Sculpting Compounds - A Case Modding Primer.

    Case mods just keep getting crazier and harder to top, this guide will introduce you to a few different sculpting compounds that can be used to help create original mods and also rates their ease of use, strength and effectiveness versus cost per ounce.  Not all sculpting compounds are created equal, read on and take the hassle out of deciding which modeling product will work best for your mods.  The picture below shows the products that we will be comparing; Sculpey and Super Sculpey, Fimo, Magic Sculpt, Milliput - Silver Grey, Milliput - Terracotta and last but not least Green Putty.

Oven Baked Modeling compounds...

    First up is Sculpey, I am not going to say too much about it other than it is the least sturdy of all the modeling compounds shown and is not recommended for modding use.  The Sculpey shown below cost $7.49 for two pounds (32 oz.), it stays pliable until baked in the oven but is like ceramic when baked and as such it's kind of brittle.  Next up, Super Sculpey $9.99 for one pound (16 oz.)... a far better product than it's younger brother, it stays pliable until baked and is strong enough to be carved, sanded or drilled after.  The box states that it is shatter and chip resistant and I would tend to agree, it is not the strongest modeling compound in this round up but it can effectively be used for modding.

    Below is the application in which I used the Super Sculpey, I had planned on using Super Sculpey to make the entire head for my HellRaiser Lament: Cenobite PC, but the problem of having to bake it in three pieces made it impossible because they would have had to been baked on a mold of the head to maintain true shape and I had nothing useable as such.  It is however a very easy compound to work with and holds details well, the fact that it will stay pliable until you are ready to bake it is also a plus.  From the Sculpey website: "In color, Super Sculpey is a translucent pink-beige only. Like Sculpey, Super Sculpey is an easy to condition polymer requiring minimal hand kneading or rolling through a pasta machine to prepare for use. It features fine tooling and detailing characteristics, and does not "fill in" after tooling. If you opt to paint your cured piece, we recommend acrylic paint or the application of water based glaze prior to painting with oils. Paint should be applied in thin washes rather than thick coats for the best paint to clay bond. After curing, Super Sculpey bakes to a ceramic-like hardness and can be sanded to a fine smoothness."

    Super Sculpey instructions state: "Super Sculpey should be cured in a preheated 275 degree F (130 degree C) oven for 15 minutes per quarter inch of thickness. DO NOT MICROWAVE. For example, a piece of " thickness would be cured for 30 minutes. The layering method is recommended for larger pieces of construction."... easy enough.  Following their instructions I baked the face and was disappointed to see a couple of deep cracks in the finished piece, it was fixed easily enough and I did wind up using the face, but there are other better sculpting compound options... read on.

    Fimo comes in a wide range of colors and there are a few different types but as far as I'm concerned Fimo is not a true modders sculpting solution unless you just need to sculpt something small or are looking for a certain effect, baked Fimo is very strong, like a hard plastic. The Fimo polymer clay pictured below cost $1.59 for 64 grams (2.25 oz.) and it glows in the dark, I plan to work it into an upcoming mod but honestly it is for the most part a novelty and nothing I would consider making a full blown modded case out of (all bets are off if Eberhard-Faber contacts me with a money offer to request it).  

    Instructions for the use of Fimo: "After modeling, place in a pre-heated kitchen oven set at 265F (130C) for 30 minutes. Baked Fimo can be added to and baked again, providing it hasn't been varnished. Hardened Fimo can be carved, sawed, filed, cut, and painted, and it is watertight and washable. Unhardened Fimo can be used again and again if it is packed securely and stored at normal room temperature."


Two Part (No Bake) Epoxy Sculpting compounds...

    Milliput is splendid, the differences between terracotta and silver grey are basically final density and price, but both dry very solid are easy to work with... "Mix together equal parts of each stick from the pack. Knead and roll in the hands for at least 5 minutes until the colors merge and become uniform and no streaks can be seen, and then mix for another minute. The surfaces to which the putty is applied should be free from grease and dirt. Smooth surfaces should be cleaned with a suitable solvent or with soap and warm water to remove dirt and grease. Abrading the surface will improve adhesion. the putty may now be applied and will set hard in three to four hours without shrinking.  At all stages from initial mixing to final setting Milliput responds to the use of water. To aid manipulation and avoid sticking, fingers and tools should be kept moistened with water. There are certain instances when work may be carried out in a gentle stream of water under a tap. To obtain a smooth finish, mould or apply Milliput and then immediately wipe and smooth gently with wet finger or with a fine textured moist cloth."... easy.

    I used the Milliput Terracotta to frame out the acrylic window that I formed for the mod and there was just enough left over to reinforce the handle that I added to the back of the mod.  Milliput Terracotta costs $7.99 for 1/4 pound (4 oz.), it is really strong and works well.

    I used the Milliput Silver Grey to embed the housing for a 6" LCD monitor within the chest, between the front and back of the LCD tray I used the entirety of one box.  Milliput Silver Grey costs $9.99 for 1/4 pound (4 oz.), it is stronger than Milliput Terracotta, feels finer grained when working with it and dries almost as hard as a stone.

       Magic Sculpt (shown below) is hands down flipping awesome and is the best modeling compound ever (IMO), instructions for it's use are here and this directly from their site: "Welcome to  Magic Sculp the two-part epoxy putty specifically designed to meet the needs of modelers, crafters and sculptors alike. One of the only  epoxies that will smooth out with water. Its grain structure is finer than any other product available and will not shrink or crack even when formed in large structures.  It can be shaped by hand or with modeling tools, sanded, carved, painted; you can attack it with a grinding tool and the cured material will not break apart or lose its shape. Magic Sculp will cure at room temperature.

  • Specifically designed to meet the needs of modelers, crafters and sculptors alike.
  • Smooths with water.
  • Finer grain than any other product available
  • Will not shrink or crack even when formed in large structures.
  • Very pliable in its mixed form
  • Excellent adhesion
  • Cleans up easily with soap and water.
  • It can be shaped by hand or with modeling tools, sanded, carved and painted
  • Cures at room temperature.
  • New improved formula is non crystallizing and stays soft in its tubs an indefinite shelf life

    Magic Sculpt retails around $30.00 for five pounds (80 oz.) and is worth every penny, it is the modelers choice and helped save my HellRaiser Lament project.  Below shows the face of the HellRaiser Lament mod made out of baked Super Sculpey and the back half of the head out of Magic Sculpt, a little water on my finger made it all seamless.  Magic Sculpt is incredible, I even used it to fix a sink in my home (it will even dry in water) and can attest to how solid it becomes, this stuff is hard as a rock when dry, it's nearly indestructible and highly recommended.

    From their site: "Magic Sculpt is a two part, hard cure epoxy putty. Magic Sculpt, with a soft, fine finish, is widely used by professional, national & international large and miniature scale sculptors, such as Mike Blank & Bill Horan. After curing, Magic Sculpt can be drilled, sanded and painted."... truly great stuff indeed.

No Other Category, Green Putty...

    Green Putty is a one part solution that is best used for filling gaps or cracks left when working with other sculpting products, you could never make anything out of it by itself but it does work with little shrinkage to fix any problems in sculpted projects and dries really hard.

    Green Putty costs $3.50 for 2.3 oz. and the product back reads - "Caution: FLAMMABLE, avoid breathing vapor"...  "Apply to desired area to dry 30 min.  File or sand to shape.  Not recommended for aircraft nose weight.", the package makes it sound scary but it's super simple to use.

Final Thoughts...

    The cost of the modeling compounds covered in this guide should also factor in deciding which is right for your modding project, if the sculpted item is not very big you would not need five pounds but if you did need that much then cost becomes an issue.  I figured out the cost per ounce of each of the sculpting compounds and it is listed below.

Sculpting Product Package Size and Price Cost per Ounce
Sculpey Two pounds (32 oz.)  $7.49 USD .24 per ounce
Super Sculpey One pound (16 oz.)  $9.99 USD .63 per ounce
Fimo 64 grams (2.25 oz.)  $1.59 USD .71 per ounce
Milliput Terracotta 1/4 pound (4 oz.)  $7.99 USD $2.00 per ounce
Milliput Silver Grey 1/4 pound (4 oz.) $9.99 USD $2.50 per ounce
Magic Sculpt Five pounds (80 oz.)  $30.00 USD .38 per ounce
Green Putty 65 grams (2.3 oz.)  $3.50 USD $1.52 per ounce

    Having used all of the products shown I would have to say that other than original Sculpey any of the above sculpting/modeling compounds can be effectively used in modding.  My preference leans toward modeling compounds that do not require oven baking to cure, Magic Sculpt would have to be my absolute favorite and is the product I use most and highly recommend.

Happy Modding

- Guide written by ARTbyTROY

Disclaimer: This how-to guide is presented for informative purposes only. can not and will not be held responsible for damages to or resulting from anything that you may decide to do to your case or hardware. We also can not and will not be held responsible for injury to your self or others as a result of attempting any of the things that are shown on this site.  Basically you are responsible for your own actions whether said actions were based on information garnered from this site or elsewhere, learn to deal with it.