Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Tony Barton » 26 Jun 2017

Sculpting a figure from Fimo : my process from sketch to finish .

This is a brief description of making a figure. I‘ve left out lots of fussy detail but it should give you a clear idea of how I do it. Other sculptors use epoxy clay, which I find awkward, though it has some advantages . But after early experiments, I devised this method using Fimo, a superior sculpting material, which I’ve used since the late ‘80s.Fimo is one of several commercial Polymer Clays widely used in hobbies OTHER than making wargame figures, it seems.

Having decided on the design, perhaps with a sketch..

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..Place blob of Fimo on tile and set to work. The tile acts as the armature, so no silly bits of wire are needed. I generally make the legs and torso in the first session..

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Then fire in the electric oven at 125C. Once fired, pop off the tile , carve off any unwanted edges , and start adding the other side of the legs.

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Fire again, this time on a base.

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The other figure, this time kneeling.

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We now have two torsos on bases, with legs almost complete...

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Heads I make separately, and then add to the torso, followed by the first of the equipment detail, and so on.

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You can fire the figure many, many times, so long as the temperature never exceeds the correct 125C.
Add weapons which have been previously cast in tin to ensure uniformity...
And after several more sessions, you have two complete master figures...

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CASTING:~
The Fimo figure has to be copied into metal to make the production mould.
I use a Centricast system from Tiranti, which is basically a circular mould box and all its fittings, and a small centrifuge onto which the mouldbox fits, used both to create the mould by pouring rubber into the mouldbox ,and after to fill the cured mould with molten metal. The rubber is RTV, in other words it sets at room temperature, which can be mixed and poured in a plastic jug.The red rubber is designed for casting metal .
Start by filling the box with clay, to make a bed to lay the figures in..

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Carefully embed the figures, cunningly sculpting the part line to make extraction of the casting easy. Once the circumference is filled, prepare the rubber and pour it in...

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Close the mouldbox and top it up. Rubber sets in about ten hours.
A day later, open the box, remove clay, clean rubber surface all around figures ( several hours work) and pour second half....
Then open the mould carefully :

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Remove the Fimo masters,cut entry flues for metal :

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The red rubber mould then goes back into the mouldbox , is put on the centrifuge rotor,set spinning, then has molten metal poured into the centre hole.
All being well, and with a few adjustments to the flues, after about an hour’s work casting I have a full set of figures. There are occasional mould tears which can ruin a casting, but mostly it works well.

Metal castings:

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After any fettling , these are sent in sets to the factory to be squeezed between two slabs of black rubber in a vulcanising press, to creat the very tough production mould.
The figures cast from that are what you buy. They are very fractionally slimmer than the metal masters, but that is taken account of when sculpting

I keep a few as spares, and paint them for display and catalog photos...

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So, that’s what I do all day....
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Taylor » 26 Jun 2017

What an interesting article, many thanks for posting :hello: :hello:
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby 7dot62mm » 26 Jun 2017

Wow, the generosity of sharing what are in effect trade secrets just boggles the mind. With my (lack of) skill I'll never be able to use this information but wow, it's fascinating to see how it's done and have a master explain it all. :hello:
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby mausmann » 26 Jun 2017

A great insight, many thanx.... :thumbsup:
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It was a very old platitude, even then........
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Daryl » 26 Jun 2017

Thx for posting..really interesting, especially doing part of the figure on a tile....can certainly see the benefit of that.....always wondering howthe molds were made too.

Going to give fimo a go.
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Powermonger » 26 Jun 2017

Wow Tony!! Thank you very much for sharing this!
And i'm dying for those late war british. They look amazing!
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby SP> » 26 Jun 2017

Nice step by step guide :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Peterh » 26 Jun 2017

extremely interesting article thank you for sharing - like 7.62, I will never be able to replicate anything close to that, so you will not lose a customer here!
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby cbleach » 27 Jun 2017

Absolutely fascinating. I have never heard of professional sculptors using fimo, but the way you describe the process it sounds logical and non-toxic (I believe)!

Thanks for posting this.

Cheers,
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Piers » 27 Jun 2017

Great article... but those British... :clapping:
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Sgt Rock » 27 Jun 2017

Great post. And the British troops look great.
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby jacksarge » 27 Jun 2017

Fantastic insight into the way you work Mr B, thanks so much.

I was wondering, is Fimo usable for conversions? - I'm thinking of 28mm Dark Age stuff here, and for my own collection, not for sale. Would it bond with a metal figure securely, and would the metal figure stand being put in the oven perhaps multiple times? :scratch:

All the Best,
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Tony Barton » 27 Jun 2017

Fimo ( and Sculpey, Cernit etc, they are all effectively the same) are very suitable for making conversions, especially since you can make heads and things like weapons separately, fire them, and then superglue them to your metal figure.
Directly modelling onto the metal, and putting the whole figure into the oven causes no problems, having done it myself many times, but you need a good key for the new clay to stick onto, and things have a slight tendency to fall off because of the differential cooling between the clay and the metal after firing, so keep the superglue to hand: I have found that superglue is the best adhesive to use for Polymer Clay.The same thing happens with metal figures attached to Fimo figures, as above.
Metal should not melt until at least 180C : if it does, the manufacturer is using rubbish!

The trick with all polymer clays is oven temperature, which has to be within 10C or so of 125C. Many people have been put off using it because of firing disasters caused by incorrect temperatures.
I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS TOO MUCH!
Just shoving things under the grill, or vaguely into the family oven , is going to end in tears. Use a thermometer, please, to establish the correct temp, and to keep it consistent. A small electric oven is best.
If you do that , the whole world of modelling opens before you , epoxy free!

There seems to be a completely blinkered approach to Fimo amongst male modelmakers, a kind of wilful Luddism.
As explained in the article above, you can't put it straight in the vulcanised production mould, but all figures require two moulds making , the first to multiply the masters, and second to incorporate those copies into the production mould. The only difference with Fimo is that the first mould has to be made at Room Temperature ( So far : there are hopes for new vulcanising rubbers which can go in the conventional press, and mould softer masters without crushing them. Masters from Plastikard , commonly used for vehicles and equipment suffer the same disability, and have to be copied in RTV to start with).
The women have been using Fimo for thirty years,with great originality and success : just visit a Doll's House Show. For one off projects in full colour, it's fantastic, and way beyond anything that epoxy offers.

So yes, use it for conversions. One trick : you can half-cure it using boiling water ( around 95-100C), but it remains rather delicate and prone to crumble until it gets up to 120 for a minute or two. If, once I have a figure half embedded in a mould, an exposed part breaks off, I can remodel it in situ and then cure it with boiling water.
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby jacksarge » 27 Jun 2017

That is excellent information Tony. I certainly like the idea of being able to work with the polymer clay without being concerned that it will harden, like epoxy putty. I think I may have just the right sized small oven at home too. Off to Ebay next to get some Fimo :grin:

Thanks,
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby sandsmodels » 27 Jun 2017

great info, we have a tiranti machine but gave up on the red liquid rubber years ago, could not get good moulds when i tried it.
once we got a vulcaniser and could use low temp vulcanising rubber it made a world of difference.
good luck on the rest of the plans
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Daryl » 27 Jun 2017

So basically you only heat the clay to a lesser temperature when you want to decrease the chances of damaging the sculpting while working on it. But dont feel the need to fully heat making it rock hard allowing you to make adjustments easier.
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Arvaker » 27 Jun 2017

Thanks for sharing! Inspiring and educational.

I hope to see a lot of those late war British infantry, they look lovely!
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Bluewillow » 27 Jun 2017

A excellent article thanks tony :thumbsup:

Cheers
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Re: Making a figure in Fimo : from sketch to painted figure.

Postby Tony Barton » 27 Jun 2017

Daryl, not quite.. Using boiling water is an emergency fix, if the figure is helf embedded in a mould, or attached to a piece of Polystyrene, or some other case where it won't stand the full heat. For sculpting figures in the normal way, or making conversions to metal ones, always heat each addition fully to make it tough.
Remember you can heat a piece, add a bit, heat it, add some more, heat it , and so on more or less for ever. Half heating it is not a good idea except in an emergency.
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