Sculpting women in 15mm
By Neldoreth
June 16th, 2009

Sculpting women is a lot harder than sculpting men. Woman have a very standard shape. It is important to get it right or your figure will not look like a woman, but more like a man with breasts. Men on the other hand are pretty much straight up and down, and if you get the legs, arms, and head in about the right place, it's obvious it's a man. For all intents and purposes, this articles starts where the Building simple armatures for sculpting people... article left off.

It's also worth pointing out that there are a few small but major differences between sculpting 28mm figures and 15mm figures. Mostly smoothing, and putty volume. The details are outlined throughout the article.

The other thing that I should point out is that most articles are written by the very same people that need them: beginners. This article is no exception. I have sculpted about 20 of these 15mm figs. That's nothing compared to most professional sculpters who have sculpted thousands of 15mm figs. That being said, this article assumes that you've used greenstuff before, and that you know how to shape it and smooth it, and that you know what tools you like to use. Keep that in mind when you read this article!

Start off with an armature embedded in a cork or whatever you like. Before posing the armature, I find it works well to putty the chest/body and the base. After it cures, it helps keep the legs the right length (they don't pull out by accident) and the body together. Not that this method is assuming that both feet are flat on the ground. if a foot will be off the ground, with maybe only the ball of the foot on the ground, you will have to pull out a little of the leg armature to add length for the foot. Once your putty is cured, it's time to start sculpting:

  1. Pose the armature, at least the body and legs. The arms shouldn't be posed yet, as they tend to simply get in the way at this point. With 15mm miniatures, there isn't a lot of leeway when it comes to the pose. Your knee, elbow, and shoulder bends need to be pretty much perfect. You won't have room to move them with putty, as you will get no more than two thin layers on the fig.
  2. Once the pose is finalized (note, you can do the bottom half first, and then the top after. In this example, the armes are positioned as well as the legs and body) it's time to start puttying out the armature. Your initial layer needs to be very thin, and very smooth. Unlike 28mm figures, it's quite possible that this first layer of putty will not be covered. This is more true the less clothes that your figs has, which is when the smoothness is most important! So take the time to smooth it when it's soft, or you might end up scraping it later! For those who don't know, scraping is when you drag a razor edge over the model to smooth out rough spots; it sucks and it's better to smooth the putty when it's soft.

Did you notice the extra long right arm there? No, it's not a mistake. With 15mm miniatures, it's near impossible to add extensions on to arms for weapons; it's easy to do in 28mm, but not 15mm. I tend to include any weapon armatures on the body armature. So, that extra long right arms will make up the arm and the sword as well.

Now it's time to bulk out the green. To get the womanly shape, add putty to the hips and butt. I also define the legs at this point; the bottom half of the legs are pretty much done with the exception of the feet. Again, make sure everything is smooth here because a lot of it won't be covered up later.

This next step the green is further bulked out. Basically, the body (minus the arms) are done now. The breasts are added, as are the hips at the butt. Not that the breasts are realistically proportioned to the figure, but the hips and butt are slightly over size? The reason for this is that the shape of the female is very important in order to have it be recognizable as a woman. In 15mm it's a lot harder to see small differences in putty depth, so we need a little exaggeration. There is no need to exaggerate the breasts of course, because they take care of themselves (it's the first thing that people look for).

Note here that I am already thinking about where the clothes will be. As a consequence, I didn't bother getting the thighs perfect. I did take the time to make sure the outside of the thighs were well shaped, but not so much the inside and certainly not the size. This is because this will be covered by pants (in this case), and so there isn't a lot of point in doing a lot of work defining a body part that will be covered. Still, everything is smoothed as much as possible, as it will likely be used on the surface.

Once the body parts that won't be covered by the clothes are done, it's time to do the clothes. In the above example, we put a dress on the figure.

  1. In the picture above, we start with the figure ready for clothes; the legs, hip shape, breast shape, and arms are all in place.
  2. Before we really get into putting on the clothes, we have to fill in the area between the legs so that we will have something sturdy to apply putty to and that will not deform when we shape the dress contours. Again, keep everything smooth. Notice that with this fig, part of the armature is protruding from the stomach! This pretty much makes a dress a requirement... If you want a naked figure, take more care in covering that stuff up! Once the putty is cured, it's time to put the dress on.
  3. I do this step all at once. I hate having to blend the bottom of the dress into the top. So, I shape the putty and wrap it on the figure. Smoothing and shaping the whole time and cutting away excess until the shape and contour of the dress are the way I like it. It's a lot easier said than done.

So, that's great, but what if you don't want a dress?

Putting on pants an a shirt can be a lot easier than a dress because there is less of the subject's body showing.

  1. Again, we start with the figure ready for clothes; the legs, hip shape, breast shape, are all in place. Notice that the arms aren't well defined yet? No point in spending too much time on that since we will be putting long sleeves on the figure. But note that these legs are pretty well defined. That's because she's wearing tight pants...
  2. Time to put on the shirt and pants... For the shirt, I did one side and then the other. I didn't worry about blending the shirt together at the back because I knew I was adding a cape, so that seam would be covered. I also wanted the shirt open. The pants in this case were added simply by adding pant waist and cuffs since the pants are supposed to be tight. Basically add a strip of putty to the leg where the bottom of the pants should be and blend it into the leg on top, and define the bottom of the pant leg on the bottom. Do the opposite for the waist band.
  3. I typically add the feet around here too.

    That's great, but what about that snazzy cloak there?

    Cloaks are an excellent addition to add character to a figure. They are also fun to paint and can be used to cover up a lot of area that would require a lot of work to make it look perfect! They are also pretty easy to add. Note though that cloaks will flow around weapons, shields, and armour, so it is a good idea to have these sculpted before you put the cloak on.

    1. Get a good piece of putty and use a roller of some sort to get a largish, smooth sheet of it. Make sure you lubricate your surface so you can get it off easily. Take an exacto knife and cut out the desired shape of the cloak. Once cut, peel the cloak off and place it on the figure, pressing it into place. Once it's attached, bend it so that it curves where it should, and then let it cure. Once cured you'll have what I call a cloak armature!
    2. Add detail to the cloak by accentuating the curves. I do this by rolling lengths of putty that correspond to the raised areas of the cloak, and put them on. Smooth them out, blend them in with the cloak armature, and further define the shape to look like it is flowing. I do this on the entire surface of the cloak fast enough that I can then put a cloak fringe along the bottom with an exacto knife before the putty cures.

    At this point, add a head. For information on adding a head, see the other article I wrote on Sculpting Faces in 15mm. Also, add the extra details if you want them: utility pouches, weapons sheaths, etc.

    Then you have th finished figure! She's ready to be burned up at the casting shop :)