Friday 31 August 2012

Making textured plaster plaques for a scenic base

It's time to make a scenic base for my Pie Clown. Rather than using any pre-made moulds or ready cast pieces I decided to make my plaster scenery from scratch. I've always rather liked using plaster to create scenic bases as It's lightweight, relatively strong and very easy to carve. It is also very fast to work with. Both the pieces for this base took under an hour to texture up starting from the blank plaques. 

First of all I needed to cast up a couple of blank plaster plaques to fit onto the resin plinth I had chosen. One will form the pavement the other a wall.

I began by rolling out some plasticine to an even thickness. To do this I used a couple of pieces of balsa wood and a wooden dowel. While it isn't essential to have the plasticine all of an even thickness it does help to achieve a better result.

Using a straight edge and a scalpel (or craft knife) I cut the plasticine into four strips.

Using a piece of plasticard as a base and my plinth as a guide. I built a mold using the plasticine strips. Place the cut edges of the plasticine against the sides of the plinth one at a time and gently press them into place. 

When all four sides are done make sure the corners are sealed and then carefully remove the plinth.

Mix up your plaster as per the instructions and (on a level surface) carefully pour into the mold to the required thickness.

Once the plaster has set (be patient & dont poke it!) carefully peel away the plasticine and the plaster plaque should pop free of the plasticard. Now let the plaster dry out over night. Depending on the thickness set plaster can take a long time to fully dry out. Although you can carve it when slightly damp I'd recommend that you make sure it's fully dry before you do any gluing or painting.

The plaster plaque probably won't be perfect so carefully sand the edges to remove any flash. I then began to inscribe a brick pattern onto the plaster using a pointed stylus (in this case a piece of brass wire filed to a blunt point).

With the basic brick pattern inscribed I then added some texture and damage using a variety of tools. A stiff paintbrush is particularly useful for softening out some of the hard edges. To get an overall rough texture I placed a piece of course sandpaper rough side against the plaster and burnished it. The texture was then impressed into the plaster. I used a stone out of the garden as a texture stamp  to create some random looking chips and dents. 

It's well worth casting up a few spare plaques and trying out a variety of tools and techniques as a wide variety of finishes could be easily created.

Working with plaster can be a very messy business and sanding/carving plaster will create a lot of dust. Don't forget to follow all the usual safety precautions to protect your eyes and lungs.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Pie Clown step-by-step part 1

A short while ago I was contacted by fellow cool mini member Moonmin82 who asked If I would be interested in painting up a miniature he had sculpted As anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know I'm not the fastest of painters so, with two project already on the go, I had to think carefully before taking on another. The mini is very different from anything I would normally paint and that caught my interest. I thought it would make a nice 'little' project to get back into the swing of things after the Summer's painting pause, and so it has proved.

I wasn't 100% sure how to approach this mini as I really didn't want to paint a traditional bright and colourful look to the clown. The words retro, sinister and grungy kept on popping up when I thought about what I wanted to do. But I couldn't quite get my head around how to apply these qualities to the painting scheme. In the end I took a deep breath and just started painting. Sometimes thing like this sort themselves out in the doing rather than the planning.

I cleaned up the mini and applied a little crackle paint for some added texture. Then I painted an overall base coat of Dheneb Stone. Next I gave the mini a wash of Gryphone Sepia just to get things started and to begin creating some definition. I used a mix of Gryphone Sepia and Devlan Mud to create some deeper shade and tone down the sepia.

At this stage, seeing the mini with these rather rough brown tones washed onto it, inspiration stuck! I would paint up the mini in a (mostly) monochrome scheme to resemble an old sepia photo. This approach tied together all of the qualities I was looking to achieve and gave me the opportunity to try out something new. To keep a rougher/grungier quality to the paint I decided to do as much as possible using washes and transparent glazes. This would also have the benefit of being a speedier method of painting as I wanted to push this project through as a quickie without compromising the quality and character of the final mini.  It also gave the the chance to try a style of painting that would be radically different from my usual highly (or indeed obsessively) refined and tidy finish

Now, with a clearer idea of how to proceed, I continued to build up layers of dilute washes and glazes. As well as the colours mentioned earlier I introduced Rhinox Hide to the palette to get a little variety in the brown shades. Superficially Rhinox Hide looks a lot the old scorched brown but this colour seems to contain a lot less red and has a cooler/duller tone. A mix of Rhinox Hide, Devlan Mud and Vallejo Dark Sea Blue gave me my deepest shade and Vallejo Ivory completed the colour pallete by providing my lightest highlights. From here on Its a matter of refining the finish and adding detail and definition. All the time repeating to myself "retro, sinister and grungy".

Comming soon ! 
(Shockingly soon for me)
Pie Clown step-by-step part 2 and Creating a scenic base for the Pie clown.