|Step #1: The Throne|
For an Ironclaw adventure that I ran at Necronomicon 2003, I wanted to make an impressive-looking facade for a tomb that the heroes would be exploring. The primary feature would be a large statue of a seated figure. My first (and major) step would be to make a model of this figure, which I would then make a mold off of, and make multiple castings.
I started with a bunch of Hirst Arts gothic-architecture blocks, which I glued together to make a "throne" that I would seat the figure on. This would serve as a solid surface against which to work, and the vertical block would help serve as a core for the torso. (The core should have been shorter, in retrospect.) The blocks, generated from multiple castings, were cast with either Hydrocal(r) White, or Durham's(tm) Water Putty. Once I made the "throne", I decided to let it dry out before starting on any more serious work.
Oh yeah, and the cat helped, too. (Heh.)
|Step #2: Wire Frame|
I made a wire frame to help build up the body and the legs. I could see already that the proportions were going to get ugly on this, but I didn't want to spend too much time fiddling with it; I had a convention coming up pretty quickly, and I needed to rush to get things done - not necessarily right. I wanted to make a figure that would be inspired somewhat by those at Abu Simbel ... though I'd give these statues animal heads to better fit with the Ironclaw setting. The frame here is a piece of safety wire, with a thinner hobby wire spiraled around it, so that the putty can have something to anchor to. Assorted Hirst Arts blocks are scattered around.
|Step #3: Sculpey|
Next, I used some Sculpey to apply to the wire frame to bulk out the core of the figure. Sculpey is cheaper (and easier to replenish) than Magic Sculp, so I wanted to use it as "filler" as much as possible, before getting to the "good stuff" for surface detail.
|Step #4: Arm Frames|
Once I roughed out the legs, I made another wire frame for the arms, and added it on.
|Step #5: More Sculpey|
I applied more Sculpey, roughing out the form of the arms, legs, "skirt". While I was at it, I went ahead and gave the guy some toes. The proportions look tankish, but at least somewhat consistent with the photos I was working from. I guess that, from the ground, they'd have looked impressive. After this, I put the whole thing into the oven, as per the instructions ... but the Sculpey didn't harden very well. I put it in some more, and it still didn't harden fully. Argh! This stuff gives me a lot of trouble; it always takes longer than recommended.
|Step #6: Magic Sculp|
Magic Sculp is the "good stuff", and has a much better record for hardening than the Sculpey does. I went ahead and used it to bulk out the torso area, arms, and upper parts of the legs. I could see that there was gross disproportion between the legs and arms, and so I built up the tops of the legs a little to help hide that fact. Then, I had to let the Magic Sculp sit and harden. Beside the figure is a back I built for the throne out of Hirst Arts "flagstones"; I would glue that on later.
|Step #7: Throne Back|
Once the glue dried and the Magic Sculp was setting up, I put another layer of flagstones on my throne back - using up some miscasts in areas that wouldn't be visible from the outside - and glued them to the back of the figure. I positioned it like this, so it could dry overnight.
|Step #8: Fleshing Out|
I stuck the whole thing in the oven again to harden the Sculpey. This time, it worked reasonably well. I applied Magic Sculp here and there to define the figure more, and add surface details. I wasn't feeling very well at the time, so I was going slow, and the putty started to harden on me while I was still working with it. I took the remainder of the putty I'd mixed and made two lumps that would be cores for hands, which I stuck at the ends of the arms.
|Step #9: Getting Ahead|
You might be wondering why I've gone so far through this without giving the figure a head, eh? Well, my intention here was to make the body separate, and make alternate heads to put on there. So, I went this far along while leaving the head off, and then I figured I'd sculpt at least one head in such a way that once the putty cures, I'd pry it off and make a separate mold of it. (I plan to make multiple castings of this to do an Abu Simbel-style facade, if time allows.) I decided to start with a hawk head, for the Keshretite god "Raimon" (who bears a striking resemblance to Horus). The hawk head looks small on top of that oversized tankish body, but the headdress should make it look better, once it's added. I used some more putty to build up the hands, fill in some gaps, add jewelry, and work on other little details.
|Step #10: Headdress|
Once the Magic Sculp hardened up enough, I mixed some more and made a headdress, with a little cobra decoration, and then I used the remainder of the mixed putty to do minor touch-up work to legs, torso, and cracks in on the throne.
|Step #11: Drama Shot!|
And here, I just decided to see how the thing looked from below - partly out of curiosity, and partly to be melodramatic.
|Step #12: Starting the Mold|
Here, I start applying ETI Mold Builder (a latex "paint-on" mold material) to the sculpted figurine. I used a piece of wire to carve "hieroglyphs" into the blocks that make the throne, for added detail. (The stuff is fairly easy to scrape and scratch.) Here, I've already applied several layers. It takes quite a while - days - to actually build up a mold with this stuff. One of the advantages is that it's fairly cheap compared to many other mold materials. Unfortunately, it's slow as anything, and the mold is very flexible, meaning that there's some difficulty in getting the cast product to avoid warping.
|Step #13: Completed Mold|
Here's what the completed mold looks like (with the master still inside). Once the material dries, it turns a faintly yellowish color. As the mold ages, the yellow becomes more pronounced. (I've got several molds from years ago that have turned a dark amber color, and are relatively brittle. These aren't meant for a lifetime of use.)
|Step #14: Shroud, Mold and Casting|
After enough layers had been applied, I turned the whole thing over, and cut out a cardboard box to fit it into, then poured in some plaster of paris to try to make a "shroud" around it. A "shroud" is a hard piece that is meant to help the mold hold its shape during casting. The mold would fit into the shroud, and then I would pour the material into the mold. The shroud would help to keep the mold from bowing and warping during casting, and then I'd pull the mold out, and pop the casting out of the mold. In theory. The trouble is, this plaster of paris is ridiculously fragile, even when I mix it thick. Not much of the shroud survived. Nonetheless, I was able to make a casting that, though warped a bit, still looked nice enough for my purposes. Here, I show the master, the mold, and the casting (using Durham's Water Putty).
|Step #15: Close-Up|
And here's a close-up of the master, mold/shroud and casting.
|Step #16: Facade Under Construction|
I made four castings out of the mold, and did some filing to even the pieces up, then got out a casting I'd made of an Egyptian doorway, and a bunch of Hirst Arts "gothic" blocks, and assembled a front facade. The "oasis" is a separate piece, made from insulation board foam, where I cut out a "pool" and laid in a piece of scrap board, cut to the rough dimensions of the recessed area. I used bits of broken plaster shavings to try to make a bit of rubble around the pool edges (and to help hide the edges of the "pool" piece I'd inserted). In retrospect, I did the pool all wrong: I should have cut out a pool piece to fit up under a frame that would form the pool edge, so that there wouldn't be any gaps visible. Oh well. That comes of staying up so late to work on this!
The whole thing was painted with some brown house paint (the same mixture I use as a mid-tone for my fieldstone dungeons), brushed over with golden-tan, and then dry-brushed with Apple Barrel Paints Antique White for highlights. I then went in to paint the pool, and later on I applied some gloss coat to the "water", and added some foliage.
Fieldstone Brown (used as base) - Base: Glidden Evermore Interior Latex Enamel Semi-Gloss Base 2 (HD6412) Quart
Here's a photo of the facade, used as the entrance to the tomb that the player-characters explored in an adventure set in the pseudo-Egyptian land of "Keshret" on the continent of Akoma, in the Ironclaw world. Assorted miniatures of the adventurers - and their jackal escorts, and their reptilian riding beasts - are positioned here. The first segment of the tomb interior is positioned behind the facade - build from regular Hirst Arts gothic blocks and floor tiles, and painted in the same scheme as the exterior.