Thursday, 5 October 2017



So my post today will be about how I go from concept to finished piece, this is my method and the medium I like to work in, others prefer different mediums and methods it's all personal preference and what works for you.

Step 1 CONCEPT ( Hils concept sketches)

For this particular project I had concept drawings, these were created by the talented Hils. Do I normally work from pictures ? To be honest not very often, I normally have an idea in my head and to save time I start making the model straight away. 

With this concept it has been a collaboration between Steve, Hils, Sarah and myself, so a sketch is the easiest place to start.

After much discussion, it was decided to add armour and cloaks to the models to distinguish them from other classes of citizen.


I like to use paper clips for my frame, as I like the strength they give me when pushing greenstuff against them. I start by making three separate pieces, the leg frame, the spine neck and head, and an arm frame.

I then connect the spine to the arms with greenstuff and the legs to a base, or scrap piece of plasticard if it's not going to have a base, and also a blob of greenstuff on the hips for the spine to stick into once dry.


Once the frames dry and stuck together, I like to block out a rough body shape and head shape so I can start to see the shapes forming together.


I like to get the head and face done early as it can determine the look of the whole model, as it was going to have a helmet, I still needed the eyes sculpted and the bottom half of the face before constructing the helmet.


Next I added the helmet ( you may notice the head is now purple, this was a spare cast head from a concubine, to make it easier to see how much of the head was covered by the helm), I also started to shape the breast armour and put in the left arm and 2 mm plastic rod to start the Glaive weapon. 

Now if you have seen the concubine model you'll know this species has three breasts, so why is the breast plate shaped like it is ? Commonly in fantasy and sci-fi sculpts you get cone shaped armour for women models, I find this unrealistic as a blade blow to the chest would be angled in to the centre of the chest, so drawing the blade in instead of being deflected away like you would want.


Next I made the first leg and also added a basic shape to her bottom, the second part will help with the clothing over the top. 

You may notice in the picture that the pin for the right leg has moved in, this was due to the position of the pin started to look out of place, so better to correct now before moving on.


next was the right leg and the rear half of her skirt, starting to build up the different layers that make up a model, a little more has been done to the chest armour as well.


Now, from Hils sketch, you would have seen a very interesting style skirt with layered plates around the waist, to achieve this, I rolled out a piece of greenstuff between my fingers to the shape of the skirt, I then applied it to the model and pressed in the two layered plates to fit around the bottom of the breast plate.


At this stage I added the right arm, and started to tidy up the breast plate, you can now see it really start to take shape.


The cloak was made with the same process as the skirt and then the excess of the cloak was folded back around as if she had thrown it back from her arms. 

I also added the rope with favour token on the end to her right hand and started to build the detail to the top of the glaive.


This cover all those little details to get a model finished, like finishing the weapon, adding the folded hood, and any other finishing touches you spot.

This is the male counterpart, it was built in a similar fashion to the female, but I added a hammered metal finish to the armour plates to give another texture.

Now I'm going to pass you over to Steve to give you some background to these new additions, over to you mate . . .

Thanks Dave mate. 
One of the first things I noticed about Dave and Sarah`s invented science fantasy world was that.. unusually (and rather refreshingly) human beings are not, by any means, the top dogs in this rather cool but terrifying galaxy. This opens the door for a wide and extremely diverse range of aliens to take centre stage... in a similar way George Lucas managed to achieve in his enduring Star Wars epic saga.

Of course, its all well and good inventing lots of weird and wacky aliens, but unless the reader, the gamer, and the game host can feel an affinity with these creations, the game will simply feel too `alien` for anyone to feel comfortable with, and immersion will suffer because of it. Dungeons and Dragons got this aspect of the game right (with over forty years of experience to fall back on) by inventing  character races and NPC`s that feel cool to play and interesting to interact with, but also feel `human` enough to seem familiar. Dwarves, Elves, Drow, Tieflings, Half Orcs and Halflings, and so on and so on. Games where the races and aliens are simply too weird, never seem to flourish and do well in most gaming circles. Empire of the Petal Throne might be one such example, with a bestiary of characters and monster types such as the Ahoggya, Hlaka, Hlutrgu, Hlyss, Mihalli, Nyagga, Pahi Lei, and the Pe Choi.

And so it is with the Planet Traventi and its outlying worlds and nearby systems.

In essence, I would describe the central core of the game as being a little like Frank Herbert`s "Dune" with tiny sprinkling of  Edgar Rice Burroughs's "Barsoom" (John Carter from Mars) thrown into the mix. Other sources of similar reference might include a bit of the tone and feel of some of the great authors of old such as Fritz Leiber, Mervyn Peake, Stephen Donaldson, and perhaps even Durante Degli Alighieri (Dante`s Inferno).

Yes, there are many strange and wonderful creatures monsters and alien races which habit this corner of the (nicely undefined and left open) universe, but we knew straight off the bat... that playable races and species would need to feel comfortably familiar, and at the very least deliciously interesting, invoking a desire to want to play (such as the insect like Exuvium... reminding me a little bit like the D&D "Dark Sun" Thri Kreen).

As I said, the central planet of this game is Traventi, ruled over by the Lord Vallatrix (note, two L`s not one). Lord Vallatrix is a Traventian, a very tall, blue skinned race.. indigenous to the planet. While he likes to surround himself in the trappings of opulent living, he also likes to have beautiful women and concubines draped all around him. Many of these are exotic aliens: but a fair few are the highly alluring, strangely sensual and attractive indigenous Traventian slaves and servants. It also stands to reason that many of his personal royal guards would also be male and female soldiers of this same blue hued race.

One of Hil`s initial sketches... which Dave immediately set about turning into the first of the miniatures for the new skirmish/rpg game... was always going to have been, by necessity, a male/female version of these essential Royal Guard. I was very clear on that and was delighted when production started on this right away.

The Traventian Guards of Lord Vallatrix carry the traditional electro spear, beloved by the martially adept of this race. The spear is a well balanced 
pole arm in its own right; but with the crackling light, extremely sharp vibro glaive at the end of the pole, in the hands of an expert... this weapon is deadly. The weapon itself also contains an `umbrella` force shield (for deflecting and stopping incoming ranged attacks, and has an electric area of affect blast (called a "Ground Quake" energy discharge) which means that when the bottom of the pole is thrust onto the ground, a thunderclap of blue lighting energy casts a pulse force wave in all directions surrounding the guard, which will stun any opponent failing to make a saving roll. As if this weren`t enough, the glaive weapon also serves as a highly effective short ranged repeating pulse energy gun (like a repeating laser blaster). Although the people of Traventi respect martial skill above all else, they are a practical people, and will use whatever means necessary to defend their Lord, should the need arise... as indeed, it often does.

The Guard also carries a whip, for subduing truculent slaves,  but also as a ritualistic sign of  submission and servitude (anyone who has read John Norman`s Gor books will understand this aspect better).

And so, this is just the beginning of lots and lots more to come: as preparation in a cool new game (all based off the original Death Match idea) is being created, fleshed out... and made ready so one day (when all is complete) gamers can experience and enjoy this rich and wonderful world for themselves. There`s never been a better time to jump on board, and literally be in on (at the start as it were) a brand new gaming venture - to be properly and officially released outside of TGC, at Salute 2018.

Article by Dave & Steve


  1. everything you do makes me wish i was skilled like that too. there seems no end to the level of things you can all do so well, and you just seem to be able to switch interests as easy as turning on a light bulb, and you can do this with so many things. how do you guys know so much about so many different things. i struggle with just one idea at a time, and at best two or three tops. you amaze me and in open mouth i am again sitting here enjoying every word and every picture.

    1. its like learning to play a musical instrument Luke... lets say a guitar. You go into the shop, buy that beautiful wood and sting beast and bring in home and find........ it isn`t nearly as easy as that guy in the shop made it seem, and oh man the sounds he got off it were so cool. But when you try it sounds terrible. And it will continue to sound terrible for ages and ages and ages. To get good you have to practice (a little each day) for weeks, months, and even years. But in the end, stick at it, and you`ll end up as good as that guy in the shop - or even better :-)

    2. I believe its the same with anything worth doing Luke hun: it simply takes time, and takes gumption to stick at it. There is an old cliche `anything worth doing is worth doing well.`

    3. my gran used to say that one to us hils, its good common sense like so many the old sayings are. the analogy of the guitar is good too Steve and thanks for that. it all make such sense and one day it will all sink in and i`ll be master of the universe when it does.

  2. Perhaps the most enlightening `how to` on figure sculpting have seen in a long time, and accompanied by an enthralling piece of writing, detailing the game world concepts behind the design. Interesting tit-bits and snippets on the new game ~ I especially like the description of the pole arm glaive, and the reference hint to Gor world was most interesting and very moreish. There is a talented team at work here, and I can only say WOW guys, you never cease to amaze me. Dave, I greatly look forward to seeing (and no doubt one day owning) all these new wonderful miniatures you have planned to support this amazing science fantasy world. It is extremely exciting, and addictively enticing.

    1. Thank's Dave, glad you found it enlightening . Never know how much information to give as I never want to teach people to suck eggs. Steve's background writing is fantastic and really brings the concepts to life

    2. The secret I think, is to learn from others like the Gor novels, Like Burroughs, like Stephen Donaldson`s Ill-Earth War, like taking bits from Mad Max and Resident Evil, and D&D and.... all sorts of sources, but then instead of just making carbon copies, use all that knowledge to create something entirely new.

  3. Thank's Luke, many years of practice and trying to fit in everything I want to do has enabled me to flit from one thing to another. Where there is so much I want to do I have to cram in as much as I can in to everyday . If you start small and say today I'm going to do this, before long you'll find your getting two things done and then three and so on

    1. my gran used to say pigeon steps luke, take them one at a time. wise woman my gran, and your words are as well Dave.

    2. She sounds a very wise lady, and when we reach adulthood, we realise how wise they were. Anytime you need advice on a project you only have to ask, or if you have your own blog, share the details and we can happily give pointers

  4. Very, very interesting and also very, very cool.

    Having had a go at sculpting a handful of models myself - mainly creatures that I wanted but couldn't find a suitable model for (Mothman, for example), I know the time and expertise it takes to go from intial concept to finished model. Not that I'm claiming any sort of expertise on my part...I'm a mere dabbler and am in awe of the people who can sculpt the intricate detail I see on some figures out there.

    What I particularly like about this article is that is has everything - the background for race, the character concept sketches and the techniques used to turn the initial idea into a three-dimensional model. It's a complete package, rather than just "here's a finished model".

    If this is just the first volley from this collaboration, then we have so much more cool stuff to look foward to. 😁

    1. {{{{Having had a go at sculpting a handful of models myself}}}

      You`re VERY good at sculptng Jez. The miniature you made of Vampifan (FROM SCRATCH) and gifted to him was absolutely fantastic, masterfully make - and painted, and looked remarkably like the subject. Making faces of known real life people recognisable is an art in itself.

    2. Strictly speaking, that wasn't from scratch - it was cobbled together from various other parts, so involved minimal sculptimg on my part, just a bit of blending to get the parts to look as they went together.

      The 'from scratch' ones were my Mothman, a classic 'bed-sheet' ghost and the frankly enormous Wendigo, most of which bave popped up on my blog at some point.

    3. A conversion that you can't tell where the parts came from, can be just as good as a scratch built model Jez, as not only do you have to blend the parts seamlessly your are working with someone else's style

  5. Thank's Jez, having been a dabbler myself for many years, my biggest advice to anyone sculpting is practice, always be prepared to try something new, and never be afraid to fail as we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.
    So glad you liked the full package idea and be prepared for a lot ore of these collaborations, as I think it's a format that really works and gives the reader the total package

  6. Hey Dave I really liked the new post , its really helpful to me to see how you made the armatures for the models, especially after my attempts at sculpting with the dreaded green stuff, its fairly tricksy! Also I have to comment on the amazing depth of thought that goes into each and every one of your sculpts, not many men would include the safety and protective effects of a good female breast plate rather than the aesthetic value of double heaving cleavages! you scored full marks there from me.

    1. Thank you Hils, glad you found the greenstuff part useful, my first couple of adventures with the stuff, were not pleasant, but after learning it's advantages and disadvantages and when during it's workable state you can do different things, like when it's at the end of it's workability it takes on a springy nature which can add to your shaping.
      Glad you liked my reasoning on the breastplate, in the fantasy realm it's not a very popular decision but it makes sense to me

    2. I agree with Hils completely regarding 'realistic' armouring for women. How many female warrior miniatures have we seen with exposed cleavage just asking for a sword point or tottering off to battle in high heels? Yes, it's 'fantasy', but a certain amount of realism just helps with full immersion, rather than fan-boy wish fulfilment.

    3. I can see I'm in the right place here, people who understand and appreciate accurate and thoughtful sculpting. Many Thank's Jez

    4. {{I agree with Hils completely regarding 'realistic' armouring for women.}}

      I mean I hate to be a kill joy (seriously) and I AM aware this is fundamentally and primarily (almost exclusively) an all male hobby, and as such should cater to the majority desires: but I`m just saying it is refreshing to see a more realistic view once in a while hehe.

    5. As you know Hils, will sculpt female models in a variety of levels of undress, but armour really needs to look functional, and will happily keep doing it this way even if it's not the most popular decision ! LOL

  7. {{when it's at the end of it's workability it takes on a springy nature which can add to your shaping.}}

    I must experiment with this medium more and discover all these little tricks for myself. I`ve only ever stuck with Polymer, and really should branch out a bit more I think Dave. Articles like this are enlightening for me.

    By the way.. right now, Stevie`s utterly wrapped up and absorbed in all his lovely new dice, and is preparing (even as I write) to attempt to give them a magnum opus finish. This was the last piece of the DM jigsaw and will transform the game massively.

    1. Thank's Hils, a lot of people say what should I work in, and my reply is always experiment with several, and find the one that works best for you.
      For me sculpey I find great for making large block areas quickly but can't get on with it when trying to do detail.
      Milliput I use for making bases as it's rough cracking nature adds to the texture of the base ( word of warning for anyone using this product, it is a massive carcinogen so always wear rubber gloves when using it ANDY !)
      every so often people say have you tried this, so I give the new product a go, can nearly always find a use for it.
      Greenstuff is not everyone's favourite medium, but is worth experimenting with, and wet your sculpting tool with spit rather than water, you'll find the tool doesn't stick nearly half as much