Tag Archives: doug sneyd

Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part 5: Finishing the Hair & Details

Hair is difficult and time consuming to sculpt – at least for me. I lay in the hair in rolled out sections and just lay them in and build up the hair slowly. I almost never lay in large blocks of hair because that can dictate the direction the hair will want to go.  If you take your time and lay it in slowly, you are guiding the mass of the hair and it is not guiding you.

Hair is where a sculpture really comes together.  Often you will see a sculpture that is good, but the hair just doesn’t work. It should enhance the sculpture and be an integral part of the sculpture, while at the same time being an elegant form that is a sculpture in itself.

After laying in the forms, I go over that fairly quickly and pull the individual sections together, while continuing to add a bit here and there and take away a bit here and there. After that, I begin sculpting in the striations with larger loop and wood tools, then I do a final striation detailing with finer, smaller tools to finish out the form of the hair.  Below is a photo of the tools I use to sculpt hair.  The brown ones are horn, which I like, but if I only had wooden tools and metal loops, I think they would work just as well.

Throughout this process, I was in close communication with Doug.  A piece can evolve and one thing that wasn’t working was the headband going around her forehead.  It looked right in the sketch, but in the sculpture it looked dated and drew too much attention.  Doug and I agreed it should look as if it were made of her hair, originating at her temples, and not go around her forehead.

After that it was just a matter of adding the details, like her shell armband, the caption and her scallop earrings. Those details are always fun as they give a layer of complexity to the figure while also being a signal that the piece is just about finished.

hair sculpting tools

For the water, I simply pushed the material up to peaks and then finished them out with a couple of sizes of round glass beads to sharpen the water crests and deepen the wavelets.  The finished photos you see here were taken before I removed the headband.

After final approval from Doug, the piece went to Michael Measles for molding. Doug and I went over the paint scheme and then little Chlorine went to James Rowell for painting.  Jim did a great job from her eye shadow, to her slightly tanned skin and down to the gorgeous faux emerald marble effect of the base.  The piece was debuted at the San Diego ComiCon this past July and there you have it.  It was a pleasure and an honor working with Doug on this piece and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the creation of our sea nymph.  Let us know if you have any questions!


Sneyd Mermaid Statue - now available for preorder at

Sneyd Mermaid Statue - now available for preorder at


Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


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Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part 4: Chlorine’s Face & Head

A classic Doug Sneyd girl

In this section, we’ll discuss the sculpting of Chlorine’s face and head and the challenges that brings in a project of this kind.

First, it is very helpful if a licensor, who in this case is Doug Sneyd, has the ability to assess the face without the hair sculpted on.  It’s always best to sculpt the face without hair first because while hair can help to see the overall effect, it can also become a crutch. The hair will make the piece “seem” more correct, but there may be problems that are being obscured by the effect of the hair. Seeing the face without hair can allow the face to be seen at more angles and each part can be assessed more thoroughly. This takes some imagination in envisioning how the hair will look around the face, but since I’m usually working directly with artists, imagination is one thing that is in great supply.

It is also much easier to work on a face not attached to the body.  I usually make a simple loop armature and I bake an inner core on that armature so that the center of the head is hardened and makes a good anchor for outer material that I will be sculpting. Adding Vaseline with a paint brush to the baked Super Sculpey will help the new Sculpey adhere to the surface (a tip I learned from my friends Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett!)

Doug Sneyd Mermaid

Sculpting up a face, especially in the sizes I work in (1/6th scale, 1/8th scale, etc) can be difficult and good tools are key.  Store bought tools are a good beginning, but I often modify tools for specific uses or I make my own tools.  Good tools can be made from anything, even common household items. Here is a photo of some of the handmade tools I’ve made and most of the ones you see here I use very frequently. The heads of pins make fine tools for smoothing hard to reach areas like the inside of the bridge of the nose or a transition point from neck to jaw. I’ve made a tool I use on every piece that is made from simple paper clips.  I wanted a tighter loop, but still fairly thick and a paper clip fit the bill and gave me two sizes to use.

Some of Clay's hand-made tools

For fine detail, you can source very thin wire at the hardware store and make tiny loop tools. Piano wire works well, too, as it is very strong and holds the shape well.  A hobby shop will usually have lengths of brass tubing of varying sizes and you can shape the head of the tool, insert it in the brass tubing and crimp the end of the tube to fix the wire head in place.  You can then use modeler’s putty to thicken the handle if that helps you hold the tool.  I sometimes do that, but on some tools, I haven’t found it necessary.

Back to our sculpture: Doug’s girl’s faces are quite recognizable and capturing that look wasn’t going to be easy in 3-d.  Doug’s girls’ expressions have an indefinable eagerness and exuberance to them that is actually conveyed in the structure of the face, not just in the body language.  Doug was very helpful on this part of the process.  We talked by phone and email and Doug advised and adjusted and this is the result.  There were still some minor changes to come, but what you see here is generally the look we established for Chlorine.

I then attached her head to her body and prepared to work in her hair and other details.  I also completed her hands and refined and finished up other areas.  We’ll talk about completing the sculpture next time. Thanks for reading!



Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


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Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part 3: Tail Revisions

After talking with Doug, I lengthened her tail and slimmed it in the hips and rear area. You’ll see in the photos a bit of an evolution in that once I made the adjustments, I decided to give her tail somewhat of a feminine legs crossed look or at least the illusion of that.  It gives some variation and a more vibrant, dynamic feel to the tail. I also gave it a nice flip at the end.  Once I started in on the changes as per Doug’s input, I immediately saw the improvement and once I sent the photos to him, he was very happy with the result.


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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


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Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part Two: The Torso

At this point, I felt the most important aspect of the sculpture was to capture Doug’s approach to Chlorine’s torso.  I worked in the body and more or less finished out the surface to give Doug a good idea of the direction I was going.  I studied Doug’s work and did my best to sculpt breasts that he would feel captured that “Sneyd” aesthetic.

I wasn’t too worried about her tail yet, although I did want it to show a nice shape and realistic weight to her lower body–as if she really were sitting on a rock.  At the same time, I was going to work on finishing the tail soon, so I was hoping for some feedback and I needed to have enough there so that Doug could comment…and he did.  While he liked the body and commented very favorably on that, he explained that the tail was too thick at the hips and too short to work well with the look of Chlorine’s upper body and for the overall composition.

In the next installment I will discuss the work on Chlorine’s tail.



Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


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Sneyd Mermaid Statue: Introduction

Sneyd Mermaid Illustration

Doug Sneyd Mermaid Illustration

One of the greatest and most rewarding things about being in this business is having the opportunity to work with some of the best and most talented artists in the comics and cartooning world. I’ve admired Doug Sneyd’s cartoon art for as long as I can remember and when the chance came about to work with him, I was absolutely thrilled. At the same time, it’s daunting because Doug has that rare and indefinable ability to draw his women with both a deep and powerful sensuality and a genuine innocence that flows together and complements one another seemingly effortlessly. This is aside from the difficulty of capturing Doug’s approach to the faces of the girls he creates, which we’ll discuss later.

Working with Doug on this project has been as pleasant and positive as I could have imagined. Doug is helpful and instructive, and he’s been involved and interested in every aspect of the process from beginning to end. Doug is very generous in his approach to adjustments to the piece and he understands the difficulty of bringing his style to 3-D.  That has been key and as a result, we’ve worked closely to find the best solutions to those challenges.

First, The Body: Doug’s women have a softness and curviness that does not preclude their also being athletic and vivacious.  This applies to his mermaids as well as his human women. In approaching the figure, the first order of business was to capture those qualities in the body language and attitude of the mermaid’s body, which Doug has christened “Chlorine.” While Doug draws his women’s bust lines in a very recognizable way, at this point, they’re unnecessary. The key is to capture the arch of the back, the curve of her tail, and the attitude implied in Chlorine’s torso, and then to see what Doug thought of her so far. He had supplied that beautiful pencil sketch of the figure (above), but Doug agreed that it made good sense to also use the body of his work as reference in capturing that quintessential “Sneyd” body and attitude.

So here is Chlorine so far.  Don’t worry, she’ll have all the important body elements in the next update!  🙂




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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


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