Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sculpting.... an experience!

In the words of the great Dr Nick… “Hello everybody…”

Boy oh boy is it hot! Yikes. I saw a great meme yesterday which shows a picture of a certain hobbit, with the words “It so hot in my room, that 2 hobbits just came passed and threw a ring at me” that made me chuckle and pretty much sums up how we all feel right now, so you will excuse us for not really having much to update this week, as we soak our wrists in cold water, sleep on the floor and usher hobbits from our abode.

What we can tell you is this: 

  • We have ordered the card art. It’s in production as I type and the sample boxes arrive any day now.
  • The ‘green’ of Death has been sent to the producers and we hope to have the first models in the next 2 weeks. This will allow me to paint this beauty up and post work in progress shots on getting to grips with Death.
  • A decisions has been reached on who will be our next sculpt and we think you will be quite excited by him.
  • Super sinister Moloch is stomping his way closer to us with each passing day.
There is so much more to tell you but we don’t want to give too much away in this early development stage, but rest assured that we will share this with you as time marches on. Today I thought I would do a little bit on sculpting.

Traditional vs Digital

With the dawn of 3D printers, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon but I am not sure yet that the quality is truly there. Something that was quickly established as one of our values is that we wanted to bring you the highest level of quality that we could afford. Whilst there are some great 3D examples out there, there has been a heavy investment, which reflects the unit price. The other side of digital is 3D renders. The benefit of these is that you can grab a model that already exists in digital render and change an arm, head or pose whilst retaining key distinguishing features of the model. Furthermore you always have a copy, so long as you have saved it!

The downside of traditional is quite clear. The model can be damaged, there is only one of this so long as a cast has not been made. Therefore there is a higher risk for transit between the sculptor and the producer. There is also the risk of the model going wrong during casting. The flexibility is not necessarily there as you can just erase an arm on a computer and put a new one in its place. You would have to produce another which is very hard to achieve truly.

Now you are probably sitting there thinking, er hang on, why on earth did you go traditional. The answer lay in: talent and cost.

IT solutions cost money. Let’s face it we can all relate to that, so actually to find somebody that can do the work without a considerable number of man hours is quite hard to find. Especially with a high quality end product. Don’t get us wrong, they are out there, however as a self-funding organisation aiming to sell a competitive priced product this had an impact. Furthermore, as something quite new, there are fewer people with the expertise and those that have it, know it, which is reflected in time, availability and cost.

The benefit of traditional is that first and foremost, anyone that exists now as a traditional sculptor of any repute or quality has a portfolio. You can see the things they excel at, for example some sculptors have a natural eye for the female form, others are good with beasts and animals or larger models. Because the digital approach is new, there is less to guide you as to how your model might look. Furthermore, these guys have been doing it for a long time, they are experienced in the potential pitfalls and problems that can present themselves along the way, particularly with casting. This can help a novice a great deal, as we found out.

The right man for the job

We were very fortunate. We had a recommendation for a chap called Lux Thantor, I’d seen his work first hand and a mutual friend put us in touch. I pitched the idea to Lux and explained what we were trying to achieve. Like any artist (and trust me sculpting is a fine art) they have to relate or be enthused by the project otherwise there is a risk that the end product does end up right. Lux liked the idea and was in. We agreed a slot in his busy schedule and chatted all the way. I can’t stress the importance of communication during this initial phase. Explaining the feel, tone, style and vision is categorically fundamental in making sure you get what you are after. Lux made this easy for us and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Transforming 2D to 3D

I’ve been asked a few times now. How on earth did you get from traditional cliché death to this old hag with scissors. Simple, I’ll explain. You can often come up with something very different by pushing the boundaries of the accepted. So in the case of Death I looked at the polar opposite of the spectrum, big and intimidating vs small and understated. So it literally was “what if Death was a little old lady?” and boom, we were on the right path. “But what’s with the scissors?” well, in many historical civilisations or fantasy worlds, cutting someone’s thread was associated with someone dying or being killed. So what does an old lady cut thread with? Scissors of course! But how will that look on a model, a small pair of scissors? OK, well let’s go the opposite, huge, unwieldy ones that you can then attach a story to. As a bit of a spoiler, the scissors are actually the blades Wrath and Ruin re-forged.

Doing something in your mind can be simple if you are lucky enough to have that creative spark. However transferring this from paper to physical was quite a scary prospect.

If you have never done it before, we can tell you, it is certainly an experience! Because we knew no better, we would sit there having received the latest update and furiously chew our bottom lip, imagining what it ‘might’ look like. “How will he do that bit?” or “Does that arm look right?” etc etc. We had no experience of how the process worked, why things had to be done a certain way and that actually in order to achieve a certain effect, something else had to be done first. I don’t expect Lux would mind us saying, we were a nightmare.

But Lux was great. He took time to explain, rather than get frustrated or exasperated he took time to provide suggestion or a commentary with regular updates to help us along the way. We were then able to visualise the end product as it was created from the bottom up and we started to understand the process which helped enormously.

I am a great believer in understanding the role you ask people to perform on your behalf. Having an understanding allows to be empathetic to the constraints or limitations of any given task, which means you can consider it in your decision making. Lux helped us do that.

Decide for yourself

The best piece of advice a number of people gave me along the way, Scott, Brett, Lux and Pete to name a few was that you as the creative designer should go through with what you set out to achieve. Other people, to whom might provide very valid critique can’t see your vision, and as such they might not be able to understand why you are approaching things in the way you are.

By all means listen, Christ if it hadn’t been for wife to be, we’d have missed a fundamental element of our first model. But don’t get too distracted or down by what other people think. This is your project because you have the drive to realise it and like someone said, fail because you failed, not because of someone else.

The end result

You get to the end, you have heart attacks along the way as a newbie to this world but the end result is worth the anxious sense of walking into the unchartered. We are thrilled with Death and we hope to have her available for you in the first week of August. We hope you like Death too and we truly hope that some of you will pick the model up and paint the crap out of her and show us and the world your take on our idea.

Hopefully, this gives you a ‘brief’ but honest depiction of what we experienced and why we made some of the decisions we made. What we have said above might not be what you choose to do. You might disagree with our thought process but that doesn’t mean you or we are wrong, it just means that you have a different set of circumstances and a different view. What we do hope is however is that our experience with will give you a brief insight and maybe the confidence to jump into the world of creative model making. 

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  1. Great read, really interesting getting a behind the scenes from a creator, as opposed to someone who can sculpt their range for themselves.

    As for 3d stuff, some of the best I've seen so far have been from the guys James has doing his Infamy stuff. So crisp and detailed though they do have a completely different feel to them to hand sculpted stuff such as Alex's ArcWorlde minis.

    1. Thanks Brambleten. We appreciate your feedback. Detailing the process is an important 'step' it acts as a 'review' so that we can see where we made mistakes or in fact made sound choices.

      I know of James and have met him before. The Infamy range, amongst others are make some serious waves (Kingdom Death as another example) in how to bring projects to life.

      It is our aim that we can emulate or go one better than these guys and bring a range of high quality models to market for people to express themselves and enjoy.