Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making Your Wildest Dreams Come True

This post will follow my process of resin casting a custom Space Marine shoulder pad.

This project was inspired by a post on Miks Blog and conversation I had at Games Day with Ron Saikowski of From the Warp, in which he told me that he would never turn away a commission job, no matter how weird or difficult it might seem.

Ron's comment made me think of some of the stuff I have done that really pushed me to do better and improve my skills.

I have to say that I work best under pressure, and when I am deep into a project and keep thinking that I just can't make it work, something kicks in and pushes me over the wall and gets it done.

From that point on, I can look back and figure out why it worked and use that in the future.

You will be amazed at what you can do when you push yourself, and the feeling of accomplishment you have afterward is awesome.

Enter Mik's new Space Marine chapter.

I was prepping up to make a mold to cast some shoulder pads for another project, and I figured I would just whip up a shoulder pad for Mik and toss it in the mold, theres always a bit of room for friends.

Mik sends me the art.

by Biscuit

WAY more complicated than I thought it would be, lots of tiny details, all to fit in 6mm or so of a shoulder pad. I cant imagine how the toy designers respond to the artists concepts, but I imagine they work big and shrink most things down to tiny. This is not an option for me.

What have I gotten myself into? If I back out I will look like a jerk. If I suggest to modify the art, it will loose its awesomeness, and the artist will be unhappy, so I suck it up and get to work.

I must have gone through 10 trials before it started to come together its sooo much in such a small place. Must make it work smaller. Curse the artist, how could he do this to me? has he ever used green stuff?

This one didn't make it, legs too short and head too big

A favorite way to approach the impossible is to break it up into manageable smaller jobs.

In this case I will break it down in segments. 6mm to work in and the legs are about half, and the biggest problem for me.

I break them into 4 little rolls and stick the tops down and arrange the legs where they need to go. It works.

Then I make the triangle that is the top half, trim it to size

Then sculpt the eye and small details, and it works, on the 10th or 11th go.
Looks kind of weird, but it's going to work.
The next step is looking at it from a manufacturing standpoint, will this work in the resin casting process? Deep areas in the molds and under cuts will collect bubbles and make casting a real problem, I use some spot putty ( reddish stuff) to build up a few problem spots and smooth things out.

Resin casting can be easy, even the mold making.

I don't even use Lego or make a fancy box.

I use a little Dixie cup. A bit of super glue to tack them down to the bottom, and then mix and pour the silicone.
I use Alumilite in the 1lb tub kit. 1Oz mixed with half a scoop of the pink stuff is enough for this mold. Pour it and wait overnight to demold.

tear off the paper cup
and pull out the master parts.
The mold is very flexible, and easy to work with, make sure the cat doesn't take off with the masters
I use Alumilite resin in the little bottles, and a Dixie cup and a craft stick. It can be messy, and don't get it in your hair (or the cat's)
It's a good idea to dust the molds inside with a bit of baby powder with and old paintbrush and blow them off real good, I like to work the molds a bit to get some of the bubbles up, and I use the mixing stick to skim off the extra resin before it kicks, to cut down on the flash.

Here is the casting with a bit of wash over it so you can see the detail
and with some blur

I decided to paint one up to see how it takes the paint, and to match it up to the art, ignore the untrimmed flash.

and the Pepsi challenge

Not too bad, Mik I hope it makes your wildest dreams come true, or at least adds a little something to the troops for your new army.

If any of you out there need a little something for your army to make your dreams come true, let me know, perhaps I can help.



  1. Nice work. I've tried casting before, the bubbles killed me.

  2. Ok, I don't know why but I never thought of casting shoulder pads as a single piece mold. You sir, are a genius!

    Now I just need to get around to making the masters :p

  3. Geek- bubbles in the mold or the resin?

    Using a slow curing Silicone RTV (HS3) gives the bubbles plenty of time to bubble out.

    Powdering the mold breaks the surface tension of the resin and gets rid of those bubbles, and you cen even uses a slower kicking resin (white) to get rid of more bubbles, and even draw them out with a home food storage vac system.

    Give it another try.

    Oniakki- just make sure you use a strong rubber mold, as there is a lot of flexing involved, and the design has to be free of major undercuts.

    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  4. Empowering tutorials like this are what used to make White Dwarf great. Thank you.

  5. I may get a slap when I say it looks like a keeper from the last season of B5.

  6. Rock on John! These look great and they give an army that certain elusive "pop" that is impossible to find nowadays.

    I can't state enough how cool it is that you took this upon yourself and how excited we are about it.

    There's still a color scheme poll going on, we can use all the votes we can get!


  7. The work on those pads is quite nice. I totally agree that working at that scale can be a pain, I'm working on some pad designs myself (though I'm waiting on the cash for more RTV for mold making). Hadn't thought of the powder in the mold, I'd tried vegetable oil with mixed results.