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Sculpey Tutorial


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#1 tin7_creations

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 05:51 AM

LuxorV asked me to make a Sculpey tutorial, so here it is.

Tools Required:

- 2-3 useless/spare minifig heads
- 2-3 useless/spare minifig torsos
- Some useless/spare LEGO bricks to make a stand.
*Note: The Sculpey will damage all these useless/spare pieces, so the use of any rare or single pieces in the sculpting process is at your discretion/risk.

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- Aluminum foil (cut it to a rectangle of about 2cm x 2.4cm)

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- Small sharp objects (I use 2 small screwdrivers; they are about 8cm long, the tips of the screwdrivers are about 0.1cm). These will be used for sculpting; like small chisels etc.

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- Sculpey in the colors of your choice; you can also mix 2 different colored Sculpeys and get a new color. Choose your colors carefully if you don’t want to do a paint job.
- Toaster oven or small pot

Other required tools:
- Pen & Paper
- Exacto Knife (optional)
- Super glue (optional)

Designing:

The design of your piece is very important. So before you do anything, start with a good old pen and paper drawing. It doesn’t have to look nice, just a rough copy so that you know approximately what you’re doing. On the paper you will need to draw 4 LEGO heads.

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Here is my Sculpey Design Sheet (4 views), and you can draw your design onto the heads similar to the second picture. It is important that you know approximately what all four sides of your piece looks like. Then, when you are satisfied and done, you can begin preparations for sculpting.

Build A Stand & Other Preparation:

Firstly, you do not have to use the spare pieces that I used to build the stand; just use anything that you are comfortable with destroying.

Here’s my stand:

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Before you start adding the Sculpey, you need to add a layer of aluminum foil.  The Sculpey will stick to the minifig head if you model directly on it, and it will be impossible to pull off.  Therefore, the aluminum acts like the stuff you spray on cookie sheets to keep the cookies from sticking to the sheet. Take the 2cm x 2.4cm rectangle and wrap it around the head, like this:

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Make sure that you wrap around the stud as exact as possible, or your finished product will be very loose on the minifig head.

You may ask, “Why do we need 2 torsos and 2 heads?”  
Reason: One head will be used for modeling/sculpting; the other will be used when you’re painting. A third one, if needed, would be used for boiling (more on that later).

Modeling:

Unfortunately, I cannot teach you how to make anything.  Like with everything else, modeling with Sculpey takes practice.  The more you do it, and the more time you spend on each headpiece etc, the better you get at it.  So, instead of teaching you how to make an exact object, I’ll teach you some techniques that you might find useful.

Base:

First off, you need to make the ‘base’ of your headgear.  This involves squishing a small ball of Sculpey right on top of the stud of the head, which will allow the headgear and the head to fit together (like a normal LEGO headpiece).  Here is what it looks like:

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Then, use Sculpey and surround all the aluminum foil covered area.  Like this:

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This will create a solid ‘base’ or ’bottom’ for your head piece.

Adding Hair:

Now, you may think, is this it?  This doesn’t look like some of the stuff that you’ve made.  True, maybe you have seen these headpieces that I have made:

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What’s the difference between these pieces and the ‘base’?  Well, these pieces have hair!

How do you make hair then?  And how do you add it on?  Basically, you have to make every single strand of hair separately, and I’ve only found one technique that does this best.

First, you take the Sculpey, and roll it into a string:

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Then, using your utensil (in my case, the small screwdrivers), you slice off a small piece the length of which you want the strand of hair to be.  Sculpey is somewhat adhesive; therefore, it would stick to the tip of your ‘utensil’.  Then you merely take the strand of hair, and place it upon your ‘base’.  You can place the hair wherever you want depending on your design.  Afterward, I would use the sides of my screwdriver and roll in between the crack of the hair and the ‘base’; this will allow the Sculpey from the hair and the base to meld together.  

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Past this point, there is really nothing I could teach you.  Most of it is fairly intuitive, and requires lots and lots of practice.  Just have fun with your Sculpey!  

Modeling On Top Of Existing LEGO Pieces:

Now there may be a time when you don’t want to create a completely new piece.  For example, in the picture below, I really like the back of the Hermione hairpiece, but I wanted to add a band, and strands of hair to the front, so I just sculpt directly onto the original hairpiece.  Here, I used the same hair strand technique to add to the Hermione hair.


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A paint job will be required usually, unless you are skilled enough to ‘match’ the two separate colors with your Sculpey. As you can see in the second picture, after the paint job, the ‘addition’ to the original piece is not quite as obvious.

One thing to note though is that the curing process (which will be mentioned again below) must not be baking.  The LEGO piece is plastic and it will melt if you bake it, so choose to boil it instead. Most important of all is you must boil it with both the minifig head and the aluminum foil. This is important, because the original Hermione hairpiece will shrink after it is boiled, the minifig head, and the aluminum foil will prevent it from shrinking, so that the headpiece will still fit afterward.

Curing Methods:


Curing is the technical term used for ‘hardening’ the Sculpey.  The instructions for curing methods should be on the packaging of the Sculpey or clay that you use.

I prefer Sculpey over clay, as the finished product of the Sculpey is softer and lighter than clay, and more similar to LEGO.

There are two ways to cure Sculpey that I use:

1) Baking the Sculpey in a small toaster oven. You don’t have to buy a small toaster oven, just use anything similar around the house. On the package, it says:

“Bake at 130C for 15 minutes per 6mm (1/4”) thickness. DO NOT
overbake. DO NOT use in microwave oven. All baking should
be done by an adult. Do not place uncured clay on furniture.” ~ Sculpey

Quite frankly, I’m not going to measure how thick my Sculpey pieces are. Much too tedious. I set the oven on 130C and just stick the thing in there for about 10 minutes.

2) Boiling the Sculpey in a small pot. Boil a small pot of water, when the water has reached a boil, put your Sculpey model into the water, cover the pot, and let it boil for about 7-10 minutes.  Take it out, and wash the pot very thoroughly.

One important thing to note is your use of armature. By armature, I mean the parts that you add to the Sculpey to shape it. This is why I prefer boiling over baking. Sometimes I would add stuff like toothpicks and small wires to shape the weapons/utensils. Other times, I would use the minifig head, helmets or torsos in my modeling.

These items absolutely CANNOT go into the oven toasters.
Reason: They will melt, and catch fire, which will cause your toaster oven to explode! Bye Bye house.

Mistakes:

Now, you may ask, “What happens if I made a mistake on my creation, but didn’t know about it until after I cured it?”

There is one simple way to fix this. Use an exacto knife, and just shave it until you get what you want. How much you shave off of the creation is up to you, alas, it is something that cannot be taught.  Shaving excess off will create scratch marks on your creation, no worries; the paint job will hide all of that.

This is one reason why I choose to make my creations just a little ‘bigger’ than necessary.  Just in case I make mistakes, I can shave off the excess after curing. Also, one thing to point out is that baking will make the Sculpey harder than when boiling it. Boiling will give you a softer texture, thus easier to remove/fix mistakes with your exacto knife.  Don’t worry though, visually, you can’t tell if it’s baked or boiled.

One thing I run into a lot after curing the Sculpey, is that, during sculpting, some of the bends/joint areas might be weak, and once the Sculpey hardens, it becomes brittle and falls off (same can happen while fixing with your exacto knife; accidentally cutting something off is nothing strange).  Super glue works really well in this situation.

Re-curing?  


After your piece is completely finished (modeling, curing, fixing), then you might find that you want to add stuff to it. This does not mean you have to re-cure it.

Truth is, I can’t tell you if re-curing is possible. I haven’t tried it myself; someone once told me that he saw no reason why I couldn’t re-cure it. However, some of the pieces I make take hours and hours to model, and if re-curing might destroy it, I don’t want to take that chance. So if anyone does manage to try re-curing, you are very brave, and please tell me your results.

What you can do in this situation is use your first Sculpey creation as a base, and model on top of it.  Afterwards, just cure the ‘add on parts’ and super glue them onto the Sculpey. Yes, you can super glue Sculpey. Again, I must stress that at this point, you still DON’T need to worry about what it looks like, because the paint job will cover it up any glue residue, or scratch marks, or anything else that might be on the piece.

Painting:

Sculpey cures into a very fragile and brittle texture.  Because it can be easily wrecked, I paint my pieces with acrylic paint.  Acrylic paints are thick and don’t absorb into the Sculpey like watercolors or sprays do, therefore, once dried, it forms a protective layer over the Sculpey.  Painting Sculpey is the same as painting anything else, take a brush, mix some colors and go for it.  Just don’t drip paint onto the carpet, acrylics are a pain to clean out.

The most important part is to enjoy the process, the more you enjoy it, the more you'll do it, and the better you'll get.

If there's anything more that you would like to know (certain techniques, etc), you can leave your replies here, and I'll try to add them on as fast as possible.

Once again, Enjoy!

~tin7

Edited by tin7, 03 August 2009 - 05:59 AM.

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#2 Matn

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 09:05 AM

Thanks for this comprehensive tutorial!  :thumbup: I think it will help people very much making their own pieces that fit with LEGO, and maybe it will help me in the future. Everything is explained well with some good photos, good job.

#3 LuxorV

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 09:08 AM

Thanks for completing this project, tin7.

Adding it to the Index. I'm sure a lot of people will find useful advice in it.


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#4 Hound Knight

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 01:48 PM

Thanks for the tutorial tin7, it is very helpful.  :classic:
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#5 Evil-shadow

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 09:21 PM

First: I hope I wont get ban second day on this great forum for ressurecting 1+month old topic.

After reading this great tutorial about modifying minifig, i have just one suggestion: there is sculpey that doesnt need baking or cooking or anything like that. It will dry on air (best is under desk lamp ) in quite a short time. its callled GREEN STUFF. i've used it before when i've played warhammer 40K. It is in form of  blue-yellow strip. When you mix both component it become green and sticky. So its advisable to use water in process. Here is link to green stuff: more about green stuff. You will find it in many DIY stores or in almost all games workshop stores (converting minis is common in tabletop games).

#6 FireHawk302

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 10:42 PM

Here's my method of curing, which seems to work VERY well.

Put the glass/container/whatever filled with water in the microwave until it steams.  You don't want it quite boiling, just pretty hot.  Then put your new part in the glass/container/whatever after it is removed from the microwave, then, wait until the water is completely cooled, like not even hot anymore.  Then you will have to paint it.

I have found this to cure it almost plastic-hard, and it works quite well, from my experience.

Whoops, didn't realize this was a bumped topic.  :blush:

Edited by FireHawk302, 21 September 2009 - 10:43 PM.

click>> Posted Image <<click

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#7 LuxorV

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 07:36 AM

View PostEvil-shadow, on Sep 21 2009, 11:21 PM, said:

First: I hope I wont get ban second day on this great forum for ressurecting 1+month old topic.

After reading this great tutorial about modifying minifig, i have just one suggestion: there is sculpey that doesnt need baking or cooking or anything like that. It will dry on air (best is under desk lamp ) in quite a short time. its callled GREEN STUFF. i've used it before when i've played warhammer 40K. It is in form of  blue-yellow strip. When you mix both component it become green and sticky. So its advisable to use water in process. Here is link to green stuff: more about green stuff. You will find it in many DIY stores or in almost all games workshop stores (converting minis is common in tabletop games).


View PostFireHawk302, on Sep 22 2009, 12:42 AM, said:

Here's my method of curing, which seems to work VERY well.

Put the glass/container/whatever filled with water in the microwave until it steams.  You don't want it quite boiling, just pretty hot.  Then put your new part in the glass/container/whatever after it is removed from the microwave, then, wait until the water is completely cooled, like not even hot anymore.  Then you will have to paint it.

I have found this to cure it almost plastic-hard, and it works quite well, from my experience.

Whoops, didn't realize this was a bumped topic.  :blush:
Thanks both for sharing your opinions and suggestions. I'm sure many people will find them useful :classic:

@ Evil-shadow - first of all, Welcome on EB and in the MCW; secondly, don't worry: we don't ban people who resurrect one month old topics to share reasonable comments and advices; we do that only if people keep resurrecting old topics with silly and use/sense-less posts :wink:


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#8 SlyOwl

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 10:20 PM

Thanks for the great tutorial :thumbup:
I've had my own attempts at making headgear out of plasticine, casein, glue-gun glue etc. but none have been successful, so I'm looking to alternative means.
I'm wondering, how durable is the finished sculpey piece? Would it be worth going that step further into silicon molding a sculpey draft for an individual part or not?

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#9 CommanderFox

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 12:41 AM

Thanks for the Tutorial tin7 :thumbup:  
you have inspired me to start sculpting :sweet:
sadly I don't have any sculpey in the house so am using modeling clay to practice on.
Thanks again for inspiring me :sweet:

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#10 tin7_creations

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 01:30 PM

View PostSlyOwl, on Sep 25 2009, 03:20 PM, said:

Thanks for the great tutorial :thumbup:
I've had my own attempts at making headgear out of plasticine, casein, glue-gun glue etc. but none have been successful, so I'm looking to alternative means.
I'm wondering, how durable is the finished sculpey piece? Would it be worth going that step further into silicon molding a sculpey draft for an individual part or not?

it's not as playable as the stuff you get from brickforge... it's still pretty durable.
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#11 Evil-shadow

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 08:18 AM

@Tin7
I think  that depends on which sculpey you used. I know that green/brown stuff  take some pounding (extensive playing). its adviseable to put some structure in your sculpture. Like paper clip cuted to proper length and then used to reinforce the sculpey. Its true if you will use your piece as much as you would any other made from ABS plastic ( Brickforge, brickarms, LEGO use it) then it wont last long.Also it should be painted and then sealed or you can say goodbye to colors in no time!

#12 Skipper 24

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 09:28 PM

View PostEvil-shadow, on Sep 21 2009, 10:21 PM, said:

First: I hope I wont get ban second day on this great forum for ressurecting 1+month old topic.

After reading this great tutorial about modifying minifig, i have just one suggestion: there is sculpey that doesnt need baking or cooking or anything like that. It will dry on air (best is under desk lamp ) in quite a short time. its callled GREEN STUFF. i've used it before when i've played warhammer 40K. It is in form of  blue-yellow strip. When you mix both component it become green and sticky. So its advisable to use water in process. Here is link to green stuff: more about green stuff. You will find it in many DIY stores or in almost all games workshop stores (converting minis is common in tabletop games).

Thanks for the Green Stuff idea. I've never seen sculpey in the UK and this seems like a fitting alternative. I'm pretty sure they'll have it in the GW shop near me.

Thanks for the tutorial too tin7.
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#13 Stardusty

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 04:53 PM

Great tutorial!
I'm new here and my Englsih isn't really good, but can I ask you some questions?

I want to make custom LEGO headgears and I think you are really good customizer.
So, can you give me a few advices?

Also, I have these questions:
Are LEGO parts damaged during the boiling (LEGO minifig head and torso)?
If I paint LEGO minifig head with acrilic paints how good will it be?
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#14 tin7_creations

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 08:26 PM

View PostStardusty, on 16 November 2010 - 04:53 PM, said:

Great tutorial!
I'm new here and my Englsih isn't really good, but can I ask you some questions?

I want to make custom LEGO headgears and I think you are really good customizer.
So, can you give me a few advices?

Also, I have these questions:
Are LEGO parts damaged during the boiling (LEGO minifig head and torso)?
If I paint LEGO minifig head with acrilic paints how good will it be?

Advice: Practice, sculpting skill is not something I can teach, just feel the clay with your fingers, work with it, and practice a LOT.
Answers to your questions:
1) All LEGO parts are damaged during boiling; they shrink, and the print comes off, so use parts that you don't want.
2) Acrylic paint creates an extra thick layer; so when painting minifig heads, I prefer to use spray paint, or an air-brush.
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#15 Stardusty

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 09:41 PM

Thank you for your answers.
Too bad they will shrink.  :cry_sad:
I will buy few cheap ones.
I can hope only it will work out.

I am really good at making things from regular clay but I never made something really small.

Thanks again fot tutorial and answers! :classic:
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#16 sok117

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 10:49 PM

I really want to make a decent 4-lom head from SW, have you ever used sculpy to make a full head?  If so, is their any advice you could give me?
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#17 tin7_creations

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 11:46 PM

View Postsok117, on 16 November 2010 - 10:49 PM, said:

I really want to make a decent 4-lom head from SW, have you ever used sculpy to make a full head?  If so, is their any advice you could give me?

Hmmm... I've made modifications to actual heads before, but I've never tried to make a full head.  The reason being is that I believe Sculpey is very soft in comparison to ABS plastic, so I don't know how the material would fare when used against a LEGO torso.  But you can try of course, and then post your results here in our forum!
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#18 sok117

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 11:30 PM

View Posttin7_creations, on 16 November 2010 - 11:46 PM, said:

Hmmm... I've made modifications to actual heads before, but I've never tried to make a full head.  The reason being is that I believe Sculpey is very soft in comparison to ABS plastic, so I don't know how the material would fare when used against a LEGO torso.  But you can try of course, and then post your results here in our forum!

I actually like your idea better, to give it a nice shape, I think I'll use a head as a base, and add parts to it.
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#19 tin7_creations

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 02:42 AM

View Postsok117, on 17 November 2010 - 11:30 PM, said:

I actually like your idea better, to give it a nice shape, I think I'll use a head as a base, and add parts to it.

Just make sure you stuff something into the head to keep the hole from shrinking... because if it shrinks in the wash, it won't be able to fit on the LEGO neck anymore.
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#20 2k gold

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 10:27 PM

Thank you so much, now I know how to use my sculpy.
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#21 LEGOfan123

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 04:22 PM

A very nice tutorial on LEGO sculpey tin7!  :thumbup:
Mabye I will make some personal adds to my HP collection in the future.  :laugh:

#22 LuxorV

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 04:45 PM

Please people, check the date before re-surrecting year old topics without adding much to the discussion. Thank you.

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#23 SilentMode

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 08:13 PM

One thing that might be useful is an embossing heat tool, commonly used in arts and crafts/scrapbooking and inexpensive. Not sure if it cures the Sculpey entirely, but it at least hardens the surface, so you can add more Sculpey on top without ruining the existing shape. Once you're done you can bake or boil the whole thing to cure it properly.
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#24 minotuarslay

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 12:25 PM

if you boil the head as well will it shrink??

#25 tigaturf

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:29 PM

Where can I get sculpey mold from?....



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