Monday, January 17, 2011

No Talent Required - Quick Hair Sculpt

Hi to one and all,

I known my posts have not been so frequent lately, but after painting grey for the past month I decided to take a small break and concentrate on other projects, two of which I will be posting here. In the meantime, getting back to Space Wolves, I have been working on my first pack of Long Fangs; adding a few tidbits to make them look wolfier. Well since I was asked how I did the hair on some of my models I decided to elaborate and show how no talent is really needed to make quick and effective looking hair.

Part One - Tools and Materials
As always you will need some putting and sculpting tools. I use greenstuff for this type of work, mixed 3y:1b, but you can use any type of putting really as long as it keeps detail when worked up.

For hair I use only two types of tools, a blade (with a filed down point) for straight grooves and a sculpting tool for curvy hair.

Part two - The models, Bulking Out and Sculpting Hair

Since I decided to alter the hair of two models, I decided to show them both. As Vikings, I like to add braids to my Space Wolves (in a very manly sort of way huh.gif, since this makes them more interesting. First roll out a piece of putty to the lenght required and fix them into place and flattened them slightly.

There is nothing difficult with braids if you know how to execute the pattern. I use the method below illustrated by a quick drawing I wiped up.

As you can see, all you need to do is impress diagonal lines along one side (step 1), then along the other side and connecting to the first (step 2). Now with the sculpting tool (anyone) elongate the impressions of one side as in third diagram (as illustrated by the red lines). At this point all you have to do is tuck in the sides of the braid and add the top and bottom parts which are not braided.

Bulking out the Hair
This is probably the easiest part. Just take small blobs of putty and literally bulk out a part of the hair or a section, depending on the pattern you want. Now leave it to cure for ten to fifteen minutes. This will give it time to stick to the surface and allows it to retain detail better.

Just remember - don't try to do all the head in one go. This is one of the so called 'secrets' of miniature sculpting - work a part and let dry, then another part and let dry and so on. Like all epoxy putties gently heating can speed curing time down to a whopping 10 minutes. Just be careful you don't distort or melt down the mini.

Sculpting Hair

Like everything else on this scale, you only need to give an impression of hair and not sculpt out strand by strand. Remember these are only for table-top gaming use. They don't have to look perfect, just cool.

So, I like to use the rounded blade tool for impressing in straight hair lines and the other for curvy or curving hair. Make sure the tools are either moist or covered in a thin layer of talcum powder. This is to ensure the putty does not stick to the tool avoiding you accidentally pulling it off or distorting your work. Do yourselves a favour and don't use petroleum jelly; there is really no need...and nobody will ask why you need Vaseline so often msn-wink.gif.

I will say this for completeness sake, even though there is no need, but you are going to need a steady hand for this. Make sure you are comfortable and calm (drink a cup or two of camomile tea if necessary). Remember you can always smooth it up again and re-try it.

When the section you have done is dry, it is time to do another part. Just follow the the procedure above again. As simple as that. I will let the pic tell the story.

Part Three - Details and Wavy Hair
If you want to add more movement or form to the hair you can sculpt thicker patterns into the hair or add extra rolls of putty before impressing the finer lines. The pics below demonstrate both methods. The second pic has a small blob of darker putty added on top.

When it comes to curving the hair, it gets a bit tricky. I use the the sculpting tool (not the blade) for this. With the point I slowly cut in the lines and then with a swaying motion - slowly curve them up. Just make sure the tool is moist or with talcum powder. It is harder to explain than do, if that is any consolation.

Part Four - Conclusions
Naturally, you can other details like top knots, flowing hair in the wind, mohicans etc, etc. Just follow the simple procedures I mentioned above - Bulk out and let cure for 10 minutes, simplify patterns, let the section cure before adding more sections or detail.

I would have loved to do a vid tutorial but at the moment I am not in a position to do one, but here is an excellent vid for you to look at that gives more ideas on how to approach this topic, especially with regards to tools and texture.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or if you would like to share your own ideas, please post them in the comment section and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Well that's all for now. I have to get back to my ill-fitting Long Fangs and finish them up.

Farewell and good health,



  1. Very nice, the best I have done is some Carapace armour - on Inquisitor scale models whihc ain't too bad if you're all fingers and thumbs like me :p

  2. Good grief "how no talent is really needed" I'm afraid you have a lot of talent, very good work.

  3. Good tutorial and very nice work. I agree with Lurker, you might need to re-title this one "I have loads of talent, but it's not needed - quick hair sculpt"

  4. Wow! I'm inspired. The quality of the detail is outstanding, and the links between tooth and cord are top-drawer.

  5. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I'd just like to say that it is easier than it looks, and after the first 2 or 3 tries anyone can get the hang of it. Guaranteed.

  6. Consider this bookmarked! Thanks!

  7. Nice tutorial- appreciate the up-close stage-by-stage. Must agree with Lurker and SAJ though! I'm going to try it tonight and find out if it really is 2/3 tries :)

  8. Freaking awesome tutorial! The results are just IMPRESSIVE!

    Nice work man ;D



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