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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Greenstuff 101

Greenstuff! Over the past couple of days since my Internet has been down (which really meant more missus time...) I was able to play around with some of my models in the endless debate for which army I should take to Centurion (still deciding). This playing around involved greenstuff as I did chapter symbols for my Space Marines, filled some gaps from kit-bashing for Sanguinary Priests/meltaguns and worked on a Tyranid Prime conversion and I thought why not do some basic Greenstuff tips. Now there are much better blogs out there in relation to hobbying so this for all you non-leet hobby-goers.

With insane skill, users can scratch-build whole models with greenstuff and make them look amazing. I'd reference something like Svartmell's plog on Relic, but everyone knows about it right? Although making organic type things with greenstuff is a little easier as there is less requirement for perfection, Svartmell's stuff is simply amazing and a level many of us can never hope to achieve. For those with less skill however greenstuff is a great way to help with kit-bashing, fixing errors (particularly with resin or chopping) and making some basic moulds. All of this can add that extra bit of spice to your army and give it a very unique feel.

A few quick tips before we look at these easy concepts. Always keep some water around and have your fingers and tools wet. This stops the greenstuff from sticking to you and your tools. Vaseline is also a fantastic way to stop this and comes in great use for moulds. With tools, well anything will do. I often use a hobby knife and a bunch of tools from a craft shop designed for working with clay. These give me a way to manipulate  the greenstuff in a multitude of ways without leaving my fingerprints everywhere! These tools are generally pretty cheap from an art store but some hunting around your house can probably find some objects which are usable as well. Fine sandpaper is also a very important tool to make the finished product as smooth as possible and to get rid of any excess which may have overspilled. Finally, patience. Do your work in stages and build your green-stuff up. For the simpler concepts which I'm going to explore this generally isn't an issue as they are one and done actions but when combining multiple pieces or making a particularly extensive use of greenstuff, working in stages can keep your work in-tact and your sanity in check.

Let's now check out those simple concepts.


Kit-bashing is the most basic form of conversions and one of the best uses for greenstuff. Combining parts from different plastic sets is a really easy way to make a unique look for your models whilst not taxing the bank (most people grab the bitz from their spares or trade) or creative ability. However, when putting parts together which were never meant for each other, you'll often find pieces don't fit or are an awkward fit. There are two methods to help make this easier and neither is complex. Greenstuff is this first and pinning is the second. Drilling into both bitz with a 1mm drillbit and then gluing a 1mm metal rod will provide the join with a lot more stability but doesn't stop any gaps from showing up. What I like to do then is grab a small ball of greenstuff and put it between the bits and then fit the two bitz onto the metal rod. You'll often get greenstuff spillage but importantly all the gaps between the two pieces are filled. Using your tools you can scrap off the excess greenstuff and you've spruced up your kit-bashing just that little bit.

Fixing Errors:

The most obvious issue here is fixing gaps from resin kits. Obviously huge gaps are going to be an issue unless you have some skill but little gaps between pieces which don't quite meet up are perfect for greenstuff touch-ups. I'm sure we've also always had that issue where we've cut part of a model off and left marks behind. A bit of sandpaper on the plastic/metal followed up by some greenstuff in the affected areas and your model is as good as new (minus the missing part). This same concept can be used on the part being sawn off and is particularly useful for taking parts off of metal models. Metal models are obviously static and quite often have a lot of detail bunched together. Sawing off a part (such as an arm) for a conversion/kit-bash can lose some of that detail which can be fixed with some minor greenstuff skill.


This is the biggest plus of greenstuff for me. Whilst it is possible to make small moulds for things like meltaguns so you don't have to buy more, I think the best use of this skill is to add a unique aspect to your army. For example my Marines all have their custom made chapter symbol on their shoulder pad as well as any banners or tank chassis. This is all thanks to some freehand and a greenstuff mould. The biggest issue with a greenstuff mould when you are not using an already established object (i.e. meltagun) is making the first design to cast. This takes a small amount of skill but if you can get a symbol or object you are happy with (and it can take a while for the initiates), you can replicate it for ever after with a mould. Simply wait for it to set (24 hours), chuck some Vaseline on it and push another ball of greenstuff onto the symbol. Wait for it to set (24 hours) and then pull it off thanks to the Vaseline. Now you've got a mould and can put that symbol anywhere! Simply put Vaseline onto the mould and a ball of greenstuff on the plastic/metal where you want the symbol to go and push the mould into it. Hold it for a few seconds and then peel it off and your symbol should be there! Cut away the excess greenstuff with a knife and after it has set do a bit of sanding and you're all set.

This process gives you a very similar symbol/object across all your models and can save a lot of time and hassle (especially if use it often). Whilst the replicas won't be perfect and minor detail may be lost, the time and frustration saved is immense. I'd also recommend making the first cast a little bit bigger than you actually want as some size is lost when creating the mould, particularly depth. Here is a picture of my Ice Claws' chapter symbol mould and some sample shoulder pads I've done. You can see the one on the left was a mould which was too small and has left a less than desirable symbol whilst the other two are more formed and due to being a bit thicker, are easier to manipulate without fear of breaking.

I hope these basic tips and skills help you out. Maybe some of the more accomplished modellers can provide some more information or tips. My best advice is to persevere. Like any skill, time is the best teacher. Whilst my greenstuff skill is nothing to rave about, it's a lot better than even a couple of years ago when I started using it regularly.

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