Vroom Vroom!

datetime October 22, 2019 10:30 PM

I typically sculpt with clay, which is an immensely forgiving material with a working time that stretches into months. However, I wasn’t going to be able to use clay for this project; clay needs to be baked, and the plastic model I was using as my base would be reduced to a puddle by that process.

Instead, I was forced to go back to my roots and work in Green Stuff putty, which is… fine. Ugh. Honestly there’s nothing terribly wrong with it, and you can get great results with it, but it can get a bit frustrating trying to work on details quickly in the window before the putty becomes too tough to work, which is typically about two hours. The solution to the limitations of putty is to work in many thin layers, finishing each panel with an extremely thin film of putty smeared across the previous imperfect layers. All it really takes is patience.

I don’t have that, so instead my solution was to rush things out in one or two layers anyway and be okay with it kind of looking like shit. 😛

To establish some landmarks to guide the overall construction, I placed putty around the front and back of the seat. I didn’t really smooth this at all; it’s purely under-structure, which would be entirely covered later on in the process. I also put some similarly structural putty down underneath the knight’s chest to keep it stable.

To break myself into the armour sculpting process with an easy job, I decided to tackle a big, smooth, simple panel: the lower fairing. Mimicking the Montesa’s simple chest padding, this panel would just be a single contoured shape that flows around the front of the bike’s frame.

I placed the putty down in small globs, and then blended them together with a metal hoe tool. I pushed the mass of putty around until it sat inside the contours indicated by the concept drawing.

The putty starts to lose some of its flexibility after about 90 minutes, so at that point I made my peace with whatever shape it all sat in and smoothed it as well as I could with a clayshaper.

This is a good example of what I was talking about at the top of the page– if I wanted this to look really good, I would build the panel up in a succession of thin layers. One just to smooth over the bumpy base model, another to define the edges, a third to fill out about 75% of the desired thickness of the panel, and one final layer just to create a smooth top surface. The outcome would absolutely be better if I worked this way, but the slow cure time for Green Stuff would mean adding weeks or months to the total time for the project.

I just didn’t want to dedicate that much of my life to this silly model, so I did the best I could in one or two layers per panel and called that good enough. Yes, it means that my armour plates will be lumpy. Yes, it means my edges and corners will be soft like they are here. But ultimately, when I’m forced to work in Green Stuff, I’m going more for an overall impression on the entire model that perfect craftsmanship in the small details. I save that level of effort for clay. 🙂

Alrighty, on to the upper fairing. This was the area of the model where the Montesa’s armour had the most trouble fitting over the vehicle’s shape, as the very flat helmet of the PanO knights looks a bit odd when pulled out over such an extended shape. I had to modify the shapes a bit to make it work, and add an entirely new panel on the back just to fill the empty space that basically doesn’t exist on the human version.

While that was setting, I added a base layer for the side of the seat cushion. I started by laying down a trapezoidal layer of putty and smoothing it over.

Next, I used a metal hoe tool to press down the outer edges and create a raised inner area of padding.

I liked the vaguely hexagonal bump I had made on the bottom, so I decided to continue with a field of hexagons along the rest of the padded area. This is exactly the same process I demonstrated in the Nomads section of my “Heavy Infantry Muscle Underlay” video, so go check that out for details on how I’m setting up the lines to create a hex grid.

As with everything else on this project, once I’d carved out the main details with a metal tool, I went in with a clayshaper to smooth it all out.

Once the first panels of the upper fairing had dried, I applied the material for the next layer, approximately corresponding to the knight’s forehead.

I smoothed it together, making sure to leave a round space around the headlights.

I then added some detail gubbins to match the bits on the side and back of the knight’s helmet. I opted not to include antennae on the bike, as that might look a bit too silly for what I’m going for. 😛

Working around the putty’s long cure time required me to continually shift between distant sections of the model, so while the fairing was curing, I put some more work into the seat. Building on top of the landmark putty I placed at the start, I made a shape that looked like it would accommodate a knightly ass.

The design of the seat wasn’t really based on anything from the Montesa’s armour, I was just filling space. 😛

Looking at references for different motorcycle seats, I realized they tend to be built in multiple layers held together by straps. I put the same structure onto my knight’s seat, laying the straps across the lower layer of hex padding and under the bottom of the bike.

With those two areas progressing nicely, I moved onto a new area– the wheels. I wasn’t overly concerned with putting heavy armour on these; a minor hint of plating was sufficient to get the look I was after.

Looking over the Montesa’s armour, I determined that their boots have four main plate sections from toe to calf; I matched this by dividing my wheel armour up into the same four sections, with the same plates dipping below the same adjacent plates. Given the profoundly different shapes involved, that was the closest I was going to be able to match this part.

Once it was all smoothed down with a clayshaper, it didn’t look half bad. 🙂

Random progress shot! You can see in this shot the kind of prep work that was needed to apply these plates– the underlying surface of the plastic model was quite bumpy in many of the areas where I wanted to apply armour, so in these spots I had to carve and shave the plastic away to make space.

The rear wheels only got a tiny two-panel armour plate, because knights should always be heading toward danger. If rear armour becomes relevant, they’ve failed Space Jesus. >:(

Heeeeey, remember that multi-layer process I said I wasn’t doing? I did do it in two spots, over the fenders. In this first layer, I’ve laid putty into the outer shape of the panel I wanted to create, and paved over the bumpy base structure with a single smooth plane.

You can see how thin this layer actually is from this progress shot of the front– I placed a small blob of putty on one edge of the panel…

…and then smeared it downward into the shape I wanted. I ran out of putty before hitting the bottom, so another small blob was added at the lower limit and smeared back upward.

I didn’t bother smoothing either of these base layers, as they would both be covered by later layers.

While that was setting, I switched back to the knight and started looking at how much work he was going to require. He was going to need a full putty rebuild from the chest down, but I couldn’t start that until the motorcycle was basically finished. The arms, however, were separate pieces that I could work on without disturbing the bike.

The sword arm was basically perfect straight out of the blister, but the gun arm was going to need a weapon swap– the Father Knight comes with a Spitfire, while the Montesa’s profiles are restricted to shotguns and MULTI-rifles. I really hate the visual design of PanO’s MULTI rifle– it looks like a caulking gun to me– so I scrounged a shotgun from a Croc Man to transfer to my knight.

Both weapons were quite extensively wrapped into their former bearers’ limbs, so it took quite a bit of work with clippers and knives to get them clear. Whenever you do this kind of work, you need to make a decision about which side of the cut you want to preserve, and which side you want to utterly destroy, because it is EXTREMELY rare that you’ll be able to cleanly preserve both parts.

In this case, I prioritized the gun in both cases, even though I was planning to keep the knight’s arm for my conversion; simply put, I’m far more confident in my ability to convincingly recreate an arm than a gun, so I’ll always sacrifice the wielder to keep a weapon safe.

Speaking of which– the inner arm and most of the hand got completely wrecked, necessitating a complete resculpt. Given the simplicity of PanO arm plates, however, this wasn’t really that big of a deal.

A bit more filler putty was needed to complete the bond, but overall I was quite happy with how the shotgun looked on the seated knight. 🙂

Mucking around with the guns ate up exactly the right amount of time to let the base layer around the fenders set, so I moved on to the next layers. I wanted to borrow aspects of the Montesa’s shoulder pads here, so I first created the shallow dome shape for the top, and then added the rest of the armour plate around it, leaving a dip for the dome to show through.

I finished both large plates with a final detail layer, which came out a lot smoother due to the layering than it would have if I had tried to get it all applied in one go.

It doesn’t look like I got any good progress shots of it, but you can see here where I’ve diverged from the original concept by adding more armour between the existing bits of the fairing. I thought that leaving more of the original model visible would be a nice effect, but mostly it just looked empty, so I filled it in. I broke this part into a few plates that sink into each other to allow the flexibility to bend and turn.

A lot of the transferred details were pretty meaningless, like here where I turned the knight’s breathing apparatus (at least, I’m assuming that’s what that is…) into basicallly a little windshield. Pointless, but it reinforces the reference to the Montesa.

With that, the bike was basically done (aside from some random cleanup and nitpicking). On the next page, I’ll start building the rider’s body.

4 thoughts on “Vroom Vroom!

  • Salvage

    Great to read another in-depth build of yours, love the end result and am genuinely impressed by how much sculpting it took to get there. I was sure you were going to use more of the base knight but nope 😀

    Aside: I think I prefer the style of bike you used here for these dudes, as opposed to whatever model CB is going with (which’ll look cool I’m sure but not as stylish for a *knight*!)

  • Spadgris

    First of all, this was amazing. Secondly, I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t keep the horn from the bike model in place. It would have been a unicycle. So much pun lost.

  • Dan Barnaby

    You are a master of Greenstuff and imagination! This is freaking awesome on every level!!! WOW! So Cool!

  • Vallarthis

    Every time you post about sculpting or painting, I end up trying something more complex with my own minis. After sober deliberation, I have concluded the correct response is “thank you for the inspiration”, not “damnit, stop making my life harder!”

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