Top-Heavy, Part III: The F-Team

datetime April 9, 2020 7:02 AM

The Looney

Alrighty… Space Deadpool time.

I had a pretty specific idea that I wanted to convey on my SeΓ±or Massacre model: “This is not a normal person.” See, it’s easy to make models look threatening by putting them in an aggressive or powerful pose. I wanted to go for a more unsettling angle– a character who is moving in a really unusual way, leaving you to speculate uneasily about their mindset.

For whatever reason, the specific way my brain told me to communicate this for massacre was:

  1. Head hung low, barely looking at his target
  2. Swords held very loosely, almost forgotten
  3. Overall, kind of a low-energy pose

Basically, this is a character who spends so much time killing people that it doesn’t even excite him anymore– he’s somehow almost sleepwalking his way through a killing spree.

I dunno. it seemed interesting to me. πŸ™‚

For now, though, I only worried myself about his swords. There’ll be time to refine the pose later on.

I didn’t need to do a full paper mockup or trace anything for the swords– they’re a pretty easy shape to draw. πŸ™‚

I get out some thin 24GA copper wire and twist it into the vague shape of the contour, leaving space on all sides to bury it in clay.

Just as with the models themselves, the clay on the weapons needs a putty foundation to stick to the metal. I wrap a bit of putty around the wire, and then lay shreds of clay over top of the still-soft putty and flatten it all together. Throughout the process, I’ll be continually watching the pencil contours to ensure that I don’t stray outside the weapon’s contours.

I continue adding small bits of clay and blending them to the outsides until I’m happy with the silhouette.

I continue pressing in details until I’m pretty satisfied with my replication of the original sword. The entire process is done by pushing out basic shapes with metal tools and then smoothing with clayshapers.

When I’m happy with the first side of the swords, I bake it in my halogen oven (250 degrees F for about 6 minutes). Once the first side is baked solid, I use a knife to carefully lift it off the wood block, and then I turn it over. I use blobs of Green Stuff to provide supporting pegs to keep it firmly level while I work on the reverse side.
The process for this side is largely the same as the other side– I smear a thin layer of Green Stuff over the silhouette as an adhesive, and then press shreds of clay into it and smooth the shreds together with metal tools.

The entire process is much faster the second time, as I can use the already-established edges of the first side to easily guide the placement of every piece on the flip-side. I do a bunch of cleanup, bake the gun, and clean up the seam between the two sides with a sharp knife.

The generic armature was twisted into shape using needle-nose pliers. My armatures terminate at the tips of the toes, and then I leave a bit of extra slack to let me embed the extra wire in a wine cork, which becomes a handle I can hold onto throughout the sculpting and painting processes.

My initial concept for the pose evolved a bit over the sculpting process, but at the outset, my idea was to have him lightly jogging forward while dragging the swords behind him, kicking up sparks as they scrape along the ground.

I sculpt in Fimo, which is a polymer clay available at most craft stores. Fimo doesn’t stick to metal on its own, so you need to apply a layer of Green Stuff putty over the armature as an adhesive layer. The Green Stuff is thinly applied using metal sculpting tools.
The first layer of Fimo is immediately applied directly over the still-soft putty. Once again, it’s pressed into place using metal sculpting tools; clean surfaces aren’t terribly important at this point, since many layers will be going on top.

Clay is added to the model in shreds and slabs to arrive at the desired thickness for each part. I keep applying bits and pieces of clay and blending them into each other until the model has the general type of physique I’m after. At this point, I finally do a smoothing pass using silicone clayshapers, which are able to achieve a much smoother finish than metal tools thanks to their pliability.

So, with the musculature coming together, I try mocking up my desired pose for the first time and immediately realize a problem– it just isn’t going to fit on a base. The model is already pitched very far forward, which will require planting his feet pretty far toward the back of the base to maintain balance. If I then stretch his arms backward AND drag the swords behind him, they’re going to be hanging over an inch off the base. That will make them very prone to catching on things; best case, the paint will chip over time. Worst case, they could end up breaking off. πŸ™

Fortunately, I was vaguely planning around this possibility, and had a backup arrangement to take advantage of the same body pose– instead of dragging the swords, I flip them the other way around and have Massacre cross the swords behind his back.

It’s a different vibe than I was hoping for, but I think it’s still an interesting and fairly odd pose, soo… ehh, I can live with it. ^_^

For no particular reason, the first detail I add is his mask shape. I apply shreds of clay around the edges of where it will sit, and blend them into the head with metal tools before smoothing with clayshapers.

This shot doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to point out his cute butt. <3

For a similar lack of reasons, I detail in his torso muscles.

This will all be covered up, but… I like sculpting torso muscles. πŸ™‚

Alrighty, actual useful details. Massacre has some weird-shaped plates going down his chest; I apply small bits of clay where the concept indicates, then smooth everything together with metal tools.

More clay is added around the edges of the plates (they’re basically mounted on an apron), and then I smooth everything with clayshapers.

Almost nothing has changed back here, I just really like the rear angle shots of this model. πŸ˜›

I don’t remember cutting out a huge number of process steps covering the entire leg-detailing process, but I don’t find it that hard to believe that Nine Days Ago Photo Selection Spud was getting really tired of this and skipped ahead a bit. πŸ˜›

Here, let’s add some skippable blocks to catch up:

Once I’m happy with the basic body masses, I start adding clothes. I typically start at the model’s feet and work my way up. Thick garment breaks are added first, and then I add smaller surface details.
Garment edges and fully embossed straps are both done in pretty much the same way– I roll out a very thin clay snake, and apply it either as one long piece or in smaller snippets. The snake is then pressed flat and blended into its surroundings. You can achieve different effects depending on how you blend it; you can leave a stark ledge on both sides to make the new clay appear as an independent band of material, or you can blend one of the edges into the surrounding material to look like a garment is coming to an end– e.g., the bottom of a sleeve or a pant leg.

There we go, all good. πŸ™‚

OMG, nine models in, and we’re still jumping straight to finished holstered guns.


*goes and opens junk folder of pictures not selected for the article*

Upon review of the evidence, I present to you the following informative chart:

Sneaky Zero Took no photos
Shushing Zero Took no photos
ORC No hip pistol
Avicenna Took no photos
Kaplan Took no photos
Wild Bill Took no photos
Hannibal No hip pistol
Laxmee Took no photos
Massacre Took no photos


I can’t even.

I guess I’m laying out back detail here? Those shoulder pads look new, maybe that’s new in this picture.

It seems new.

Oh, hey, check it out, it’s like two hours of work adding detail to his back with zero progress shots in between.

“I stared disappointedly at the model until the clay gave in and stood where I wanted it.”


Oooookay, let’s try to rescue this mess of a writeup.

Massacre’s backpack is held on by a slightly complicated strap that also connects to his shoulder pads. I lay down the base of the straps with long clay snakes and flatten them, then add additional small chunks of clay to provide mass for the buckles and pockets. I press those into shape with my sculpty pokers.

The backpack is this weird pentagonal shape.

Clay, squish with metal tools, smooth with silicone tools.


I use a flat-tipped metal tool to press in this small window, then add details with a metal pick. I smooth it all up with an angle chisel clayshaper.

Moving up to the head, I add some extra mass to the back of the mask.

Squish, straighten, smooth.

Sculpting the cracks is pretty fun. πŸ™‚ I use a pick to trace out the crack patterns according to the concept art, then smooth the edges with a clayshaper. I then continue with the clayshaper to expand the crack slightly in some areas, as a uniformly-wide crack doesn’t look as realistic as one that implies chunks of the mask have broken away over time.

Because we are, of course, all about the realism here.

Finishing up the back of the mask.




I added a crack on the left side that isn’t on the concept, because I AM AN ARTIST GODDAMMIT AND I AM ALLOWED TO TAKE BOLD LIBERTIES. >:(


Oh man, the swords are glued on! I have pastable text for this next part!

To build the hands, a bit of clay is applied to form the entire block of fingers. Hands are one of the many elements that are easier to sculpt on a chibi model than on a normal-scale model. You can often get away with a more simplified grooved “mitten”, which then allows each finger to support its neighbours.

The grooves are pressed in about halfway down the mitten, and then things are smoothed out a bit. Once that’s all formed, I use a knife to separate some of the finger tips and slightly pull them away from the rest of the hand. More work would be needed to add individual finger segments on a normal model, but on chibis, a rounded finger looks just fine.


Look, guys, I’m not sorry. I’m doing ten of these f***ing writeups, I had to phone one of them in, if only for my own sanity. πŸ˜›

BAM. So awesome. <3

Okay, so, before we go to the next page, I want to warn you: I very intentionally saved the best one for last. The next page contains frankly irresponsible levels of quality work, and I don’t want you to just rush in there and take the whole thing to the face all at once.

Crack the door a bit, let the quality waft in slowly, acclimatize yourself a bit before stepping in.

And whatever you do, never look the quality straight in the eye.

That’s how we lost Tom, poor bastard. ;_;

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