Wargaming Tradecraft: Modelling Putty and how to use it


Modelling Putty and how to use it

Sometimes you end up with models that have small to large gaps in them and other times things just don't quite line up. Obviously an eye sore... For these times, there are a few solutions.

Back in the day, I swore by Testors brand Contour Putty. (Testors also makes the best plastic glue in the same tube pictured to the right, but orange instead of grey) I'm not sure why, but this is a pain to find in my area of Canada and has been for 10+ years.

After that, I switched to autobody filler. The brown stuff they use on cars. Smells horrible. It was a great substitute though, if you use it in a well ventilated area, and worked well over large areas too.

By now you may be thinking "Why not use Green Stuff?" Well, I've tried using Green Stuff, but it doesn't have the same consistency of these types of putty. The problem is that once Green Stuff hardens, if you slice it, it comes off like plastic and if you scrape it, well, that doesn't work so well. Great product for sculpting, but in my opinion, not for gap or surface filling.

The difference is that with putty, once hard, you can cut and scrape away at it and slowly and blend it into the model's surface. Now, the reverse is also true; Putty isn't very good if you want to add things that will involve some carving or sculpting. I consider Green Stuff for adding to a model and putty for making natural seeming changes to a model.

So enter Hobby Lobby to the rescue during one of my forays into the US. I bought two of these. It's a good feeling... having a previously well used tool back in my #Winning arsenal of hobby excellence. (Who needs #Tigersblood when you have #ContourPutty?)

Sorry the pic didn't turn out so well, but basically you just put a little of this putty on a surface you don't mind getting gunky and mix it together a bit.

You mix it because it might be a little oily as the internal substance splits a bit.

Next, scoop some up and apply it all over the places you want to fill. Be generous, as later you'll smooth this all out.

I use metal pick/sculpting type tools from the local surplus store, but a toothpick will work just fine.

While it's still wet, smooth down some of the areas a little.

This works the putty into cracks, strengthening the bond, spreads it out a little, thins it, gets rid of air bubbles and ensures the putty's going to stick to the surface and not fall or crumble off.

Give the putty a good amount of time to dry. This can vary depending on how thick it is, moisture, heat, etc. The outside will harden much quicker before the inside. If you try to work with it too soon, you'll end up pushing around a pocket of liquid putty under a film of hardened.

Once it's completely dry, it's time to smooth it out. Use the techniques I talk about in Cleaning Mold Lines to cut and scrape the putty. You can also file it. This will blend the putty into the model's surface, making everything appear natural.

Putty's great for filling all sorts of holes and gaps. You probably won't need it too often on smaller models, though it's great for filling the groove of a mini's base. However when working on larger projects like walkers, vehicles and such, this becomes pretty essential if you want to avoid the uglyness of parts that don't quite fit together.

Putty does have some uses for an unnatural look, as you'll notice in my pre-scraping photos how it could be used for making slime, ooze, melted metal (slag), etc.

Reader Karitas points out that the reason this might be hard to find is due to the chemicals it contains.
And wouldn't you know it, he's probably right. Contains acetone. That's a cancer agent and banned by some ISO industry standards. From a hobby perspective, this means if you're going to use it, have ventilation, don't work with it for a long time, and wash up afterwards and after any contact with it. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

The irony is that nail polish remover usually contains a high amount of acetone. Possibility of coming in contact with it during hobbying? Banned. Soak your fingers in it, but nail polish makes girls pretty? A-OK! (*sarcasm - don't hate me*)


  1. In the UK Squadron green putty is widely used for this, if you look closely you'll see some on most of the kits I buils. it goes on well, sets fast and is easily sandable.

    however these putties, and I suspect the testors brand, often contain tolulene (yeah, as in that stuff in dynamite) which in large quantities can be very harmful, and is often quite a controlled substance. that may be why it's hard to find in your kneck of the woods.

    dont get me wrong unless you eat it or huff it you'll be fine with the putty, but the fact it's in there has an effect on exports and such.

  2. That stuff looks great except for the hazardous chemicals. "Don't smoke while using this product, you'll blow off your hands!" That would be a pretty funny warning label.

    Back to being serious, do you know of any similar putty that won't require ventilation to use?

  3. Vallejo plastic putty might do it, but might need a bit if CA glue as an overcoat before sanding, to give it a bit more brittleness.

  4. Thanks, I've updated the article.. you're right, this stuff contains acetone.

  5. The Smooth Putty have great job for filling the holes and gap between the walls also it makes the natural seem ing to the model..The better advantages provided by this are it ensure that this putty going to the stick surface only..


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