Category Archives: The Magdalena

The Magdalena Statue Part 5: Completed Figure & Base (without cape)

On most of my sculpture projects, there is rarely a stage at which the figure is complete and fully intact.  It happens, but on a complicated figure like Magdalena, the arms were finished separately, the figure was hardened and sanded before adding the armor and there were other minor details added after the figure was molded. To smooth the figure before baking, I use a metal tool that is squared off with a flattened taper at the end. I draw this over the figure until it has that smoothness that is essential to the look of the piece.

It’s best to look at the figure as a completely assembled casting prior to painting to get the full effect. There are some small adjustments to be made in the positioning of the swords, but the full figure is here, less her cape and scabbards, which are being molded. When you see the cape on the debut of the figure on our site, it might be of interest to those sculptors reading this that the cape was done by building up layers in Super Sculpey on a wire mesh armature in multiple bakings.

The scabbards were interesting to sculpt because Top Cow gave free rein on their look, which in the comics are fairly simple in design. I used a book on samurai armor to research the details, and centered the decorative features on a plum blossom motif. You’ll see them in the full color photos soon as soon as Jim Rowell has completed painting her.

The base has a cross design done in mosaic form, reminiscent of Byzantine architectural art of the early Christian period. I used Nelson Blake’s design for the base cross and worked up the design at one-quarter scale. The base was then skillfully executed by Josh Sutton with my art direction.

If you have questions about any aspect of this piece, just write us at We expect to have photos of the fully-finished piece in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading this blog and we’ll see you next time!



Posted by on September 21, 2011 in The Magdalena


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The Magdalena Statue Part 4: Finishing the Figure

In this segment we see two phases of the figure: adding in the full figure, finishing out all anatomical masses, and then the figure finished and smoothed out with clothing wrinkles added.  The head is now sculpted and Magdalena has her own likeness. I used all the reference I had from the various artists and came up with what I hope you agree is a strong and determined as well as beautiful visage.  The wire ponytail you see is simply the armature extension I use to hold the head as I sculpt it separately from the figure.  It will be removed or, as on some pieces, it will serve as the armature for the hair (but not in this case).

I wanted the costume to appear skin tight, but I also wanted the anatomy and femininity of the figure to be apparent.  I laid in thin lines of material to represent folds and wrinkles and smoothed them into the figure, but only at key point like the right side, where she is bending and the backs of the knees, and ankles.

The arms are now added to the figure and I am ready to submit the piece for approval to Top Cow.  Once the figure is officially approved, I’ll go ahead and bake her, so that I can add the armor segments, hood, hair, etc.

Well, next time we’ll take a look at the figure with parts of the costume and armor added. See you  then!


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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in The Magdalena


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The Magdalena Statue Part 3: Fine-Tuning the Anatomy

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Most of this stage consists of fine-tuning the anatomy. NOTE: The head is a stand-in from the Snow White statue.

I sculpted the hands earlier, but I didn’t add the right hand for these photos. I’ve mentioned before that hands and arms can often get in the way of working on the torso, so I often don’t sculpt them until fairly late in the process.

This figure is actually rather tall.  A 1/6th scale male figure would be 12” tall if he represents a 6’ tall man.  Most of my female figures are sculpted 11 inches tall to generally represent a 5”6” woman.  This figure is 12” tall to represent a taller woman at 6′ in height.

I sculpt this part of the figure with metal loop tools and flat, wooden tools which I use to sculpt in a cross hatching method in order to join the muscle sections laid in earlier.  I don’t smooth out the figure entirely as there may be changes to the anatomy as the figure continues to develop. For example, I wanted her to have strong, powerful legs and hips, but I knew there would be armor sections that would add to her mass visually.  I roughed in armor sections separately that could be added and taken away from the figure as I completed this part of the sculpting.

Next we’ll see a major blog posting as the figure comes together with both hands, her face and her completed torso.  See you soon!


Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in The Magdalena


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The Magdalena Statue Part 2: Armature & Build-Up

In the first part of this stage, you’ll see how the armature was made and how the statue looks with just the first few minutes of build-up. In the second set of photos, the figure is more smoothed and finished out, although it’s still very early in the process.

The rough was done quickly with a high degree of spontaneity, which is intentional.  You want to get a quick, visceral read on whether the pose is working or not.

In the build-up stage, the key is to keep control of the process and to not let the figure lose the life and energy captured in the rough. I work by adding material all over the figure with an emphasis on the torso. The arms are less important at this stage and on some pieces I would even remove the arms, as they get in the way of the sculpting of the torso.

The build-up is additive, although later the process becomes more additive and reductive as the figure is refined. As you can see on her back, I add the muscle anatomy in rounded sections. Even at this stage, the dynamic quality of the anatomy should be evident. If you have the foundation correct, everything else will fall into place much more easily.

Most of this stage is built up by hand and with a simple flat wooden tool or two. At the beginning of any sculpture, most of the work is done by direct placing of Sculpey to figure. As the figure progresses, tools become more in use and by the end of the sculpting, virtually all work is done using sculpting tools (except general shaping, as on the armor sections which we’ll discuss later).

Thanks for reading!


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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in The Magdalena


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The Magdalena Statue: Introduction & Pose Mock-Up

The Magdalena isn’t just a great looking character with a very interesting, detailed costume.  She also has a well conceived, layered back story that is epic in its scope.  In sculpting this wonderful character, I wanted to design a pose that was more dramatic in approach than had been previously done in full statue form.  While researching the character I came across some beautiful designs by a number of talented artists, but one in particular caught my eye.  This was a painted piece that Joe Linsner had done some time ago.  What struck me most was that Joe had drawn her holding the swords in a Christian cross.  That image was so powerful and perfect for this character that I had to incorporate that image in this piece.

I took that basic element, the crossed swords, and worked up several poses in a 7” format. Each pose had its own merit, but one in particular stood out and that is the one you see here.  I posed the armature first (photo 1) and checked it from all angles to see how it worked in 360 degrees.  It’s not always necessary in the thumbnail stage to sculpt the costume, but in this case I went ahead and worked up the look of the costume to get an impression of the full effect the statue would have.  So here is what I came up with and Top Cow loved the look.  I hope you agree with the choices I’ve made and I look forward to continuing to update you on the progress.  Remember, this rough is just that — a rough — and it’s just a go by.  There will be some adjustments and modifications as I get into the sculpting of the full statue.  We’ll have the next stage ready to show you in a week or so.  Until then, take care and thanks for reading!

–Clayburn Moore


Posted by on June 12, 2011 in The Magdalena


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