools

Now with digital sculpting, the artist forgoes his “physical” sculpting and tools to use a computer and create a “virtual model” with it. You must have heard about 3d modeling – you can see digital 3d models everywhere: in movies, in computer games, on digital artwork, on posters, in advertisements… Often it’s difficult to tell if the object or person was a real one or is it only a virtual creation.

Now one can create such a 3-dimensional model and then “print” it, using one of many 3-d printing services. Or maybe create a mold and produce copies of it. It doesn’t really matter – the clue is that a virtual creation is turned into a physical, tangible object. In our case: a miniature. That’s what digital sculpting of miniatures is all about.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
ZBrush – One of digital sculpting tools

I bet you see the difference: “Traditional sculpting” creates a physical object from the beginning, and “digital sculpting” creates a virtual model first, which is given a physical form in the next step(s). And what are the consequences of this difference?

Traditional vs digital sculpting

Digital sculpting can use many benefits of working on a virtual object, many that we know from inage editing software – like “undo”, “copy-paste”, easy texturing, etc. When a sculptor makes a mistake, he can press “undo” and correct his mistake easily. When he wants to create another arm, sword, head, etc. – he can use “copy/paste” and modify the newly created copy. He can also “stamp” textures onto surfaces of his models. There are many many other options in popular 3-d modeling software, but I only wanted to give you a quick insight into the choice of tools the sculptor may use in his digital sculpting.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Copy – Paste: the digital way and the traditional way

On the other hand, traditional sculptors have similar options, but they’re not as easy to use as in digital sculpting. Sure, he can “undo” his mistakes – by cutting off, sanding off, or scratching off the parts he’s not satisfied with. It takes more work than pressing a button, but can be done. Of course, he can “copy and paste” an element he sculpted: he can create a mold and cast a few copies, or maybe create a quick print in greenstuff… But it’s more difficult and time consuming than pressing Control+C Control+V. And yes, he can also stamp textures: create a small textured “stamp” and press it against surfaces before they’re cured. But it’s not as easy and convenient as doing it the digital way.

So what? Does it make a traditional sculptor a better artist (or craftsman) than a digital sculptor?

Text processor vs pen

Is a miniature good because of its creative concept or the tools chosen by the sculptor?

Let’s think about a poet who writes a poem, or a novellist writing a book. Many of them moved on to using computers and text processing tools now. But doesn’t it make their art less impressive? They can use copy-paste, undo, and spellcheckers now. Their friends using pens or pencils do the same, but do it the harder way. Does it make their art better because they had to put more effort into it.

Or is it more about creativity than the choice of tools?

Wait, there’s another example, because the first one was a bit too controversial. Let’s take a painter with oil paints and canvas, another one with a photo camera and traditional darkroom plus a choice of retouching tools (traditional, not digital), and another one with photoshop and computer. They all create images, visual art. They all can create pictures of landscapes.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Was H.R. Giger a worse kind of artist because he used an airbrush?

But is the painter more of an artist than the photographer? And the digital artist less of an artist than the painter?
Or do they create different kinds of art? Although they are all kinds of visual art, they’re all pictures, they’re difficult to compare at all…

Errare humanum est

Or: “To err is human”. Errors and mistakes are a part of our lives and also of our creations. Some say, that imperfections make works of art even more impressive and admirable. You must have read many comments that digital sculpting creates sculpts which are too perfect, too clean, too artificial. That they lack the human touch, the personal touch of the sculptor, which is given by traditional sculptors to their works. Do you agree with this opinion?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Digital model vs. actual casting – Ivanka Kurganova from Raging Heroes

When you take a look at traditionally sculpted miniatures, many of them bear marks of some sculpting imperfections. Sometimes surfaces are not perfectly smooth, details not perfectly symmetrical, and shapes not perfectly modeled. And that makes them special, that makes them unique and gives them the magic touch of the sculptor.

Is it the same with digital sculpting? If people complain it lacks the imperfections of traditional sculpting by the sculptor’s hands, maybe it is the case? Or maybe it’s simply the lack of mastery of digital sculptors? Maybe there are many great traditional sculptors already, because this art (or craft) has many years of tradition already, but digital sculpting is fairly new and people use it not because of the possibilities of creating great sculpts it offers but because of the benefit of saving time and thus increasing productivity? And when time is your priority, it’s difficult to pay more attention to quality.

It’s just a tool

So is digital sculpting a completely different kind of art/craft, or is it only a different tool for sculptors to use. If it wasn’t for progress and innovations we might be still sculpting our miniatures in clay or chiselling them from stone. But now we have many kinds of putties, all with different properties. We have modern casting facilities, we have precise sculpting tools. So maybe digital sculpting is the next step on the same path? Some will move on, some will stay with the techniques they’re more familiar with.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Progress is unavoidable

Just think about painters. Some are still painting their paintings with brushes, some moved on to airbrushing. I bet it was simiar when somebody invented a brush. Some traditionalists must have complained that painting with brushes is not real art, because it’s taking a shortcut, and they kept painting with their fingers or wooden sticks. 😉

Just like every tool, digital sculpting has its disadvantages, too.

And just like with every tool – digital sculpting has its disadvantages, too. You only get to see the physical object when it’s printed. Until then you only see a virtual image of your sculpt. And you see it on a 2-dimensional screen. Now recall all the complaints that there’s no way of depicting a 3-dimensional painted miniature on a computer screen and a flat image. Translate it to sculpting and you know what I am talking about.

Then there’s the frequent complaint about lack of sharpness of digitally sculpted miniatures. Is it a matter of the sculpting or the printing process? I don’t know, but it seems many companies fail to get it done properly for any reason. So as you can see digital sculpting is not the perfect solution to every sculptor’s woes.

Next generation or degeneration?

Will the transition to digital sculpting result in decrease of sculpting skills?

If we think about digital sculpting along the lines of “next generation of sculpting tools”, we may start to worry if it won’t start a process of degeneration of sculpting skills of sculptors who move on to the new tool. Just like many airbrush painters wouldn’t be able to achieve smooth blending on their canvas using only traditional brushes. And just like many photographers would be unable to create a realistic portrait in the way artists of old did it – drawing or painting it. But do they have to?

Do photographers really have to prove they’re skilled painters? Do people who create great art using airbrushes really have to prove their skills with brushes? And do digital sculptors really have to prove their skills with traditional tools and putties?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Does he really have to prove his acting skills? Or better not…

I say: no, they don’t have to, but their art shouldn’t really be compared with traditional art as far as technical perfection goes. When you compare creativity – feel free to do so, but technical aspects are hardly comparable…

Clash of the titans

I am yet to see a digitally sculpted miniature which will impress me more than some traditional miniatures did.

Now there’s a good question: If we compared a great digital sculptor with a great traditional sculptor, would they be able to create comparable works? I mean: equally impressive and appealing to us, miniature painters? I must say I am yet to see a digitally sculpted miniature which will impress me more than the best miniatures sculpted in the traditional way.

There are many great sculptors, who work in the traditional way. Many that I really admire. Kev White with his characterful models and realistic proportions, Tom Meier with his unbelievable skills at detailing his sculpts, Raul Garcia Latorre with his recognizable style, and many more…

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Tom Meier – master of detailing. Just look at the decorative patterns he sculpted on a 30mm scale model! No digital sculpting here…

I have seen many great digital 3-d models (many were really awesome!), but I don’t know of any digitally sculpted miniature which would make me go “wow” as much as many traditional sculpts did. But maybe you have seen such miniatures?

Time will tell…

Now we don’t know which way it’s going to go in future. But we can be sure we’re witnessing and experiencing beginnings of a new trend in our hobby. Digital sculpting made achieving many results so much easier, that it’s going to be pursued for many years to come. But will it completely take the place of traditional sculpting in our hobby?

It is quite natural to look for more optimal tools, ones which will allow you to improve your creations and which suit your needs and style better. It’s a natural process, and it can’t be avoided. But let’s think: should it?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
It’s natural to look for more optimal tools

I am really curious what you think about the “digital sculpting vs traditional sculpting” subject. Why don’t you share your comments with us. I am sure they will add many new facts to the topic. Thanks in advance!

— Mahon

Instant Mold review and tutorial

Here is a little tutorial/review for the Instant Mold product that has been released by Cool Mini or Not (called CMON later in this article) some time ago.

Instant Mold review

The product should be available on their website in the Shop section. I’m not going to repeat what this product is aimed for since it’s clearly said in the description.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Instant Mold is cleary a nice product. You can do a lot of things, not everything but still lots. The level of details you can get is just breathtaking (of course it also depends on the original item). With a little training, you can do things like bases, weapons, and some other accessories, reaching a nice level of quality.

Warning: If you’re expecting to have in putty/green stuff/miliput or even resin the exact same quality as the original product, you would be disappointed and you don’t need to read what’s following. Though, if you can live with something that is of a nice quality but not perfect, then, you’re good to go.

CMON said on their website: “Make your own bits” and that is exactly what I needed.

For the record, I started a Salamander army for Warhammer 40K, but even though Games Workshop and Forge World released a few things for this army, they unfortunately forgot (or didn’t want) to add the Salamander’s Insignia in the drop pod kit, so I decided, thanks to the Instant Mold, to make one.

I’m not going to repeat how to use the Instant Mold, it has been seen on CMON website and you’ll find hundreds of tutorials on the web, though it’s always nice to have some little tips which I’ll try to give here.

Here is what I used

  • The item you want to mold (here it’s a FW front door for a Rhino)
  • Instant Mold
  • Something to cut with (scalpel, cutter)
  • Something to pick up the Instant Mold from the hot water
  • A little piece of plastic card
  • Something to make a container/framework for the mold and something to press the item in it (here some Legos, the number is depending on the size of the item you want to mold)
  • Some stuff (here it’s Green Stuff but you can also use Milliput, Putty…)

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

The box

The first thing you want to make is to make the box that’ll be used as container. I tried doing it without and I ended lots of time having parts that weren’t molded properly or bubbles which wasn’t nice. I noticed that with the container everything was molded nicely.

The flat pieces in the bottom are there so that you can press heavily the item in the mold without ruining it with the circles of the Legos

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Now that we have everything ready, we can start working with the Instant Mold.

Heating it up

After having put it in hot water (I have a boiling machine like the CMON guy and I put it in a bowl and then through the Instant Mold inside it) and have it ready, I place it in my container. I’m doing this in multiple times to be sure that I don’t have holes in the mold, or stuff that will make the final result crap.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Once you have fill the whole space with the Instant Mold, as you’ll notice, now, there are finger prints and bumps/holes all over the Instant Mold, so to avoid having a bad mold, I put it back like this in the hot water, taking care of not pressing it or whatever to soften it again a little so that I’ll be able to remove the fingerprints and bumps/holes using the plastic card

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Push it!

As you can see, it’s not perfect, but it’s better. If you’re fast, you can directly press your item into the mold (I personally put it back in the hot water one more time, but it’s me) using something to press.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Once you’ve pressed it, you should have something like this:

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Now you wait a little so that the mold hardened itself. Don’t try to remove the item from the Instant Mold while the Instant Mold is still soft, you might break some details here (and it’s not what you want). It takes usually 4-5 minutes to be completely hard, so be patient. You can check, while Instant Mold is hardening, if you don’t have bubbles or anything by flipping it.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

If there are bubbles or anything, you should see it clearly. When everything is hard, you can remove the item from the mold.

Cleaning up

Now the next step isn’t necessary, but I found it easier. Cut the part that aren’t necessary

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial


Once everything is clean, just prepare and put your putty/green stuff/miliput inside the mold.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Now, you just have to wait for it to harden. I personally wait like 8 hours. Why? Simply because I just want to be sure that everything is completely hard, because there are multiples micro details that are so easy left inside the mold.


Once everything is hard, you can easily unmold it by peeling off the stuff you used from the IM, no need to put the mold in hot water again (especially if you want to re-use it for the same item) because, even when green stuff is still pretty sticky, it won’t stick to the IM. Now you can just see the result.

Photo: Instant Mold Review and Tutorial

Do you think Instant Mold is the answer to your needs? Is the quality sufficient? Did you have any problems wih it? Why don’t you share your comments about Instant Mold here?


— Hellspawn

How to sculpt crab legs and pincers

Another little tutorial for my Tyranids, this time we will concentrate on How to sculpt crab legs and pincers that can be very valuable for different projects, from crustaceans to insect segmented legs or just a nasty chaos mutation.

Step 1: Things I need

  • Modeling putty (green stuff)
  • Water
  • Hobby knife (cutter)
  • Pin vice
  • Clay shaper brush
  • Sculpting tool
  • Paper clips
  • Toothpick
  • Flat surface

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Step 2: Structure

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

For starting with a strong internal structure I opened a paper clip and bended it to the desired shape.

Mixed a bit of green stuff and apply it directly on to the wire, with no precautions concerning smooth or clean green stuff surface, since it is just a skeleton sketch of the final crab leg.

Step 3: Smooth shapes

After green stuff is cured its time to start building the final shape, so I mix a bit of the paste and apply it to the structure. It’s better to work on one side of the structure and let it dry before going for the other half, so we start with the left side of the crab leg.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Use the clay shaper brush dipped in water and start smoothing the edges of the green stuff, take your time here and use always lots of water.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

So, when left side is sculpted and smoothed let it dry and only then, go for the right side of the crab leg. You can sculpt the shape you wish just avoid it to be to uniform since it’s a crab leg irregular shapes work best. You should now have something like this.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Step 4: Spikes and final contour

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

And the fun begins, while the stress of waiting for curing times is growing on you we can use one of those endless curing breaks to sculpt some little spikes for our crab legs, do some random sizes and shapes. And for those that say crabs don’t have spikes on legs I say: Who cares it looks great. 😉

I hope everyone knows how to sculpt spikes but for the more hesitant sculptors here is how I do them. Do one little ball of green stuff and put it on a flat surface, then dip fingers on water and start pressing green stuff against surface with vertical movements, just let it dry. Piece of cake.

Now, with all stuff cured, choose one cool spike and mix a ball of green stuff, to use its sticky properties, for “gluing” the spike to the leg.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

For better blending the spike to the crab leg lay a layer of green stuff over the junction

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Its time for the final claw spike and this time we will use the paper clip extremity for a stronger merge. First with a cutter do a cut on another spike and then use a pin vice to do a small hole in it. Mix a bit of green stuff and squeeze the spike against it passing the hole on to the paper clip. This should make a stronger bond, but before you finish you need to smooth the paste with clay shaper dipped in water.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Step 5: Texture

With all shapes finished its time for texturing those legs. I started by putting some spikes on the legs, since you already sculpted several spikes just cut them to the desired size and use green stuff for gluing them to the leg. In this process I use mainly sculpting tool and toothpick dipped in water to sculpt the junction of spike to leg. You could also use pins but since the spikes are small there’s no need for that.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Finally I will try to do those micro organisms and corals that usually we see on crustaceans. Simply cut several random sized small balls of green stuff and again with the help of a toothpick and sculpting tool stick them randomly on the crab leg, also try to shape the balls on the leg with interesting forms.

Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial


Photo: How to sculpt crab legs and pincers - Tutorial

Well that’s it, you now can sculpt crab legs for your projects, if you noticed you can do different shapes on legs or even more segmented ones, funny thing I noticed is that the smaller legs look like scorpions tails’ hope you enjoyed it.

— Pedro Navarro

How to make a biovore

Our former member, Zolwik, posted this step-by-step tutorial showing how to make a biovore in a pretty different way. I think his idea is pretty interesting for somebody who want to have a special and non-typical hivefleet :)

This is a tutorial how to make some interesting non-standard Tyranids from bits that you can find in plastic Tyranid kits and some greenstuff. Conversions are very easy and fast to do, as they are generally thought to be useful mostly for players, who want nice looking army in short time.
I’m not good at writing so I’ve taken a few photos at every stage.

This time it will be how to make a biovore.

What we need

    Parts needed for a plastic biovore:

  • warrior body
  • set of warrior scything talons
  • set of hormagaunt scything talons
  • one ripper
  • left arm from warrior barbed strangler
  • chitinous armour plate from gaunt weapon sprue
  • green stuff

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Carving and glueing

The first thing to do is preparing the warrior’s body. Cut off the shoulder armour plates to make some space for front legs.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Remember to round the edges with knife.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Cut off the rear part of the neck to achieve a flat surface- this will be the place for the ripper’s head.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Cut the ripper in half and match the head to the body.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Remove the plastic triangle that is standing out in lower part of warrior’s body and glue there chitinous armour plate from a gaunt

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Take the barbed strangler arm and cut off the bag with spore mines.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Prepare the chest by flattening it with a knife and place the spore mines bag there.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Now it’s time for the legs. Take a scything talon and cut it apart as in the picture. Make the end of it round and make sure that it fits the holes in the main body.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Standard scything talons aren’t identical so you have to adjust angles or legs won’t fit on standard biovore base.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

If you have done all the previous things you should now glue legs into place. The best method to do it, is gluing all legs at once. You should find a good pose and look out not to place them very wide because they wouldn’t fit onto base.

Green stuff time!

The next step is to hide the leg-body connections. The fastest way to do it is placing there some greenstuff. Make a small roller and place it directly on the connection. Then push some small channels with a sharp knife. This will give you a nice looking pattern.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Fill in any gaps near the bag with green stuff. To achieve smooth surface stroke it with wet finger several times.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

The final stage is making his rear part 😉 Load lots of green stuff into the hole and push the pattern similar to that from legs.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

Make the central channel a bit wider than the rest by pushing it with bigger knife or sculpting tool.

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial


And that’s all. Biovore is ready for a battle err… I mean painting :)

Photo: How to make a biovore - Tutorial

And do you create your own variants of Tyranid creatures? Or do you go with the standard ones? Or maybe you have interesting ideas of conversions which could be made with Tyranid models? Why don’t you share them with us here?