Welcome to the final installment of the Conan the Conqueror sculpting blog, chronicling the making of this sculpture of Conan on horseback from the stunning painting by Frank Frazetta. The main sculpting that remains is the horse, although there are many details in the accouterments, weapons and gear (as well as the sculpture’s base) to do.
The first thing to finish was the horse. The pose is difficult as the horse is in furious motion as he jumps over and into the waiting foes. As mentioned earlier, reference is important in any good sculpture, and for this piece it seemed logical that rodeo photos of bucking broncos would be helpful. Other photos of horses jumping, running and rearing up were helpful to get full anatomical reference from all angles. This reference was used along with pictures of Frank’s own approach to horses, with a strong emphasis on the beautiful Kubla Khan pen and ink works.
The horse is thus strong and powerful, with muscles fully flexed as he hurtles forward.As I worked up the anatomy, I changed things here and there, reworking and adjusting various areas.It helps at times to get away from the piece, to renew one’s perspective and to keep the eye fresh. To do this, I’d break from the horse and work on other details, like the saddle pommel, the axe at his back, the shield, etc.
Frank had decided that thetail looked best flowing back from the body, so I worked it up with long flowing tooling movements to give the impression of speed.
Here are the photos more or less at this point. However, the figure has already been approved and molded.The Conan figure you see here and in the final photos is a resin casting used as a stand-in for sculpting and approval:
After completion, I worked in the studs around the front and rear of the horse and refined some areas, retouching here and there. I then sculpted in the misty shape that would allow the whole figure to sit suspended above the base. (The base will be a decorative raised oval base, painted with a faux marble surface.)
Next, I baked the sculpture to harden it. Except for the back right hoof, the other hooves were difficult to work in this pose. So after baking, I removed the lower legs, sanded the hooves and worked in the horseshoes, adding some clinging mud to the bottoms of the hooves.I also sanded the back of the saddle, which I interpreted as being made of wood, and sculpted in some detail that was reminiscent of the decorative elements on the front of the saddle.It also seemed that the axe you see behind Conan would have been attached to the wooden saddle with a simple loop for ease of removal in battle.
I had left the smaller studs at Conan’s waist prior to discussing with the factory where we’d want to cut the figure for production.The massive belt or girdle allows the separation of the figure at the waist.Thus, the arms would not have to be removed, but can be cast as integral parts of the upper figure in a single mold section.This is crucial as I did not want the factory trying to reattach and match up the two sections of the muscular arms and veins.
The last photos show the figure fully sculpted with almost all elements in place, although I left out the sword (simply because I removed it to make an adjustment to the figure and did not reattach it for the photo…).
I hope you found this blog interesting and useful in understanding the sculpting process.I enjoyed sculpting the piece, and it was a singular honor to work with Frank again. My warmest thanks to Frank for his guidance and generous help on this project.
Please stay tuned as we’ll be posting photos of the completely painted figure shortly. Thanks for reading!