Tuesday, 22 March 2011

My best sculpt ever...

This is a difficult question to answer of course. I mean I've sculpted a lot of figures over the years, so what do I feel is the best thing I've ever sculpted. Well, actually it didn't take that much thought after all. I just asked myself what was the most fun I had sculpting, what was I happiest with the result on and which did I enjoy painting the most? Well, I came down on the side of one figure who was an experiment in a style that I only used on a few figures as it generally didn't go down too well with people. Typical as I'd love to be sculpting more of this ilk...

So, I give you Ugh the Zombie.

Okay, you're probably thinking... 'that' is your favourite mini you've sculpted. I mean it's proportions are awful. All big hands and stiff posing. Yup, and fully intentional. He was bags of fun to sculpt and a dream to paint. Like most creative types I always fixate on the problems in my work and this is one of the few pieces I've ever been totally happy with. Thinking about it maybe I'll fish out the sculpt and get myself a nice resin master of it to stick on my desk...

There's the little blighter painted. I also sculpted Barnaby the Monk in a similar style though I didn't feel he worked quite as well. Plus Hurk the Noblin was similar though the stylisation was kind of lost on him due to his general nature...

This is the kind of figure I love. The blank canvas, just simple characters that are quick to paint up. I love that this sort of fig can be painted to a high level in little time as there's nowhere to get tied up on.

Alas, Ugh was not a popular choice. A limited edition of 100 and not especially expensive but I still ended up giving them away as stocking fillers when I shut down Spyglass a few years back. I do get a warm glow from knowing that many of the people who did purchase him 'got' what I was going for and had fun painting him themselves.

At a time when I'm re-evaluating my direction in my own miniatures business it would be lovely just to run with a minis range in this style. Unfortunately it falls down on two areas. Firstly it seems that there just aren't many people who would appreciate it and pay for them and then there's the price point. It's very tough to produce minis on a budget these days so I don't know how I could produce them cheaply enough that they could go out at an appropriate pricepoint. As much as I think of sculpting this sort of mini and selling resins of them at £10 each... I think that those are the thoughts pipe dreams are made of...


  1. Tim Prow would've been proud of. I have an old interview back when he was working for Heartbreaker Hobbies (mutant chronicles ranges and so) and one of the things he was bold about was the blank spaces on minis, so people can actually choose to leave as it is or add freehand or even bits of extra sculpting.

    I love CLEAN sculpts like that one (and usually hate messy sculpts or overcomplicated sculpts like scibor -and imitators- overdoing the stamping or people that thinks "chaos minis have to be a mess". To those I say that you can actually achieve a sick looking miniature without ramming stuff all over the place, it just takes good sculpting skills)

    BTW It never fails to impress me how pros get so even and smooth surfaces with greenstuff.

    I know the theory but never worked for me; I see sculpting as adding a new blob over a new one working in stages. That's fine when you work with nice stuff like sculpey (polimer clay) or milliput-like epoxies that dissolve with water letting you blend your blobs. But greenstuff won't dissolve even on aliens' blood so I get always that micro-gap looking results even spending a lifetime rubbing it, while yours looks like done in one "giant" blob.

    As a side note, I think there might exist target customers for this kind of stuff... you know, fine clean sculpts like Copplestone's.

  2. I own all the mini's you mention... except I missed hurk.

    I think the clean style is the style most likely to get painted, but the overly complicated mini may be the more likely to get bought. When I first started buying off the net I rushed and bought many, many of the detail choked mini's from enigma and such (Beautiful sculpts, truly awesome on their own) because they looked great. Trying to paint them though... just too much. My biggest example of an awesome sculpt I just couldn't get jazzed to paint is the "Moon-gun-lo" sculpt from enigma. Awesome... but I just did not know where to start. I kind of enjoy working on large areas like space marine shoulder pads and such to really tackle some blending.

    I would bet that smoother canvas style of mini starts to come into it's own in a coupe of years or so. I think there is a great middle ground of mini's out there that combine some neat, cool, and interesting details but leave more than enough skin or robes etc. on the mini to try practicing some technique on. I think highly of a lot of Tre Manor's red box stuff for that as well as a lot of the Wyrd mini's. Especially the early wyrd stuff.

    Loving the blog Steve!

    -Scott Radom

  3. i cover concepts with detail giving the sculptor choice but thats where having an eye for design comes in - to balance high detail against contrasting areas of simplicity is often not understood - to create pace giving emphasis to focal points or a dynamic of pose comes easy to but a few - many of whom can do such, have already been mentioned in an early post bi steve - then of course a mass of detail can create a highly commercial mini - it appeals to the jackdaw in us - plastics presenting a blanker space but with detail in the form of extra parts which can be added to taste is an option that im becoming increasingly attracted to ..........

  4. Your stuff is for the pro's!
    Certainly not for the beginners anyway...Who seem to think that lots of details makes automatically better looking minis when painted... I personally like your Femme Militant very much, it has good mixture of nice clean shapes and those cool little details...

  5. I dunno, I always thought my figures were good for beginners. Cleanly sculpted and reward good basic techniques. I don't think the tendency towards the crazy detailed stuff (Jackdaw Syndrome as John has suggested) is just the beginners...

    I like Tre's minis a lot as there's only detail where appropriate. Some of his wizarding types are very clean. I liked Tim Prow's approach though felt he tended towards over caricature...

    Blending fresh greenstuff onto cured is tough. Trick is to try and avoid doing so. Fresh onto part cured is better. Wait until the putty is about 75% cured where it wont deform too much and holds it's shape, then blend on the fresh. Either that or try to do such things all at once.

  6. One of just a few of your minis I never got around to buying, for some reason. I do like him and had great fun painting his big brother, Zzzz:


    There's a lot to be said for this simple caricature style, even though I love the more detailed sculpts from the likes of Rackham and Enigma. It's good to mix things up as I get very bored if I'm painting 2 very similar models in succession...

  7. He's sweet, but so atypical i expect it'd puzzle customers accustomed to GW/PP/Wyrd/Rackham etc

    The recent zombies were great, reduxed Dracula also.

    You seem to need to settle on a theme..

    zO seemed a good line to me?

  8. GW has customers who appreciate all angles - we cater for all tastes although highly detailed does tend to grab much attention - however i do agree that steve needs to stick to a theme - i have picked up a possibility in these threads of a future theme developing - mi favourite buddle sculpts would be the little munchkins from zo and the not who minis for heresy - but then i remember a sculpt from the 54mm inquisitor line - i think i'll stop there because i love so many minis ....... thats a nice name you have there mr phlegm .....

  9. I'm still sad that I only found out about this sculpt after it was no longer available...

  10. He's so CUTE (for a dead guy). Zombies have a lot of comic potential which he really hints at, while still having the potential for a "scary" paint job. I wish I'd had one of those "stocking stuffers"