Making Sandbags

errains

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Sandbag Philosophy

Before you start making your sandbags a little research, planning and thought needs to be done to ensure you get the results that you are looking for. Undoubtedly the internet is an excellent source for reference photographs on any subject and should be consulted regularly. As for the subject of sandbags plenty of inspirational pictures can be found there, and best of all, for free! As the name suggest sandbags are normally filled with sand however in fact they will be fill with whatever is most readily available, being anything from the local dirt to even concrete as noted in some sources. This matters to the model builder from the stand point of how full the bags will appear what I call fat and thin sandbags. Fat bags are obviously bags that are newly made and the contents have not settled or they have been over filled and are bursting at the seams. So for the thin bags the contents has settle or has been pressed thin by weight of other sand bags or equipment place on them. The modeler need only vary the amount of the material that is used to make the sand bag to get the desired fat or thin. To increase the visual interest I suggest using a combination of fat and thin bags, especially if there are a lot of bags. Also consider ahead of time if any of the sand bags are damaged. This can be from any number of reasons. Take some time to think the damage through and where and how it will appear. Also if a sand bag is damage to the point that the contents may spill out. Thought should be given to the contents, if lose the sand or dirt will spill out easily, or is the sand or dirt inside the bag is wet or compacted into the consistency of mud or clay and there for not as likely to spill out of the bag as easily.





Stuff You’ll Need

The first item needed of course is epoxy putty. While I use magic sculpt there are several products available such as Milliput, Apoxie Sculpt and Kneadatite just to name a few.


The important thing is to use one that you as a builder are the most comfortable working with and will give you the best results. As for magic Sculpt it is a two part epoxy putty that is water soluble making it easy to work with and clean up.


Magic Sculpt working time is affected by the conditions that it is being used in, which I guess can be said about most epoxy putty’s, temperature and humidity effect the length of the working time. It has been my experience that some of the previous mentioned epoxy puttys cure to quickly before I have finished working with them. Magic Sculpt provided ample working time allowing you to texture and detail your sandbags to your satisfaction.
Making sandbags requires only a few tools. The working surface is primarily for rolling out the putty into roughly the desired size for your sandbags, I use a bathroom tile I got from the home improvement store. An old hobby blade (we all have plenty of them lying about) and or straight edge for cutting the rolled putty to size. Water for prolonging the working time and keep the putty nice and pliable. Lastly a set of pointy tools for shaping and forming your sandbags into kool and interesting shapes. The pointy tools that I use are made from small diameter dowel and the ends carved into a verity of shapes, I also use these for putty filler on my models.


When making sandbags I like having a general reference shape of the bag close at hand so that I can double check the size of the sandbags thus keeping form getting to big or too small. This can be anything from an old kit part to and square cut from an index card. I use the sandbag from the old Tamiya M5 kit as I feel it is close to the size that I like my bags to be. If you wish to make your own reference shape I suggest keeping it around 1/2in x 1/4in (14mm x 8mm).


Ok Let’s Make Some Sandbags!

I usually mix up just enough putty to make about five bags at a time; however whatever amount you are comfortable with for you is good. Roll the putty out to about the size of your reference shape as a guide and cut to length. Keep in mind if you are making a “fat” or “thin” sandbag. Take your newly rolled sandbag and give the end that will be the bottom of the bag a little pinch to taper the end. The top end will be rounded, or drawn together where it is tied. Using your fingers round the top a little. These two steps are not hard to do but you should practice on a couple of bags to get an idea of how the putty will react when shaping.






Once you’re happy with the size and general shape place the sandbag into the desired position. Take note of the contours, angles and overall shape of the area that the sandbag is being placed onto. Form and sculpt the bag into a shape taking care that it appears natural and logical. Next add folds and creases using a pointy tool. When placing the sandbag you took note of the contours, angles and overall shape, do the same again but this time of the bag itself. Use the appropriately shaped pointy tool imprint folds and creases in logical locations, and keep in mind not to overdue or overstate the effect. Do forget the creases at the top of the bag where it is closed and tied.




Next is to add the seam on the side once the sandbag. I keep this simple and to only suggest to the observer the presents of the seam. Once again using your trusty pointy tool carefully add the seam by pressing the end lightly into the side of the bad. Seams will not always be visible and not all sandbags will require the seam to be added.




The tie at the open end of the sandbag is probably the hardest part to make in this process. Practice and patients is the order of the day here. The end ties can be added after the bags have hardened but for best results attach them while the putty is still pliable. Make a very small ball out of the extra putty you have left from the sandbags. Place the small ball onto the desired position, making sure it is firmly attached by pressing it into the bag. After the ball is attached using a pointy tool indent and hollow out ball shaping and forming it as you proceed. Don’t worry if it does not turn out to your liking, just remove it and try again. Note that not all your sandbags will have the ties visible keeping this in mind as you adding your sandbags that cover the ends of the other that are already emplace.






Texturing of the sandbags is optional when considering the effect of scale you really will not see the texture of the material of the actual bag itself. However I have seen many well executed texture effects applied to sandbags. Texturing of the sandbag can be done in a multiple ways so I’ll only cover two of my favorite. The first method is using a piece of material or cloth that has a texture you like. Using either your figure or a pointing tool impress the material/cloth lightly into the newly made sandbag, don’t press to hard. Once that is done touch up the folds and creases with a pointy tool. The other method is similar to doing casting effect for armor plates. While the putty is still pliable use a stiff brush to stipple and brush a texture onto the bag. This will take some experimentation to find the effect. Remember to touchup the folds and creases as necessary.


At this point you can add details such as holes and tears in the bag. Use a combination of your pointy tool and a hobby blade to make holes and tears. Also you can add the straps at the tops that tie the bag closed and that hold the bags to your vehicle.


Here are a few photos from a recently completed project that had a couple of sandbags. ;)




Painting And Weathering Your Bags

Once your sandbags have cured they are ready to be painted and weathered by your preferred method. A few passing thoughts regarding this finial step. When you have multiple sandbags next to each other break up the monotone color by shifting the tone and shade by using slightly different colored glazes or filters this will greatly enhance the visual appeal of your subject. Also consider that fact that sandbags can hold and trap moisture in large qualities which further discolor the bag especially in the recesses between other bags and in the folds and creases. Also many U.S. field units during World War 2 would often spray back camo bands on armored vehicles. When this was done it was with all the field equipment to include the sandbags still on the vehicle. This can be replicated on you models as well. Also consider the fact the sandbag being made of cloth (burlap) the paint would be easily rubbed (chipped)off of the bag. With today’s chipping effects this would add another layer of visual interest.


In the above photo note the damp/wet areas both on the sandbags and the tank itself. adding this little detail can add a ton of visual interest!!

And now with the sandbags painted up and weathered.


I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions contact me at any time

NOW GO GET YOUR BAG ON!! ;D
 

Glorfindel

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errains that is very cool work! So simple even a cavema...
 

ahmed malik

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wow, i've been looking for a sandbag tutorial, thanks for sharing this
 

geegad

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you've given me a project to have a bash at this afternoon errains...cheers buddy
 

spud

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Eric thanks for sharing this, its something i need to try some day
 

wyoroy

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Very well done and easy to follow. Thanks for posting this.
 

Jelly

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:) :D

Eric my friend... :)

Excellent, didactic, easy to follow.

100% useful & approachable (<- is this the proper word ?? ).

Highly nutritive, proteinic !

Thanks Eric, thank you man !
RGR ;)
 
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