Monday, August 1, 2011

Sculpting Goggles and Gasmasks for Warmachine

Had a few people recently ask me how I do my goggles for my Warmachine conversions so I thought I would take some pictures and do a tutorial on my process.  There's quite a few pictures so I'll try to make this an enjoyable read.  Here is the end result-- eSorscha with goggles and a gasmask.

So let's begin this little tutorial!!  Here she is before it got crazy.  I'm going to be telling you what materials/tools you need as we go along because maybe it's more fun?  ok, so first things first, you need some sculpting putty.  Most people use green stuff but I like to use "grey stuff" called Procreate Putty.  I get mine from a local game store.

The main sculpting tool I used is a modified X-acto blade.  What you wanna do is sand the blade down so it's dull.  (don't test it out on your hand btw, that's really dangerous!).  But what you want to do is sand the blade and also the tip so the tip is a little rounded, just slightly.  I also use clay shapers and in this demo I used the one with the point (seen in the pic) and also a flat one.

Oh!  Another thing that helps with sculpting is Vaseline.  I put a little bit on a cover and all I do is put some on my pinky, then I get my X-acto and rub it on my pinky.  The vaseline on the Xacto will prevent the putty from sticking to it.  This is extremely important and helpful in the whole process.

Mix up some putty and put a TINY ball over the eye of your mini.  The above pic shows how much putty I mixed. For the first putty you put on, it is extremely small.
Next, make sure your Xacto has some Vaseline on it and all you're gonna do is press the ball in using the flat part of the Xacto blade.  It shouldn't stick to the tool.  I try to make it look like the mini is wearing sunglasses.  Do the same for the other eye.  *I usually don't worry about covering the nose because when I finish you can't even tell its a nose.  It just looks like goggles.  But for Sorscha, it just so happens that I covered it a little bit.
I often will use one of these bad boys-- basically what watchmakers use to do their thing.  You can find these at hobby stores or model train stores.  Costs about $30.

Okay, so you've made the sunglasses and now it's time to cure the putty and make it hard.  The reason why we want it hard is because when we add the goggle detail (the frame of the lens), we don't want the first putty to be squishy.  Having it hard will give us a good foundation to sculpt on.

To speed up the curing time, I use a homemade oven.  Basically a cardboard box (most people use a coffee can) lined with foil.  I put cork on the bottom so when I reach inside it isn't too hot to grab something.
Cover the box with one of these lights you can get from Home Depot (cheap).  Use a 30 watt bulb.  You don't want it too hot or it could melt stuff!  I usually bake it for 10 mins and that hardens it enough.
Next we're going to add the detail to the goggles.  This is going to require you to make a really, really, small piece of putty.  See those squares on my table?  The tiny ones?  The ball of putty I use in this step is 1/4 the size of that square.  Yep, you're going to have to cut it really small and be careful when you put it on.  If you breathe on it, it will blow away and you won't find it again.  So gently.

In the pic above, that piece of putty is actually too big.  I had to cut it in half to get the size right.  You'll see why the size is important in the next step.

So just like we did before, we're going to use the flat part of your blade to push the putty down.  Walla! it's starting to look Steampunkish.  You can stop here if you like the look.  I've seen many Warmachine minis look like this-- like Assault Kommandos.

If the putty was too big in the last step and you pressed it down, you won't see the first putty you placed (the sunglasses).

If you judge the size incorrectly, don't worry, just scrape the ball off.  Because we cured the "sunglass" layer, that layer will be solid and won't change or deform any more. 
Here's another angle.  When you sculpt, make sure that you are looking at your mini from different angles.  And for me, the important thing is how it looks on the gaming table.  So I'll hold my mini an arm length away to check.
Next, grab your pointy clay shaper and we're going to press a hole in the center of the putty we just put on.  Do this slowly and be mindful of the "frame" you're creating.  Press in a little then check it.  Then if it's not enough, you can press in more.  The effect you want is this:
Boom!  You got yourself some goggles!  All I did to create that was press in the clay shaper.  Doing that creates a natural frame for your goggles and for me, really "sells" it, if you know what I mean.

Now you may notice that the indentation you did looks more like a bowl rather then the frame having hard edges.  So what I do is use the tip of the clay shaper and "gently" press down to create a better edge.  Next pics illustrate the idea:

pic is not to scale but the hole you made is sorta rounded maybe?  To make a better edge, you basically aim the clay shaper at an angle and press gently to get a better edge.  This process is not necessary though.

Holding your mini to a light source can help you to see if you goggles have a nice edge.

And that's it!  Remember, if you don't like something, take the putty off and try again.  Keep at it and you'll have goggles in no time.  The first goggles you make will be tricky and you may be nervous but the more of them you do the better you will get and the more confident you will be.  So have fun and show me some pics of goggles you make.  I'd love to see them!

For those of you who are interested in how I sculpt the mask, the tutorial continues!!

Sometimes I will use the Xacto blade to cover the face so I can see if the goggles are working or not.  The face can be distracting.

some more pics of the goggles before we continue

and the goggles I made for my Kayazy Assassins.  The process we've been going through is the same exact one I used for them.  Now I'm going to show you how I do my masks.
So first thing is put a blob of putty on the face.  I find its better to have more on than less as you can always cut away excess putty.

Using the flat part of your blade, pull down from the eyes on both sides to create smooth planes.  I think of them as facing 45 degress away.  The pull down motion is going to pull the mask down and flatten it out so "push" it back up from under the chin.  In the pic above you can see the three planes I created.  One on the left, one one the right, and one on the chin.  Be gentle with the push and pulling and use the vaseline to make it all smooth.  Remember to check your mini from different angles.
For the shape of the mask, I like to have it as an inverted triangle.  Once I like the shape, I add in details to the sides of the mask using the blade (which should be dull if you sanded it).  Next pic shows the indentations I made with the tip of the blade.
Two lines-- Red is the first one, green is the second.  Doing this might push the putty in so you might have to go back and flatten out those three planes that we had.  Yep, after each step, always make sure that everything is looking right.
Next I'm going to use some 30 gauge guitar string I got from Guitar Center (again, cheap).  Cut off a part that will be the tube for the mask.  Be sure to either wear safety goggles or look away when you cut the string because it can fly off in random directions and you don't want it going into your eye!  I shape the string using two pliers and use tweezers to hold the string next to my mini to see if the shape is working.  
Use Krazy Glue.  For this step I like the "brush" one and I brush on some glue on the chin and wherever I want the other end of the string to connect to.
Sometimes I'll sculpt a little pouch for the tube to connect to but recently I have the other end just go to some random spot.  I just imagine she has a gas tank somewhere in her cloak ^^.  One more detail to add and we're done.
For this step, you're probably going to have to cut the smallest piece of putty you've ever made.  To make it, put some Vaseline on your cutting mat, then roll the putty super flat like you would dough.  Then with a little Vaseline on your Xacto, cut the piece.  Green arrow shows what you need.  We're going to attach this piece just below the chin of the mask, right on the tube.  After you place it, use the Xacto or clay shaper to wrap this piece around the tube.
And there you have it!  Goggles and gas mask all done!  For Sorscha, one detail I'm going to add is a strap that wraps around her head to hold her goggles up.  To do that, I'll roll a flat piece of putty and make a cut to get a thin piece, then just wrap it.  

Hope this was helpful and gives you some ideas to make some gas masks.  This technique is the same one I used for all my masks of this type like the ones on my Kayazy AssassinsButcher and the Great Bears have a different mask.  

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment here or hit me up on the Privateer Forums.  My name there is nerdforest.  I'm thinking of doing another tutorial about how I make my hoods.  Is that something you guys would be interested in?  Have fun and happy modelling!   


  1. That oven thing is such a good idea! Thanks for telling me about it.

  2. You are amazing. Once I try this out, I will send you some pics!

  3. Very nice work. I will be following this blog!

  4. Just found your blog thanks to the pic in your sig of your finished Kayazy Assassins. Really fantastic work. Thank you for the tutorial, I might just have to try it out.

  5. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I think I will try this on one of my models tomorrow. Thanks.

  6. Definitely trying this out for my Khador!!!

  7. Great work on the tutorial. If you would ever want to have it as a guest article on hand cannon online, I know our readers would love to see it.

  8. Great tutorial! I will definitely be giving this a go at some point