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Kull Part 9: The Base

You’ve seen the thumbnail base I contrived in the original design for this sculpture. The base is a close approximation of that idea with an adjustment or two.

Before we begin, I’ve been asked to add a bit about what material this is sculpted in and what kinds of tools I use. Those who aren’t interested in a more technical discussion might want to skip down. I use Super Sculpey, a synthetic clay that can be found at most craft stores such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and some local hobby shops. It comes in one pound boxes and I mix it with one small brick of a material called Sculpey III, which is colored in different hues. Super Sculpey is a flesh toned material and I feel mixing it with the colored material gives me the ability to see the surface I’m working on and the detail better. I have used wax, but wax or synthetic wax-like materials require heat and flame to work in. Super Sculpey can be baked and hardened and then added to and is quite strong and permanent when baked properly. Some artists feel that they cannot get the detail they want out of Super Sculpey, but I haven’t noticed that it limits my work in that way. I use wire loop tools, wood shaped tools and modified dental tools in my work. I’ve also made some of my loop tools from piano wire inserted into brass rod.

And now back to Kull:

As we’ve discussed, this base is symbolic of the future life of Kull as he begins his life as a soldier, general, then finally king of Valusia.

The title of this piece is “Kull of Atlantis” and the title plate was originally going to be a scroll. I’ve altered it to be a carved stone nameplate and I’ll add some cracks incised into the plate.

The battle shield represents his participating in and winning numerous battles in the coming years. Kull leads a violent life and the base would reflect that. The shield design would be a heavy wood covered with leather and strengthened with bands of brass and brass studs. At this time, the full paint scheme has not been worked out. Depending on the look of the figure, we may choose to make the fittings in iron or a combination of both.

I chose a sun device for the shield as the sun was often a symbol of kings and represented eternal power and life, among other things.

The axe is intended to represent the double bladed war axe Kull uses to defend himself in the story “By This Axe I Rule” in which he successfully defeats a roomful of assassins who attempt to catch him unaware and unarmed. It is also important as the moment at which Kull consolidates his power and finally establishes his position as king once and for all of Valusia.

The helmet on the base is also representative of his future as a war leader, but it also specifically represents him as King. The crown is described in the story as being a thin circlet of red gold adorned with great opals, which seems a simple design and so I sculpted it as it was described. However, this is a section of crown attached to his helmet permanently and is not the crown he wears at court.

I hope you find the design of the helmet interesting, regal and appropriate to the character.

The base has been approved by the good people at Paradox, so next we’ll move on to the paint stage. The figure has been molded, but not the base. It will take two to three weeks to get the base molded, and get resin castings made. The paint scheme will take roughly the same amount of time. I hope you’ll check back to see the final look. We’ll make sure it’s worth the wait!

Thanks for reading-
Clay

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Posted by on February 19, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull Blog Update

I wanted to update you on the Kull blog, since I was planning to post photos of the base this week. I just wrapped up the sculpting of the base, and will post photos as soon as it’s approved. Thanks for your patience!

Clay

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull Blog Returns Next Week

Due to a serious case of SuperBowl fever, the Kull blog will return next week. Thank you for your understanding, and we hope you’ll check back next week to read about Kull’s base design.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull Part 8: Kull’s Weapons

In this episode of the Kull Blog we’ll talk about the development of the weapons Kull carries and we’ll take a look at the completed figure.

I very much enjoyed designing and sculpting these elements. It was important that each was well detailed, but not over the top in the fantasy aspect. I used historical reference to design the weapons and specifically avoided looking at other artists’ takes on the barbarian theme once I had started the sculpture. I knew those influences would come out, anyway, as they’re so ingrained from years of seeing and enjoying the incredible art that has been done over the years in the comics and fantasy genres. The most recent work that I think is indicative of the best on the subject are the terrific paintings and illustrations done by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni published in recent years by Wandering Star. However, the work of masters like Frank Frazetta, John Buscema and Roy G. Krenkel are and always will be huge influences in my work.

The first weapon I sculpted was the axe. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, it was decided that Kull would carry an axe, but not THE axe he used in the famous story “By This Axe I Rule” because this sculpture represents Kull before that story happens. I gave him a two handed axe that wasn’t so large as to look like it was too large for him to carry it in his travels. I gave it some leather strapping and a nicked head, as if it may have recently seen some use. I wanted it to have an interesting head, but not looking like something out of a video game or cartoon that would be too huge and massive for anyone to carry around with them, much less use on the battlefield.

The sword is carried in a wood scabbard with brass stud work and brass support bands. These are common elements found historically and made sense to me so I put them in the design. The hilt and cross guard are influenced by Viking and Medieval designs, but with a more individual look to them that would also appear functional. Kull attaches the sword to a shoulder belt or baldric with a ring and a bit of chain, although this belt is not attached to either of his waist belts.

For the dagger, I had always intended a bit of a tribute to Frank Frazetta. A few years ago I had sculpted a statue of Conan from his superb Conan the Adventurer painting and I had always liked the falcon head on the curved dagger he had painted. I sculpted a falcon head for this dagger, but then decided it might be interesting to make the handle of the dagger a stylized falcon body, so I did that. The scabbard for the dagger has a more decorative motif I made up as I went and just added to it until I decided it looked about right. I wanted it to appear to be an expensive dagger he had won in battle, while the axe was intended to look simple and businesslike. It seemed their close placement on the figure would make an interesting contrast.

As a final detail, I sculpted a small pouch at his belt. I had considered a larger pouch or two, but when they were roughed in they appeared overly obtrusive for the look and flow of the piece. We’ll use our artistic license a bit here and assume he has left some of his gear back in camp, but has kept his coin pouch near at hand.

So here you see the fully realized, fully armed figure of Kull of Atlantis. The final element is the base, which will follow fairly closely the original thumbnail design shown at the beginning of this blog, so there will be some interesting sculpted details there. I hope you’ll find them interesting, at least, and that you’ll check back in a week or two for the last chapter in this sculpting story.

Clay

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull blog returns next week

The Making of Kull blog will resume on January 28 with a look at Kull’s weapons.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull Part 7: Kull’s Features and Hair

As the title suggests, we’ve now reached a very important stage in the sculpting of any piece. Some sculptors will create the face and head first and I have done that myself at times. Usually, though, I sculpt the face late in the process and sometimes at the very end. When the features are added, it can sometimes lead to seeing the sculpture differently and I may make some changes. I like that in that it is a step that makes me see the piece with “new” eyes and that can be beneficial to the overall look of the sculpture.

With Kull, the beginning of how I wanted to sculpt the face was in the source material. He is described several times as having narrow, gray eyes and is also described as having “hawk-like” features. In my conversations with Paradox, it was agreed that this meant a fairly strong nose and a prominent bridge, but we agreed that he should not look too sharp-featured as the face would not be congruent with the body. His eyes are fairly narrow, but not too narrow. He is intended to have a look that is particular to him and that conveys an air of nobility and strength.

In the stories, it was noted that Kull had had a “lion-like mane of hair” and that as king he currently wears it straight-cut and shoulder length. Since this sculpture shows Kull before he accedes to the throne, I gave him long hair.

So here is the complete Kull figure with complete costume. All that remains are the weapons and the base.

If you’d like to let us know how we’re doing or if you just have any questions, please write me at service@csmoorestudio.com.

Thanks very much for reading and we’ll see you next week.

Clay


 
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Posted by on January 14, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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Kull Part 6: Final Costuming Details

Welcome to the 6th installment of the Sculpting of Kull blog. Today we’re going to look at the final costuming details and the reasoning behind the look. We’ve discussed that Kull isn’t an ostentatious sort of warrior in either his demeanor or in his approach to his gear. However, he is from Atlantis and I felt he might want to reflect that is some of his gear. It would also make sense as this is a symbolic sculpture of this warrior who eventually becomes King of Valusia.

I haven’t often shown my work publicly while it is in progress and there are a lot of reasons for that regarding license approval and too much input, etc. But I do sometimes discuss a piece with fellow artists that know my work well and whose opinions I greatly respect. Mark Schultz is one of the best in the field and has solved many of the same questions in his superb Conan illustration work that I have come across in my sculptural work on this piece. Manuel Carrasco is a terrifically talented character designer and illustrator in the gaming and animation business and both of these gentlemen attended the Robert E. Howard (REH) celebration and so were part of many of the discussions about REH, including this sculpture and the “big belt.”

In a subsequent conversation, Manny (Manuel) made the observation that the belt looked good as a large, blank area and suggested it be sculpted as sharkskin. That made good sense to me since I wanted elements that were reminiscent of the maritime island from which Kull first came. The look worked for me and I hope you agree that it does, but at the same time I thought something was lacking. I felt that an element that was powerful and evocative of his roots, but was not overly decorative was in order.

At this point I drew up the octopus or “Kraken” brass attachment for his belt in a dull gold color which would contrast with the dark gray of the belt. I felt that the design worked well and was properly reminiscent of an island people.

I had also felt that Kull might have come across an alligator or two in his travels along the coast of his land or those he reached when he left his unenviable position as a galley slave. I thought that a section of alligator skin would make a good addition to the more common sections of armor and furs most barbarians tend to sport. It seemed that a large section of reptile skin would make serviceable armor and would also be fairly flexible. I sometimes over think these things, but there you have it.

As a final touch, I decided to change my approach to his “greaves” or shin guards. I had always planned to sculpt greaves as a functional bit of armor Kull had taken off a vanquished foe. I had sculpted knee guards, which show in earlier photos. I had made them simple and practical, but the fact is that they were an unnecessary and pointless element. At any rate, I just didn’t like them. I decided that armor that only covered the shins made more sense and since he had taken them off someone who didn’t need them anymore, they may have been fairly decorative (suiting the taste of the previous owner) so I gave them some flourishes.

At all times, Paradox was very agreeable and supportive of the design decisions made throughout the course of the costume sculpting.

I think that covers the main figure and these photos show the Kull figure lacking only hair/face, weapons and base except for some minor detailing not shown on his more narrow belt. Next week we’ll look at the approach to the hair and face portrait.

Thanks for reading,
Clay

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2007 in Kull of Atlantis

 

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