Many gaming models require assembly. It is not uncommon for pieces to not align properly, for assembly cuts to obliterate detail, or for there to be shrinkage between parts causing unsightly gaps. This article goes beyond just gluing two pieces together and introduces creative solutions for joining pieces since sometimes it is necessary to make joints look good with a little extra work.
Some of the most common joint problems are simple gaps that require filling and smoothing. The Pureblood Warpwolf from Privateer Press is a good example of simple joints that need a little work.
Take a look at the pictures below. A good joint would be smooth and/or indistinguishable when assembled. Making cuts at cloth or ropes or other natural break points means less work for the downstream modeler. Making a cut in the middle of a muscle means some smoothing and filling might be required. The joint at the right leg to the hip is not clean and leaves an unsightly gap. The tail also has an odd break in the middle of the fur. Both of these are easily fixable with epoxy putty. By comparison, the joints where the bare arms mate to the leather are pretty clean and would not require additional work because the breaks are more natural.
After parts are glued together, the first thing to do is mix up a little Green Stuff (re. Kneadatite Yellow-Blue). Just a little bit goes a long way in an application like this, so don’t be wasteful. For more information on the basics of working with a putty like Kneadatite Yellow-Blue, check out the article Sculpting 101.
To start, cut off a smaller portion of the Green Stuff that has been mixed and roll it out into a thin cylinder.
Use a sculpting tool to apply the Green Stuff to the gap. This just needs to be laid in place and pressed in.
For joints with two smooth surfaces it is only necessary to smooth out the Green Stuff so that the joint is covered. Here I am using a Clay Shaper to thin and smooth the putty.
To fix the gap in the fur the putty can be manipulated into a shape similar to what is on the original sculpt. A tutorial for sculpting fur by Matt Gubser can be found here . In this case I used a dull hobby knife to make small slices in the putty. I also added a little more putty so that the fur would have some more mass.
The hip joint was also filled with Green Stuff and smoothed out very thin with a Clay Shaper. It is important when doing this to not cover up any useful details like contours of muscles.
Also, check the gap on the left arm. Typically a joint with a good break point doesn’t require any work. In some cases there may be a gap that just needs to be filled with a little putty. Nothing serious, just filling the void.
Sometimes a joint just doesn’t look good and there is not a simple solution for fixing it. This Gatorman by Privateer Press is a good example.
Notice that as the arms join up mid-bicep that the break is in the middle of an organic feature. If the model here had smooth muscle then repairing it might be similar to the Pureblood Warpwolf. However, the Gatorman model has a complex pattern of scales and trying to fill and mimic the pattern will lead to frustration. This is where creative solutions come in.
For this case I am going to show the basic sculpting for two solutions. Both include covering the area with Green Stuff and how to manipulate the putty so that there will be an interesting shape or feature when done.
Again, mix up some Green Stuff and roll it into a thin cylinder.
Use a sculpting tool to apply the Green Stuff to the gap as a thin band. This just needs to be laid in place and pressed on.
The idea here is to create a type of manacle or restraint. This idea is perfect for the concept of a Gatorman Posse enslaved by Skorne and adds to the flavor of the model quite well.
The band of Green Stuff was shaped and smoothed using a Color Shaper tool. It is important to keep it relatively thin and smooth. The total thickness of this manacle is about 1mm, and it wraps around the entire bicep.
Now, if you’ve read the Sculpting 101 article you know how important it is to work in stages. This is a good time to let the putty cure because its very frustrating to put a finger in freshly sculpted putty. A miniatures oven will cut the cure time to about 1 hour.
Once the band is cured, apply a small ball of putty to the arm as shown. This is the first link to a piece of chain.
Press the ball partially flat, and press into the center of the ball with a sculpting tool using a small circular motion to form the hole. Be careful to not press too far out because that circular motion is how you’re getting the link to form.
Do it again with another small ball of putty. If you’re worried that you might mess these up with future steps then let them cure.
Finally, take another thin cylinder of putty and cut short sausage links. These will be pressed into the circular links from above, from center to center, and pressed up to the manacle band.
The left arm is in need of repair as badly as the right was. For this arm I’m going to cover the joint in a similar fashion, but use a more tribal/primitive design that will fit with the Gatorman style.
Again, start with the thin cylinder and laying it in a band shape around the entire bicep of the Gatorman.
Instead of smoothing it out I gave it a rough shape, and then used a sculpting tool to press into the center and force the edges out. Remember that when you press one place with putty there will be a displacement elsewhere.
I then used another tool to lift those raised edges and give them a little shape.
This is a good time to let the putty cure.
The next step is to apply a small ball of putty to the arm just below the arm band.
This ball is pressed flat and shaped with a small hole dug out at the top. The idea here is to create a primitive bauble to hang from the arm band.
Finally, take a small length of rolled out Green Stuff and create a strap over the arm band. This will be a small cylinder that is first set into the hole in the bauble (see above), then laid over the arm band and pressed down at the top edge. Some ridge detail can be pressed into the center of the strap if desired.
The final result? A dramatic looking Gatorman figure that no longer shows those ugly joints.
From these two examples you can see how it is possible to have joints in multipart models that can ruin the appearance without a little extra work. It is a basic modeling skill to be able to repair and/or disguise these joints and often it can be used to create optional effects. Good luck and good sculpting.