But… why are their heads so big?

datetime October 3, 2018 6:59 PM

There’s a goofy multiplayer format that we play in my local area. The first time we played it several years ago, someone lazily named it “Murderball”, and nobody has yet bothered to come up with a better name. In a nutshell: every player gets 100pts and always has 3 orders. When you get wiped out, you respawn a single Authorized Bounty Hunter that you can use to harass the players who are still in the game. It’s super fun. 🙂

We’ve used a large variety of proxy Bounty Hunters for Murderball over the years, but I wanted to have some proper dedicated models to use, so I decided to convert a squad of them using random models that I liked, with scratch-sculpted heads and scrounged weapons. And because I don’t want to bury the lead today, I’d like to answer the question in the post title by explaining WHY THEIR HEADS ARE SO BIG.

  1. That’s how I draw! An average human being is around 7 heads tall, but I tend to draw most characters closer to 6 heads. I grew up drawing superheroes (who skew toward an exaggerated 8-head scale), and as an adult artist, I’ve noticed myself rejecting the overexaggerated body types I drew all throughout my teens by overcorrecting really hard in the other direction, with more subdued musculature and larger, more expressive faces. People comment on it frequently when I post my art, but at this point in my artistic journey, I’m pretty settled on my preference. 🙂
  2. Related to #1: I just like larger heads on my models. 🙂 It’s easier to paint an expressive face on bigger heads, and I would rather have a goofy-looking model with the face I want than a correctly-scaled model that my ham-handed painting can’t make look right.
  3. With that said: I messed up. I like bigger heads, but these ended up even bigger than I had intended due to my sloppiness. In particular…
  4. It’s a side-effect of the way I sculpt heads. I often credit the sculpting videos on MiniatureMentor.com with bridging me from a beginner to an intermediate sculptor (where I remain to this day! 😛 ). The most influential video tutorial for me was one on Green Stuff sculpting by James Van Schaik, and his technique of (1) creating a skull, (2) putting eyeballs in it, and (3) sculpting the head around that core once it’s hardened will, if not done correctly, result in an oversized head. Recognizing this limitation, I’ve recently tried some experiments in a different head-sculpting technique that isn’t prone to the same problem, with good results. So today’s project may turn out be the last time I make such obviously misproportioned heads. We’ll see. 🙂
  5. And finally: It doesn’t help that the models I’m working on top of are ridiculously skinny. As you’ll see over the course of today’s post, two of the models with custom heads are built on top of incredibly skinny female models, while one of them is built on top of a more realistically proportioned male model. And while all three heads are roughly the same size, the one on the male body barely looks out of place, while the two with female bodies look like lollipops. ~_~

So, there you go. Some intention + some accident = bobblehead bounty hunters.

With that bit out of the way, let’s quickly run through the build process. If you don’t care about this and want to jump straight to the pretty pictures, those are on Page 2.

Combi Lady

A problem I’ve run into several times since I started playing Infinity is that the promo photos for models are occasionally taken from angles that mask problems with the model. I first encountered this with the female Orc troop I bought to convert into an Aquila Guard.

The blister pack only had the photo from the front angle, where she SEEMED to be standing in a fairly badass “scanning for targets” pose. However, it turns out that the model has a really bad case of Sassy Lady Hips which completely destroys the pose for me. As a result, my conversion job into an Aquila was a lot more work than I had expected, as I ended up completely replacing the legs.

This same problem occurred with the first of today’s base models, a Naga Sniper, which again only had the front angle on the blister:

I missed two things about this model until I was holding it in my hands:

  1. She isn’t firing a gun. She’s just making gun fingers. ~_~
  2. That left leg is DOING THE SASSY LADY HIPS THING AGAIN AAAAAARRRRGH

Yes, I could have figured these things out if I’d looked at the picture more closely or looked up more reference images in advance. But I didn’t, so I ended up with a model that I loved on many fronts but would require many modifications to become a presentable member of my bounty hunter squad.

So, out came the clippers…

My standard approach to fixing Sassy Lady Hips is to remove the curled leg and use the angles of the hips and the other leg to create a contrapposto pose. I had originally planned to use the “pistol arm”, but when I realize that it did not, in fact, contain a pistol, I said “Screw it” and opted to just give her a two-handed gun pose.

The remaining bits– notably the outstretched arm and the awesome sniper backpack– went into my bits box for some future project. 🙂

I put a wire into the left side of her hip and bent it to form a slightly outstretched leg. A second wire for the arms went all the way through her torso.

I wanted this model to have a Combi Rifle, so I used a spare I had left over from my Neoterra Bolts , which also included the hand and forearm. I bent the wire to form the rest of the arm pose.

The usual fimo process ensued: put Green Stuff putty around the wire, wrap 50% Fimo/50% Mix Quick around the still-soft putty, and then build up from there.

I used metal tools and clayshapers to replicate the detailing from the Naga’s other leg.

The leg I removed had a hip pouch that I quite liked, so I decided to replicate it as closely as I could on the new leg.

It came out… okay? Ish?

Anyway, on to the first of the heads. I’ll go through the process on this first one in detail, and then skip most of it on the subsequent two. 🙂

The head starts out with a skull. The top of the spine wire is curled over into a loop, which then has a skull formed around it with Green Stuff. This skull is really just a thin box with a ledge for the eyes to sit inside. Said eyes are rolled out as teensy putty balls, and then are placed within the skull. The eyes will form a rigid “landmark” around which the rest of the face will be sculpted.

This step is where most of my accidentally-oversized heads go wrong– if you make the wire loop too wide, or set the eyes too far apart, then you’ll end up being forced to sculpt the head too large to match them. I used to have a really good sense for how big all of these parts needed to be, but as I’ve slowed down my sculpting over the past few years, I’ve lost a bit of my instinctual sense for scaling things.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve subsequently tried out a new head-sculpting technique– namely, just don’t bother with pre-setting the eyes and sculpt everything from clay– and I’ve found that it makes it MUCH easier to keep things scaled correctly, as I don’t have any irreversible foundations underneath the face that I can’t move if I don’t like them later. I’ll have a good example of this new workflow in one of my next articles. 🙂

But anyway, back to the doomed old process. 😛

Once the foundation clay is attached to the skull with a layer of putty, I start applying masses for the brow and the “snout”.

I continue building these out with chunks of clay for the cheeks, and etch in a rough mouth just to give me an idea of where it’s being placed.

As I add more layers, things get smoothed together with clayshapers.

With more masses added to round the face, we arrived at what I like to call the “space alien stage”– the rough masses for the bones and muscle are placed, leaving only the details like the nose, mouth, ears, etc. to be added.

First up though: eyelids!

As a personal growth exercise, I tried to make each of the three bounty hunters visibly non-white. You can be all nervous and PC about it if you like, but for an artist, there are clear markers on the face– particular arrangements of the bone, muscle, cartilege, fat, and skin– that make people look like they’re from different places.

This first one is intended to be Asian (my reference photos were of Chinese women, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m good enough at this yet for anything more than a broad region to be discerned), so I was trying to include things like a round overall face shape, a flat nose, and an epicanthic fold on the eyes. Given that this is my first stab at sculpting these features, I didn’t go into this expecting to knock it out of the park right away. 😛

The early stages of adding facial detail usually look pretty terrible. Here I’ve added the nose– first adding the bridge, then each nostril, then blending it all together– and added some extra clay around the eyebrows to continue my flailing attempts to replicate something vaguely ressembling an Asian person.

Oof. I was getting really discouraged, so I moved to the hair for a quick break.

The hair was laid on in thin “sausages”, then were then blended into each other and into the head. Grooves were then pressed into them with an angle chisel clayshaper (more visible in later shots).

The hair helped a bit, but even after some more clean-up, in the end I don’t think I really got what I was aiming for. She looks a bit Asian, but I definitely need to try this a few more times to get the hang of it.

With the head more or less finished, I moved back to the body to finish things up. I added a detailed bracer to sort-of match the one on the NeoTerra Bolt hand I swiped.

I then realized that I hadn’t carved enough material off the model’s back before I started adding putty and clay. Not really wanting to damage what I had applied, I opted to simply give her a backpack to hide the problem.

BECAUSE I AM A GREAT SCULPTOR, YOU GUYS. THIS IS HOW GREAT SCULPTORS FIX PROBLEMS.

Shit, it doesn’t look detailed enough. Add more pockets!

Wait, do the pockets even make sense?

Bleh, who cares.

Aaaaaand… I didn’t even get a good picture of her at the end, so I’ve had to crop one out of a later group shot where she’s at a weird angle.

Honest assessment: this model came out pretty bad. Weird head, weird body proportions (right arm is too long, back is weird), and weird lumpy backpack. If I had infinite time and patience, I would have torn the clay off and started over, but I was pretty tired of working on her, so this is where she stayed.

Bleh. :/

Big Gun Lady

Alrighty, let’s start with a much better base model this time around, and let me be the only guilty party in ruining it. 😛

I thought the pose of this HVT was really well-suited to hefting a huge gun over one shoulder.

Early on in the project, I hadn’t yet decided if I was replacing the heads or using the existing ones, so I did some work on this one to give her a half-shaved punky haircut. I then realized the new Zoe model has almost this exact hairdo, which pretty much cemented the fact that I would have to replace the head. 😛

As before, I drilled a wire into the model’s shoulder and bent it into shape with pliers.

This model would be playing in-game as a Spitfire Bounty Hunter, but I didn’t like any of the Spitfires in my box of miscellaneous weapon packs. However, I did find one thing that felt right: an Ariadna HMG. 🙂

Alrighty, same process as before: putty around wire, clay around putty. You can get a better view of the skull here, which incidentally shows you the exact problem I was discussing before– I’ve made the skull here as big as her eventual head would normally be, which means that the clay I put on top of it can’t HELP but be way too big. And the skull is this size because I didn’t curl the wire loop tightly enough. So, lesson learned: the wire stage is ALWAYS the most crucial. You can fix bad anatomy and detailing later on, but if your wires are wrong, you’re basically doomed from the outset.

DOOOOOMED!

Alrighty… alien phase! You can already see the scale problems starting to appear.

Eyelids, mouth line…

And then the nose and ears. For this model, I decided to go for a middle eastern look, which isn’t too different from European facial structure other than a more pronounced nose.

I then started applying hair. This one had quite a bit more hair than the last one, and in a much poofier hairstyle, so I’m applying large chunks instead of tiny strips.

I lifted the hair blob into a bun, and then molded a little band around it. Yaknow, like… people with hair do? With their hair?

I’m gonna be honest– as a bald male human, I am not 100% sure how long hair works. 😛

I textured the hair by creating wavy lines with a dental pick, then smoothing them out with clayshapers. And that was basically it for head #2– which, aside from the scale issues, I quite like. 😀

Oh, and I also filled in her stupid boob canyon, because that isn’t how jackets work. >_<

Also fixed: combat heels.

And there we go. Big Gun Bounty Hunter is ready to pump bullets into the enemies of the rich. 🙂

Shotgun Lady

I wanted my bounty hunters to feel like ragtag mercenaries. They’ll all share a colour scheme in the end, but I wanted the style and texture of their clothes to vary quite a bit. The other mercs are all dressed in varying styles of body suits, but I wanted at least one model wearing something a bit looser. I couldn’t find any female models in a quick scan of my store’s Infinity wall that fit the bill, but I quite liked the outfit and posing of this Al’Hawwa Hacker, so I decided to reconfigure him a bit into my Shotgun Lady. <3

I love the pants and the torso detailing, but didn’t want my model to be wearing the little ragged scarf thing, so I decided to chop the model there and rebuild the head, shoulders, and arms from scratch.

Once again, a single wire went through the shoulders, and then a second wire popped out for the head.

I cut and twisted the wires into what seemed like a reasonable shotgun pose.

And then we sculpted! I put some rough bulk into her arms and hand to start.

From there I started trying to figure out what sort of outfit she would be wearing. I was trying to rig up some sort of vest, but at this point it was looking more like a polo shirt… ~_~

I took a break from the outfit to let ideas percolate, and instead did some work on the head.

My third bounty hunter has African features, which basically means a larger nose and a more pronounced mouth area (not just the lips– the whole area between the base of the nose and the chin pops out a bit more than the “species average”, so to speak).

I have a lot more practice drawing this ethnicity than the other two, so it was much easier to sculpt. Practice makes perfect, and all that. 🙂

Black hair has a coil structure that causes it to poof out quite a bit more than straight hair, which makes it easier to coerce into “sculpted shapes”– your afros, your high fades, and so on. I wanted to work with this by giving this merc a haircut that is simultaneously practical (by being quite short) and more interesting than the other two (by having more volume to it).

I spent some time researching short black hairstyles, and found one I liked where most of the head is cropped close, and then there’s a poof on one side toward the front.

Texturing her hair took quite a while. On the shorter areas, I applies the same wavy lines as on the Big Gun Lady. On thicker areas, I used metal tools and clayshapers to pull out little round bumps, which I then detailed into rosettes.

On the other side, I shaved two strips down to the skull to leave a single line of hair, because I’m a fan of random punky hairstyles. 🙂

Oh, and apparently I went back and finished the rest of the model at some point.

I have reservations about the other two models, but absolutely none about Shotgun Lady. She looks absolutely badass. 😀

And as you can see, her head scaling isn’t nearly as obtrusive as the other two, despite her head being essentially the same size. Having a properly-proportioned body instead of a network of loosely-connected broomsticks helps it look much more natural.

Lesson learned: next time, just start with all dude models, because their sculptors seem to have seen a human being once or twice before. 😛

Sniper Lady

For the last model, I changed… nothing! I already liked it well enough, and didn’t mind having one white lady in the squad. 😛

The only bit I customized was the base, as I wasn’t keen on the rustic brick look of her default stepstool.

Oh, and random note: this base was sculpted when I originally won the model, back in the summer of 2014. I just never painted her until now. 😛

Let’s see if I can remember what I did!

Alrighty, so this base was going to be made entirely out of clay, rather than being a topper on a plastic base. So to start, I set up a wire that would fill much of the base’s eventual area, and then shoots upward to create the new thingie that she’ll be standing on.

I applied strips of green stuff over this basic structure and then let it harden, to firm up the wire and give me something to sculpt on top of.

50

I needed my base to be the same size as a normal one, so I used Green Stuff to create a ring mold around the outside of a 25mm round base.

I then transferred this mold to my base and filled it with clay.

I had no real idea what I was sculpting on her base– it just had to look tech-y.

 

Hexes and panels, man. All you need is hexes and panels, and you’re in the future.

Actually, that looks pretty sweet in the end. Which makes it a bit of a shame that I chopped the base part off when I painted her four years later. 😛

I ended up basing all four of them on Warsenal Sunomata bases, with Sniper Lady’s Tech Thing being clipped off and transferred over.

RIP manual base, we hardly knew ye. ;_;

Paint And Stuff

And there we go– three badass custom Bobblehead Bounty Hunters. 🙂

They had a fraught journey through the airbrush station. The faded light purple highlight ate most of the bright purple midtone, whichr required me to do a lot of manual blending to fix things.

Looks good in the end, but man… I am still waiting for this supposed airbrush speed savings everything keeps talking about. 😛

Finished pics on the next page!

3 thoughts on “But… why are their heads so big?

  • Tor Swanson

    and here i thought it was just a homage to NBA Jam’s big head mode.
    I’m intrigued by the murderball format, and look forward to trying it.

    [Reply]

  • Captain Spud [Post author]

    It’s super fun. We generally drop 6 panoplies in the middle of the board to give players an incentive to leave their deployment zones. 🙂

    [Reply]

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