Make your own free website on Tripod.com
homehome®

Model and Sculpture Terminology

Here are some useful terms for sculpting and modeling.

Acrylics
Airbrush
Amazing Figure Modeler
Armature
Artist's Inks
Base Coat
Breaklines
Build up
Cast
Cease and Desist
Celluclay
Cleanup
Cold Cast
Dremel Tool
Drybrushing
Epoxy
Epoxy putty
Flash
Garage Kit
The Garage Kit That Ate My Wallet
Girl Kit
Hollow cast
Injection Molding
IPMS
Klean Klay
Kitbuilders
Kick
LED
License
Maquette
Mask
Master
Modelmania 1, 2 & 3
Mold Release
Mountains in Minutes
Offsets
Pinning
Pinhole
Polymer Clay
Pressure Casting
Primer
Prototype
Putty
Recast
Resin
Rotocast
RTV
Scale
Scratchbuilt
Sculpey
Sealer Coat
Slush Mold
Sprue
Stripper
Styrene
Super-deformed
Superglue
The Modeler's Resource
Vacuum Chamber
Vinyl
Void
Wash
Watercolors
Wayne "The Dane" Hansen
White Metal

Acrylics
Fast-drying, water-based model paints often used with vinyl and resin kits. Acrylics are available both in jars (pre-thinned) and tube form (thinning required). The recommended thinner for most acrylic paints is a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol. Some people prefer storebought thinner or automotive window-washer fluid. Clean brushes with warm water and soap.

Airbrush
A painting device that combines thinned paint from a reservoir with a stream of compressed air, creating a fine spray which allows for subtle blending. Single action airbrushes allow you to control the air flow, while double action airbrushes allow you to control both air flow and paint flow (for more precision). Thinned paint for an airbrush should generally be about the consistency of milk.

Amazing Figure Modeler
A quarterly magazine devoted to figure kits and the garage kit hobby in general. A one-year subscription is $28.00. Amazing Publications & Communications, P.O. Box 30855, Columbus, OH 43230.

Armature
The internal support structure for a master sculpture for a model kit. It can be as simple as a wire "skeleton" inside the clay, or it can incorporate other materials such as aluminum foil and epoxy putty. The armature supports the clay to prevent sagging and cracking.

Artist's inks
These are shellac-based inks with extremely fine-ground pigmentation and vivid colors. Windsor-Newton is a common brand. They make excellent washes for painting kits. Since the inks are shellac-based, they dry glossy, but can be coated with spray or bottled matte-finish, if necessary. Artist's ink can be thinned with water, if desired. Do not let this stuff dry on your brushes. Clean with warm soap and water immediately after use.

Base coat
A coat of paint applied after priming, that usually incorporates the overall color scheme of the model. For example, the base coat for a werewolf might be brown, and the base coat for a sea monster might be green.

Breaklines
Ridges that form on a resin kit along the line where the two halves of the mold met but were not aligned perfectly. See also: Offsets.

Build-up
Slang for customizing a model by changing the pose, adding new details and/or creating a detailed diorama-like base. Also generally used to describe the assembly and painting process.

Cast
A model kit part that was cast from a mold. In garage kits, molds are usually made from RTV rubber and the casts are made in polyurethane resin.

Cease and Desist
Also referred to as a "C & D," this is a legal notice from a copyright holder ordering a model maker to cease and desist manufacturing an unlicensed kit or face prosecution. See also: License.

Celluclay
Also known as paperclay, this is a cellulose-based sculpting material sometimes used for kit bases or actual sculptures.

Clean up
The process of preparing a resin or vinyl kit for assembly and painting. It can include cutting off sprues, trimming flash, puttying seams, filling pinholes, filing, sanding and pinning parts.

Cold-Cast
A process of casting kit parts by combining resin with porcelain powder (cold-cast porcelain) or bronze powder (cold-cast bronze) and pouring it into a mold.

Dremel tool
A small drill-type tool that can be used for sanding, grinding, cutting or drilling. It's shaped like a fat pencil, and thus can be used with more precision than regular hand tools. Many modelers prefer the variable-speed model, which offers even more control.

Drybrushing
A painting technique to produce highlights on textured areas. To dry brush, a clean brush is dipped into the highlight color, then brushed on a paper towel until the paint is barely coming off the bristles. Then the brush is scrubbed lightly across the textured surface. The paint will come off only on the raised areas of the texture, creating the highlights. Drybrushing is often used in tandem with washes to create a more realistic 3-D effect in a paint job.

Epoxy
A two-part bonding agent sometimes used for gluing resin parts.

Epoxy putty
A two-part putty which can be kneaded together and used in a variety of ways, from sculpting fine detail to filling seams to anchoring interior parts. Epoxy putty hardens to a rock-hard state in several hours. Milliput is a brand name many model shops carry, and can be thinned and smoothed with water.

Flash
Paperlike residue which remains on a model after the casting process. It's caused when casting material creeps into the space between the mold halves, and must be removed when the model is being built.

Garage kit
Term loosely applied to amateur or semiprofessional model kits, usually created in someone's spare time. Most garage kits are cast resin. Garage kits can vary widely in quality, but many are superior works, equal in quality, artistry and workmanship to those produced by professional kit companies. Some garage kit sculptors are commissioned by pro kit companies to create designs. Garage kits are frequently limited to a certain number of copies, which adds to their appeal to collectors.

The Garage Kit That Ate My Wallet
Illustrated books by Terry J. Webb that cover the garage kit industry, including pro kit companies like Horizon, Kaiyodo, Dark Horse, etc. Each book features hundreds of illustrations of model kits, and are of great interest to the kit hobbyist. Titles are THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET, SON OF THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET and REVENGE OF THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET. The latter two volumes include not only profiles of kit companies, but include articles on sculpting and painting model kits. REVENGE OF THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET can be ordered by sending $20.00 plus $2 shipping and handling to: Webbhead Enterprises, P.O. Box 30885, Columbus, OH 43230-0885. You can inquire about availability and price on the earlier books, as well.

Girl kit
A popular genre among garage kit builders. Girl kits feature female characters, often nude or seminude, and frequently in seductive or cheesecake poses.

Hollow-cast
See Roto-cast.

Injection molding
The most common method of making plastic models. Liquid polystyrene is injected into metal molds and allowed to cool, forming the parts. Most store-bought (i.e. non-specialty) models are made this way.

IPMS
The International Plastic Modeler's Society, a nationwide organization for model builders. IPMS sponsors local, regional and national model competitions, publishes informative newsletters, and organizes demonstrations of modeling techniques. Most local hobby shops will have information about local chapters of IPMS.

Klean Klay
A specially formulated, non-sulfured plastalina clay suited for use with making RTV molds. Sulfured modeling clays can inhibit the curing of RTV.

Kit Builders
A bimonthly magazine devoted to the garage kit hobby. A one year subscription is $20.00. P.O. Box 201, Sharon Center, OH 44274-0201.

Kick
Slang, most commonly used with various glues. "Kick" refers to when the glue makes the transition to the hardened state. Many model shops sell "kicker," (also called zip kicker) which is a product that can be sprayed onto cyanoacrylate glue (super glue) to accelerate the hardening process. Kickers also provide a stronger bond. The term is also used for epoxy putty and resin.

LED
Light Emitting Diode; a small, bright light that can be used for robot eyes, spaceship interiors. Usually sold at electronics stores like Radio Shack.

License
Legal license granted by copyright or trademark holder for the use of a likeness or character in a model kit, usually in exchange for monetary payment. As licenses can be expensive, many garage kits are unlicensed reproductions of likenesses and characters from television, film, comics, etc. A licensed kit is considered to be the official version of that kit, even though other similar kits may exist. See also: Cease and Desist.

Maquette
Sculpting term for a basic sculpted model used to determine the final pose and detailing for a master sculpture. Maquettes are also used in the conceptual design stage of movie preproduction.

Mask
A coating of flexible material applied to protect a painted surface while paint of a different color is brushed or sprayed on nearby. The best masking product for resin and vinyl kits is Mold Builder, a latex rubber compound available at most art supply and crafts stores. You paint it on, let it dry, then airbrush around or over it. Then, using a needle, you gently work up an edge of the rubber mask and peel it off.

Master
Molding terminology for the original sculpture created for the molding and casting process. A master can be sculpted from many materials, the most common being Super Sculpey, a polymer clay. Also called a prototype.

Modelmania 1, 2 & 3
Professional quality videotapes produced by David Fisher and Orbit Graphics. These videos cover a variety of techniques used in the assembly and painting of vinyl and resin kits, and offer many useful tips. Tape 1 covers basic techniques, Tape 2 covers more advanced effects, including airbrushing, and tape 3 (to be released in Spring of 1997) covers customization and dioramas. The tapes are $29.95 plus $4 shipping and handling. Orbit Graphics, P.O. Box 2008, Madison, TN 37116-2008.

Mold release
Any of a number of compounds used to make removing a cast from the mold easier. All resin and vinyl parts should be gently scrubbed with soap, water and an old toothbrush to remove any mold release agents that may be present prior to assembly and painting.

Mountains in Minutes
This is a two-part liquid that, when mixed together, creates a foam that expands to many sizes of its original volume. Sold in model railroad shops, Mountains in Minutes is often used to fill vinyl kits for added stability.

Offsets
Ledge-like flaws that form on a resin kit along the line where the two halves of the mold met but were seriously misaligned. See also: Breaklines.

Pinning
A technique by which the glued joints of resin models are strengthened. Metal pins (often cut from coat hanger wire or brass rod) are inserted into holes drilled into either side of the joint. Pins are also used to join the model to its base or stand for greater stability.

Pinhole
A tiny hole in the surface of a resin or vinyl kit, caused by trapped air bubbles during the casting process.

Polymer clay
A polymer clay is a soft modeling clay that can be baked to a ceramic-like hardness at a much lower temperature than terra-cotta or water clay. The clay consists of a suspension of microscopic beads of polyvinyl chloride in a petroleum-based fluid. When the clay is baked in your home over, the liquid evaporates and the particles fuse together. The clay remains workable almost indefinitely before baking, and holds detail quite well. See also: Sculpey.

Pressure casting
A process by which air bubbles are reduced in resin casts. The molds are placed in a pressure vessel, and the resin is poured. Then the air pressure in the vessel is increased, forcing trapped air bubbles deep into the resin as it hardens, thus reducing flaws in the finished piece.

Primer
A coat of paint, usually sprayed on, that serves as the foundation for all coats of paint to follow. For resin and vinyl kits, a laquer-based spray primer is recommended, as it provides good "tooth" or grip for subsequent coats of paint. Primer should be applied in light puffs, and should be allowed to dry for 24 hours before any further paint is applied. Total coverage is not necessary; a light "dusting" of primer is adequate. A popular brand of primer among garage kit enthusiasts is Floquil Figure Primer.

Prototype
See Master.

Putty
Any of a number of compounds used to fill gaps, pinholes or seams in a model. Generally, the putty is squeezed out of a tube and applied to the seam or hole, where it hardens. It can then be sanded smooth. An example would be Squadron Putty or Testor's Contour Putty, sold in most model shops. Squadron and Testor's can be thinned with a bit of acetone (nail polish remover). See also: epoxy putty.

Recast
Recasting is the controversial practice of making new molds of the parts of an existing kit, and then casting and selling new kits from them, without the authorization of the company that originally issued the kit. These unauthorized new kits, called recasts, are frequently of inferior quality, and are often smaller than the original kit. Recasts are often done of limited edition models or of models which are no longer produced.

Resin
Polyester or polyurethane resin, a material used in making garage kits. Resin consists of a two-part mixture which hardens in a short time. Most garage kits are resin castings. Unlike hollow vinyl kits, most resin kits are solid.

Roto-cast
Also known as hollow-casting, this is a process of rotating RTV molds with a resin slush inside, creating a hollow resin cast of the model part.

RTV
Room-temperature vulcanizing, a term for rubber compounds that solidify and stabilize at lower temperatures than most manufactured rubbers. RTV rubber is a two-part silicone mixture that is commonly used to make molds for resin garage kits.

Scale
A measurement system for models. For figures kits, scale is expressed as a ratio--i.e. 1:6 scale means 1 inch on the model is equal to 6 inches. Thus, a 6-foot (72 inches) tall man would be 1 foot tall at 1:6 scale (72 Ö 6 = 12). Likewise, a 6-foot tall man would be 14.4 inches tall at 1:5 scale (72 Ö 5 = 14.4). Some smaller figures (such as military, historical and gaming figures) are measure in millimeters.

Scratchbuilt
A model, model part, or base built from scratch, as opposed to using pre-manufactured kits, parts, etc.

Sculpey
Sculpey is a polymer clay material used commonly by sculptors. This clay stays soft during the modeling process, and can then be baked in a home oven to a ceramic-like hardness. There are different types--most sculptors prefer the waxy pink Super Sculpey to the white, doughlike Sculpey. Super Sculpey can be mixed with other polymer clays such as Fimo or Promat to vary its working consistency and final hardness. See also: Polymer clay.

Sealer coat
A coating of clear laquer (gloss or matte) sprayed on a model to seal the paint coat. A sealer coat can be applied during the painting of the model, to protect thin layers of existing paint, and a final sealer coat is sprayed on to protect the finish of the model. Two brands of laquer spray used in sealer coats are Floquil Figure Flat and Testors Modelmaster laquer overcoat.

Slush mold
Vinyl kits are produced by this method. Molten polyvinyl chloride is poured into hollow metal molds, and the excess is emptied out, leaving a shell of vinyl in the mold. When the vinyl cools, it is unmolded.

Sprue
The channel through which liquid casting material is poured during the casting process. After the cast has hardened, some material will remain in this channel, and must be removed before the model is built. Injection molded models will come attached to a rectangular sprue, or "part tree," as it is sometimes called.

Stripper
Any of a number of products designed to dissolve paint. Useful for stripping paint off a model you want to repaint. A good brand is Bix Stripper, available at hardware and department stores like Wal-Mart. Safe for most resin and vinyl, but test on a scrap piece first, and follow all directions carefully.

Styrene
The polystyrene plastic that comprises most store-bought models. Styrene is also sold in sheets, rods and tubes for scratchbuilding. Styrene parts are usually glued with standard modeler's tube glue, but superior results can be achieved with styrene cement, a clear liquid solvent that, when painted onto a seam between two parts, slightly melts the styrene, creating a strong bond.

Super-deformed
A small caricature model kit that has odd proportions, typically a very large head and very small body. Usually cast in resin.

Super glue
A cyanoacrylate bonding agent commonly used to assemble resin and vinyl model kits. The use of a "kicker" (see Kick) is recommended to speed setting of cyanoacrylate and strengthen the bond.

The Modeler's Resource
A quarterly magazine devoted to the garage kit hobby. A one year subscription is $18.00. 1141 Holly Avenue, Clovis, California, 93611-6210.

Vacuum chamber
A metal chamber from which the air can be pumped out. Used in moldmaking to reduce air bubbles in RTV molds.

Vinyl
A flexible vinyl compound used in making model kits. Unlike solid resin kits, vinyl kits are often hollow. Some modelers prefer to fill the legs of their vinyl kits with plaster for stability, and others prefer to fill the entire kit with expanding foam to prevent the vinyl from distorting later.

Void
A serious flaw in a resin or vinyl cast, produced by a large air bubble trapped against the surface of the mold as the resin hardened.

Wash
Heavily thinned dark paint brushed on over a textured area, which runs into cracks and crevices and dries to form shadows and shading. Washes can be improved by adding a tiny bit of liquid dishwashing soap, which prevents it from beading up. Washes are often used in tandem with drybrushing to create a more realistic 3-D effect in a paint job.

Watercolors
Artist's tube watercolors. The pigments in these are very finely-ground, even moreso than acrylic paints, and can be used for washes and special effects. A watercolor wash can be applied, and after drying, areas can be removed with a clean brush and water to create a spotted or patched effect. Watercolors must be sealed with a a couple of light sealer coats after application, or subsequent painting will cause the watercolors to run.

Wayne "the Dane" Hansen
An idiosyncratic garage kit sculptor and build-up artist, Wayne Hansen has produced a number of homemade videotapes offering instruction in sculpting with Super Sculpey and customizing model kits. The tapes are long, seriously lacking in professional quality and can be taxing to watch, but they do contain valuable advice and instruction. For aspiring sculptors, the sculpting tapes are particularly useful, as they focus on materials and techniques specific to garage kit sculpting, and ultimately are cheaper than most art school or adult education sculpting courses. Most tapes are $30.00. For a list of titles, write to Wayne Hansen, 415 Julian Woods Lane, Julian, PA 16844.

White metal
A soft metal compound (sometimes lead-based) primarily used for making miniature figurines for role-playing and similar games, and for military and historical figures. Many garage kits will feature white metal parts, as well.


See Also:
Air dry Clays
Paperclay
Polyclay
Promat
Sculpey (a)
Sculpey (b)
Supersculpey
Granitex
Elasticlay
Fimo and Cernit
One Artists View
Other Clays
Resin

Back to Interesting Links Pages

mail to: raven@insync.net for Dan Perez, who wrote the above glossary!

Return to Interesting Links Page