My interview about Illidan


The guys over at World of War saw a posting about my Illidan sculpture, and asked to do a small interview. Check it out!




Illidan sculpture update Jan 09

A quick update for now, I’ll fill in some details later this week.

I restarted the legs in ZEN wax, lovely stuff. You’ll notice I’m simulating threads in the pants by inserting bits of wire I’ve curved with pliers, heating it up and putting them into the pants. I’m still pretty unhappy with hoof armor. I’m having trouble doing intricate work right now, but with a bit more practice, maybe I’ll add more scrollwork. I have a lot to do yet, so I may just move on.

The base is rough, but there will be some broken architecture, more flint-like rocks jutting out and some crystals.

I’m planning on making a version of the sculpt with an LED in it. His magical tattoos that are carved into his body should glow slightly, along with his eyes (even though he has none, and his eyes are bandaged, they should be glowing green). I would also like the crystals in the base to glow slightly, or at least look “crystal-like”. Figure I’ll clear cast his head and torso for the LEDs.

His wings still need to be finished up (you can see them at the end of the video, I need to complete his hair and had strands that will be blowing across his front as well. I can tell already this piece will have many pieces to cast, but my local sculptor/kit group has an amazing mold-maker that is going to help me make a fully built version, not to mention a great LED guy. Critiques are VERY welcome please! It’s the only way I’m going to get better.

World of Warcraft Sculpture, Illidan from Jason Babler on Vimeo.

My work in progress of Illidan, from World of Warcraft. More pics at www.mantlestudios.com




Illidan torso update

A quick update on the torso of Illidan from World of Warcraft… I think I’m finally getting the hang of working with FUSE. Mineral spirits knocks it down nicely, going to use Gary’s castor oil idea next. I’m not too terribly happy with the anatomy of the hand, but I want to keep pushing along with this sculpt. I will add some longer nails on him, I want his hands to look slightly oversize and paw-like. I’m also keying his arm to make casting this piece a bit easier for me. I’m adding some leather straps to his wrist later. I may just cheat and use real leather for it and cast it from that. I need to work on his horn, I think the base of his horn that goes into his skull is a bit too big. The pics also make his ear looks smaller than it is. They are very very long, will be keyed and cast separately. I think the beauty of wax, and perhaps FUSE in particular (this is the only wax I ever used) is that I can get such clean lines cut into his body where his tattoos are. More updates in a few days. Critiques are especially encouraged. Gary, I love your wax. I will use ZEN on his bottom half, can’t wait to get to it…




World of Warcraft sculpture: Illidan


My first major sculpt that I have been working on is Illidan (above), a character from World of Warcraft. In fact, this is only the second thing I have sculpted and it’s a doozy. I have only recently started to sculpt (around the beginning of 2008) and I wonder if I’m crazy taking on such an ambitious project so soon. If I had thought it through, I would of done something very very simple.

But I didn’t.

Take my advice, when you are just starting out, sculpt simple things to learn the material, then work on balance, anatomy, etc.

About the project

I started this project using ProClay. I heard about it on a forum and was drawn to it because of its high-wax content, and hardness. I want a lot of detail in the project, and Sculpey didn’t click with me at first (although, I did use it on the wings and will start using it more in the future). The ProClay wasn’t hard enough for my liking, and I decided to switch to wax. I built my own wax pen (that’s another post) and read about FUSE, an amazing wax from Willow Products. I bought a bunch and that’s what I am using for the upper half of the body. I am trying Gary’s Zen wax next (his latest and hardest wax).

Last weekend, I took the sculpt I had roughed in with ProClay and started to make wastemolds with OOMO30 and alginate. I poured the wax and started to key the arms and now I am working on adding details (more posts to come. It has been a long road, but I’m less than halfway done, all things considered. I have re-sculpted every part of Illidan at least twice. I sculpt, figure out what is wrong with the pose, form, anatomy etc, and then basically start from scratch.

Here are some pics on the construction of the wings:

I use apoxie sculpt to make the “arms” of the wings. I used wire to make the “fingers” of the wings and put them in the apoxie before it hardened. I then took thin wire mesh and threaded the mesh through the wire fingers, and cut it to shape the membrane. (I don’t have a pic of this process, so I will take a pic when I do the other one.) I cut the mesh to fit, and then pushed a thin layer of apoxie sculpt into the mesh to form the membrane.

After that hardened, I put a layer of Firm Super Sculpey over that so that I could add detail. I know of some sculptors that actually do the detail in the apoxie as it hardens, but my skills aren’t up to that level yet.

After I had most of the details done, I baked the wing, and then took a dremel tool with a cutting bit and drilled into the wing to form ragged holes. I also used the dremel tool to make the edges of the wings look more tattered as well.

Now that it is baked, I’m going back with mores sculpey to add spikes, fix some cracks and add more detail. I use a heatgun to bake the new sculpey.

Now I have another issue. Do I go through the hassle (and money) of making a mold of the wing, pouring in wax, let it harden, and then warm the wax under hot water and try to reshape the wing to bend the other way? Or make the right wing from scratch, as I did the first.





Making a silicone mold of gauze…. FAIL

I think I’ll post my failures as well as my successes. Here’s a tip that you can file under “Had to learn the hard way…” The character I’m sculpting has a fabric over his eyes, so i thought I’d skip a step and just make a mold of his head with a thick piece of gauze around his head.

Bad idea. Silicone, as we all know, goes into every little hole, so a pourous fabrice like gauze is a bad idea. The silicone pretty much enveloped the guaze. The only plus side is that I was making a waste mold, and the head was perfect, just minus the cloth look over his eye. Maybe this is the Sculpting Gods telling me not to take shortcuts and just sculpt the darn fabric myself. I need the practice anway.




“Planes of the Head”, or “Asaro Head” model

This model is called “Planes of the Head”, or the Asaro Head, named after the man who invented it, John Asaro.If you want to learn more about Asaro’s history, check out stories California Art Club article, Lines and Color article and his website. (There is also a small booklet he wrote with more drawings of the planes of the head, but I have only seen one copy of it on ebay.)

I was having a very hard time sculpting my first head a few months back. My first two ended up close, but not really good enough. I came across this model a few weeks back, and was instantly struck dumb by it’s simplicity, well, struck dumb and then regained my senses, hastily pulled out my wallet and bought one on ebay. One of the best learning aids that helped me instantly. I did not realize what I needed as a solution until I saw all the answers.

Move your lamp around the head, and you’ll see how the light falls. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the left and right hemispheres are different. The left side (your left, really, as you are looking at the model) is the simpler of the two, so I suggest to start with that if you are new to sculpting. There are less planes, and whether you are sculpting or drawing, you’ll see how light falls on the face at the cheek, or brow. One of the realizations I had in reviewing my work was my misplaced cheeks… only off slightly, but enough to throw the whole thing off.

I used the left side to do the main sculpts of the head, and as soon as that was done, I turned my attention into refining the face more by looking the right side. You’ll notice the cheek on the right side has many more planes to take into consideration. The first time I sculpted a head using this aide, I hit it right on the head (yup, pun intended). I was pretty impressed what it allowed me to do.

Editor’s Note: Buy one directly from Planes of the Head.




Welcome to Mantle Studios

Ever since I saw my first monster movie as a kid, I wanted to make monsters. Sure, every kid wants to make monsters, but I really wanted to make them. I drew a lot as a kid, and I would give my left foot to have all those drawings I did as a kid, back in my hands. My friend, Scott and I would draw these detailed underground dungeons where little stick figures would be fighting all manners of creatures, and always at the bottom of the page, was a huge dragon of some sort, chomping away at fearless warriors. We were always in competition and I remember the day he drew a dragon with two heads. Whoa…

Needless to say, our “talents” were not so appreciated by our teachers.I kept drawing through high school, but as I got older, I was designing instead of drawing I was working, instead of wondering. Well, that time has come and gone. I’m going to be making monsters again. But this time, I’m sculpting them.

This is my first attempt: I drew this Orc for a project (check it out in my Illustrations section of my portfolio), and I decided it would be a fitting model for my first sculpt.

I’m hooked. I started this site to focus my energies into assembling tips that took waaaay too long to gather, to reach out and interview some of the amazing artists I’ve come across, and of course, to showcase my meager attempts at sculpting. Stay tuned, it should be a fun ride. My first big piece will be Illidan, from the World of Warcraft game.

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