“Fire Rift” sculpture from Trion World’s “Rift” MMORPG

Back in November of 2010, an old colleague of mine emailed me, asking if I still sculpted. The company he works for, Trion Worlds, was looking to create a one-of-a-kind sculpture for a promotional giveaway. He asked if I was interested. He didn’t have to ask twice.

I jumped at the chance, and thus began a two-month journey that was great, but ended up in disaster (more on that later). It was my first paying sculpting commission and I was stoked.

Trion Worlds is a game developer in Redwood City. Their game “Rift” is a fairly new MMORPG that has been met with rave reviews from the industry. I highly encourage everyone to check it out. The “Rifts” are actual portals that open up in the game, spawning hordes of monsters to slay, and there are six of them, including “Fire“, which I ended up sculpting.

Here is the Fire Rift teaser and a short turnaround of the sculpt.


During the discussion of which Rift to actually sculpt, the first rift we discussed was the “Death Rift”:


The first problems I saw were 1) How to support the structure of the clouds with only those small “tendrils” and 2) Sculpting lightning seemed to be a bad idea. I was worried that they would break, even being cast in resin or Magic Sculp way too easily.

The Life Rift was too detailed to do in the time I had, especially if I wanted it painted well.

And the other rifts weren’t really released at the time. But the Fire Rift had promise in my eyes. I proposed that the column of fire would support the sculpt just fine, and to make it really stellar, I would cast the pillar and vortex in clear resin, and light up the sculpture.

They loved the idea.

So I began by finding a lazy-susan, and start building a support system. Using Magic Sculp for almost everything, I started laying down the lava and stalagmites.

After the rocks were generally formed, I took a dremel to carve the lava and give the rocks more texture and sharp ends.

I don’t have any WIP shots detailing how I sculpted the pillars, stalactites and the atmosphere but you can sort of see from the unpainted pic above (and video) that I sculpted a column of sculpey around the metal pipe, making sure I got little swirls in there. Later, I would make a mold of the column, and cast it in clear resin. When the pillar was done, I started on the stalactites, which I glued to the pillar when I was done. The ring of stalactites were hollow inside, so I could insert the lighting kit. The top disc of swirling clouds actually was removable. You could lift it off and get at the lights to turn them on.

I actually used orange dye to dye the resin. The color gradient is from the light being on. Here are some pics of it painted and then with the lights turned on. I both painted traditionally and used an airbrush to paint the lava.


In my infinite wisdom, I did not take more professional shots or video, thinking to myself: I’ll get them when Trion publicizes this piece in the giveaway.

A few weeks after I hand-delivered the sculpture to a happy group over at Trion, my friend emails me pictures of this sculpt, asking for a cost to repair…

It was shattered. Destroyed. Would have to be majorly re-sculpted. The sculpt was destroyed during shipping to the game site for the actual contest…

I was crushed, more crushed than the sculpture.

Still, the experience was amazing and I don’t regret a single minute of it.