This is the reason for my late posts recently. I’ve given myself two weeks to sculpt my entry for Blizzard Entertainment’s Portrait of a Champion contest so I’m challenging myself to finish it before the deadline on the 29th of April (only six days left!). I haven’t done any sculpture (not to mention a human figure with gravity-defying hair and clothing) in less than two weeks so this is a definitely a challenge for me. I’m going to keep updating this post with my progress over the days remaining until the deadline (and hope that I can actually finish it by then!). I’m also taking a different approach in that I’m not working off much of a sketch. I figured if I just created an accurate human figure, it should be easy enough to add items and clothing and basically turn it into the wizard it ought to be. So far so good.
Below are the progress shots I have so far. Keep checking back for more! I’m going to be updating this daily until the 29th of April.
Basic skeleton held together with Apoxie Sculpt
Building the base - consisting of a tightly packed aluminium foil centre and Super Sculpey exterior. You'll notice I occasionally throw in random props (like the crazy "hair" and wire "staff") just to get an idea of how things are going to look.
Closed up the base
Detail added to the base
"Bones" given some more strength using Super Sculpey firm. This then went in the oven to harden everything. I later learned the bones were a bad idea because they didn't stick to the wire and started spinning underneath the clay later. I left them as they were but in the future I would use Apoxie because it's way more adhesive.
Building up the anatomy
Smoothing out the anatomy by "raking" the surface
Smoothed out some of the raking with a flat tool. Added some detail to the face. This is the hardest park because I have to make the other side of the face symmetrical!
Same stage, different angle.
Update, 23rd April. Took me most of the day to fiddle with the facial features. Even one millimetre off is the equivalent of about 50mm on a life-sized model so this was extremely tricky. I'm still not sure if it's really correct but I certainly gave it a good shot. I've really got to get a move-on if I want to finish it in time.
Update, 24th April. I had work to do today so I had to put this off for most of it. I worked on the staff (which is currently hardening). Hopefully I can get the majority of the armor/clothing done tomorrow!
Update, 25th April. Definitely overestimated what I could get done today! I'm still not even halfway done with the clothing. This is taking me much longer than any sculpture I've done before, I think it's mostly because I don't have any really good reference images so I'm spending a lot of time squinting at low resolution screen shots or trying to fill in the gaps with my own ideas. It's going to be tough, but I haven't given up on the deadline yet. Also I think her pose has become a bit static but I'm hoping her robe and hair will add some movement to the whole thing!
Update, 26th April. Made good progress today. I still have a few minor tweaks to do before baking. Her right hand, crystal ball and pony tail are still to come.
Update, 27th April. I made hardly any progress today. I spent most of the day travelling to pick up a mini air compressor (early bday present to myself) and trying to find an orb for her to hold. As feared I spent ages and ages searching without finding anything. I've since managed to secure one at some new age store so I'll be picking that up on Sunday. The staff broke in the oven for some strange reason. I hope nothing else falls off.
Update, 28th April. I applied gesso with my airbrush and new mini air compressor (so quiet! 😀 ) and painted the rest with a brush. As you can see she has lost a few fingers and broken an arm (bicep area)... thankfully that was all she lost when I accidentally knocked it over! >.< More detail to come and I will be mostly repairing stuff tomorrow.
Update 29th April: I think I will call it finished. I'm hoping some decent photography will help make it look better (you can see how bad the colours are on the white walls and how bad the distortion is on the orb) but I won't be able to show the images until later because the contest requests the submitted images are "unreleased" (I hope these work-in-progress shots don't count... plus it was made specifically for this competition). The staff is a bit bent because the second time in the oven it sort of "wilted". I thought about putting it in front of the heater to soften up the clay and reposition it but it's so brittle I don't really want to try it again. I'm not really sure about Super Sculpey Firm at the moment, I've had more problems this time than I have had in the past with regular Super Sculpey.
The sculpture has been a good learning experience but I’m not that happy with the end result. I think in the future I would work larger, consider working with just Super Sculpey and only using Super Sculpey firm where it was needed and avoid double baking where thin and straight parts could potentially wilt. It’s my first sort of realistic human figure so not bad considering that I guess. I think sketching it out might have also helped speed up the process because trying to see the details of the armour in the tiny in-game-graphic videos was really time consuming and I ended up having to do a lot of guesswork anyway. Oh well, I’ll enter it and see how it goes 🙂 Below is the the final image I submitted.
Update 30th April (still the 29th in the US) : I just scraped under the deadline! It was pretty rushed, the lighting turned out a bit too intense and after I submitted I realised the alignment of the top image is a bit off but at least it made it in there. You can see the final entry on the official contest site by clicking the image above.