Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sculpting Lessons Finalized

The Course Details are finalized so here is the updated information for anyone interested.

Have you ever wanted to sculpt or convert your own figures but didn’t have the knowledge?

Do you look at the pages of gaming magazines and wonder “how can I create a miniature like that?”

Have you been continuously beat out by other people in painting competitions who have entered miniatures with poor paintjobs but excellent hand sculpted conversions?

Now you can learn from professional sculptor James Van Schaik in a professional level class that includes a sculpting kit, full textbook for reference and over 25 years of gaming experience, 9 as freelance and staff sculptor.

He has worked for renowned miniatures companies such as Games Workshop, Wizkids, Ral Partha, RAFM Miniatures, and Reaper.

This is an eight week course and students will learn the fundamentals necessary to carry on to more advanced sculpting classes. Learn to sculpt: Hair, Straps, Fur, Basic Jewellery, Pouches, Skulls, Chainmail, Chains, Wood, Stone, Cloth and all the fundamentals of sculpting.

Spaces are limited so please reserve your spot at the Comic Book Collector today for only $200.00, plus $35 for the sculpting kit.
This is an excellent deal since it is a rare opportunity and other art courses, in comparison, can range in cost from $200 to $500 dollars.

Course will be held at:
The Comic Book Collector
779 Dundas St.
London, On
N5W 2Z6

For more information call: The Comic Book Collector at 519-433-6004, or Course Starts May 30th, and run Fridays at 7:30 PM, Pre-registration deadline is May 14th.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sculpting Tip-The Design Phase

Whether you are starting a project first thing you need to do is come up with a concept. A concept is a blueprint or guide for you to follow. Take some time to find reference for your project. If you are sculpting a character from comics or another source get as many angles as you can, include front back and each side. Take note of any equipment the character carries, if it is something from real life gather as much reference for it as possible. If it is a specific item created for the character again gather as much reference as you can find. The internet is a resource library you can draw from to find reference. Another great source for reference is your local library.
Once you gather all your reference you need to organize it and condense it into “cheat” sheets that you can refer to easily and display in front of you. I often use Photoshop to create reference sheets for each specific part.

At this point you need to take some time to consider each aspect of your project and jot down any notes you come up with on a rough sketch such as pose and height. If you are doing a conversion plan how you are going to alter it's pose. Record any alterations on the rough sketch. Plan out the details you want to add or alter and record it on your sketch. Plan out any other details like weapon, head or hand swaps. The rough sketch will give you direction throughout your project and help you anticipate any problems you may encounter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How a Miniature Begins-The Armature

For this weeks tip I thought I would show everyone how a miniature starts. I know this is a little advanced but I thought everyone would like to see how a figure is sculpted from the beginning.
The videos below show how I stretch and pose an armature and I go into underpinning a little.

The tools I use are simple miniature pliers and clippers that you can find at most hobby stores, and a pair of calipers which you can find here . Calipers are essential for measuring proportions so if you are serious about sculpting humans I'd pick up a set.

If you are interested in getting some armatures Reaper miniatures sells some Here. They also have some with muscles, these are good if you want to get a handle on how things work for practice but its always better to do it on your own.

As always if you have any questions feel free to post them and I'll answer them as best I can.

I apologize for the number of videos but I had to break them up into parts because blogger only accepts short length videos.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Upcoming Sculpting Demo

For anyone interested I will be doing a sculpting demonstration at a local comic shop on Free Comic Book Day (May 3rd). Feel free to come in and ask any questions and bring anything you want signed.
Here is the Name and Address of the store:

The Comic Book Collector
779 Dundas St.
London, Ontario

Monday, April 14, 2008

Upcoming video

Just a quick heads up to watch out for a new video I did about armatures, I am still trying to get it uploaded but I have had some problems with the program.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Professional Sculpting Lessons

The first course for my sculpting lessons will be starting soon in London Ontario at the Comic Book Collector.
Course 1 – Sculpting Fundamentals and Miniature Converting, is a 8 Week course and includes a sculpting kit that contains all the tools you need to start sculpting. This course introduces the student to the tools of sculpting. In addition, students will learn how to use the media (putty) and also learn how to implement many different effects and surface details. This course is designed for the miniature enthusiast who wishes to learn more advanced techniques to create highly intricate conversions or modeling projects. Students will learn the fundamentals necessary to carry on to more advanced sculpting classes that involves creating entire miniatures rather than conversions off existing miniatures. Some of the areas covered include:

Basic Jewelry
Skulls and Skull Reliefs (shoulder pads detail etc.)
and more....

Space is very limited so if you are interested email me at: to obtain more information about the course and pre-registering. As the deadline approaches and dates are set I will post more information.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sculpting Putty Part Four- Drying and Storage

The putties I described earlier all have the same properties and methods for storage and drying. You should only keep about an inch or so of putty out in your work area at a given time, chances are you will never use more than this amount on a given project. The rest should be stored in the freezer to keep it from drying out. If putty is left out it will slowly cure from the exposure to air and you will notice that your putty will have small lumps of hardened putty that will generally not mix and leave your putty with a rough, gritty texture. Make sure you "pick" out any such lumps before you start working.
Keeping putty in the freezer retards the natural hardening process so if you find you are working on a piece and have to leave for any reason before you have a chance to finish you can put the piece in the freezer and it will keep it from drying for a short period of time ( I wouldn't push it past 24hours). When you come back to work on the piece just pop it out of the freezer and in a few minutes it will thaw and you can resume work.

Once putty is mixed it will "air" dry within roughly 20 minutes. Air drying does not mean that it is fully dry, in order to completely cure the putty needs to be "cooked" in a oven or type of kiln that we sculptor's refer to as "The Cooker". This precision engineered piece of equipment is an amazing amalgam of common household parts that can easily be assembled by even the most novice modeler. Here is my cooker:

I know.. I know.. your asking yourself "how can I ever obtain the parts for, let alone construct, such a wondrous device?" Well here's how:

"The Cooker" Parts List*

1. A large empty coffee tin (don't waste the coffee! Drink it!)

2. A simple desk lamp or heat lamp (these are larger and may be necessary for larger coffee tins, you want to be able to rest the lamp on top of the tin)

3. 1 50 watt bulb (DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, use any higher wattage, it will melt your figure!)

Once you have gathered your part simply cut open one side of the tin with tin shears or similar cutting devise (be very careful here we don't want any dismemberment) as shown.
That's it your done!

To dry putty in the cooker just place it inside for about 20 minutes and the putty should harden. Brown stuff will harden to the point where you can shave or sand it and green and procreate will fully cure so that when you touch the piece it won't warp or distort. I recommend cooking any project at each stage before going on to the next to ensure that you have a solid base to work on and you don't accidentally smudge something you just spent a half an hour sculpting (trust me I've learned this the hard way).

Hope you enjoyed the tips on putty, oh and yes the photo didn't make it past the sensor due to NDA reasons.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sculpting Putty Part Three- Procreate

In this last post on putty I am going to cover one of the newer putties on the market- Procreate. Procreate is made by a company called Kraftmark, here is a link to their site From there you can find many suppliers. The average cost for a package is about 10.00.

The makers of procreate boast that their putty has the consistency of green stuff and will harden like Brown stuff, making it superior to both for sculpting. I have to admit that at first I had my doubts about these claims, after all how could such a miracle substance exist? After using it I can tell you that it does come close to the companies claims as possible. Since trying it I have switched to it for most of the sculpting I do. My only complaint with Procreate would be that while you can shave it slightly, it still does not compare to brown stuff when it comes to hardening. It is for this reason that I still use Brown Stuff for all my hardline sculpting which is still the best for that job.

It mixes and dries pretty much the same as the other putties. Add more hardener and it is thicker and dries faster, more softener and it takes longer to dry. I am not certain about the ability for procreate to be vulcanized as the company I work for at the moment uses RTV technology. A few years ago I did do a piece with procreate for a company and when they vulcanized it it warped and broke down from the heat however many companies seems to be using it.

My next post will cover storing, drying, and sanding all the different putties.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Jus t a quick post to let everyone know I'm still alive. I have been very busy for the last while so I haven't been able to post anything, regular proramming will resume shortly.....