Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Forgotten Ones: Hell Turtle Edition

It's time for another installment of The Forgotten Ones, where Ol' Rommel trudges up age-old sculpts for the sake of a little public humiliation! 
Haha, Actually, the point of this feature, is to illustrate the advice I give to people when they e-mail me about sculpting...

"Sculpt something every day. Even if you don't finish it."
"If something isn't working, don't be afraid to start over."
These are probably the two biggest pieces of advice, that I give on an ongoing basis. 
I'm going to use my first attempt at the Hell Turtle sculpt, to show you exactly what I mean.

We'll start with the concept sketch of our boy H.T.
I had this idea to give him a spiky shell, and more of an alligator snapping turtle visage... He looks monstrous but there are little design pieces, like the knee and elbow pads/spikes and wrist guards, that just didn't play. I was really high into the idea of making a monster turtle, weaponized, and decided to run with the idea as-is.
So, I got to work on him, and felt it was really important that he have a scaly texture. The general pose was never in question... I wanted to do something a little more dynamic, for playability value, but after putting in some time on him? I didn't feel that I was capturing the look that I was going for. The scale look wasn't adding anything to the design scheme, and the elbow/knee spikes never materialized into anything meaningful.

I got to the point, where I was getting frustrated with the sculpt, and with the concept. Every day, I was putting in work on it, because I was determined to make it work. It just wasn't happening. Eventually, I put the sculpt down, and worked on some other stuff (You might have heard of "Universe of Violence", I put down this HT sculpt, to work on the Blemmyae Warrior). Eventually, it was time to pick the sculpt up again... And when I did? I put it back down again. I came to the realization that his design needed less professional wrestling, and more "Hell".  I went back to the design, added the face on the shell (instead of the spike gimmick), worked the spikes into his collar, and abandoned the scale texture to focus on making the piece look kinetic. The result? Well, here is the two sculpts side by side. You tell me.

By putting the piece down and analyzing what design elements were necessary, and getting rid of the details that weren't helping the piece, I feel like I was able to finally negotiate the piece. Ultimately, I am happy with what I ended up with.

Moral of the story? Don't ever give up. Just because you put a piece down, or start it over, doesn't mean you have given up. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need.

Always try.


  1. Interesting & helpful write up Iron! Its great to see the development of the character, and its obvious how much he improved between the two. Its really nice to see an indy toy maker taking the time to share their experience with other aspiring ITM's, it doesn't happen often since most people guard their 'secrets, but you actually open up and share them. Thats a great gift to give people man!

    1. I mean, I don't see them as "secrets", I see it as "information". I want all of you interested in toy making to step up, and do better than me. Kick me in the ass to better myself. Competition isn't a bad thing, it's the best thing!
      The better our work, the more eyes that will be looking at it, the more people we bring into our hobby. I don't see a downside there.

    2. Totally agree with you buddy. ;)