Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Horsing Around...Again!

Still not happy with my horse design. I think what it is is that I'm trying to go for a more realistic look which is still recognisably a 'peg' toy. Funny enough, a straight forward 'toy town' toy horse would be easier to make as I'd just go for a rocking horse design or similar, but because I am going for something half way between 'toy' and 'realistic' it seems harder to pull off.

What's happening is that instead of a model that's just a few wooden components glued together I'm starting to have to add more and more Milliput putty in order to make the design work. I'm also having to saw, sand and carve more complicated shapes out of the pegs to get the components I want and to make these components fit. (But, most of all it's the amount of putty I'm having to use that bothers me.)

I really - originally - wanted something that just went together out of a few simple components, but now it's turning into more of a real modelling or sculpting job. Maybe I'm just being too critical tough, as - in the end - it's the final look that matters.

I think what I will do is to paint this one up to see how it fits in with my painted peg soldiers.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

A Horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

As simple as the peg infantry is to make I do have a bit of a conundrum...How do I make peg cavalry and artillery?

Today I'm trying to work out the cavalry part of the puzzle, by tinkering with some ideas on how to make a peg horses and riders. What's tricky is that it's quite easy to make a 'toy soldier' horse, but I don't want these horses to turn out looking like a children's storybook or toy horse...

I want something simple and stylised which suits the peg soldier look. So I had a look around and found a nice example of what could be achieved...

Credit: Wooden Warriors
I love this stylised horse and it really suits the peg soldier aesthetic. Of course, I don't want to copy this design but come up with something that fits in with my peg soldiers. I'm looking for that 'Goldilocks' zone halfway between realism and toy

Suck it and See!!!
OK, best way (I thought to myself) to find out how to make peg horses is to just start gluing some bits of pegs to gather and hope that I come across a 'right way' to do this. So, here's some pics of the results...

Peg Horse Prototype Number 1.
Well, my first attempt was a little ham-fisted and chunky. I really wasn't pleased with the shape of the head nor the length of the body. The whole thing was a little too big really.

Peg Horse Prototype Number 2.
One of the things that worried me about my first attempt was how I was going to portray the rider's legs. Obviously, I intended the first prototype to have the rider's legs painted on, but was there a more elegant way to perhaps include the legs as a part of the model?

Also, could I simplify (stylistically) the horse even further? Prototype number 2 was my attempt to see how stylised I could make the model.

Peg Horse Prototype 3.
Well, version 2 looked a bit skinny to me (it looked like the rider was sat on a donkey), so I thought I'd work on the version 1 format and see if I could refine it.

I shortened and narrowed the body (using a smaller diameter piece of dowel rod) and worked on a better head design. Yes, this meant I was back to the idea of painting the rider's legs onto the body of the 'horse' but it seemed a quicker and easier solution.

I'm still having problems with the shape of my horse's head - I had to resort to using extra putty to get the shape I wanted - but, in general, version 3 seems to be getting there.

I'm tempted to do one more version as I like the tilted back legs of version 2 - they make the model look a little more dynamic, as if the horse is about to charge - and I just had another idea about how I could do the rider's legs. We shall see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Funny Week, Funny Hats

Bit of a weird week this week, it seems like I've been beavering away but have achieved little noticeable results!

Really, it's been a 'house keeping' week as I have been reorganising my portable workbench (yep, I still haven't got my man cave fully operational yet). The main job has been to do some modifying to my Citadel Project Box to make it a little more 'user friendly'...

This is what I am using to model and paint at the moment. The main reason I'm using
this is so  I can keep the wife company in the front room. She's a teacher so if I didn't do
that we would hardly see each other! :)

What I'm doing is rearranging the work area so that it can accept standard A4 sized cutting mats - which are cheap - instead of Citadel's proprietary (and expensive) non-standard sized cutting mats. This involves some shaving of the plastic dividers on the work surface and replacing them with some thin wooden beading. (I'll pop a photo up when it's finished.)

Otherwise it's been small progress on several peg soldier jobs that I'm working on consecutively. But, perhaps worth mentioning might be the job I've done with my 'pith helmet' castings...

I've actually got all the separate pieces of the helmet together and have started making a couple of prototype peg soldiers (though I won't give away what kind yet). :)

And that's the update for this mid-week. Hopefully. I'll have something more interesting to report by the weekend.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Two-Part Mould - Part Two

Well? Did it work?...Yes and no. 

I think I just need more practise to work out the 'tricks' to doing this, but I think I am probably stretching the practical uses of Instant Mold by attempting two-part casting. Don't get me wrong, it is possible - with care - but I think the whole idea of Instant Mold is quick and easy press moulding really.

Two-part moulding is a slightly more complicated and precise type of moulding and - to be honest - if you are going as far as taking the time to make a properly aligned two-piece mould you will probably want to make something you can keep and use a lot of times.

So, what went right?
Well the quality of the cast was good it captured the general shape of my original object very nicely. And using Milliput mean I had a really hard duplicate that I can sand or otherwise modify further.

So, what didn't go right?
Registration. I did try to make registration dimples in the Instant Mould so the two halves of the mould would come together precisely, but I just didn't do a good enough job. The two halves slipped when I tried to put them back together again with the Milliput inside and so the cast was mis-aligned...

Now, I could rescue this casting by cutting it down the middle and realigning the two pieces again. But that kinds makes the whole process of trying a two-part mould a but of a waste of time. I might as well have just moulded the two pieces separately and then stuck them together at the end...

Alternative way of doing this (or how to rescue a failed two-part mould) is
to simply revert to doing the casting as two single part moulds and then to
glue the resultant pieces together. Perhaps? :(
The result of 'one piece' moulding the helmet parts. Now I don't have the
alignment problem BUT I now have to clean up and glue the two halves
together. Not so cool!

But the good thing about Instant Mold is you can just melt it down again in boiling water and start again. And this time I would make better registration marks (dimples) in the mould so that the whole thing aligns better (hopefully).

...And then again, I'm starting to think that I might as well invest in a proper resin casting set if I am going to start to do more complex casting from a much more detailed original. The resin mould would also have a longer life and allow me to use cheaper resin as a casting medium rather than expensive Milliput...

The Sylmasta Resin Casting Kit (£38). Perhaps the next
step in my casting experimentation?

Well, I feel I learned a lot about what Instant Mold is good and not so good for. It's ideal for one-piece press moulding but not so ideal for larger more detailed 3D two-piece casting. You can do it at a pinch, but the whole idea of Instant Mold is that it's 'instant' and you use it to copy something quickly and then re-melt it to use it again for something else.

My failed two-piece mould, melted back down to use again
for another mould. Best attribute about Instant Mold.

It's definitely a great tool to have on your workbench and I will be experimenting with it again to see what else I can copy (and I will be trying out different casting mediums, like Green Stuff and even PollyFilla plaster). But I think I will invest in a resin casting kit as well.

Anyway, to end off this post, here's my fudged two-piece (two separate single castings) pith helmet. I glued the two pieces together to make the complete helmet with super glue. It's a passable rescue of my failed (proper) two-piece mould attempt, but it will do for my prototype figure I'm making!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Two-Part Mould - Pith Helmet

So far I have made a very simple 'press mould' using Instant Mold (excuse the spelling but it's a Japanese product) to copy some basic shapes for my peg soldiers. Now it's time to get a bit more adventurous with a more complex shape and multi-part mould.

I'd like to make duplicates of a 'pith helmet' (think 'Zulu'), a prototype master I have made from - you guessed it - Milliput...

OK, my sculpting isn't great, but these helmets are for my peg 'toy soldiers' so absolute accuracy isn't quite as crucial. It's more of a caricature.

Now, how much Instant Mold will I need for this? Considering that this is quite a big hat and it will be a two-piece mould I'm thinking it will need two whole sticks...

Better to err on the side of caution an make too much rather than too little, especially as I intent to cast the peg's 'head' as well (I'll explain why later). Also, I drew a pencil line down the centre of the piece to give me an idea of where to make the mould halves.

First Attempt...
So...Turns out I needed substantially more Instant Mold than I thought! In fact, to get the space around the object I wanted to cast - so I could include reference points - I needed double what I originally estimated (two sticks)...

I think I'm probably stretching the envelope with Instant Mold regarding the size of the object I can cast accurately. It's quite a deep object and Instant Mold seems to handle shallower object better.

The bigger the object to cast (and the more complicated the shape of that object) the longer time you have to spend pushing the Instant Mold tightly into all the nooks and crannies of that object...And time is crucial element in this process, as the Instant Mold is cooling and hardening while you are doing this. So...You may end up having a few attempts in order to get it right!


This is where things get tricky...Adding the second half of the two-part mould. It's definitely more art than science and you'll have to keep your fingers crossed. Unfortunately, you won't really know how successful you are in your mould-making until you actually make your first casting.

This isn't precision fitting, the jelly-like consistency of soft Instant Mold means that there is some movement when you press it into the object. Press the sides and the top and bottom move a little, sometimes opening a small gap between the object and the Instant Mold. It can be a little frustrating.

TIP 2: TRY, TRY, AND TRY AGAIN (If your mould isn't good enough, melt the Instant Mold down and start again.)

Still, as I alluded to earlier, the proof is in the pudding and you will only know how good your mould is when you make your casting.

I'm using Milliput again as the casting medium. I fill each half of the mould with the Milliput and then press the two halves together (so that the Milliput sticks together)...

And now the long wait while the Milliput dries. This will be a bit nerve wracking.

Next: I open the mould - will it be a good casting? Hope so!