Scratchbuilding with a mannequin

We are going to show how to create our own figure from a mannequin, whether homemade or stock. If you decide to make your own mannequin, the first thing you are going to need is an accurate plan of your figure down to precise proportion and size. It is quite simple to make a reduced photocopy from any drawing or print. In general, the most suitable proportion is 7-1/2 heads though if we prefer a more stylized figure, other proportions are of course possible. A common choice in this sense would be 8 heads. Next, we will prepare three lengths of twisted electrical wire for the spine, arms and legs respectively. Small bits of modelling paste will hold the lengths together. Now is the time to shape those anatomical parts that do not move regardless of the final pose selected: limbs, torso and pelvis.

Once the putty is completely dry, our mannequin will be able to represent a huge variety of poses according to our desire.

Just to illustrate the whole process of scratchbuilding we show here the creation of an American Civil War soldier in 54mm, this time using a stock mannequin. This product is very useful because of the fact that they save quite a lot of work as proportion, size and general anatomical shapes are already made. On the other hand, we will be forced to use a given proportion, as changes to commercial mannequins is not easy.  lt is advisable to get a quick start in creating your own models. There are some good stock mannequins in the market today easily found in specialized shops. ln this case we use a photo-etched mannequin with some basic shapes (head, hands and feet) supplied with the kit. Once the mannequin is assembled and the desired pose fixed, we seal it with modelling paste to avoid involuntary modifications during the modelling process. Next, we work the basic anatomical shapes not worrying at the moment about garments or equipment.


Forthwith we arrange into position all those elements such as belts, weapons or equipment that will adorn the figure as many of them will condition significant folds and creases of the garments. We can introduce some parts from our spare box for the equipment and lead foil strips for belts. Immediately after we can proceed to model the garments, keeping in mind the fact that those are in close connection with the elements listed previously. Attentive examination of good period photos and drawings as close as possible to our model is highly recommended. The result is never satisfactory if we rely only on our imagination: much to the contrary, a good model is always the result-at least partly- of painstaking research and study. With the techniques already explained in prior issues of Figure International, folds and creases will be patiently added. The last touch once the putty is fully set is to finish with sandpaper. Once the additional elements such as weapons and equipment are added, (we can fashion them from putty or, better yet, use stock parts) our unique, personal miniature is ready for painting.