I'm interested in getting into modding my models, and I figure the easiest way to start is by adding greenstuff, but I don't really have any idea what to do with it. Can people suggest guides that they like? Another related question is, is there something along the lines of greenstuff/milliput that is substantially cheaper? I'm thinking that when I do my first couple pieces, I'd like them to be made of something cheaper like Sculpey or something, but I have doubts about Sculpey holding details fine enough for this game.
Not quite a competitive player, yet, mostly because I don't have time to go to tournaments.
I'm interested in getting into modding my models, and I figure the easiest way to start is by adding greenstuff
I do a lot of conversion and other work on my models. Here's how I'd recommend getting started, in order:
1. Pin your models. Take models you like as-is and pin them when assembling. Pin all the limbs, pin all the weapons, pin them to the base. Pin everything. They'll be a lot sturdier and the pinning skills will be useful in later conversions. For example, Mortenebra gets flack for having lots of little spider legs that are hard to glue on. I pinned them all. And her four thin mechanical arms. And her smokestacks. Pin all the things!
2. Magnetize your multi-kits. If you have a kit that can be made into several different warjacks (for example), magnetize the parts so you can switch them out reversibly. It'll make your collection (and wallet) go further.
3. Improve your models. The casting process places limitations on what models can be manufactured, but they don't have to limit you. A little after-market work can go a long way. If there are guns or smokestacks or open pipes, drill them out so their openings have some proper depth. If there are sharp-edged weapons, file and scrape the edges to make them truly sharp. If there are mechanical pieces that should have clean, defined edges, scrape and file anything that's too soft or rounded over. If there are places where one material is overlapping another, scrape out a little gap between them for definition. If there's cloth that should have deep folds and recesses, carve out any places where those have been smoothed over (like the undersides of coats and robes). If there are places where's it's not clear where one part of the model stops and the other part starts, carve out a defined join. You shouldn't need to compensate for any vagueness in the model when painting it. A little model improvement can make making painting easier and more enjoyable.
4. Base work. Decorative bases for your models can be good way to start sculpting. It could be rocks, plants, paving stones, skulls, whatever. I prefer to make my bases less decorative and more like chess pieces, letting the table and terrain create the narrative for the model's environment. So I fill in the whole recessed area on the top of the base with plastic card, fill in the gaps, sand it smooth, pin the model to it, carve out small notches for the model's front arc, and paint the base an even flat black. Then, for more stability during gameplay, I glue a steel washer into the bottom of the base, fill the rest with epoxy putty, and finish it off with a thin layer of cork. Do whatever makes sense to you.
It's at this point that epoxy putty starts being useful. For straight gap-filling, I prefer Milliput because you can smooth it over with an old wet brush and file, sand, and carve it once it's cured. Milliput has a consistency like clay and cures hard but doesn't always want to stick to your model. Greenstuff is more like used chewing gum and sticks very well but is a bit flexible even when cured. Many people recommend mixing them for the best of both worlds. I've tried it and liked it, as well. Aves Apoxie sculpt is kind of like Milliput, is cheaper, and gets good reviews. I haven't tried it yet. Don't ever buy the "tape" versions of putty. The part where they touch will already be cured and unusable. Always buy putty where each component comes in its own separate packaging. The normally available sizes go a long way. We are, after all, talking about tiny toy soldiers. When I'm not actively using my putty, I store it in the freezer for longer shelf life.
5. Re-pose models. Take a model you mostly like except for the pose and turn into a model you fully like. Usually this involve cutting it apart in a few places and re-pinning them together differently. For example, I wasn't fond of Deryliss' "spooky ghost" pose, either how it looked or how sturdy it was. So on my model I reposed his arms so he's dragging them along the ground after him. Way creepier and way less likely to bend or break off. Filling gaps becomes very important here.
6. Kit-bash models. Take pieces from one model and make them pieces of another. This is really useful for creating "alternate sculpts" of something you have multiples of. You can bash together different scrap thrall sculpts, for example, using pieces from other troopers and undead. Or add variety to your Cryx and Cephalyx units by cannibalizing Dark Eldar pain engines. You want to be careful, though, that other players can quickly, easily, and accurately identify what your model is. Read over the conversion rules in the steamroller tournament documents. When converting my models, I try to identify the most iconic elements of a model—what makes a Cryx scavenger different than a shrike for example—and make sure they're clear and prominent in the conversion.
7. Add newly sculpted bits. If I do this much, it's usually to make some other part of a conversion work better. Adding armor plates, pipes, and hoses to a warjack, for example, to better integrate a kitbashed part. Or belts and clothing when I want to give human models more realistic proportions than the stubby "heroic scale" grimderp that's so common. Maybe you like everything about a model except for one part. Make that part what you think it should be!
So I'm a little late to this thread, and to be honest there's not much left to say after Neph's reply, but I'll try.
First of all, I don't use Sculpey, but I think it needs to be cured in an oven? You probably don't want to use something like that unless you're sculpting a whole model from scratch. Normally we use various epoxies that cure on their own once mixed. I use greenstuff (cheaper if not from GW) for sculpting and Milliput for filling. I've tried ProCreate, but it seems to have different properties so I decided to stick with greenstuff as I'm more used to it. I think it might be better for sculpting sharp edges, but I'm not sure.
Some things that are commonly sculpted with Greenstuff include hair, chains, chainmail, fur, and simple cloaks and loincloths. Pick up some sculpting tools; I use both steel tools and "clay shapers" (or "colour shapers"). Steel tools help you get the putty where it needs to be, but it's hard to do fine work with them. In contrast clay shapers are great for slowly teasing the putty into the shape you need, giving you smooth surfaces and curves, etc. Other tools include a "tube tool" or "tentacle tool" which can be used to create pipes, hoses, and knurled rods (like weapon shafts). Mechanical pencils (the kind with a steel tube at the end) with the lead removed can be used for pressing rings of various sizes into a surface (depending on the pencil; 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm etc); these can be painted to look like studs or buttons. Leave the lead in place to press actual holes if needed. Stamps and rolling pins can be used to press textures into putty; this is normally used for basing. You can also make your own stamps by pressing an epoxy (there are epoxies for this specific use) onto a surface or part you wish to duplicate. Baffo has some tutorials where he describes custom tools he creates himself and what he does with them, something to look up after you get some more experience.
Greenstuff tends to stick to stuff you don't want it to and not to stuff you do; to avoid this keep your tools a little bit wet or apply a thin coat of vaseline. The properties of an epoxy like greenstuff change as it cures, so sometimes it's best to wait a bit (like an hour or so) for it to stiffen up a bit before trying some operations. Build up slowly; don't try to get your final shape in one go but "block out" the main shape first (a bit smaller than the final size if needed), then when that's cured add finer details and textures. Greenstuff can be sanded, but only after it's properly cured (so leave it overnight before trying), and this is mainly just for final smoothing (getting rid of those joins between layers, fingerprints and tool marks etc). Once Greenstuff is cured it doesn't stick to the underlying surface that strongly, so if you don't like how it turned out you can usually rip it off without too much trouble. If you DO want it to have a strong bond, score the underlying surface then apply a bit of superglue before adding the greenstuff, but be careful when doing this.
DakkaDakka for example has a whole board of tutorials, eg: Chains, Feathers. Youtube is a great resource as you can actually see the process in motion in many videos. Also I've read some great articles in No Quarter if you can borrow old issues from friends.
If your serious in sculpting miniatures I would definitely advise you to join the forum out there that is very geared towards that (I'm not sure how links are allowed so ill just suggest you join the Sculpting forum)
And Frothers, frothers are brutally honest and it is not beginner friendly.(be warned)
There's also a great apoxy called brown stuff which is very beginner friendly (as it has a longer work time ) its kinda hard to get in the UK
GSW rollers are fantastic, if you want themed bases its the best way to go.