By Tim Bruckner, Zach Oat and Ruben Procopio
|Have you ever wondered about the process of creating
and sculpting action figures and statues? Perhaps you're a budding
artist yourself, or just a curious collector. I know that while I
haven't sculpted anything since my 2nd grade ash tray (do kids even do
ash trays anymore?), and that might be difficult to ascertain as an ash
tray, I'm always fascinated by the creative process. And when that
creative process hits the cold, hard reality of business, it's a more
interesting event than The Event.
I constantly get questions
around the process of creating, manufacturing and selling toys, so you
can only imagine the deluge that guys like Ruben Procopio, Zach Oat and
Tim Bruckner get. Regular readers should recognize all three names.
Ruben founded Masked Avenger Studio in 2003 after years with Disney,
and has been involved with some of the best loved collectibles from DC
Direct and others. Tim Bruckner has also worked as a sculptor and
designer on some of the finest products from DC Direct and Gentle
Giant, and is extremely well known for this exceptional work in the
collector community. And Zach Oat was the editor of Toyfare Magazine,
has worked with the guys at Robot Chicken, and has an intricate inside
knowledge of the industry.
These three powerhouses have gotten
together to collaborate on a new book called Pop Sculpture: How to
Create Action Figures and Collectible Statues. The book has been
released by Watson-Guptill Publications, and has a suggested retail of $30.
|This is a large format soft cover book, 8
1/2" by 11", with almost three hundred pages of illustrations, artwork,
photos and text.
The book walks you through the entire creative
process, with plenty of helpful tips and tricks along the way. It's
intention is to give you an inside look at the process, and if you're a
budding sculptor yourself, some great ideas for making the process less
painful, more effective, and even more fun.
The book starts out
with how to use artwork (either yours or someone else's) to begin the
process. There are side notes along the way as well as specific
examples to show the pitfalls and upsides to various techniques.
There's some great stuff in this first chapter on the do's and dont's
of design, and how to think about the manufacturing process when
considering pose, style and articulation.
Next up, they discuss
what materials are available, the pros and cons of each, and even have
a great section where they talk to other sculptors who favor one
material over another, and get their additional insights. You'll
recognize folks like Karen Palinko, Jonathan Mathews and Tony Cipriano,
among others. There's even a brief discussion with Jim Mcpherson, who
looks at the differences with digital sculpting.
In this section they also discuss your tools, provide a 'getting started' checklist, and even your workspace.
the next chapter, they discuss creating the rough sculpt, including the
armature and base. They also briefly review working with Art Directors
and Product Managers, a theme which recurs throughout the book. This
isn't just about sculpting for a hobby - they are giving you the
information you need to do it professionally as well, and setting
Chapter 4 covers casting your figure
in wax, and creating the mold. While this might not be the most
artistic of the processes, it's still an art to get it right. The
figure has to be cut into the right number and type of pieces, the
'gates' (the opening in the mold where wax is poured) must be placed
correctly, and all the materials must be mixed with a chemists
Once the wax casting is complete, it's time to
finish the sculpture with finer tools. This section also has some
excellent tips for handling eyes, and lots of little tidbits that you
probably never thought of. For example - did you know that if you're
sculpting a piece that will be cast in clear or translucent plastic,
that the recesses should be deeper and sharper than usual? That's to
allow for more refraction and reflection of the light within the item,
giving it the impression of fluid movement.
The next couple
chapters delve into the intricate details of creating your master
mold, casting your final piece in various materials (such as resin),
and completing the fabrication process.
you ever wondered if sculptors worry about the final articulation? Yes,
they do! In fact, they try to do what they can to include intended
articulation in their prototype sculpts, and the eight chapter gives
you details on the basics.
Great figures and statues usually include great accessories, and
they've dedicated an entire chapter to them. There's also a chapter
dedicated to paint, a true skill if there ever was one. Not only do
they include the basics on paints, brushes, and technique, but they
give a 'ten steps to perfect eyes', complete with detailed photos.
might think the job is done, but they've added a chapter on the
photography of your completed figure. This is written from the aspect
of showing off your work in a realistic setting, highlighting the
details, and building a portfolio.
Finally, they briefly discuss
tips on going pro, what to expect, and what they've found important
when it comes to the business aspect of the work.
design is engaging and attractive. There's plenty of full color close
up photos to illustrate the various points, and the checklists,
sidebars and recipes are a great addition. The book is easy to read,
easy to navigate, and a great resource for both sculptors and fans.
Overall - ****
I'm not sure what I was expecting with this book, but it certainly took
me by surprise. It's a good cross section of the basics with some great
advanced techniques, and the full color photos and checklists add to
These guys know their stuff, and their work is proof
of that. By bringing in a variety of opinions, they give you a bigger
picture of the entire process, and do it with an engaging style and
design. Whether you're a budding sculptor looking for inspiration and
knowledge, or an artistically incompetent but curious collector such as
myself, this book is an excellent resource.
Where to Buy -
This is an early copy I'm reviewing
tonight, so it's not yet listed at Amazon. It will be in about 3 weeks
though, but until then you can pre-order through Random House's website.
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This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Michael Crawford.