Sadly, while I took many pictures during my process of sculpting this mini, and I shared them with Alabama Gandalf, I did not save them. If you head on over to my Facebook artist page however you can see a couple of videos.
I followed this tutorial on Massive VooDoo by a sculptor named Mati to create this first mini, and I learned so much about what not to do, and what to do differently. I can’t wait to apply that knowledge to the next one!
First, and foremost, I learned that I can’t just wing it with these. With the dragons I’ve sculpted in the past, winging it is fine. They are larger, easier to work with, more forgiving, and don’t really require strict anatomy. But with a humanoid figure, and such a small size, planning ahead is a requirement. This will prove challenging for me, I’ve never been good at forethought and planning. In school I would do papers and reports the night before they were due, or even the day of if it was an afternoon class. I never did outlines or rough drafts, I’ve always been the type to just jump in and do it, especially when the pressure sets in.
But my lack of planning really shows on this. It’s too tall, the pose is pretty bland, the arms are too long, the legs too short, instead of being a noble and resplendent Aasimar paladin, this looks like a dwarf that drank a growth potion. The armor doesn’t look especially good, it seems almost an afterthought, and the colors are slapped on based not on what color her armor and clothes should be, but based entirely on what colors I had and which ones I grabbed first.
On my next attempt I will do several things differently. The most important of which will be to plan ahead, to sketch out the pose, and to find and print an anatomy/size chart for these sized miniatures. I will make the armature, using the chart to size it properly. I will put on a thinner layer of green stuff on the arms and legs, and a slightly thicker layer on the body. I will also take my time, and do a bit more research on how to smooth out my sculpture afterwards. If you look at the close up pictures you can see little messy bits of clay here and there, rough edges, marks and gouges, that in the future will need to be smoothed out before baking.
I plan to go to the store and get more corks, I only have one and I put it through hell making this. Sculpting these requires being able to stick the armature into the cork for support, and so you have a place to hold the mini while sculpting it. Metal wire being stuck into the cork tears it apart a bit, and now it has dried clay and paint all over it as well.
I also need to get better brushes. I have an odd assortment of paint brushes I’ve collected over the years, many were ones I used as a kid painting with water color sets, some were handed down from my grandmother who used to paint, but none are small enough to do fine details. My paints themselves may also not be ideal for painting miniatures. It could be mostly my brushes, but the paint went on these very gloppy and sloppy and both required multiple coats to hide the clay beneath, and went on thick adding even more thickness to an already too large sculpture.
My next attempt may be another crack at my paladin, or I may try something different. Despite this one not turning out as well as I had hoped, it is better than expected, and being my first will always be special. I fully intend to use it at this week’s D&D game.
I will probably do miniatures of my friend’s characters as well. There is Izalius, the vivacious and charismatic half-elf wizard and enchanter, Rolwart, the mischievous and troubled deep gnome arcane trickster rogue, Feinor, the quiet and introverted elven druid, and Bolvada, the young and naive human cleric. Together with my character, Sopheriel Shefay, the Aasimar paladin of Ilmater who is also a werewolf, we are adventuring through Barovia, seeking a way to defeat the vampire Strahd. The Curse of Strahd campaign is nearing it’s end however, with only a handful of months to go. But any minis I make will still get good use, I do believe.
I also desire to create something to carry my minis in. I want to create a box that looks like a book, but unlike the ones at Michaels where only the cover opens, I want mine to open evenly, so each side lays down flat. When opened one side will have a compartment for holding a couple sets of dice, but the majority will be a felt-lined place for rolling said dice. The other side will be filled with the black foam that you can cut away square sections of to create cozy inserts. This will easily hold half a dozen minis or more. I don’t actually need so many, perhaps a row of felt at the bottom that can hold 3 or 4 in a line, with the rest of the side being a compartment to hold pencils and character sheets.
The entire thing will have a strap that holds it closed, either a belt-like buckle or maybe just a snap or some other way. I think I will cover it in faux leather and see if I can learn how to emboss it. I won’t do a cover in polymer clay as I did for the gift I made for my DM, as that wouldn’t be something I could put into my bag. I want this to be durable, not fragile.
I may even put lights in it, little LEDs that run on a battery hidden in one of the cubbies. Little lights that light up my minis and the area where I roll dice.
I’ll sketch it out first and share the sketches. I think it will be quite neat.