Now that we’ve got our project inspiration and custom molds in hand, let’s get physical with an actual casting or two. Roll up your sleeves with Ben as he shares several tricks of the trade so that you too, can behold the power of the brick.
Let’s start by saying Hirst Arts offers a comprehensive casting guide on their website that we would never dispute. Bruce also has a gargantuan tips and tricks index. So before you do anything, at least peruse these extremely thorough resources.
Still, we’ve learned a ton since our first humble YouTube video back in November 2009. Sure, everyone sucks in the beginning but you simply get better at casting terrain the more you do it (as in real life). Ben has a lousy memory though so he’s taken lots of notes over the years and has a tremendous resource with fellow co-Piler, Enygma. And when in doubt, the Hirst Arts Questions and Modeling Tips forum is as helpful as it gets.
Best way to share knowledge is to see what it looks like when Ben sits down to cast. There is rhyme and reason to everything on his table.
You casting window is short or the material will harden pre-maturely. Two minutes for mixture and ten minutes to pour and scrape the molds.
The best bang for your buck is Hydrocal 105. You can typically get 50 lbs from a local cement or building materials supplier for $55. For this lil’ ol’ Egyptian project, Ben has been using Merlin’s Magic with great pleasure. It costs a lot more ($80-plus online for 50 lbs – nearly half of that shipping) and you can choose from several color tint options which can eliminate an annoying primer step.
You need a container to mix your water and casting material. A traditional Tupperware bowl works fine but for less mess/cleanup, Ben urges you to try a rubber mixing bowl. He bought an iSi Basics Flex-it 1-Quart Mixing Bowl ($12, free Amazon Prime shipping) and it makes a huge difference. You must get this!
After you pour your mold, you have to scrape off the excess. Ben has a 4” wide Flex Taping Knife for a regular Hirst Arts mold ($6.39, free Amazon Prime shipping) and uses a 12” wide Wal-board Taping Knife ($8.65) for his custom molds.
Enygma gets a lot of the glory on this brilliant idea. Casting gets a little messy so why not make yourself an aluminum sheet (from Home Depot – they’ll even cut it to the 16” by 24” dimensions for you). Ben added some padded corners to avoid scratching his arm and put a felt backing on it so it rests level on his office work table. This sheet skips the annoying garbage bag taping step and cuts down on the paper towels (simply scrape off the dried excess cast material).
Air Bubble War Gear
Oh those Bahamut forsaken air bubbles – they can be the bane of your existence (if you’re a perfectionist). Ben has four weapons to keep Balor’s belches to a minimum:
- Dental Table: Ben bought his a #78RK Atlas Heavy Duty 115V for $186.27
- Almore Debubblizer Surfactant: Bruce has a vid ($12.50 for 8 oz)
- Wet Dry: Soak your molds in Finish Jet Dry for prior to casting
- Material: No real proof but Merlin’s Magic Buff Tan seems to produce fewer bubbles
Pre-measured Cups & Bucket
Ben hopped over to the Container Store for to get some items to hold his pre-measured casting material and water cups. That may seem silly but when you’re in Chinese-assembly-line-mode, it’s nice to have these done ahead of time. Ben also keeps his core ingredients in a Home Depot, sealable bucket.
Speaking of measurements, here’s what Ben swears by:
- Regular Hirst Mold: 10 oz of Merlin’s Magic | 3.5-ish oz of water
- Custom Mold (depending on type): 15-20 oz of Merlin’s Magic | 7-10 oz of water
Accodemtal Chemist Note: Your final mixture should have the consistency of a milk shake. Don’t over water it…always easier to slowly add a little more liquid in if you measured wrong.
Hope you enjoyed all our casting XP. Next week we glue down and start the basecoat painting process!
Questions to Ponder: What other tips and tricks do you recommend? Do you plan on giving terrain casting a try in the coming months? Why or why not? Do you cast outside or throw caution to the wind and do it inside?