Tutorial: Sculpting Text

Hello Hobbyists!

Time for a new aspect to this blog: Tutorials! I hope that through this series I can share some of the tips, tricks and how-I-did-it’s that I have stored in my brain. First, here’s a simple guide on how I sculpted the text on Xenomortis’ shoulder pad.

The tools you need:

  • Sharp blade (I use a retractable knife)
  • Green Stuff
  • Your preffered sculpting tools (I like silicone tipped tools for the precision they allow)
  • A non-permanent maker or pen
  • A piece of paper-towel or tissue
  • A piece of guide material (see below)

The Process

Prepare

Key in getting your text to look good is ensuring that it is square with other aspects of your model. This means you need to plan.

Get a piece of material, I used a rod of plastic, but anything will do, so long as it’s a close-ish match to the size of the text you want. If you’ve done some text already, you can compare it to the existing text to get a good fit. It doesn’t have to be perfect, I decided my text would be slightly larger than the width of the rod, but it was still a useful reference.

Next, use the pen to sketch out an initial letter, and from there project guidelines along the surface of the model.

You can continue to sketch letters as you go, which will allow you to see what words might ultimately fit on the finished piece. As you extend further along the model, the reference material will help you to keep the guides a consistent distance apart.

It helps a lot to work on only one row at first, sketching it to it’s full length and sculpting along that guide. This row then can act as a reference for the rest of your sculpting.

The last stage in preparation is to clear the area you are about to sculpt on.

Grab a tiny piece of cloth and use it to rub off the sketched letters that you are about shape with green stuff. This is to stop the pen you used acting as a barrier between the putty and the plastic.

Sculpt

As with any sculpting project, you will have to mix up some green stuff. You won’t need much, so only roll up a small ball. From this you want to take of an even tinier piece, hopefully close to the size of the letter you want to make.

 

What follows is to apply the putty where you want the letter to be.

Flatten out the blob of putty a bit, then use the knife to pull off any excess material that won’t make it into the letter. This takes practice to get right, as judging how much material the final letter will use is tricky and depends on which letter you want to sculpt.

Use your sculpting tools to shape the letter. As before, this step takes practice. Patience is also critical as the better results will come when you spend more time getting the shaping right. Focus on ensuring the letter is the same height as those next to it and that it’s edges are well defined. Ideally you want the green stuff to meet the plastic at a right angle. Don’t worry too much about ensuring that the top of the text is smooth, or that the height is consistent from letter to letter, as the whole area can be sanded and filed down later.

 

 As you work on the letter, you can use the guide material to check that the letter is still fitting to the size you intended it to be.

 

 

Repeat

Once you have completed one letter, you can continue to add a few more along the same path. The number you do at any time depends on your confidence in your ability to accidentally crush your work with your own fingers. I generally stuck to 3 letters at a time, and never worked on letters directly above or below each other as they cured.

That’s all the key stages. Once you have completed the sculpting, you can use a file or sandpaper to smooth out the text so it has a consistent height. I forgot to photograph this step, but I have confidence in your imagination to visualise how that looks.

That’s all for now, let me know what you think of the format I’m using. I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions and feedback.

Cheers,

Anthonace