I recently got back into Bloodbowl and I had an idea for a team. A re-skinned Slann team… using Squig Hoppers. The trouble is, the box only has 10 models and I want a minimum of 11…
Enter… the Green Stuff Squig.
So I wondered for a while If I could try to scratch sculpt a mini, at some point I hope to try and do just that. A Squig seems like a good candidate to start off with, with their simple, recognisable shape (big mouth/head, small eyes and nose, two legs and a stumpy tail. Also variability though, Squigs come in different sizes, different numbers of eyes and their teeth aren’t very uniform. Still… I don’t want to make my life any harder than it is, and I would like some continuity between my Green Stuff impostor and the real deal.
So I decided to get out something I bought some time ago. My little mold making kit. Mine is Insta Mold but there are others like Blue Stuff that do the same job. It’s hard plastic with a little give that doesnt stick to stuff, and when you heat it, becomes tacky and VERY pliable allowing you to make press molds out of it. I originally got this stuff to try to cast parts of some Thousand Sons Scarab Occult Terminators… which I had for Christmas years ago, and still haven’t built because of this reason. I just never had the motivation to try, mostly because I expected to fail I think. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to take this stuff out for a spin.
I had seen some great videos on youtube of using this stuff, incorporating Lego to make a really clean mold that made good contact and didnt deform (due to its slight give while cold). I dont have an abundance of Lego though so I would have to do this the most basic way… which worked for me so I can share with you what would possible with the bare minimum of equipment.
First of all you need some parts you want to cast. I decided to start with a Squig’s face. A lot of them come with upper and lower jaws, and the advantage of casting my own and filling the gaps later meant that I could pick two that weren’t meant to go together and then make them fit. I also wanted to cast the body and two legs, but the advantage of starting with the face was that I didn’t have to worry about the inside as much and so I only had to cast the face of the object rather than two halves.
So here is the process with no practice…
So I took one block of the Insta Mold, got a bowl of boiled water and dropped it in. It didnt take long to become soft, less than 20 seconds. I fished it out with a fork and popped it on a plate, then pressed the two parts I wanted to cast into the block. It also cools pretty quickly and becomes very hard again – you can easily speed this process up with cold water.
I pushed some mixed Green Stuff into the depressions of the Mold, and knowing that I would want to sculpt onto the back of the face a bit I pressed lines into it to give fresh Green Stuff something to hold onto. One advantage I would suggest of this Insta Mold over other press molds is that its transparent. Which is really useful when trying to minimise bubbles in your cast. You see as you press your Green Stuff in where a liquid would allow bubbles to escape, air will become trapped, particularly in deep depressions like the points of teeth. If you can see through the back of the mold you can spot these bubbles and try to work them out carefully. It seems unavoidable in places but it really does help.
The other thing I did was to press narrow lines in the back of the teeth so I could put thin brass wires in there, Green Stuff doesn’t set rock hard like a lot of Sculpting clays, it sets like a plastic and can be very bendy if thin. So I just wanted to reinforce the thin teeth. Once it was set I bent some fine thin brass wire and glued it into the grooves I pressed into the teeth. Once I sculpted over the back of these the wires wouldn’t be visible anymore.
So you can see how they came out, pretty good I thought. There is a slight loss of deeper detail which I expected and was acceptable (apart from the eyes, I wanted the definition around those so I drilled them out and sculpted eyeballs back into the sockets). The main issue you get from it is the flashing around the edge which I also expected, which is easily trimmed, filed or scraped once the Green Stuff has set.
It was a slightly different process for the body and legs, which I annoyingly lost the photos for due to an SD card failure (I’ll try to document that process again on something else).
Essentially what I did was to make a mold of one half of the piece, leave the piece of the model in there and allow that half to cool, then use a second piece of soft heated Insta Mold to press over the exposed half. As the first half is cold, it doesnt stick to the second half. Its worth noting that its a good idea to poke a few dents into the first mold around the part, that way, when you put the second half of the mold on, you create little bumps that will help orientate your mould when pressed together.
Now when you pull them apart and remove your piece, you have (in theory) a 3D mould of the whole piece. now unlike a liquid cast where you pour a liquid into a hole and fill every crevice, we have green stuff which doesn’t neatly pour away down little channels for excess casting material, so I was keen to try and get the amount of green stuff in the mold right in the first place. I filled in both halves separately with green stuff until I thought the exposed surface would meet other exposed surface. Generally I guessed reasonably well but did end up with some miss-aligned casts and lots of flashing to trim off. Fortunately, again, nothing I hadn’t anticipated and I was happy enough with the results (at least on the squig)
So I put the squig together, following very much the same assembly as the actual Squigs. I actually added at this stage the only non-Green Stuff part, the throat, to the mouth to help with the structure and placement of parts. Next I needed a goblin rider… but I wasn’t as confident in casting a load of intricate parts for the goblin. Fortunately I had an idea from another Squig I’d seen…
This is such a cool mini, and the concept suits me down to the ground. I cast one of the goblins heads, attached the head to a paperclip and fixed it into the mouth.
Now for the creative bit, I needed to fill in any gaps, tidy any mold lines, etc… but I also had to sculpt in the cheeks, a tongue and some arms/hands for the Goblin.
I sculpted the left hand and arm in one go around a paperclip, the right OPEN hand though… that was a different ball game. I sculpted the approximate shape of the the fingers without the thumb. I shaped the backs of the finger and left the insides of the fingers flat. This was a bit experimental, I would normally add a wire core to something that flimsy, but I was worried the fingers would get too big if I tried that, so I just left it as it was to cure and then sculpted of the rest of the hand and I added the tongue.
Finally I sculpted the cheeks in, which revealed more of the inside of the mouth than I hoped… so I had to sculpt the edges of the throat in. I added a tooth where there was a bit of a void and added some cloak to the arms. I also did quite a lot of chopping away of green stuff around the goblins throat and tried to re-position one of the arms, just to try and get some of the angles right. As a result the area around the goblins neck and the Squig’s tongue look pretty rough but otherwise I’m really happy with how this project turned out!
Oh finally a few more notes on basing him… I had actually drilled and threaded overlapping pins of that fine brass wire into the standing leg of the Squig for stability, which stopped the leg being really bendy. However I still wasn’t happy with how much give there was in models leg, so I took some Mushrooms from a different Squig Hoppers stand and glued them on so there was slight contact with the other foot. I think it looks pretty natural and it really helped to make it a lot more stable.
This was pretty enjoyable and didn’t feel like the hard work I expected it to be… I’m actually more daunted now by the 10 Squig Hoppers that I have to alter the right hands on so they arn’t carrying conventional melee weapons…
~Pandora’s Bitz Box~