Molding is tough, casting is even tougher. Trying to get a Space Marine shoulderpad correct is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Not only do you have the whole mold making and casting process, your final work is set right on top of the model where everyone can see it. It's not like you're sculpting a boot or something that will be covered up for the most part. This is right out there for everyone to see in all its glory.
For those following up from last week's post on making one piece molds and my epic fail, this post will touch on two piece molds or more like how I got my Black Dragon shoulderpad done. I'm sure it's not the best method by far, but it's my solution to the problem I've been faced with for quite some time now. It might help you with sculpting/molding/casting your own shoulderpads. And to be a bit more accurate with what I'm doing here, I think this is best described as press molding with a two part mold.
Let me add one small thing before we start.
The purpose of figuring this out is so I can do this on a personal level. It's not to make enough money so I can retire next week. There's a ton of work involved in this and I don't know how practical it is for a whole army. Maybe a squad, but with a whole army, you get to the point where it might be a better use of your time to look for alternatives to this.
When I left off my last post, it was with an epic failure. It was back to the drawing board and looking for a different technique. I wanted a shoulderpad with the Black Dragon icon on it, not glued on, not anything else... I wanted it to look like part of the shoulderpad.
Since sculpting my icon on flat plastic wasn't going to work, I set about sculpting it directly onto a shoulderpad.
While it was curing, I tried a number of different ways to cast your standard space Marine shoulderpad. I decided I would try and cast the whole thing instead of just the icon. It might be easier and a little more solid in terms of construction.
Here's the two part process I ended up using
I took a practice shoulderpad and glued it down to a piece of plasticard. I knew I had to fill in the underside and the top portion. I also knew the two molds had to line up when put together. On top of that, I had to have a way for the excess greenstuff to be pushed out of my mold as well.
No big deal, I've never done this before, but how hard could it be?
I opted to glue it (the shoulderpad) down where it would be covered up by the torso and you wouldn't be able to see that edge very well once attached to the model.
My first mold filled in the underside of the shoulderpad. On top of that, I created my second mold for the top surface of the shoulderpad. I made sure both molds overlapped and could be "set" into place exactly how I wanted them to so the underside and the topside lined up correctly.
Once both molds cured, I separated everything and took out the practice pad. It was time to test my theory. I mixed up some greenstuff (this time going heavy on the yellow 70/30) and pressed it into my upper mold. Making sure I had enough to fill all the voids, I took my lower mold and pressed the two molds together until they "locked" into place.
Now the agonizing waiting game began.
When I could wait no longer, I cracked open my molds and carefully peeled out my experiment. I was quite happy with what I found. After trimming away the excess from the back of the shoulderpad, I knew I had a process that just might work. The detail is there, it's "on" the shoulderpad as opposed to being glued on afterwards and it looks like it will work.
After cutting away the excess greenstuff, I realized I don't want to go heavy on the yellow for flexibility... I want to go heavy on the blue for stability. At least my normal 50/50 mix for sure.
Tackling the Black Dragon shoulderpad
Armed with my vast experience in mold making and casting, it was time to put it all to the test.
My custom made shoulderpad had cured enough to cast. I mixed up my Blu-Stuff and made both halves of my mold. Once I cracked it open and was comfortable I had a decent set of molds, I mixed up some greenstuff.
I realize now that my bottom mold did not fill under the shoulderpad completely and I'd have to cut some of it out so the arm would fit correctly. No big deal as long as the top mold turns out well. With the extra greenstuff, I made some fixes to the model I had waiting.
That's right, I built a Black Dragon Space Marine just for this shoulderpad.
And the verdict
When I was confident the greenstuff had cured for long enough, I set about breaking open my molds to see the results.
Flashing was minimal to my surprise. I'd expected much more, but I guess I was fortunate in my casting this time. The inside of the shoulderpad needed a bit of work to get it to set properly on the arm.
All in all, I'm very happy with the results. Is it going to change the world for me? Not likely. I've got a way to make multiple custom shoulderpads now without having to sculpt each individual pad. I don't see this replacing all of my shoulderpad needs. It's far easier to buy the ones I need when possible and save myself the headache of doing it like this.
It's been glued onto my model.
Here's the completed model with custom shoulderpads and all.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
My initial attempt at making press molds and shoulderpad icons