• The Ten Commandments of epoxy putty.

    The Ten Commandments of epoxy putty.

    This article is a list of tips I have learned through reading or experience to help improve my sculpting skills and technique. I am no master sculptor and only have a bit more then a year of experience with epoxy putties but I hope that what I learned will help some of you.

    In this article I will refer to epoxy putty in general. Whenever a specific tip applies to a specific type of putty I will use the proper name/type (for example, green stuff).

    “Thou shalt cut away the intersection between the two parts of putty”
    When you buy epoxy putty in strips (as opposed to Milliput which comes in the form of two sticks of putty) the section where the two parts meet should not be used. The two parts harden when mixed together so this thin section has already hardened a bit and will hinder mixing and sculpting. This is especially true for older batches. If you use fresh epoxy putty this might not always be true. I am currently using a ribbon of GW green stuff and am not even cutting away the middle part and I’m not having any kind of problems. In general, it is a good idea to get rid of the middle section (2 millimeter wide or so). You can try mixing that section together and use it for rough jobs to avoid wasting it.

    “Thou shalt keep your tools wet”
    Whenever manipulating and sculpting epoxy putty make sure your fingers and tools are always wet. This prevents epoxy putty from sticking to them. It also allows you to sculpt details more easily. You can also use oil or petroleum jelly but this isn’t such a good idea unless you want to wash your models in soapy water before painting them. You can use your own saliva but epoxy putty is very toxic, do it at your own risks.

    “Thou shalt not sculpt fresh putty”
    It is advisable to let epoxy putty dry a bit (or cure as some prefer to use this term) for some time before sculpting it. For rough or big details it isn’t that much of an issue but for very fine details you should wait a short while (20-90 minutes depending on the epoxy putty used). Harder putty is easier to sculpt when it comes to fine details.

    “Thou shalt use the right tools”
    What tools should you use? A simple hobby blade can do the trick for basic jobs. Personally I use the Games Workshop sculpting tool (very useful), my hobby blade and two burnishers (wooden rods with rounded tips of different sizes, found in art stores). The GW tool is quite useful to obtain flat surfaces or sculpt hair and such (depending on what end you use). Burnishers are great to force epoxy putty into cracks, sculpt holes, lines and patterns, etc.

    Tools come in many shapes and form. Anything can be used. For example, if you need flat sheets of putty for banners and such then plastic food wrapping becomes a tool. Mix a bit of epoxy putty, flatten it a bit with your wet fingers and put it between two layers of plastic food wrap. Let it dry overnight and then remove the plastic film. You will end up with a nice flat layer of epoxy putty. You can also use wax paper since different types of epoxy putty stick to different types of wrapping. This technique is also good to give a shape to the flat epoxy putty. You can add waves to the flat epoxy putty to create a banner that flaps in the wind without having to manipulate the epoxy putty directly.

    “Thou shalt not waste putty”
    Only prepare small amounts of epoxy putty at a time. It’s quite surprising the amount of sculpting and filling you can do with what seems to be a minimal amount of epoxy putty. I used to always cut way too much material for my need (and still do sometimes). Plan what you need, cut away what looks like a good amount and mix only half of that! Epoxy putty is expensive so it’s better to mix less then more. Another good idea is to have a side project where you can add leftovers bits of epoxy putty. I use leftovers to sculpt diseased-looking bases for my Nurgle terminators.

    “Thou shalt not sculpt in a hurry”
    The enemy of most sculptors is speed. Too many sculptors try to sculpt a big piece of epoxy putty in one go. Big pieces are built in layers, over a period of many days. You need to wait before the first layer has hardened before adding the second layer. Same goes for models where you add epoxy putty too many places. Your big fingers will most likely ruin earlier sculpting if you handle the model too much. Take your time and add small parts everyday.

    “Thou shalt not eat epoxy putty”
    Epoxy putties are all very toxic. Wash your hands after each uses. It can be quite bad to rub your eyes after manipulating putty. Putting your fingers in your mouth (or eating food that has been contact with contaminated fingers) has no immediate impact but toxicity can build-up in your body over time.

    “Thou shalt use the appropriate mix of putty”
    Epoxy putty comes in two parts. One part is the hardener. Use more hardener to obtain a less sticky mix and a more rigid finish. Rigidity comes at the price of resilience. A very rigid piece will break more easily (instead of bending under pressure).

    Another way is to mix one type of epoxy putty with another type. Personally, I use Games Workshop green stuff combined with Milliput (standard grade, the red box). Green stuff give a very smooth finish but is also very flexible and elastic when dry. I find that quite annoying when handling the model afterward. Scultping a long horn or a thin tentacle can be problematic and here’s why. Once painted, green stuff will still be a bit elastic and this might lead to cracks in your paint when you handle the model. On the other end, Milliput gives a less smooth surface but gives a rock-hard result. Such rigidity also makes it more brittle then green stuff. Milliput is better use for rough finishes or for hidden parts.

    I mix approximately 30-40% of Milliput with my green stuff (more then that and the result becomes easier to break). This way you end up with a finish that is more rigid then pure green stuff and smoother then pure Milliput. It also allows you to save a lot of money on green stuff (green stuff and Milliput cost approximately the same price for 5 times more Milliput).

    “Thou shalt use the right type of putty for the right job”
    I have only used three types of putties and have heard direct report about a fourth. I will only comment on those. I have tried Games Workshop green stuff, Milliput (standard grade) and White stuff (Kneadatite). I heard about Dragon putty from a friend.

    Dragon putty: Best used to fill holes ands cracks, nothing more. It is hard to sculpt because it’s very elastic. It doesn’t hold shapes easily. Use it to fill cracks left when assembling a model. Even better, don’t buy it (no idea if it still exists, my friend had a very old package).

    White stuff (commercially known as Kneadatite): A good product. Easily shaped and easily sculpted. First type of putty I ever used. After I tried green stuff though I realized that white stuff is really not as good. It’s harder to sculpt, more sticky, harder to mix, often has littles pieces of unmixed parts left in it and it much harder to see if the final mix is ready. Green stuff starts yellow and blue and ends up green. You can easily see if you mixed the putty enough. White stuff starts blue and white and ends up white. It is harder to see if the putty is ready since white is one of the starting colors. I still use it sometimes when I have a big part to sculpt. I use white stuff for the first layers and green stuff for the last layer that will be sculpted.

    Milliput (standard grade): A lot cheaper then white stuff and green stuff. It’s a bit annoying to mix (the putty sticks to fingers like hell). I find this product to be a very good investment. Although experienced modelers will not like the finish and feeling of Milliput it’s of good enough quality to be used for detailed work for generic models. Milliput is best used to fill holes and cracks or as the first layer of bigger projects. It is also quite handy to mix with green stuff and save a lot of money, at the same time gaining some of the green stuff’s advantages. See the “Thou shalt use the appropriate mix of putty” commandment. Milliput comes in other grades (some much finer, some much rougher). I never used them or saw them being used but I assume that the finest grade is a close equivalent of white stuff or green stuff.

    Games Workshop Green Stuff: An excellent product. Easy to mix, easy to sculpt and easy to love. The result (when hardened) is a bit too elastic and flexible for my taste so I mix green stuff with a part of Milliput when sculpting pieces that stick out of a mini like tentacles (see the “Thou shalt use the appropriate mix of putty” commandment). Green stuff is the best overall choice. If you want to invest in only one epoxy putty, buy green stuff.

    Green stuff and white stuff are better for “organic” shapes. Milliput is better used (pure or mixed) for mechanic shapes, sharp edges and pointy ends. Milliput can be more easily cut to form sharp edges or filed when compared to green stuff. For example, if you want to sculpt a simple sword blade I would use pure Milliput or maybe add 20% of green stuff to it to make it less brittle. If you want to sculpt a sword blade with carvings and runes in it then you need more green stuff (maybe a 50/50 mix). The Milliput will allow you to have a very sharp edge on the blade and the green stuff will allow you to sculpt very fine details in it.

    “Thou shalt follow the previous nine Commandments”
    Okay I didn’t have any idea about what to put as a 10th commandment so sue me

    Silverthorn
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