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  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...

    http://www.theclubhouse1.net

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



    I did this some time ago in sculpey. Basically itís 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. Thatís 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, itís 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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  7. #6
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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 HeliumÖ
    Fantastic Character you've created thereÖ
    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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    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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    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:



    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.. ďI 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 plumberís 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 donít factor into making a mechanical, hard edged sculpture. Regardless itís 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 HeliumÖ[
    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 posesÖ but it would be good to here your thoughts on this?

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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)

    ((sorry poor spelling))

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  15. #14
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    Awesome sculpture helium!!

    you got me inspired!!

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    Hey Azlan,

    Yeah you wouldn't be able to add any plastic pieces untill after the sculpt was done and baked. Model plastic, styrene, etc will melt in the oven at sculpey baking tempratures. However, what you can do if you want to incorporate a large number of model pieces in the structure is basically kitbash. Basically what you'd do is build your armature, and add pieces as you go. Along with the kitbashed materials you would basically sculpt any custom pieces with sculpy and add then in the same way you add the model kit pieces. Epoxy gap filler glue will work good, and epoxy putty would help also. It's going to kinda be a confusing process at times, just try to have a plan in mind as to where you'd like to go with the idea. If you can show me the designs you have in mind for the robots, I can tell you how I would tackle them.

    As for attatching the armature to the base, what I do is this: I make the armature seperate, and on the legs I attatch brass tubing (which you can find at any hobby store). Usually I attatch it with plumbers putty. Then I take a brass rod, ( a size smaller than the tube, therefore sliding into the tube making a tight fit) and attatch those to where I want the feet of the sculpt placed. To do this I drill holes into the base that are the same size as the brass rod and cement them in place with plumbers putty. I do this so if I need to remove the sculpt to get at some wierd angle it's possible, or if I eventually want to make it freestanding, or put it on a custom base.

    If you don't want to waste you're time doing such things, then smellybug's methods are good, or if you're making a bibedal sculpt you can simply leave loops at the feet of the armature and drill a wood screw through the loops cementing it in place.

    Hope those ideas helped, let me know if you have any other questions..


    Hive_minD, heh thanks for your entusiasm, actually this thread has gotten me hankering to sculpt again, the last one I did was about 8 months ago and it was a piece of crap. The next one I do will actually be a revisiting of this sculpts subject. I'm redesigning the suit (oh this sculpt is actually a guy in power armor, not a robot, just thought I'd make a nerdly clarification) and will be doing a new sculpt of him soon using the techniques and lessons I've learned in the past year working for a special effects house. I'll definately do some sort of progess demonstration and try to create some sort of tutorial for sculpting mechanical designs. I'm really glad you like my stuff =)


    Saittam_j, Glad I could inspire!

    "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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  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helium Macaroni
    You most certainly can sculpt mechanical subjects in sculpey.



    I did this some time ago in sculpey. Basically itís 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. Thatís 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, itís just like I said. A good amount of sanding and carving will give you a very convincing mechanical look.
    thats impossible, i wont ever undertsand this.
    there is no way u can make 2 completely even same beaitfly smooth armor pieces, it is unhuman.
    i give up, i know i cudnt make a good cube even if my life depended on it.
    il stick to organic live things.
    although i do wish i could pull this type of shit off, to make bases with mehanical things in it, maybe guns, some better looking ammo pouches or something. the thing that strikes me impossible about this is the following:
    so ur sculpting ur robot, and well if u touch it with ur fingers it fucks up the smoothness, if u hit it it fucks up the shape and ur dead, u gotta retsart that part. i just cant believe it.
    i myself have never used sand paper, so maybe with it i would be bale to get somewhere.

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  18. #17
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    Another way to create smooth surfaces instead of using plasitc is to roll out sheets of sculpey. Either by a pasta machine, or a bottle or by pressing something smooth against it. Roughly cut parts to the correct size and bake them. When done do the final shaping and sanding before adding them to your sculpt. If they are to be bent etc then put them on a bent surface when baking. Also consider making press moulds for parts that can be used more than once.

    If this method is usefull or not does of course depend on what you robot is supposed to look like.

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  19. #18
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    Hmmm... Spam?

    Never Spoil a Good Story with the Truth
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  20. #19
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    Though I haven't tried this yet (I've only just started sculpting), it seems that if you produce one "perfect" armor bit, you should be able to fire it, make a mold from it, fire the mold and then go to town. Shoulder-pad factory, baby! Am I wrong? Maybe you need some water or olive oil or some such to keep the mold from adhering to the fresh clay? On review, maybe that is exactly what HellBorn is advocating?

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