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Thread: How to sculpt a robot?

  1. #1
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    How to sculpt a robot?

    I want to sculpt something mechanical with smooth surfaces, hard edges, and subtle curves. Seems like it would be difficult to get these effects with sculpey.

    If not sculpey, does anyone have a suggestion on what I medium I could use for this? I hear that some industrial designers use chavant, but I don't know much about this medium. Does anyone know where I could find a tutorial or information on using this type of clay?

    thanks
    Last edited by illustr8r; July 31st, 2007 at 01:56 AM.
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  3. #2
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    you can find tutorials for use of chavant here:

    http://www.southerngfx.co.uk/general...s/tutorial.htm

    hope this helps.


    I use an exacto knive to get hard edges. This works farily well for me so far.
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    Try looking into styrene plastics (comes in all shapes and sizes, sheets and extrusions), ren boards and two part epoxy putty's (Aves epoxy, Magic sculpt)...and oh yeah - a lot of sand paper...

    Plenty of complex tutorials here:
    http://www.starshipmodeler.com/starwars/ta_tower.htm

    Good luck.
    END
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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldMane
    Try looking into styrene plastics (comes in all shapes and sizes, sheets and extrusions), ren boards and two part epoxy putty's (Aves epoxy, Magic sculpt)...and oh yeah - a lot of sand paper...

    Plenty of complex tutorials here:
    http://www.starshipmodeler.com/starwars/ta_tower.htm

    Good luck.
    That turret is frickin' sweeeeeet!!! Try out this forum (not dissin' CO), but you can learn a lot of stuff there...

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  6. #5
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    You most certainly can sculpt mechanical subjects in sculpey.

    How to sculpt a robot?

    I did this some time ago in sculpey. Basically it’s the regular procedure. Armature, coiled wraps around armature, build up rough shapes, and carve down while malleable. After it was baked I took to it with additional carving tools (which were the same ones I used to sculpt it in the "wet" phase) to get any sharp edges refined, then took to it with progressively finer grain sand paper. You'll have trouble hitting the small spaces, but that can be covered up with paint. For the paint job, if you want it to look metallic or like a fabricated surface, definitely use an airbrush.

    Depending on the type of mech/robot/thing you're making you can also incorporate metal pieces (screws, wire, etc) to add detailing. The Starship Modeler site is an incredible resource, but deals mostly with kit bashing and fabrication using more finalizing tactics (vacuforming, blow molding, etc). It's more for the modeler/miniature maker than for the sculptor. That’s all fine and dandy if you are indeed going for a finished prototype model. However if you are working more towards a concept maquette, you should be able to do most of the work through sculpting with sculpey and some additional kit bashing. A variety of incorporated methods and materials always ends up looking the best.

    Another great thing to work with is long set resin putty, that stuff is incredible. The stuff I use is called magic sculpt, however I don't know if it's available anywhere else but the place that I buy it from, Kit Kraft in Los Angeles. You can sculpt an entire sculpture with it if you're a bit quick. Otherwise only use it for after-baked details or smaller separate pieces. Sculpey will get you by; you just gotta know how to use it.

    For mechanical sculptures I tend to try to use dryer sculpey. If my material is a bit moist I flatten my sculpey out with a pasta maker and put each flattened piece in between some paper towel. This will allow for more rigidity in your piece.

    Afterwards, it’s just like I said. A good amount of sanding and carving will give you a very convincing mechanical look.
    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed, The world in arms is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross."

    ...I have a sketchbook?
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    hey helium thats a dope model (that turrent was sic too damn!) but what's with all the ketchup? you using that for paint?!?!
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    hehe, what can I say.. it's my muse. A delicious, slimey, red muse.
    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed, The world in arms is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross."

    ...I have a sketchbook?
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    Hey Helium…
    Fantastic Character you've created there…
    I just joined the site today, because I'm researching the tools / materials and techniques I'll need to build 3 robot (transformer-esque) charaters.

    From my research over the past few weeks, Super Sculpey seems the way to go, but wasn't too sure how smooth I'd be able to get. Have been looking for some examples other people have made, and so far, yours is spot on!!

    Questions:
    How many hours went into creating that figure?
    Any special tools / techniques you'd recommend?

    Thanks
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  10. #9
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    I've not tried this but I've heard you can use a paintbrush dipped in Sculpey Dilutant to smooth out any rough surfaces on your unbaked Super Sculpey models.
    "We are all dead men on leave." Eugene Levine
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  11. #10
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    Hey Azlan,

    You should totally be able to make a transformers type robot out of this stuff. However also don't rule out kit bashing and working with styrene if you want those hard edges. Styrene + Bondo is how we make like 80% of the hard props where I work. Bondo is pure magic in a tube, toxic though.

    Anyways, I did that piece over a summer and didn't really track my time spent because it was all leisure. However I would imagine it probably took me a good 2 weeks worth of time if you compressed the work hours. I could be mistaken though. I seem to remember how the sanding process never seemed to end. That was the most laborious aspect of the project, but the part that really paid off the most. The thing is extremely smooth.

    As for tools, these are what I use:

    How to sculpt a robot?

    The bottom ones are for sculpting in the wet phase. However they are hard enough where they can also be utilized during the carving phase afterwards (which is rather important if you are doing smooth, artificial surfaces). All the tools on the bottom I bought at different art stores (pearl paint in NYC, and Carter Sexton in LA) and they have been the best investment I've ever made in terms of sculpting. A couple are actually dental tools. I cannot emphasize enough the need for good tools. Back at Pratt when I would do such sculptures for projects, other students who wanted to do maquettes would ask me.. “I want to do that for my next project! What kind of tools do you use and how much do they cost?" I mentioned the tools you see above and that they cost about $15 a piece. Horrified, they looked at me and said "oh my god! Im not going to pay that much, I'll just use toothpicks!". Needless to say their work turned out like.. well like clay sculpted with toothpicks.

    The tools on the top are ones I made myself combining very small saw blades, hobby brass tubing, and plumber’s putty. Thos are mostly used for raking or evenly cutting down rough forms by going over them with a raking tool. Actually this sculpture was made before I ever tried raking, which is why I spent so much bloody time sanding the thing most likely. So definitely rake.

    As for techniques, you might consult smellybug's tutorial here on conceptart.org for some of the main procedures. His work is mainly organic though and some of the methods don’t factor into making a mechanical, hard edged sculpture. Regardless it’s still an invaluable tutorial. I don't have any real special techniques other than common sense and taking my time.

    Make sure you have a decent armature and that you've coiled additional wire around it to allow for the clay to stick properly. Also, if you are making something with boxy shapes, you may try really going crazy with your armature and adding wooden blocks to help fill out the form and then putting clay over it. You can easily glue the blocks in place using plumbers putty (another material that can do just about anything) and also use the putty itself or another epoxy compound to rough out shapes. Tin foil is another good shape filler. Tin foil works well in that it will lessen the amount of actual clay you are using in your model, and help the clay to bake more consistently.

    Just give yourself enough time to experiment and see what works best. Play around significantly.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Good luck.
    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed, The world in arms is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross."

    ...I have a sketchbook?
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  12. #11
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    wow, that's a kickass sculpt!
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    Hey Helium…[
    Thanks for the advice, especially the image of your tools (very helpful). Hadn't thought about adding blocks to the armature. Think that would definitely help fill out the shape and help work out the best possible poses.
    I assume balsa wood is the idea material?

    Not so concerned with hard edges for these 'Transformers', the idea is to get them looking a little friendier, with rounded edgers. The concept is to create a series of robots that make up a reggae soundsystem. 2 huge ape-esque henchmen robots forming the bass speakers, and one dynamic leader robot forming the dj console.

    To help create certain parts of each robot, I was thinking of using parts from various plastic model kits, but would be worried the plastic would melt during baking. Any do's and don'ts with plastic?

    The only other question I would ask, (and its one I've seen asked a few times) is there a recommended way of securing a bipedic armature to a wooden baseplate? Smellybugs example used a single threaded rod bolted to the base + spine. I've seen other people making the leg wires slightly longer and securing those wires to the base. Personally I like Smellybug's method. I suppose it would allow me to pose the figures in better poses… but it would be good to here your thoughts on this?
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  14. #13
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    Oh Great Helium M!!!!

    I pleed you, please please please, caint you make a sculpting tutorial for all of us!!! please (to many "please"???)
    love your work and im sure many others do too...

    Hive_minD --->(your humble servent)

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