David Barry
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Yes, this is another "how to" example, for those with some time on their hands, to make your own Agricola farmers out of polymer clay (Fimo or Sculpey). To start off, here's a look at the end product.







I used Sculpey III instead of Fimo; it works fine for me except that the white tends to be crumbly (old?). The colours darken more than you might expect when baked, so use lighter colours, e.g. violet instead of (or mixed with) purple. (When baked and seen in the dark of a games room, the purple looks very similar to the dark blue).

One block of each major colour should be sufficient for at least one set of figures, as long as you don't make them bigger than the size shown here. You'll also need some brown, black, yellow and flesh (beige works ok if you mix in a touch of brown, yellow and red).

In addition, you'll need a smooth table space (or hard flat plastic work surface), a knife, toothpicks and pencil (or proper clay modelling tools if you have them), and a flat smooth baking tray to hold your figures until you are ready to bake them. A few dollar or similarly sized coins can be useful. And finally, I normally budget around an hour per figure (don't ask me to sell these guys!)

Prepare:
The most important step is to do a little advance planning. Decide what sort of figure you want to make, and what colour. I normally have each figure holding some sort of Agricola resource or a farming or kitchen tool. I often work on only one figure at a time, but if you work on multiple, they should be the same colour. Some colours are very sticky and can easily contaminate whatever else you're working on - for me, the green, red and white were the worst.

In this particular case, I wanted to create three people, simply to more easily show the various stages of some processes. (For me, working on three does not appear to be any faster than working on only one). I decided to make a cattleman, reed-collector, and vegetable lady. Refer to these excellent threads for more details, although you'll notice I made my reeds slightly differently...

Fimo food: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284771
Fimo Cows: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284144
Fimo boars: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284143
Fimo sheep: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284774
Fimo Veg + Reeds: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284773
Fimo grain: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/284772

I don't normally prepare all the necessary bits in advance, but this next image was supposed to give you a guide as to more or less what you're in for (with centimetre ruler and dollar coins for scale). It turns out that the balls of crimson (spheres a bit over 1cm in diameter, for the base and body) were bigger than necessary; I should have used less, but went ahead and used it all just to see how it would turn out.



Base and shoes
Base: make a sphere of your primary person colour (red in this case), about 1cm in diameter. Then flatten it into a disk. I often do this on a dollar or two-dollar coin, both as a way of ensuring that the size is appropriate, and to allow easier handling of the figure later on. (The coin comes off before baking though). The disks shown below were slightly larger than desired. The size of a dollar coin is a nice compromise between too small (the figure will easily fall over) and too large (requires more space on the game board). About 2mm thick is ideal.

Shoes: take two smallish blobs of brown or black, about 5mm long, and round out and flatten one end. Squeeze the other end into a vertical point (you need both hands and a bit of practise for this). Then place the shoes on the base disk, touching in the middle if you are going to do trousers (like those on the top right disk). Remember to leave a bit of space on the disk if you are planning to add something else later. If you are going to add a dress on top (the disk at top left), make only the front portion of the shoes, and place them more forward and further apart.



Legs or dress:

Roll a cylinder of brown (preferably use a different colour than the shoes), about 2cm long, and just over 5mm thick. Then fold it over in an upside-down U.



Simply join the bottom of the legs onto the tops of the shoes (you did make the flat part at the back wide enough, right?). Then start shaping the top of the legs, flattening and scooping it out a bit, especially toward the back, to make a nice base for the body.



Here you see the front and back view of the legs.

To add a dress, just make a 1cm sphere (or slightly bigger) of any colour, and then shape it into a dress, then put it on the disk and shoes. Hmm... my shoes were a bit too big.



The body

Take a 1cm sphere of your primary colour (the shirt is an easy way to recognize to which family the figure belongs), and flatten it out into a rectangular block. The top end (shoulders) will normally be wider than the bottom (belly), unless you're going for a beer-gut or "expecting" look. The block should be wider than it is thick. For a female figure, you can easily shape a more "rounded" top.



Then just add the body onto the legs (or dress). Pinch out a bit more of the trousers if the legs are too small, or trim the body torso if too large. (The two male torsos were clearly too large, so I started shaping part of the top out into shirtsleeves).



Feel free to add and change details. Here, I added some pink shirtsleeves (white with a touch of red, mixed)) to the red lady's outfit. (White sleeves also look great!) These were were from blobs initially around the same size as the shoes, but shaped into a slanted cone, with the pointy end attached at the shoulder, and the flat bottom set off-center, and then the sleeves pinched out a bit.



The arms

The arms are usually fairly tricky. You'll need some rolls of flesh-coloured clay, maybe 3cm total for figures with no sleeves, or shorter if you have some sleeves already. Arms should be thinner than legs, 5mm or less in thickness. Cut the roll in half and then flatten one end of each - these will later be the hands.



Now attach the back end of each arm tube to the sleeve or body. Where possible, you always want each arm to be against the body at all times, for strength (and to avoid having bits break off later on).



If you have things for your people to hold, fit them in now, and bend the arms and hands around accordingly. Remember that you want to both show off any special details, and try keep everything against the body when possible. Anything small or fragile-looking should be flattened a bit against something else for strength. The cow horns were bent down to reduce the chance of being caught and broken off. The carrot leaves were later also bent a bit.



Now use a sharp knife to cut "fingers" in the hands - if you think you can do this without making it look worse. "Mitt" hands also normally appear quite acceptable.



The head:

Take a smallish (just under 1cm) ball of flesh-coloured clay, and pinch out a nose (right-hand side head). Use a blunt pencil to poke out two eye-sockets (centre). Then use toothpicks, pencil, knife or modelling tools to press in a mouth shape (left-side head). Continue shaping the rest of the head while you are working on those features; the head should be thinner than it is high, and try aim for a heart shaped face.



Roll out some fine tubes of the remaining colours - about 1mm thick for white and thinner for pink and blue (or brown if you want brown eyes). Cut off two small sections of white, then roll them into spheres. Also cut off tiny portions of the blue roll and make into tiny spheres. Make a short (5mm?) fine roll of pink for the lips.



Poke a toothpick into one of the white balls, and gently push it into an eyesocket. You want an eyeball to be smaller than the eyesocket, but not too much so. The hole left in the middle of the eye (by the toothpick), is where you'll put the tiny blob of blue, in the same way. Try get the blue "iris" as central as possible. Repeat for the second eye.



Put a very thin roll of pink (halfway between real pink and the flesh tone) on the mouth, and tamp it into place with a toothpick. Then use your sharp knife to make a fine cut horizontally along the middle, to make lips.

Optional: roll some very fine rolls of the planned hair colour, and use a knife to cut off the last 2-3mm on each end. Put these ends in place above the eyes as eyebrows, using a toothpick. Tamp into place with your toothpick.



Press the head down onto the torso (carefully).

Start flattening some brown, black or yellow to use as hair (unless you're aiming for that "bald" look).



Wrap the hair around the head as best possible. Use your knife to trim off any unwanted extra bits.



Continue smoothing down the hair, pinching or trimming off any unwanted bits.



You can pinch some hair into a ponytail if you like.

Finally, use a knife (not too sharp) or toothpick to cut some "hair" lines into the head of hair.



As usual, elaborate with additional decorative bits as much as you feel confident in doing (and have time for). Here's a band for the ponytail.



And finally, the completed figures. (Note the little black hat added to the bald cattleman).



Remove the coin under the base (if used), place on your metal or ceramic flat surface, and bake in the oven when you have made a few more. Now, practise making some more farmer figures. As you can tell, things can easily go wrong and look less beautiful than desired. There is also a progression where you usually become more comfortable with complex figures and techniques, the more you make.

Good luck and have fun!
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David Barry
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While you're at it, consider also making your own Start Player piece, such as this red barn:



Credits
Many thanks to Frank Strauss for his original threads on how to create animeeples and fimo resources. (Refer to links in the first posting above in this thread).

Although I had already started making my own Agri-people at the time, Paul Newsham's "how to" article on Fimo farmers is well worth a read: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/328053

And then there are all the many posters of creative Fimeeple images, two gorgeous examples of which are:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/366244
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/359835?size=large
.. with apologies to all those whose images I did not take time to reference here, but did enjoy viewing.

Not quite a credit, but Brian Hotovec's (GorthraxtheBeast) more recent posting shows some excellent people-making skills, creativity and great tips. You can also see the difference between his first and more recent people.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2966284

... and when you need a break
Have a quick look at some of these old Agricola threads!

Taunts: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/332807
The Agricola Advent calendar 2007: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/27177

The U deck: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/334162
A funny session report: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/331480

Edit: added link to GorthraxtheBeast's posting of Jan 2, 2008
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Will
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Congrats for the cool tutorial
 
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Frank Strauss
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Congrats, you´ve done an excellent job with this tutorial !
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Guillaume Jobert
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I am in awe of your work and the careful and complete details you give. Congratulations!
 
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Kurt
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Your tutorial is awesome! Thanks for taking the time to put it up.

I have a question/request. Would you mind putting up estimates on how much clay went into each set of pieces? I'd love to buy the clay at a deal online, but don't know how much to get.

Thanks again. Your work is great!
 
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Paul Newsham
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Nice work David.

It takes a lot of patience to put together an article like this. You've made it look easy. And the farmers themselves are great.
 
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David Barry
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kdiddy13 wrote:
I have a question/request. Would you mind putting up estimates on how much clay went into each set of pieces? I'd love to buy the clay at a deal online, but don't know how much to get.


I'm still on my first block in most colours, except that I started using a second (2"x2") block in each of the following colours: white, green, beige (flesh) and chocolate brown. [Refer to the second paragraph, just below the initial set of figure photos.] In part that's because I'm part way through a second set of figures, between my efforts and my family's - plus you might find find yourself working on other art projects with the clay too. As mentioned, it depends a lot on how big you make your people. With the amount of clay used for the three red people as shown above, I would expect to use up most of a block of red (crimson) for a set of five people. My first figures were smaller, and would use only half a block of clay in each major colour, for a set of people in that colour. Hope this helps.
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Kurt
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I see where you already say how much you used(I'm a bit dense sometimes).

It absolutely does help! Thank you again for sharing this.
 
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