Sculpting a 25mm model in "green stuff"

I wanted a model of a hind (a doe, a deer, a female dear) for a druidic storyline which I am writing for a Dungeons and Dragons adventure.  Nobody seemed to produce one, so it was time to start from scratch, and teach myself "green stuff".  I am much indebted to some chaps on the sculpting forum at http://www.reapermini.com/forum/, who, as you'll see from the thread there, pointed me to some excellent articles.

I wanted a red deer hind; I found the following image on the Web, and used a wildlife photography book as a second reference:

I printed the picture at about A5 size to refer to for colour and detail, and also at the actual size I wanted for the finished miniature.  Not having any corks to hand, nor any of the elusive, mystical substance "styrofoam", I used a lump of terracotta Milliput for the working base (I use it for mending flower pots).  I used green plastic coated garden wire and fuse wire, to make the armature.

The "to scale" picture was invaluable.  I began building up the green stuff:

I worked very slowly, leaving it for a day, at stages such as this one.  Here the first main problem became apparent - the Milliput working base was a mistake, as I was not going to be able to remove the figure without wrenching the legs.  I resolved to do it sooner rather than later.  I base all my bought miniatures on square "slotta" bases, so the hind was wrenched free (resembling a daddy-long-legs for a while) and the back legs were shaped again as I moulded her onto her final base.  (Yes "she" had become sentient by now.)

A second problem was discovered - the legs in the painting (and indeed the photograph in the wildlife book) are incredibly thin.  I was tempted just to leave the wire with no green stuff, but decided that wouldn't work.  For strength and angling of the knees, the legs would have to be a little thicker than they are in nature.  I did however slice off the green plastic sleeve of the wire from the back legs - this would have been easier if I'd made the judgement before setting the extra length of the coated wire into the base. 

I finished her.  The final finishing, filing and smoothing was in fact one of the more difficult parts.  It was hard to remove traces of finger marks for fear of damaging the delicate ears and legs.  I painted her with Games Workshop and artists' acrylic paints.  The story is set in pine forest, so I found a pine tree and studied the litter around its base.  I took home a pinch of dead needles for a colour reference, and used bits of them with a little static grass, some seed heads from the herb garden and some Javis "Countryside Scenics Scatter".  The whole project took me more than a week, working on it for up to an hour each day.  Here she is, left and right and with a Reaper Miniatures merchant (He's the one wot's gonna upset the druids by trying to sell her.  Woe betide him!)

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