I have been trying to work a little more on my sculpting ability lately. In doing so, I have been trying out new techniques and I have found one that really seems to make a big difference. The putty mix makes a difference!
I know! You’re thinking, “Really Sherlock? That’s the news?” But yes. That is the eye opening news!
When I started out, I used green stuff which is sticky and very elastic as it dries. I don’t really have the time nor the patience to continually re-sculpt every edge and detail over and over and over as it cures. So, as my miniatures cured, the putty retracted slightly and they sort of rounded out; all the hard sharp edges disappeared. Some sculptors continue to shape and refine their work throughout the entire curing phase and so have no problems with this. I’m not one of them.
Then I found Procreate. This seemed to suit my sculpting better so I switched. Procreate is more like clay in workability. It’s less elastic as it cures but it still draws back slightly causing a little rounding of the sharp details. The downside is, in my experience, that it takes longer to cure, even with “cooking” it. Using Procreate, my sculpting improved but seemed to slow and the sculpts still seemed a little soft and rounded.
I first discovered the idea of mixing different putties together on Patrick Keith’s blog. Mixing the putties creates different properties. In this case, he was talking specifically about making weapons like swords and knives and such. He suggested mixing the putties and doing your basic sculpting and then allowing it to cure. After it was cured, you can go back and sand and cut and shape the blade before adding more sculpted details like the hilt and guard. This works great! The blades are crisp and sharp.
Step forward another year, I’m watching one of the Fundamentals of Sculpting courses from Fire4Effect studios and there it is again, mixing putties. This time however, James mentioned, almost in passing, that he mixes another putty into his green stuff mix for most of his work.
It was sort of like a light bulb. I’m not sure why I never thought to try it before. What a difference! Mixing Procreate with Apoxie Sculpt creates a smooth putty with excellent properties. It sticks well but not too much. It spreads. It blends. It cures very hard. Once cured, it’s fine-grained texture can be sanded, shaved and shaped allowing me to tune the sculpt giving it hard sharp edges and lines without too much effort.
The curing time seems to be the same or better for general sculpting but if I am going to rework the cured putty with tools, I am sure to give the putty extra cure time to harden fully.
If you’re into sculpting, it’s definitely worth trying. Try different mixes until you find the one that works best for your sculpting style. It has certainly helped me.