Above: various sorts of foam. Not seen here are cheap camping mats which can be used if nothing else is available. The “classic” foams are called “evazote” and “plastazote”; they come im mats from a few millimetres to a few centimetres thick. Whenever possible I use black ones because abrasion damage is less noticable there.
I use the open- pored matress- foam on the upper left for carving big masks (see “jackals” or “wild hog”). The material isnīt good for details but these can be added with more suitable sorts of foam. The big advantage of the soft, open- pored matress foam is in the protection of the puppeteer from impacts which dent or forcibly displace the mask. It will just cave in and bulge out again without any harm done.
Ever worn a hard mask with a snout and got hit on the head? After that youīll love a soft version.
Before painting you really should prime or “ground” the surface instead of starting to paint it right away. Grounding open- pored foam is an arduous task; dappling with a bristle brush works quite well. Access to an airbrush would be even better, but if you donīt shy away from an additional operation step and costs: coat the workpiece with pattex and “compress” it slightly to close the pores and achieve an even, flexible surface. Pattex can be painted with acrylics. Iīve built Father Frostīs oversized feet that way.
When the foam you use for the outer skin isnīt black, abrasion damage will show annoyingly. To make a surface more abrasion- resistant you can latex it, but I donīt do that because I fear the phenomenon called “latex- cancer”: the latex gets sticky and dissolves. Considering how much time it takes to build a monster Iīm sure as hell not going to lose it to a despicable chemical reaction. Unacceptable. Instead I seal the surface up with pattex transparent - applied with a brush like paint. This is not so abrasion- resistant like latex but has a few advantages:
Itīs impervious to temperature, odour- neutral and can easily be repaired: sun or heat doesnīt harm it, so you can leave it in the sun or stow it on your attic. Opposed to latex dinstinctive smell you wonīt notice anything when you alternatively display your suit of armour in your hallway. And pattex can be painted over without problems (latex surfaces canīt) which means you can repair damage even on a convention in less than 15 minutes.
I use latex only for foam weapons and claws when theyīre intended for fighting. Claws arenīt always allowed; see the rules for infight in the system you play.
Then, a word or two regarding paint (below right):
I use acrylics, also for metallic tones. Not high- gloss but semi-matt or matt.
Why acrylics? Well covering, water-soluble, easy to mix, fast drying, when dry waterproof and flexible.
Painting techniques are the same as with miniatures: Grounding (I prefer black), drybrush or shading, inking, highlights, black or white lining. Our monsters donīt have to pass an examination by a juror with a magnifying glass but are seen in movement. Nevertheless donīt underestimate the importance of a good paint job: It can save a sloppy sculpture or ruin a premium product. Ever seen a badly painted warhammer army? Then you know what I mean.
First aid in the event of acrylics accidents:
Splashes on the tiles in your kitchen? On hard surfaces they can be tracelessly removed with the scratchy side of a damp kitchen sponge - even when dry.
Splashes on the carpet? Tsk tsk tsk.... Immediate mechanical gathering of as much paint as possible: use a kleenex kitchen tissue and donīt wipe but “gather”. Then thin down rest of paint as much as possible with damp kleenex and sponge it up with dry kleenex. Chances are good, depending on colour and quality of your carpet.
And next time cover your work surface when painting, damnit! Have kleenx ready, anyway.
Upset the can? Splashes on the wallpaper? Sorry, youīre dead. Acquire alibi at once or try blaming somebody else.
Acrylics from a cartridge gun (below left) for glueing fabric onto open- pored foam to simulate skin. Can - contrary to silicone- be painted with acrylic paint. Heavy when used in large quantities but much cheaper than pattex.
Pattex- the stuff monsters are made of... the most expensive material in monster-building, but I wonīt miss it or replace it with anything else.
Comes in three sorts (ok, nowadays in about 40 sorts, but Iīll mention only three here): Translucent (Transparent), Classic (semi- liquid) and butter- like (Compact; no dripping or strands). I also always have a tube of the stuff ready.
There is no alternative to the contact adhesion application method: coat both surfaces you want to glue with a thin layer, wait until you can touch it without disturbing the stuff, then press both pieces together as strong as you can. Strength is of the essence, not duration of pressing.
Contrary to rumours pattex doesnīt glue everything- the technique is important. Pay attention to big enough contact surface and direction of pull. Ignore one of these and your monster will fall to pieces on the battlefield.
Sanding- paper and -block (below middle). Foams with smooth, slightly greasy surface have to be sanded because otherwise neither pattex nor paint will stay.
Velcro and webbing strap with clip- and loop-clasps (below left). From any DIY-Superstore. Much better than leather. Velcro and webbing cannot be glued (too small contact surface), so they have to be sewn on a piece of cloth; that can be glued.
Thatīs why I also mention non-elastic fabric (and at “tools” a sewing- machine...).
Foam is not tearproof. But it becomes so when you glue fabric under it.
All stressed parts must be made of foam, pattex and non-stretch-fabric.
OK. Got everything? Is your work surface protected? Kleenex ready? Then īere we go...
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last edit oct 2016