Saturday, 25 August 2012

Vehicle Stowage - Sculpting for Beginners

Afternoon everybody!  A few posts back, I looked at how to make your own vehicle stowage from odds and ends, spending minimal cash.  I used a Hanomag halftrack as an example, and on my second vehicle (my Latvian Legion Panzergrenadier platoon needing four in total), I've tried some sculpting techniques.  This is another of the Warlord Hanomags.

My last post used bits of sprue and wire mostly, whereas this one will need a modest amount of Green Stuff or any modelling putty.  For context, I'm not a sculptor at all so this is aimed at others who haven't really used it before rather than experienced sculptors - for whose skills I have an enormous amount of respect.  This is just a very quick summary of the basic techniques I used for my three or four bits of stowage.

So, let's get started:

Tools:  Green Stuff, my model, flour, and various basic sculpting tools.  The mat helps protect my precious dining table and the cling film gives a flat, smooth surface to work on. 

Trying to mix the GS into the flour.  It is much more effective than water at preventing sticking. 
To make a basic kitroll, get your rough bag shape and press 'straps' into it.

Once this is done, roll the point of your blade/tool forwards and press it into the flat surface.  This instantly makes it look like it's on a hook.  Here I'm doing it on the top right, but you can see what it looks like at the bottom left.

These are the bits I made - I used all the spare GS, got a flat shape and rolled it into a blanket.  This is impossible to do without some kind of anti-sticking agent.

The build finished ...

And painted!  This is my second vehicle out of four for the platoon.

My current vehicle fleet for the Latvian Legion.
And there it is.  Finished!  Many will probably read that and already know some of the tips but I hope it gives someone the idea to try something a bit new.  My sculpting, although very basic, is coming along bit by bit!  And remember, just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't augment your sculpting with some good deals.  Chris at SOPW has done some nice resin 15mm stowage kits - very cheap, and also they still look as if they'd fit 28mm, if you stacked them as infantry kit packed onto a vehicle rather than proper vehicle stowage.  Google is your friend here - loads of bloggers do small-scale castings of this sort of thing and you can even pick up a few good deals off bigger sites.  I find they're better for 'straight' things like Jerry cans and boxes which are harder to sculpt than bags and canvas.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed that.  Tomorrow there will be another post on painting freehand badges and insignia for WW2 figures, and I'm currently basing the Army of Freedom - expect the final update next week, as the last post for WW2 Month!

The Colonel


  1. Looks good, and I never thought to use flower, my mom only told to me to use flour for biscuits but I might have to give it a go. I have a tip I'd like to share that you may find helpful. Sculpting tools are often a bit bulky, the trick is to file the rounded side of the scalpel end of your tool to a knife edge. If you do that then you have a fine detail edge, a bulk detail edge and the sides of the scalpel end can be used to make larger flat areas. It's a great way to stretch a buck and you don't have to switch between tools while you work. Thanks for plugging my 15mm Stowage, If you'd like me to make something in 25mm or for your alternate WWII let me know.

  2. Very helpful, Col., many thanks. I have never used GS so you have given me a little more confidence. Most of my models lack stowage and need some upgrades. As an aside, when I saw the SDGs in Batus Chally 2s last week I was surprised at how little stowage I saw, but I think that may be the difference between training standards and what actually happens on campaign. BTW I really like your Latvian legion paint jobs.
    Cheers mate,

  3. Excellent stuff, I have a stash of sculpting tools but end up using modelling knives more often than not as Chris says, especially for the scale mail I was on about earlier. You definitely got great results there, will have to give flour a try with some of the simpler block items I'm doing, I imagine where I might need to smooth surfaces out or alter something that's slightly cured the flour and water might not mix too well...

  4. I love your idea of just painting the straps on, I always end up faffing with marking out buckles and whatnot - as ever your method is efficient and looks superb

    1. @Chris: Thanks mate, yes I've never even used flour before to cook with so I had to go and buy some! Ah - a good tip with the scalpel! I actually had an old scalpel that the tip had snapped off, making a flat edge which you could use to press regular rectangles into GS with. I'm getting a new scalpel soon anyway, I can convert the old one and if I do, I'll try and remember to do a post on it. Hmmm ... if you could do some stuff in 28mm that would be great, I'll drop you an email!

      @Mad Padre: Not a problem my dear Padre. Glad you found it helpful. That's one thing I never said, that you can always go back and upgrade models. In fact, if you moulded them to the shape of the tank then removed them to dry, you could even have modular, removable stowage! Yes, in my experience in training they tend to be very strict about what you can stow and what looks 'tidy', but that tends to go to pieces on tour. I have a photo somewhere me in The Desert with a Jackal that's got boxes of Corn Flakes strapped on the side ready for breakfast. Oh and thanks re the Latvians! Over the next month or two you might see them in action against the Army of Freedom!

      @Headologist: Yes, it depends a bit on the scale because Chris is doing 15mm, he'd probably get more out of a scalpel blade than a 28mm sculptor. Yeah that's the problem - in fact, you can use that to your advantage. When you need to stick two bits of GS together and there's flour everywhere, you can use water to wash away the flour and paradoxically, it effectively acts as an adhesive by removing the anti-adhesive ... if that makes any sense.

    2. Another nifty home-made tool for sculpting is a "button-mold", I made it up myself although I'm sure I'm not the first person to come up with one. You take a piece of round styrene rod and drill out the center but you have to keep the hole shallow, this gives you a perfect circle with a conical or rounded end. Wet the tool or flour it as you prefer, gently press it into an area of Green Stuff that you would like to have a button on, and gently remove it. If everything worked right you should have a button surrounded by a slight indent. It makes buttons fast and easy, it's a great way to add detail to straps or bags.

  5. Excellent, even still I find the scalpel immensely useful for sculpting. That's a rather interesting effect the flour and water has then. Really looking forward to seeing them in the flesh.

    That's a great idea Chris, the hobby shop near me sells very thin brass tubing that I've used for pikes/spears etc in the past, but they're also very useful for just this - I'll have to try making myself a tool as per your advice though - thanks!