Building Arial: The Professional Comes To Town | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

For our 2008 anniversary, I set out to get The WebMistress something truly unique. To this end, I contracted with the very talented Aaron at Black Crab Sculpting to build a miniature of The WebMistress' RPG character Arial on her Unicorn mount.

After some back and forth, we came to an agreement, and Aaron went to work.

He is making us a green of the figure - LadyArial mounted on her Unicorn in 54mm - along with a master, mold, and two paintable castings. 

We have no desire to make this figure publicly available, but after Aaron and I came to an agreement, I asked if I could run a series of articles showing the work as it progressed and showing those of you wondering about the process what it takes to be the customer for the sculpting process.

I will continually update this article as the project progresses, giving you updates as I get them. The project is slated to be complete by April 15th.

Last Update: 15 APR 08 - added final pictures and wrapped up. 


The first update we received that was worth posting - because it has pictures - is this one.

Aaron has the Unicorn mostly done, wanting to add some to the face and the back legs yet, but the form is there, and the quality that the final sculpt will display is starting to show.

Aaron tried a new horse sculpting method to do the unicorn, and I think it's coming out just fine.

While I won't disclose the price that Aaron and I agreed upon, I will say that half was due before the work started, another quarter will be due at the mid-point of the project, and the final quarter when the project is done.

 Anyway, here are the pictures of the work as of the 29th of January.





Until next time...

 It's next time!

05 FEB 2008

 Aaron sent me some more pictures the other night, but I was a little busy with my new miniature, and am just now getting to posting them.

Our little addition has interfered with my responsiveness, but I'll get back to him today. He has a couple of questions about direction -which I think is just great, that he is soliciting my input.

Anyway, here are the pictures. Great stuff so far. 





 New pictures sent 06 February, 2008.

 She's definitely coming together, looks really rather nice, in our opinion. The hair is very reminiscent of the picture we sent for reference, which is cool in my opinion, since The WebMistress drew that picture, it will "look like Arial" to her.







Aaron sent final pictures yesterday, so I'm posting them here. After this all we have left is to wait for the master and castings to take place, and she's on her way here.

 I can talk about the quality all I like, but the WebMistress (who is picky about female figures) says this is "perfect", and "the best anniversary gift ever", so that says it all, no?  Some of it is likely that Aaron was able to draw out the feel of her source pictures, but much of it is his astounding skill.

 The scales visible on the greaves in some pictures are the symbol of the Nordalian god of justice.




Final Update - 15 APR 08

Well,  Aaron at Black Crab Sculpting Studio delivered well withing the time-frame he promised, and delivered what he promised. Always a good way to hit the Anniversary.

 I've been plugging away at her, getting her put together for our Anniversary, and put the final spray on last night, meaning I too delivered on time. All good.

I cannot rave enough about Black Crab. Aaron did it all, did it the way he said he would, matched the face, gauntlets, and hair style to the picture we supplied, delivered when he said he would, and communicated well all the way through the process.

 So this is where I pick up. The casting process warped the horse's body a bit, Aaron had warned me about this, and he didn't do the casting. This being common enough (ever put together a BTD Sdkfz 250? That's some warpage!) in long metal castings, I just put the three models we received together and patched them up. 

Shi'Lael during assembly. 

Note in the picture above where the warpage has caused the neck and rump to have gaps. Those are the areas I filled in. In the case of the neck, I made the filled area look like the top of the cloth covering, in the case of the rump, I made it look like the spine where the tail hooks in.

 I wanted to offer you a picture of the bits along the way, so here are the three models - on the left is assembled but not patched or primed, on the right is the primed model we'll use for wargaming - note the two monster-sized GW bases we used to mount it up. This one is ready for The WebMistress to paint. and in the middle is the diorama I completed for the WebMistress.


The rest of the article will focus on the diorama and what it's made of. The pictures of Arial should speak to Aaron's skill, and the only other thing I have to say about it is that it was a dream to paint - the lines are clear and well delineated, and the detail is - well, you can see in the pictures.

No miniature is perfect, and this is no exception. When we cut the footings off of one model, the bent legs were slightly longer than they should have been. This is easy to overcome - in the case of the diorama, I put her on a bridge, for the one mounted for wargaming, The WebMistress and I carefully bent the legs a little to give them some distance from the base.

So here's the whole diorama, from front, side, and rear...




The bridge is Plastruct brick arched over styrofoam. The walls are War Torn Worlds brick. The road is pre-mix wall plaster covered with basing glue and sea sand (from a pet store), the bronze statues on the end of the bridge are actually Stronghold 15mm Knight mounts. I tried it with the knights on them, and it was too much. The only other bit on there is the unicorn head on Shi'Lael's halter, which is from a decal set for WarHammer figures (I presume Brettonian Knights, but am not positive, they were in my decal collection).

That's it. The WebMistress is thrilled, I don't think Aaron could have done much better and met our requirements, and I'm happy through my 13th Anniversary.

It's been a great experience, and I'm considering having Black Crab sculpt up The WebMistress' favorite living character - Torlyn Vselia Inelda Dramez Baltruscade, a sassy Gypsy lass.


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