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Custom by the numbers, start to finish (SA Commando)

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Hawkeye
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Custom by the numbers, start to finish (SA Commando)

Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:12 pm

As requested by a buddy of mine, I'll shoot a start to finish of one of my customs.

I am planning on making a Super Articulated Clone Commando custom for my Theta Squad.

I'm gonna take this guy:

"Hi there!"
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And turn him into one of these:

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Hawkeye
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:13 pm

First, I need to break him down into his base parts. To do that he's going hot tubbing:

"Hell yeah! Pool party! Bring on the padwan babes!"

Hot tubbing in a cup of water in the microwave for four minutes.

"Hey wait. What?"

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For something new (which will make the SA process easier down the road) I am gonna use the lower legs of the Galactic Marine. One of the most versitaile figures for customs.

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After his four minute bath, all the plastic is very soft (albeit very hot) and you can pull all four limbs out of his torso and waist with mininal effort. Same with the GM lower legs.

"Hey man, I dont feel so good."

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Hawkeye
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:14 pm

I am gonna go all out on this guy.
I want him to have a removable helemt.
To to this I am going to remove the ball on the torso that the head/helmet attaches to.
I'm going to to it with this dremel bit:
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Ok, it off. Just needs a little sanding to smooth it out.
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I am gonna use the neck stem and head from a GM for this guy.

"It sucks being a Marine, I wanna be a Commando!"
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Now, I could just glue the stem to the torso, but wait! Wouldnt it be cool if the stem was recessed in the chest just a bit to give the appearance of the guy wearing the armor?
I thinks so!
I am gonna dremel, with this bit, to widen the hole so the stem sits in the chest a bit:
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There:
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I put a ring of glue in the torso, set the neck in there and hit the glue with superglue accelerator:
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Hawkeye
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:16 pm

While the glue is drying, my GM friend is gonna help me with the helmet.
I am gonna dremel it out to fit over the head.

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The problem with this is it's easy to over dremel.
One of the tricks is to keep fitting it often and to watch the light through it. You can see minute light changes when your dremeling. The more light you see the thinner its getting.
This works great with cast parts. (not so well with this black stuff)

There, looks like it fits. I want it tight enough to stay on, but loose enough so that there arent any paint rubs off of the head when I take his helmet off
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Here's his head on the stem now that the glue is dry:

"Ah! That's better! Hey guys!"
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And the helmet:
"Yeah man! That rocks! Say, where are my arms and legs?"
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:18 pm

Ok, time to fix one of the fatal flaws of the Clone Commando. The lame shoulder articulation.
To do that I am gonna steal the double ball joints and the upper arms from this microman figure:

"What??"
Shut up. Your mech is cool, you are not. Time to give to the cause.

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I need to dremel the holes in the shoulder a little bigger now:
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You can see the larger ball of the double ball joint here. That's what will go inside the torso:
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I dremel the holes just big enough so that with a lot of pressure the ball joints just barely fit in there.

"Wooo-hoo! Arms! Umm....not to complain, but I kinda wanted armor."

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Since the torso is hollow, these ball joint wont just stay in place by themselves, so I need to fill the torso up and create the cup joint. To do that I am gonna break out the ol Fixit Sculpt:
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And fill the torso;

"Hmmm...that feels funny."
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I wet the balls with a little water so they wont stick to the Fixit and push them in. It's a very tight fit. This stuff take three hours to set up, so I am gonna move the balls every few minutes while I'm working on him so they dont dry in place.
Hell, even if they do, its a double ball joint. The other ball will still give a full range of motion to the shoulder. I've pulled of the rest of the arm that I wont need for this custom.

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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:20 pm

Now this bad boy needs some hips!

To do that, I am gonna use these two hip/waist joints from microman figures.
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But before I can add some joints, I need to crack the waist. I am using what is called a hemostat as a spreader. You can use anything that will work as a wedge though.

"Hey wait man! Watch my...well...you know!"

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The factory glue is weak from hot tubbing earlier and the waist opens without breaking or coming out of the torso:

"No man, my butt is supposed to have the crack running the OTHER way!"
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I've cut the ball joint that would attach to the microman torso off both pieces:
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And glued them together. Just a little glue to get them together, hit it with the glue accelerator again, then more glue to fill in the gaps and again with the accelerator. The accelerator will take the brittleness away from the superglue, BTW:
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I slip them in through the bottom where I cracked it open:

"The hip bone is connected to the...leg bone..."
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But they wiggle in there! Cant have that!
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So I dump a whole bunch of superglue in there and hit it with the accelerator again.

"Dude....I am like...so lightheaded from all the fumes man....got any Cheetos?"
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:25 pm

Now our boy needs some legs. This will fix the other fatal flaw of this figure. No knee or ankle articulation.
First I need to cut the legs apart.
The best way to do this is stick them back in water and microwave them again for 4 minutes. This will soften the plastic up almost to the point of them being like rubber. This makes cutting a lot easier.

"Damn, my legs are going to the pool party without me?? There better not be any padwan babes there!"
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These legs suck to cut apart. The armor is at diffrent levels on both sides of the legs on BOTH legs! I have to cut AROUND the leg as I go so I dont nick the armor.

"Yeah man! Dont screw it up before I get a chance to!"
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Here is one cut up:
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Normally, this is where I would use some microman parts, but I wanna use these GM boots cause they should look great with a full cammo'ed armor.
"Yeah man! I'll bet I can kick a LOT of butt with those!"
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Time to attach the boots. I am using a smaller ball bit and I go straight up the thigh from the bottom.
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I make the hole wide enough for the stem of the boots to fit first....
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Then, just inside the hole, I dremel it out a little wider to accomadate the wider part of the stem.

A point of note here. The plastic will heat up as you do this making it easier to fit stuff together, as it cools, it shrinks, keeping the new joints tight. So be ready to fit the parts together as you dremel for the best results!

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And it fits together nicely:
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I do the same thing to the other leg and presto! Two good legs!

"Yup, I'm gonna be sittin' on the deck of a Republic Gunship in no time!"
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:27 pm

We've got a Commando with good hip joints and two good legs, now let's put 'em together!

Where I cut the stem off, I dremel a hole in the leg. I want to go deep so that the leg will seat as close to the figure as possable.
I use the same technique as I did to attach the lower legs to the thighs, dremel a hole then widen it further in.
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Oh no! I went through! Oh well. I can plug the hole with sculpting stuff later, sand it down and you'll never notice!
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I do make the same hole in the other leg and while the plastic is still warm I attach them to the figure:

"Yeah man! I can wiggle my toes again!"
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"Action shot man! Yeah, these are sooo much better than the lame legs Hasbro gave me!"
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:31 pm

Well, he's got a removeable helmet, good shoulder joints, hip joints and fully articulated legs.
Now he needs some arms!
"Yawn...Are you about done yet? It's gettin' late."
Quite, you.

I cut the stems off the arms:
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That little mech driving bastage got the last laugh. His upper arms are too big for this. I had to dig into the fodder bin for couple of upper arms:
"Ya want me to kick his butt when you're done, boss?"
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I dremeled the outer part down a bit, you can see here on one of them compaired to the other:
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Now to dremel the hole. These arms are great! It's like they have a pattern of just what to dremel out for this procedure.
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I dremeled a hole in and down a bit. Gotta watch the down part or you'll hit the stem of the lower arm!
"Hey yeah, watch it! You've cut me up enough tonight!"

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Slide the part in there, glue around the edge and hit it with the accelerator and you've got an arm!
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"I am back together again!"

And here is a Super Articulated Clone Commando! I'll work on gear and paint tomorrow.

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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:31 pm

Well, after a good nights sleep, its back to work on our Theta Squad Clone Commando!

I thought about giving him some bbi pouches or a clone trooper belt, but nothing I tried looked very good, so I guess we'll stick with what we've got.

"Yawn...Hey guys!"
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It's almost painting time. But first, I am gonna primer him. I do this on all of my customs. What is primer? Something to help paint stick to a surface. Well, hey! That's what I need!
I use the simple auto primer from walmart:

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And time to spray him.
"Aw man, no! I still have a hang over from last night!"
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Ok, now he is one uniform color with one uniform surface to paint on. No matter how many diffrent types of plastics a figure is made up from, this will give them all the same surface. It makes them a lot easier to paint.
"Dude....Wow!...Um..I am soo out there! Like Tattoone out there!"
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A doner figure holds the helemet and I use my hemostats again to hold the pack. I'm gonna let the primer dry for about an hour or so.
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:11 pm

Primer is dry, time to lay a base coat down.

I could do one of two things here. I could hand paint a base color or I could spray paint a base color.

"Awww...no more fumes dude!"

I was going to hand paint it, because I thought I was out of the spray I wanted to use, but turns out, I still have some left!
Spraying a base coat has the advantage of giving a nice,consistent, even, smooth coating.
And our boy here doesn't have to worry about getting sick any further, I'll remove his head. I don't want him to have a green head.

"Yaaa! Wait. What? I dunno if I should be happy about this or not!"

Here is the paint I am gonna use:
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And he has a base coat now, which I'm gonna let cure (dry) a bit before I continue. The base coat doesnt have to look fancy. Everything that is gonna make him stick out (or blend in rather), I'll paint by hand.

"Hey! I am starting to look good!"
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:46 pm

Base coat is dry. But it looks like I missed a couple spots on the torso and on the arms by the vibro-blades:

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There. Fixed. Ready to start working on the cammo job.
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If I make mistakes or need to touch up the base coat, I cant just spray paint tiny areas, so I have paint that is a close match in case problems arise:
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And this is the 1st color of the cammo pattern I am gonna use.
I really like this Game Workshop paint, it one of the only paints that lets me use it for base coats, washes and drybrushes. Its a good all around paint.
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Painting cammo can be a pain sometimes. I gotta be in the mood to do it. I start by making large irregular blotches and then fill in with smaller ones.
While you're painting cammo, hold the figure at arms lenght from time to time to see where your base coat needs to be broken up with your first color.
Here's the results:
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Now, everyone loves to see well lit, close up pics of your figure to see the detail and the mods you've made. But cammo is one of those things that you cant truly appricate until you see it from a ways back:
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Postby Incom » Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:08 pm

Wow, that is a very elaborate and great tutorial so far, Hawkeye! The figure already looks great with just the primer/camouflage base coat, but the cammo pattern sure kicks this one in overdrive! Are you going to add a third colour to the pattern (darker or lighter)?

Great use of those Microman joint too. Those really make a difference and Hasbro's teriibly articulated commando sculpt can only benefit from those. Which Microman figures do you use? I only have one female Material Force figure left and find it quite hard to find male figures in a reasonable price range.
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Hawkeye
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:31 pm

Thanks man, glad ya dig it!

Yup, gonna sit down and paint the third color here soon. I'll also shoot my detail painting as well.

The microman parts are from the male figures, but the gimicky figures, not the Force Material figures that are so hard to find. I bought a bunch last year when Smalljoes had a sale on them.

Stay tuned! More to come!
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Postby Hawkeye » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:57 pm

Now for the second color in the cammo.

Both our clone:

"Hi there again, guys!"
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And my customizing buddy, Sera:
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are ready to get started on the second color of the cammo job. I wanna keep it close to the ref picture, so here is the color I will be using:
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I do three different things when I paint the second color in a cammo scheme. I do use the first technique I mentioned, large random dabs here and there, plus I follow the outlines of the first color and I cross over into the first color or end the line in the first color. This helps break up the colors.


Unfortunately, painting cammo is a very tedious process:










































































"Zzzzz...."
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But one that's well worth it in the end I think:

"Yeah man! I dig it!"
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And back from a distance to get the full effect:
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