Last modified: Saturday, April 5, 2003 9:53 AM

ffantasy female warrior armor doll valkyrie fantasy female warrior armor doll valkyrie




10/08/02-LEG ARMOUR The leg armour is detailed much more simply for several reasons: The main reason is a very practical one-- my neck and lower back are killing me! I'd forgotten how punishing working on detail can be, and the last batch did me in. It's probably the way that I have to tense up, hunch over and crane down to sculpt fine detail. The pain made a very convincing case for doing this part quickly.

Epoxy putty forces an intense work habit since the window of opportunity is only open for so long and you have to be where you're supposed to be as the characteristics of the putty change. (huh?) At first, the putty is really too sticky and soft to sculpt, but it can be blended easily and has the best adhesion. As it cures, it becomes easier to sculpt but more difficult to affix and blend additions. If you wait too long, additions won't stick well and might pop off with handling. The hardening putty also changes in its interaction with your sculpting tools, so you have to adapt. Basically, the clock is always running, symmetrical detailing can take a long time, and there's usually not enough time available when the putty reaches a good sculpting state. This rushed way of working has a tendency to make the profanities fly when a putty addition insists on adhering to your tool and not the sculpt. It really makes you appreciate polyclay.

Doing things quickly is also unavoidable if you're as impatient as I am-- I've rushed through this because I wanted to see how they looked, painted, and placed on the figure. The basic styrene forms give a good idea of how the part will look-- enough to make you want to be there-- but you still have to slog through the pain of detailing. It's like waiting for a package to arrive, except that it requires you to work. Ugh. See what I mean?

Finally, there's a structural reason for the simplified detailing. The greaves are constructed out of thermoformed plastic. They have a bit of flexibility which lets them partially wrap around the back of the calf and stay in place without straps. Putty has practically nil flexibility. Mix flexible and inflexible together and you have a recipe for parts popping off. Therefore, the detail needed to be centered on the greaves in the area where there's the least amount of flexing: right down the center axis. This limited the detail design significantly, and considering how much my back hurts, was a welcome excuse.

The greaves also gave me the opportunity to try something I hadn't done before-- use mini eyelets to articulate the armour. The most common use for these in dollmaking seems to be decorative and as lacing holes. In this usage, the eyelet is used to join the upper thigh and kneecap armour, which results in a hinge between the two. I didn't join the lower armour because it was more adjustable that way. I had doubts that the hinge points would match the legs' and I didn't want to risk bunging it up after all that work.

Working on these once again brings up the aesthetic issue of detailing-- that's one of the main motivation for this project. Although I would have preferred to have made a well-designed figure by working on it with the benefit of experience and learning, this figure is the experience and learning. I've learned that there's much more to detailing than just pushing putty or clay around. As I mentioned earlier, planning is important. That applies to both the overall distribution of detail as well as the motifs and execution of detail in specific parts. Research for inspiration should precede that to give you some ideas for motifs. Ideally, your motif should be in harmony with the genre of your figure.

I've learned that on a functional level there are several types or levels of detailing: The broader, more simple gestures are meant to be decoded by the eye as recognizable shapes. These usually are defined with more depth and are set off by plain, untextured or simply textured areas. At the other end of the spectrum is dense, fine detail-- this is often perceived by the eye as busy, shimmering detail, and not necessarily interpreted as individually recognizable shapes. In the 1:1 world, we rarely notice the exact pattern of decorative flourishes, but notice the fact that the object contains fine detail. At 1:6, that's even more the case-- densely packed detail below a certain size is just too difficult to see, even if it is rendered in symmetrical patterns. It looks like shimmering "noise" (especially if you paint it with something reflective like chrome)-- but it does conveys the sense of detail. Therefore, if seeing the pattern is important, it should be relatively large, isolated, and defined enough to be noticed. This is especially vital when reinforcing the pattern of symmetry.

Unfortunately, my piecemeal and experimental approach has left me with a hodgepodge of different detailing concentrations. It's not horrible or unsalvageable since there are areas of sparse detail distributed throughout the figure to help balance it out -- but it really could be much better if I were more experienced at this. But that's the point I've tried to make in many articles: You learn by doing, mistakes and all.


fantasy female warrior armor doll valkyrie10/11/02- Okay, okay... enuf of these pointless incremental pics, huh? Sorry. I know it's hard to see the changes. I've had so much fun adding stuff and being pleasantly surprised by the results... so I take pictures and then add more stuff to the figure. I'm including yesterday's picture to the left because it shows a few thing more clearly.

Such as, the addition of the forearm armour. It's not a huge improvement, but IMO better balances the distribution of simple and complex detail. As I've experimented with styles of detailing-- first the fine stuff, then the simpler stuff-- it's gotten distributed in weird concentrations. The forearm armour helps establish the simple detailing motif of the leg armour and spreads it around. Hey, doing the helmet like that would probably help too! (heh heh)

This time I did the armour's piping the right way: I had used a flexible PVC-ish piping around the edges of the leg armour. It seemed like a good idea at the time, since it was easy to attach and was extremely flexible. Unfortunately, it wasn't compatible with the chrome paint, and remained tacky after the rest of it was dry. Duh... that's Customizing 101. I certainly wasn't thinking of that and it didn't cross my mind to test the combo. Instead of rebuilding the leg armour, I took the quick & easy way out-- I sealed the mess with Dullcoat and repainted: It's really just a lazy, makeshift solution since the nasty chemical reaction is still going on under the Dullcote. Sure enough, the undersurface mushiness bothered me enough so that I ended up carefully stripping the paint from the ribbing and painting it with acrylic. (I made sure to use styrene rods for the forearm armour.)

The sword was cut out of brass and nickel plated, with an attempt to engrave some meaningless runes in the blade, just for the heckuvit.... The hand guard was fashioned out of putty over a wire armature and the handle is a simple leather-covered rod-- It's fat and plain, but the main objective was to make it so that the figure could grip the handle. A sheath was made out of basswood, soaked and bound around the blade to conform to the curvature. After gluing it and sanding it down it looked pretty neat, but I decided not to use it because it looked too bulky: The blade's kinda big and I was sure it would be impossible to grind the sheath thin enough without making it too weak. Styrene is probably the answer, but sticking the naked sword through a belt (or later, chain) also works for me.

Since this picture, I've done a few more things which aren't very noticible in the final picture below -- the limb armour was fitted with straps and rivets, and the oval centers of the main decoration was finished with silver foil (it's not terribly noticible, but it is slightly shinier). I'll probably experiment some more with the metallic foils-- as long as you're not doing a large clean area which demands absolute perfection, you can get some interesting effects. She's been given upper arm braclets (cloned from the neck armor) and her sword was attached to the existing belt via a chain. The Hannya devil masks on the angular shoulder armour were recast for better detail and inlaid where the originals were grinded out-- this time, they're drybrushed with an antique brass paste and stand out much better. The fact that they're separate, added-on pieces is noticible in a subtle way: It makes the whole piece look more like it was constructed than a single casting which is painted to look like it's made of separate parts.

fantasy female warrior armor doll valkyrie

Valkyrie? Amazon Warrior Queen? Battle Queen? She's got the armour for the job but she's not blond & blue-eyed so the Valkyrie title is loose-fitting (I wasn't trying to have her fit into Norse mythology either, but it was a shorter, descriptive name). The fact that she's tall makes her an Amazon by one definition, and her outfit is fancier than any of the other gals so she might be their Queen... Or maybe... who cares?

For some reason (auto white balance?), the purple cape shows up as blue outdoors. Weird. Taking photos outdoors is aggravating: The ground is mushy and figures fall over. Bugs hound you and figures fall over. The exposure gets whacked by the sun peeking through the trees and figures fall over. You take a picture and notice something's not posed quite right. Figures fall over. Of course, I was one shot shy of taking the really good picture... As I was adjusting Gretchen's helmet, Bunny fell over and since I was being devoured by mosquitos, I gave up.

(Jeez, I gotta do something about those Cool Girl gloves!)

PART 1    PART 3





Okay, I admit it... I was intimidated. I don't routinely get called to interview a six-foot amazon with basketball-sized breasts, and even with her rumored breast-reduction surgery, what are you supposed to talk about? Where are you supposed to look? As if that weren't bad enough, my intimidation was heightened by the studio's ridiculously strict security measures. I understand that safety is on everyone's minds these days and that studios are secretive places, but having to conduct an interview in one's skivvies is really taking it too far.

Gretchen: I see that you're happy to see me.
JBWID: Uh...Ummmm... (kaff kaff)
Gretchen: F*ck, there's a lot of that goin' round.
JBWID: Uhhhh...
Gretchen: So, it looks like you want to ask me about my tits? They're real. They're soft. Here, touch 'em.
JBWID: ...!
Gretchen: They were bigger before, but I downsized to get this gig. Something about wanting us girls to have a consistent "look and feel". Mind you, there hasn't been any feeling going on. F*ck. This is a very professional environment.
JBWID: Uhhhh... Let's talk about the movie...
Gretchen: It's been fun. To make this bra, they slathered up my tits with a clammy cold goopy sh*t...I think they call it "Alginate"? That's why the nipples are sticking out like muthaf****rs. Then they plastered 'em, which raised the temp. Everyone had a good time. The effects guys looked pretty happy.
JBWID: What about the movie? What's it about?
Gretchen: F*ck, I don't know... they haven't given us any scripts. They tell us what to do and what to say. Like earlier this morning, I was in a scene where Bunny and I are fighting and she rips off my bra and my tits go tumbling out. They've shot that scene around fifteen times, and each time I have to go back to the effects van to have my tits gooped again. You'd think they'd make those molds to be reusable!