So, you want to learn how to make a resin figure. OR, you want to become an Etsy boss selling kawaii Decoden charms. Either way, I've got my own personal breakdown of how to make resin figures and how much it will cost. Some of these steps can be skipped based on where you're at in your journey. I'll be going through the process from beginning to end.
This is a step that will take some practice but don't worry you can do it. Planning and sculpting are the first hurdles of creating your figure from scratch. You can either take the time to draw out your idea from each angle or if you feel like a true "G", Just start sculpting using your imagination. I personally plan out my idea through sketches and sometimes cut out the shapes using paper so I can reference sizing and shape. There are many different materials although I feel that these items work best for me.
Super Sculpey comes in two different compounds, Original and Firm. The Original is soft and the firm is more solid and hard. I find the firm is great for sculpting and keeping shape. I used the original in my early days because it was closer to Play-Doh texture and easier to learn with. Both need to be baked after sculpting to harden.
There are a crap ton of tools you can use to sculpt with. I've used a lot although at the end of the day all I really use is an Exacto Knife and my finger. This is all based on your design though. The more complex your sculpt is, the more tools you'll want to earn how to use.
The best way.
So now that you've got your Super Sculpey and tools start having fun. Don't be afraid to crumble that first sculpt up and start over again. The second and third are always better than the first. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND watching YouTube videos. When I first started sculpting there were no artists making videos on how to sculpt. Now you can watch all the professionals and get the best tips.
Lastly, you'll bake that puppy. Put it in your oven or toaster oven for 15 min on 275 and check on it periodically to make sure it's not burning up. The Sculpey box will have all the directions. Let it cool and pray there are no cracks.
This is for those that want that baby smooth figure. No lumps clumps or imperfections. I mean, it's made by hand and it's a sculpt so it's not going to be machine perfect. We are still just human. You'll want to grab a range of WET sandpapers. Start off with 200-300 grit and get all those lumps, bumps and fingerprints sanded down. It's going to look scratchy but that's ok because you're going to move on to 400 grit, then 600, then 800, then 1000 and end at 1,500 or even 2000. By the time you sand your way through those grits, your figure will feel like butter and may slip out of your hands.
NOW, all of this information is irrelevant if you have a 3-D printer. You can easily just hire someone to design your figure, or you can if you know the programs, then have it 3-D printed. Just make sure you have a good 3-D printer that prints smooth and not that choppy layered whip cream looking texture.
Now let's move on to the RESIN MAKING!
In my opinion, getting the initial figure created is the hard part. The casting and resin process is quite easy, just make sure you have a space to get messy and a respirator to block out the fumes.
There are many molding and casting products on the market. I personally use "Smooth-ON" since it is straight to the point and doesn't require a pressure chamber. I use "Smooth-On Oomoo 25" for the mold making process and "Smooth-Cast 300" for the resin plastic.
To make a mold you want to build some sort of box/containment for your figure. Some casters build a Lego box and some use cardboard. Whatever you choose just make sure it has no areas for leaking. For a figure like my Sharkie, I create a 1 piece mold that allows me to pour once over the figure and I'm done making the mold. Some figures have complex angles and will need 2 part molds or more single/two-part molds for body parts and pieces. Let's focus on 1 part.
Now that you've built a box around your figure with an open top and flat bottom, You will now measure up two parts of your mold making material. Smooth on has a Part A and a Part B. You will measure even amounts in separate cups then mix them together thoroughly to ensure a solid mold. You will know it's mixed thoroughly because the twp colored mold materials will make a new solid color. For example, red Part A mixed with Blue Part B will turn it into a purple mixture. Now that it's all mixed up, Pour it slowly along the bottom allowing the mixture to rise slowly over the figure. The last step, let it sit on a flat surface and wait 75 min for it to cure. Once it's cured, deconstruct the box and pull out your figure to reveal your mold.
The part we've all been waiting for. This step is highly simple. Put on your respirator an a pair of urethane gloves. Make sure you are working in an area that is either covered with plastic or you're ok with getting really dirty. Take two mixing cups and your Smooth-Cast 30 resin. Take Part A and Part B and measure them evenly in two separate cups. You will now pour both mixtures into one cup and mix quickly for about 20 seconds and pour smoothly yet quickly into your mold. I've learned the quicker I pour the fewer bubbles I get in my cast. You will now wait about 15-30 min for your cast to fully set and harden. When you pull out your cast go a little slow to loosen up the mold, also the cast will be warm, Resin heats up a bit during the process.
Finally, you've reached the end of the road for resin casting. Now it's time to clean it up. Grab up some sandpaper, Flatten out that bottom which will definitely not be perfect after casting. I also take a 1500 grit sandpaper and wet sand the whole figure because the resin can sometimes have a slippery texture to it.
Your figure is now ready to be painted. So grab up some primer... Yes, always prime plastic before painting on it. Plastic will not hold paint well without being primed. I've used a lot of different primers although I tend to stick to Rustoleum automotive primer. Prime the figure with 3 coats and let it sit for about 3 days in a well-ventilated area. Once it's done you may want to do a light sanding to smooth out the primer texture.
This process seems long and it actually is, although if you do it and enjoy the process, it won't matter. There are many ways to go about resin casting and this is my personal way. Also, the process becomes easier once you have the mold done. From there you will be able to just produce resin figures and not worry about sculpting and mold making.
If you'd like to visually see the process you can click this YouTube link and it will take you to my playlist of tutorials on me making resin figures.
I hope this helps and thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.