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German Motorcyclist WWII by Mike Good

Mike Good walks us through his sculpting techniques and process

Original Discussion Thread: http://www.planetfigure.com/threads/german-motorcyclist-wwii-sculpt.37420/

Every once in a while you get to start a project that is a completely new precedent - well, for me anyway. This project is a German Motorcyclist in 1/24th scale. It is the scale that distinguishes it from other previous projects. I already had some armature parts to work with, but many other things had to be worked fresh. In this case, I had some gear that I could use as starting points for new accessory bits as will be seen below.

Because I sculpt figures as my full-time job, this means that I must find ways to re-utilize my time by creating standard parts that can then be re-used in future projects. These bits are time consuming to create and I would have a hard time paying my bills if I devoted this much time to every single project. So, time spent creating new parts is time that I can bank toward future projects.

These first two images show the basic armature worked up using armature parts I made some years ago. The shoes I had were inadequate so I spent quite a bit of time re-making them into proper jackboots. These bits will, in turn, be made into new armature parts for future projects in this genre.

The basic anatomy is filled out here. Notice the correct alignment of upper and lower torso, legs and head to achieve a natural looking contra-posto pose with the figure relaxing with his weight shifted to his right leg. The boot tops seem a bit short, but these will be covered over anyway so it is of little consequence.

Modern helmets are probably the most demanding thing one can sculpt. There are many photos and actual items around that all look nearly exactly the same. If you blow it on these parts, people will notice. More importantly, I would notice!

I had two helmets to choose from to use as a basis. One was from a Hasegawa 1/24th scale Kubelwagen kit. I did not like this helmet as it seemed too wide. So, I used a helmet from a Tamiya 1/25th scale figure that came out many years ago. The helmet was not great, but it was closer to the right shape than the Hasegawa piece.

The original Tamiya helmet is on the right and my reworked version on the left. The brim on the Tamiya helmet was a little short and chunky and the crown was too rounded. I corrected these parts with sheet plastic and putty then primered the piece to get an even finish.

Weapons are always a chore to do, although I really enjoy the work when I do. The problem is, it takes nearly as much time to do a decent rifle or pistol as it does to do an entire figure. So, I do them very rarely. In this case, I saved some time by reworking available parts.

Again, I had a Tamiya 1/25th scale K98 and the Hasegawa one. The Hasegawa part was too narrow through the mid-section (when viewed from above). The Tamiya part was slightly narrow too, but not as bad as the Hasegawa. What's more, it was too short by a few millimeters - being a slightly smaller scale. I decided it was easier to lengthen the Tamiya part than it was to widen the Hasegawa part. Most of the detailing was replaced with bits of carefully shaped plastic strip and sheet.

The upper rifle is the unmodified Hasegawa part. The lower shows the reworked Tamiya rifle. I used the Hasegawa part to help keep proportions as it was basically correct in proportion from butt to muzzle. I compromised on the gun cleaning rod below the barrel so that the part could be easily cast in resin without chronic breakage.

Here I started sculpting with the motorcycle coat which was worn buttoned around the lower leg to ease wear on the motorcycle. I gathered as much reference as I could then did what we all do - faked it!

The truth is that i could only find two photos of the coat worn this way. They helped, but I had no pics of the back so I had to guess on the drapery. Fake it till you make it.... (BTW, thanks to Krisztian Bodi for his nice sculpt of a motorcycle coat. It helped me when I couldn't figure stuff out! http://www.timelinesforum.com/forums...ad.php?t=10458)

Notice how the cloth is shown compressed on the "short side" (right leg) and with tension on the left leg where the fabric would be more extended. The top photo also show the gas mask canister which was made from three Hasegawa cans. Two made up the front and back half and another made the butt piece at the rim. The lid detail was made from sheet plastic while the fastener is Pro Create putty.

Well laid plans and all that stuff. I decided that the lower legs looked a little too bulky when compared to my photos. Crap! That means resculpting. So, I carved away a big chunk of the previously finished legs and had a second go at it. Okay, it does not look much different, but then I have all of those hours I spent re-doing stuff and making it look right to thank for that.

It looks better to me now. At least that is my excuse for all of the lost hours redoing stuff...

hands and arms

Here I have added wires for the arms and hands, which were borrowed from previous projects. The right hand was close. I did a little carving on it and then just added the last two phalanges on each finger. The fingers were clipped off and drilled to take wire, then the fingers were added with Pro Create putty. The second hand was newly built, using only the palm of what previously was a fist. You can see the finger wires. Notice that I sculpted only every other finger at first. This is so that i can sculpt them independently and avoid squishing the soft putty of the adjacent finger with my clumsy ministrations....

I have also fixed the arm wires to the torso with a blob of putty conforming to the shape of the shoulder and the figure's deltoid muscles. The torso was greased with Vaseline before applying the blobs. When the putty is hardened, then I can remove the arms and they will fit perfectly every time. The need for establishing the complete shoulder now will be apparent later on.

Here the missing fingers and thumb have been completed on the second hand. This was done after the previous putty had hardened. The red stuff on the face and hand is primer. This allows me to see and deal with any less than smooth transitions between layers of putty and resin. At this point, although the shoulders are firmly established, the lower arms can still be easily adjusted.

The collar added here is the collar for the standard army tunic which would be worn under the motorcycle coat. The neck was greased up first, so that the head can also be removed once the collar has hardened.

After bending the arms to their final position, I have started to fill out the arms. Notice that i have still not filled in the crook of the arms. This still allows for some limited adjustment before filling in the arms permanently.

The motorcycle coat does not have sleeves that cut off at the shoulder like most clothing. Instead the sleeve continues over the shoulder and attaches at the collar at the top. To make a nice join of the arm along the seam of the coat means that shoulders of the torso need to be removed and the arms extended up the shoulder. So the shoulders were ground away from the torso and this area greased up.

Here you see the putty added to the shoulder area to extend the arm. Once this hardened, the top part of the coat can be started, working from the inside out. Here I have added the sides of the coat and the front on the right side up to the collar area.

Here you can see the lower part of the back of the coat added. This was hardened and part of the lower torso ground away to allow for the fitting of the rifle.

Here I have added the false cape to the upper back and resculpted the missing area of the coat on his hip. Then while the putty was till relatively soft, I greased up the rifle and pushed it into place. Next I will add the front of the coat....
A little progress here....

D'oh! I set the rifle too high on his back the first time around, so I had to grind away a bunch of material and have a second go. Much better this time and the rifle is "hanging" more like the photos I have.

Next I added the rifle sling. This is just a piece of evergreen plastic strip. I don't think I will have any copyright issues using that stuff instead of scratchbuilding. The object here is to get the rifle and sling both pulled up tight against the body as they would be in reality. A groove had to be sculpted into the the hip to show the strap "digging" into the coat.

Here the front of the coat has been added. The gas mask canister was greased up and pushed into the front of his coat as well. It is hard to see from this photo, but grooves or depressions were sculpted into the coat where the gas mask canister slings will hang down the front of his chest. It pays to think ahead on these details.

I was hoping to get the sleeves on today but it didn't happen. Instead, I added the cuffs. The rather stiff cuffs of this coat just seemed to lend themselves to this approach. The sleeves should go a bit faster with the cuffs firmly established too. More anon....
Okay, I lied! It was messy, but I did get it to work.......

Here you see one arm finished. Just for grins, I am showing the process of getting there on the second arm. I start by greasing up the torso and adding a blob of putty inside the arm. This is just pushed on with the finger and squished onto the body, then the putty is squished around the upper arm.

The same is done for the lower arm. The idea here is to get the basic shape and bulk of the sleeve in place. Notice that the bulk of the sleeve disappears to almost nothing at the elbow and the shoulder since the body would be pushing against the fabric in these areas.

Now that I have the basic shape of the sleeve worked out, I can start adding wrinkles. These are simply pushed into the fabric with the toothpick tools. With the tool moist and a little rolling action, the folds can be made fairly smooth. Then it is just a matter of working and reworking until you get the surface and the folds just right......

Like this. See? That wasn't so hard!

In fact it was kinda soft and squishy - until toward the end when things started to stiffen up. Once the putty gets to that state, then the fine details like seams can be pushed in with the x-acto knife. The "puckers" caused by the stitching are then lightly pushed in with the end of a not quite sharp toothpick.

It might be hard to tell now, but there has been quite a bit of bulk added to the arm between this photo and the last one. Such adjustments are frequently necessary to get a decent balance between one arm and the next. Fake it till you make it, that's how I do it.

Here I have added the collar with putty. The gas mask canister slings are made from sheet lead from a wine bottle. The ends are simply pushed into the collar while it is still a little soft. Boy, that didn't go too well! The strap looks a little wonky right now where it goes around the neck, but the end parts are copascetic. That was the major object. It is just another job to go back and remove the bad parts and redo them with putty.

As can be seen, we are on the finishing stretch now. All that is left is that wretched strap at the collar and some miscellaneous buckles and doodads to make him complete. But that will be next week.....

Not much to add here. The final details were just a few buckles and the belt insignia, all done with Pro Create putty.

Several people had asked about an SBS, so here it is. Thanks to everybody for their kind words. This figure will be issued sometime next year.

Happy Holidays and cheers to everybody!! :D :cool:


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