I'm a huge fan of banners and the character they bring to an army. For the longest time, I've been trying to work out how exactly I can make them with the detail I want and give them that flowing look and add movement to them. I think I've got it now.
Some history behind all of this first
My first attempts (and fairly successful at that) were to make them from cardstock and paper. The cardstock providing the sturdiness and body of the banner while the paper image glued on top gave me the detail. The only trouble was, they were always flat. Trying to bend them did not work and ended up partially destroying the banner. If you wanted flat banners, this was perfect, if you wanted the flowing kind... it wasn't going to work.
Then I started building the banners out of greenstuff and shaping them into the flowing positions I wanted. This was a partial solution since it got me the organic shape I wanted, but I was left having to freehand all of the artwork on there. That can be tough depending on how complex an image you wanted on the banner.
Then I saw something that sparked this idea. I figured I could sculpt my "banner" flat and add the imagery in low-relief with thin cardstock and go from there. It would be the best of both worlds. Turns out I might be onto something here.
Casting them in greenstuff is the way to go
Yep, I built the banner flat to include all the image detail, made a simple press mold of the banner and then cast it in greenstuff. The process is fairly straightforward, but there are a few things I'm still ironing out. My first attempt here is a rough one at best. I really just wanted to see if it was doable at all.
The process itself
I started by grabbing an actual banner for size comparison. I had a additional spare banner pole in my bits box I planned to use to mount my greenstuff banner onto instead of building a pole from scratch so I made my test one to fit it. No sense in adding more work.
I made my blank from cereal box cardboard. You could make it from any kind of plasticard or cardstock that is the right thickness. I did not make long tabs at the top of the banner to drape over the horizontal cross bar because I didn't want the bulk up there. I figured I'd add them later on and add the folds as I needed to.
In this case, I went with a simple image to see how the detail would translate. Like I said, this was a test. Working in low-relief has it's considerations, but I just wanted to make sure this would work first of all. I decided on a Crimson Fist symbol and some trim around the edge.
Once I had my banner complete, I glued it down to a piece of plasticard to serve as a backing for when I made my press mold. I took a blob of Blu-Stuff and made a one piece mold of the banner while it was flat.
Giving it enough time to cure, I mixed up some greenstuff and laid out a smooth layer of it in the mold making sure I had a consistent thickness for the whole banner.
I left the greenstuff in the mold for about 35 minutes before pulling it out. This gave it time to partially cure and still be flexible enough to manipulate without leaving a ton of fingerprints all over it. This was the hardest part.
I think I may leave the next one in the mold slightly longer for some more stability, but the idea is there. You take out the greenstuff banner, position it how you want it to flow so it's movement matches with the movement on your model and let it cure completely.
Once it cures, you trim away the excess flash and glue it in place under the horizontal crossbar on the banner pole. Taking a little bit of greenstuff, you carefully sculpt your two attachment points and let it cure for good.
This one is rough, no doubt about it. But it works. The idea is there and I'm going to try it with something much more complex next time to see how it really holds up. Something like a chapter banner.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Making banners from cardstock
Making them from cardstock, advanced techniques
Moving beyond cardstock for your banners
Making double sided banners
How to get detail onto plastic banner bits
The Banner page where you can download artwork for your banners