Wonderfest 2002 "How-To Demos"

Epoxy putty for use in Modeling


By Erin Lantz

Email: plantz@tampabay.rr.com


Epoxy putties: The big three in modeling today are Aves Apoxie Sculpt, Milliput and MagicSculp. Each company makes several different epoxy products, but all are basically the same material. Each putty acts differently in subtle ways. Mainly their set up times vary. My experience has been with the Aves putty, but the techniques work the same on all epoxy putties.


Tools for working with the epoxy: Tools of almost any material can be used to work with epoxies. I prefer dental tools for sculpting, but wooden and plastic tools work just as well. The main thing to remember is that epoxy sticks to most everything. So, keep water and towels around to clean up anything that it touches BEFORE it sets up. Keeping your tools clean while working is very important.


Below is a list of tools that I regularly use in working with epoxy putty:

      Dental tools - (visit Flea Markets to find these cheap)


      Denatured alcohol - (get it at Home Depot)

      Ziploc bags

      Pam Cooking Spray.

      Cornstarch powder or baby powder

      A rolling pin of some kind

      Cheap or used brushes for smoothing

      Latex gloves

      Clothes hangers or armature wire

      Fabrics for textures


Mixing and using the stuff: Keep in mind what it is that you're doing and how much you'll need. It's very easy to mix way too much putty for the job at hand. If filling seams, make a small batch with pea sized balls of putty. Basically, don't mix more than you can use in an hour because after an hour it starts setting up hard and becomes hard to work with. Some putties work longer than others. Do some testing to see how long your brand lasts, then work accordingly.


Using a spatula, remove equal amounts of putty from each of their containers. Roll each into a ball in your hand until round and then compare the two balls to make sure they're roughly the same size. It doesn't have to e exactly perfect. But, better results are had if it's mixed as close as possible to 50/50.


Once you have two balls of putty, put them together and knead them into one another until a consistent color is obtained, making sure there are no streaks of unmixed putting in it. Ok, get to work! You only have a limited amount of time to work the stuff before it sets up!


Filling seams: Using a dental spatula, press the mixture into the seam. Then, pull the spatula across the seam while pressing it down to sort of smear it out over the surface of the part. Do this the whole length of the seam, working the putty into it as you go.


Once the putty has filled the seam, come back with a brush dipped in alcohol and smooth out the putty so that it lends into the part. If done correctly, you can actually fill seams and never have to sand.


Priming the part will reveal any blemishes; after lightly sanding, just repeat the process to correct them.


Reinforcing Vac Kits: Epoxy is great for reinforcing vac kits. The simplest way of doing it is to roll up some mixed up putty into a long stick shape. Next, you place that stick into the edges of the model, spreading it out along the edge. You can even work it upwards to form a thicker sidewall of the part to aid in construction by forming a gluing ridge along the edge. To reinforce thin hulls, make sheets of putty and apply them inside the thin areas after first roughing the surface with sandpaper to assure adhesion. Once set up, the putty forms a stiff backing for the hull, preventing collapse and warpage.


Sculpting ship parts: Epoxies work wonderfully in Scratchbuilding parts. It can be pressed into molds, can be sculpted over framework, and can be used to cover foam parts to fill the bubbles. Freehand sculpts can also be done, but usually require an armature to help them stand up while setting.


One technique I use a lot is to make a skeleton frame of the part, as I did on my Minbarri fighter, and then fill it in with the putty. If you cut each spar of the skeleton to the conformal outside shape, all you have to do is smooth the putty to that level.


Sand the final part if needed and fill by skimming more putty in the lower areas until the shape is smooth.


Placing the putty on the surface of the piece and sculpting it to shape using the alcohol/brush combination can make bumps and curves much easier to make. To cover foam shapes, roll out the putty and lay it out on the foam. Then, using a wet brush, smooth the putty into the foam until the desired shape/surface is obtained and the cells of the foam are hidden.


Altering Figures: Any figure can be altered to whatever you can sculpt him to be. Epoxy putty makes it fairly simple to do. Spray Pam into a Ziploc bag, sparingly, but enough to coat the inside of the bag.


Mix up a ball of putty and place it in the bag, centering it inside. Using the rolling pin, flatten it out until you can smooth out most of the air in the bag. Evacuate the air from the bag, and then seal the zip.


Now, you just roll the pin over the bag until the putty is at the thickness that you need for the project. Cut the bag with an X-acto knife while the putty is still inside it, making the shapes that you need for the part of the clothes that you are making.


Once the sections are cut out, carefully peel up one side of the plastic, and then sprinkle the flattened putty with cornstarch powder or baby powder so that it won't stick to anything.


Next, peel up the other side and coat it with the powder. Build the clothes basically the same way that they are made in the real world by wrapping the thin sheets of putty that will touch the figure so that it will stick only in those areas. Blend the seams together by wetting and working them together with your sculpting tools. Once the seams are smoothed and looking nice, begin to sculpt in some wrinkles in natural places of the clothing. Allow one section to dry completely before working on the next so as to not disturb your work.


Smaller details can be added after the piece is set up and clothing has been finished. Using cloth and fabrics as pattern molds, you can also represent textures. Before the putty sets up, you just press the fabric into the putty. Then, lift up leaving the pattern. Be mindful to match up the designs or pattern when dong this step.


To obtain a suede leather appearance, lightly wet the putty after sculpting the clothes. Then, sprinkle on some microballoons and allow it to dry. Buttons can be made by rolling tiny balls of putty, placing them where the button is to be, and then flattening them out with a flat tool. Poke holes with a sharp instrument for thread holes in the button.


Web Resources:

http://www.milliput.com/ - The makers of Milliput putty.

http://www.magicsculp.com/ - The makers of Magic Sculpt putty.

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Copyright © 2014 by Anthony I. Wootson Sr. & Erin Lantz. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.