Advanced Sculpting - Making Gimli

Where to start?

The first place to start any project whatever it may be is research. Having decieded that I might try my hand at sculpting the son of Gloin - I check my favourite LOTR website for images of Gimli - downloading anything I can find.

The Quintessential Lord of the Rings - Movie Shots

I chose the image below as my inspiration for this piece.

The Tools of the Trade

For this project I shall simply be using GW's own 'Greenstuff' modelling putty and my favourite sculpting tool which came from the sclupting tool set from The Wargames Foundry.

I shall also make use of a scalpel blade for very fine detail work.

Starting point

To help me visualise the whole figure, I did a rough sketch on a scrap of paper and I collected some small stones from the road outside.

The Base

Since the figure is sitting - it's only sensible to build the base first. The rocks collected from outside are arranged and held in place on the plastic base with a little Milliput (you could glue with PVA or use Green it doesn't matter).

The Sausage Man

As always, I begin with my sausage man. Simple shapes of rolled out putty just to give basic figure shape. As the figure is firmly planted in a seated position - there is no need for a wire skeleton or 'armature'.

Also, as this is a very complex and detailed fugure I shall need to work on the body detail before doing the arms and head - so for now these are left off.

Working in Layers

Working with very small amounts of putty at a time - (never mix up more than a tiny amount or you'll be tempted to keep going until you've used it all - and it's important to take your time and allow stages and layers to harden before continuing) a thin skin of putty is wrapped aroun the each leg and foot and work begins on the boots and baggy trousers. Using the tool to push the putty into shape and form the edges. Keep your sculpting tool (and finger tips) moist with a quick lick of the tongue to stop the putty sticking - we want it to stick to the model - not the tool.

Once I'm happy with the trousers and boots - another layer or skin of putty is applied - this will form the mail and over jacket. There's no need to apply a separate layer for the coat over the mail as this will make our model too chunky - simply press the edge of the sculpting tool around the bottom of the jacket to show the hem of the mail.

Building up

Here you can see that I've used the point of the sculpting tool to run rows of 'dots' around the Mail layer to represent the chain mail. The same simple technique will be used on the first layer applied to the arms.

The first layer is upplied to the upper body, and the tool is pressed in around the waist to show the belt. A little prematurely perhaps I've added the left arm - but there's still a lot of work to do on the body.

A 'mitten' is formed for the hand and a scalpel blade is used to press between the fingers.

The head

The head and face in particular is a complex area of detail and there's nothing I can say to help you here appart from 'keep trying'. But I always work on the face independantly at this point. A small blob of putty is stuck onto the end of another sculpting tool or possibly a bent paper clip.

The principles remain the same however - use the tool to 'press' the details into the face. I'm not 'sticking a nose on' or adding putty for the eyes - I'm simply pressing each side of the nose and pushing the cheaks back. The mustache is added however as a rolled out 'sausage' (though very very fine) and the tool is pressed into it to suggest the plaits.

Final stages

In the final stages the figure rapidly takes shape as the belts and trappings are added - the arms and gauntlets etc. Once fully dry, the face is added and the back of the head filled in.

The final touch is the weapons. These are literally carved from 1mm thick white plastic card - I've painted them green here just to improve the look of the photo for the website. The weapons will need to be moulded separately when it comes to moulding the figure - so these are just lightly tacked in place for now.

The Finished Mode

My appologies for the lack of photos of the final stages - but I finished the model over the weekend and I normally take the photographs at work with a good quality digital camera. But no matter how complex the detail may appear - it's all added in layers a small bit at a time. You simply can't take a soft bit of putty and produce a figure of this complexity in one go. It's done slowly and gradually piece by piece allowing drying to take place as the figure takes shape - adding no more than a ball-bearing size piece of putty each time.

This figure was completed in 1 day - that is, most was done an afternoon - with the final touches completed the following day.

Good luck - and happy sculpting!