How to sculpt alien skin? This question arose when I was working on the Tyranid Biodiversity Project – have you heard about it? The idea was to show other variants of tyranid organisms than presented in the Codex: Tyranids.
Whether you know about the project or not, you may find this tutorial useful.
This small sculpting tutorial will be about how to sculpt alien skin by creating a skin texture that can be used in various projects, from chaos creatures, lizardmen to Tyranids.
Step 1 ( things I need)
Hobby knife (cutter)
Miniature or structure to apply textured skin
Modeling putty (green stuff)
Step 2 (handling green stuff)
Cut a bit of green stuff (GS) and mix it, more yellow better for detail but takes more time to cure and also extremely sticky, more blue have the opposite behavior.
In a flat area stretch it until you reach the desired shape and size.
Apply it directly on the miniature (I created a fimo paste interior structure).
Use the toothpick and sculpting tool to handle GS, both should be dipped in water to avoid GS sticky properties.
Step 3 (Texturing)
Reshape the GS to fill the interior structure or miniature and cut the excess.
With sculpting tool carve parallel lines gently on GS.
Finally push it towards previous GS module in order to create space for next one.
Now that you have done the first module of the skin you just need to repeat the same steps in order to cover all desired surface. The reason why I choose to make the skin in small modules and not all at once is due to the fact you can have more control on the texture. Hope it helps you in your ongoing sculpting projects.
Captain Lysander of Imperial Fists Space Marines is still a popular miniature, so although I painted the miniature several years ago already, I still think the tutorial may be interesting to some of you. Especially if you want to see how to paint terminator armour or power armour for your miniatures.
Preparation of the model
I started by cleaning the model. This time the cast was of pretty good quality so there weren’t many mold-lines to clean. I drilled holes for pins, and glued the pins to the joints. I primed the mini white, as painting yellow over black primer would take too many layers of paint and too much time. I left the arms unattached, because otherwise reaching some parts of th mini would be too difficult.
I also created the base. I attached two plastic elements on it, filled one of them with PVA glue (to create the slime inside of the hole) and primed it black.
I painted the blue parts with Vallejo Game Color Ultramarine Blue, and applied some initial shading with the color which I created by mixing Ultramarine Blue with Black and thinning the paint a lot. I also basecoated the red parts with Vallejo Game Color Red Gore, and the black ones – with Black. I washed the red parts with a thinned mix of Vallejo Smoke and Black. I cleaned the reds with another coat of Gory Red, but left the shading visible.
The base was painted about the same way, just more layers of washes and glazes wera added. I also painted the slime inside of the hole with Vallejo Game Color Scorpy Green, and added several coats of glossy varnish to make the slime look more liquid.
Painting terminator armour
Then I started painting the armour. I had to create smoother blending between the shading and the basecolor. I mixed the colors I used – the base color, and the shading color, as well as two midtones (2 parts of the shading mix plus 1 part of the base color, and 1 part of the shading mix plus 2 parts of the base color). Then I started blending – I used the method I often use: I applied the dark and the light color where they should be, then placed the midtones between them, and then wetblended the transitions.
I did the same with highlighting: I decided to use Vallejo Model Color Ivory for highlighting. Again I put the base color, pure Ivory, and two midtones (2 parts of Ivory plus 1 part of the base color, and 1 part of Ivory plus 2 parts of the base color) on the palette. I applied Ivory on the most highlighted places (edges, etc.), placed the base color, and then the midtones. I wetblended the transitions. This way I had the basecolor cleaned, and the blending pretty smooth.
I started with the part of the armour which would be covered by the shield, because later reaching it might be too difficult – especially the left hand and arm. Then I painted the rest of the armour, and started painting the shield.
I decided the shield shouldn’t look like the armour, oso I went for metallic paintjob. I applied the alcohol based Vallejo Super Silver, and again washed it with several colors – greens, blues, oranges, browns, smoke, and black. Then I retouched the whole thing by a slight drybrush od Vallejo Game Color Chainmail Silver, and then picked out the edges with Super Silver. The laurels were besecoated with a mix of Vallejo Game Color Dark Green and Vallejo Model Color Olive Grey.
For highlights I kept adding Vallejo Model Color Olive Green, and then some Ivory. The eagle was painted just like the rest of the red elements – Gory Red, a wash of Black+Smoke, re-applying the Gory Red, and highlights with the base color with more and more Vallejo Game Color Pale Flesh added.
The black lines were cleaned then with a fine brush and thinned black paint. The whole eagle was glazed twice with really thinned down Transparent Red to add a bit vibrancy to the color, which got a bit desaturated during highlighting. The fist (on the shield, on the hammer, and on Lysander’s chest) was painted just like all the black parts of the mini – Black basecoat, and highlighting with more and more Ivory adeed. The transitions were smoothed by wetblending.
Then the blue was painted. Again I used Ivory for highlighting, and black for shading. I used exactly the same method as before – several colors next to each other and wetblending. When I had all these colors painted, it was the time for painting the face.
I started with Vallejo Game Color Dwarf Skin, but with a bit of Dark Green added to tone the color down a bit. Then I painted the eyes: first Black + Smoke, then White – leaving a thin line visible around, and finally the pupil was painted with. Then I corrected the skin around the eyes with the basic mix. The first highlight – which was applied over most areas – was thinned Dwarf Skin. Then I kept adding Vallejo Game Color Elf Skintone to successive layers.
Then I added a bit Pale Flesh to one layer, and the last highlights were made with pure Pale Flesh. I made the lines between the head and the other elements (the armour, the implants, etc.) darker by fine application of Vallejo Model Color Smoke. The hair was painted with Cold Grey with a tiny bit of Smoke, then highlighted several timed by adding Ivory.
All the skulls and parchments were painted the same way: The base color was a mix of Vallejo Model Color Cavalry
Brown and Vallejo Game Color Cobra Leather, and then highlighted several time by adding Vallejo Game Color Bonewhite, and later – Ivory, up to pure Ivory. The outlines and eyesockets here painted with Black (mixed with a small amount of Smoke).
Time to assemble the model…
Then mini was assembled. The metallics were taken care of again, and all the rivets were outlined with the Black/Smoke mix, and painted again with Chainmail Silver. The whole mini was given a thin coat of glossy varnish for protection, and I added the few freehand details – the Imperial Fists chapter symbol, the writings on the ribbons, and the purity seals.
Freehand – Chapter symbol
I started painting the chapter symbol by painting a circle. It didn’t look all this even , so I had to correct it in several places with the Sunblast Yellow/Yellow Ochre mix and Black. Then I painted the black fist. The next step was adding the yellow lines to divide the parts of the fist. I finished it by cleaning the freehand with black. I decided to leave the corrections of black to the end, because it covers well, and so the corrections would be pretty easy.
As for the other freehands, they were just painted with some patience and a fine brush. No tricks there…
It’s a kind of… OSL
The mini was then sprayed with several light coats of glossy varnish, and then one heavier layer was applied again. I drilled a hole in the base and attached the mini to it. When the glue dried, I applied several glazes of thinned Scorpy Green to the metallic parts close to the green slime, followed with several thin washes of Transparent Green to run into the recesses. The edges were then picked out by Scorpy Green with a small addition of Ivory again.
I sprayed the mini with flat varnish to remove the sheen. Later I polished the metallic parts a bit, because the flat varnish dulled the metallics too.
You can see the finished mini here:
I hope you found this tutorial useful. And if you have any comments or questions – feel free to leave them below. Thanks a lot!
I didn’t plan this long delay but life has proved me during few passed months it can mess with anyone when it’s least expected.
Besides – and much more important actually – I am constantly branching out so my hobby time was replaced with browsing real estate papers – hope it’ll be worthy all the time and effort…
Who needs a display base?
Anyway – even though there’s much less time for painting I just couldn’t refuse myself playing a skirmish game once per a week or two and recently we’ve been working hard converting old Necromunda rules to make the game more exciting.
That leads to the definitely biggest hobby of achievement of last months which was finishing whole gang of Goliaths – based on EM4 minis. I like these bastardos so much I decided to give them display base so they look nice standing in my display case, waiting for next battle. It takes less than a day to finish base like I made and that’s what the article is about.
Please note – Chest of Colors is very friendly community so the original text had to be slightly adjusted to be nice as well but if you want to read FUUK-friendly version – just visit my blog at Plinth Country.
What will you need?
Apart from ordinary hobby supplies try to get some plaster (or any other filler: the cheaper – the better), photo frame or display plinth of some
sort and if you plan to take some wip-photos – wife, girlfriend or brother will be useful as well.
So I started by choosing photoframe – it’s pretty cheap, you can buy it in store like IKEA and it’s perfect for the job. First or all I removed glass – you can throw it away. I was also trying to mark spots for base sockets which turned out totally useless bit later.
First of all I broke wooden frame support off the frame back.
Another step was cutting the styrofoam sheet to fit the frame – wallpaper knife used. To get more precise cut I used hot wire thingy. I inserted the sheet into photoframe – as you can see it fits pretty well so we can proceed.
The bottom was glued to the frame. I used solid amount of polymer glue to be sure it won’t fall off or whatever. If you don’t trust the glue only – hit the base with some paperclip pins.
Creating the terrain
For better minis presentation I decided to add small elevation in the back of the display area. I plan to place 5 gangers on it and rest of the gang – on lower level.
Time to mark final destination of the miniatures on the display base. To do it I simple pressed bases onto the styro – it will be helpful while cutting holes for the sockets.
Cutting is easy – hot wire deals with styro with ease. All you have to remember about at this stage is cutting holes slightly bigger than bases.
Also don’t throw away cylinders left after cutting the thing – these will be useful a bit later.
It’s time to prepare styro-plugs for the work ahead. I simply cut them in 2 slim parts – don’t have to be very precise at this step, these parts will be just a filler.
Making sockets for miniatures
The plan is to fill holes in the base with sockets and prepared styrofoam for better bond.
The socket was made of citadel paint pot lid: if you use these paints it’s good idea to collect the lids – inner part is just PERFECT for 25mm round bases*. I still have some pots from Citadel range but because I mostly use Vallejo brand I made a single socket and recasted it for
the whole Necromunda gang.
The procedure is simple:
Put the styrofoam on the back and place sockes in the holes (I told ya to make the holes slightly bigger, didn’t I? 😉 ).
Hit the sockets with some glue – once again polymer (it’s really fine but it requires some time to try) and then cover it with
slim styro plugs.
Texturing the surface
Now we’ll fill the gaps and give the base better surface to glue the sand bit later.
I took some plaster and mixed it with water until if got consistency of yoghurt (more less)
At first I was trying to apply it on the base with knife or some spatula but after 5 seconds I realised fingers are much better for this job.
Remember I wrote there will be wife / gf / bro required? That’s it!!! That’s the stage!!!! I couldn’t play with plaster and take pictures
without making the camera really dirty (and probably – ruined if the wet plaster hit the lens)
The dirty job is dome – give it some time to dry. I applied pretty thin layer so after having a coffee (right side of the pic) and taking dog for a walk (~30 mins alltogether) I could continue the work.
Bases of all Agent Orange members are really simple: small gravel + sand painted with washes and then drybrushed. I think
simplicity is ALWAYS the key especially in case of gaming models. Therefore making group base was no problem at all.
I prepared some fine sand and some gravel.
Repeat the procedure on whole base just remember – work on small area at once because diluted glue can sink into plaster if you give it some time.
When you got it done – leave the base to dry completely. And I mean it – be sure it’s totally dry before the next step which is removing excess of sand with large, soft brush.
Now we have to make sure sand and gravel won’t fall off during painting
Great way to ensure that is painting whole base with heavily diluted pva glue – some gravel will fall off now but not when you will be drybrushing the base. After pva dried I painted base once again – you can never be sure enough… 😉
Once again it’s time for waiting game before some paint can be slapped. Of course thank to the modern cosmic technology we can
Painting the display base
I tried to paint the thing more less the same as bases of all gangers. So first I mixed devlan mud wash, a bit of smoke and lots of water. Diluted paint dries up a while but it is easier to control: you can add another layer whenever you think the base should be darker.
After that I added some deeper shadows using dark olive – once again heavily diluted. I chose this color because I also used it to
paint bases rims of my gangers – this trick should unify models with the big base.
Wait patiently until the wash dries – the next step is drybrushing:
I started with bleached bone and then applied highlights – skull white. Both colors were used to paint bases of the gangers.
The base is ok but I want it dirty – I powdered some chalk (dark olive color) and applied it on the base. Chalk was sealed with
matt spray but turpentine also works fine for this (I wrote about it in Gorkamorka Ork base text). Besides it’s MUCH cheaper than ready to use dry
The last thing was painting the sockets. My first color choice was black but all in all I decided to use olive. I mixed some matt
varnish with paint to protect the paint – minis will be put on the base after every game.
And here are pictures of the final thing taken in the photo tent: I know black background isn’t the best idea but black t-
shirt was the only think big enough to use as background – base is pretty large after all…
Once again I hope you found my article useful and once again I hope to update the site shortly.
* Please note: using pot lid as base socket wasn’t my idea – I spotted it on Jakob Rune Nielsen’s** page
** Who is actually one of my fav painters in the miniatures hobby