Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Giants Among Us

    Truth be told, 40mm sculpting scares me. There is so much three dimensional canvas to cover compared to the area of a 15mm figure. It's also a different mindset. When I sculpt smaller scales there is always a tradeoff between detail and space available. The question becomes, "What are the important details that will tell the viewer this is such and such?" A lot of little fiddly details simply aren't relevant, but choosing those that are can make a big difference.

     I did a lot of 28mm and 40 mm sculpting this week. Speeding up my work flow was discussed in an earlier post, Loosening Up, if you care to read the reasoning behind the change in work style. Overall, I'm pleased with the results of that foray. By forcing myself to work faster I had to choose the important details of these larger pieces. I didn't allow myself time to agonize over much of the work. The basic forms were laid down quickly and detail was added later. It resulted in a good deal more resculpting and shaping after the putty was cured than I usually do. But the end product was completed in about half of the time it would normally take me to do it.

    The first piece was a Vercingetorix sculpt that I had been letting simmer for a couple of years. I have misplaced my sheet brass so it isn't completely finished. But the basic figure is done. I still need to make the shield, but it's an add on piece so there is no reason this can't be put in a master mold as is.

    I opted not to add a cloak. This piece will be done as is first. I can add a cloak to a later variant if I want.

    The second piece is one that has been on my table even longer than the first. You can see evidence of that in the green putty that was used for the face, base and parts of the legs. The whole armature stage was done with green stuff, which I haven't used for sculpting in over five years. Yeah, that's a long time to be staring at an unfinished piece of work.

    Here is my version of Robin Hood.

     There is a 40mm Friar Tuck figure that was the first figure in this series. He's already molded and ready to be put in a production mold with his buddies if they ever show up. Next on the list is Little John. We'll see if I can have him done in less time than the last.

    The issue I have with these is that I have no definite plans for producing them. 40mm figures are large and cost a good bit in metal to produce. But then again they can be sold for a good bit more than a 15mm figure. So the dilemma remains... produce them myself and see what happens or try to shop them somewhere?

High Kings and Queens

    My break from 15mm sculpting this last couple of weeks was fairly productive. I was able to wrap up the High Kings and Queens project last night.

    You've seen the Queens in earlier posts. Here are a couple new pictures.

    The first King was started mid last year and sat around in armature stage while other things were going on. Here's the pic of the completed model.

    The last King was started mid last week during my flurry of speed sculpting. I wrapped him up last night.

    He also has a halberd that gets gripped in his left hand. There's already an undercut behind with the scabbard so I wasn't able to attach this and have it remain castable as a single piece. The hand will need to be drilled and the halberd glued in place by the customer.

    This last photo is a group shot to show relative sizes compared with one of Splintered Light's woodland mice.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Loosening Up

    Most of my commissions require a good deal of tight, intricate work. It really tenses up my whole body and shortens the periods of time I can sit and work. Yoga and regular trips to the gym help alleviate that. I've also taken a page from my college drawing classes this past two weeks.

    One of the most dreaded (at least at first) exercises we did was gesture drawing. The model posed and we were given 30 seconds to capture the essence of that pose. This was really frustrating at first since my tendency is to analyze things, view them from every angle and let them simmer for a while. Vercingetorix for instance.

    This is a 40mm figure that I started over two years ago. Other projects came and went while I decided on the look I wanted for him. Armor or no? Sword or spear? What style of belt and scabbard?

    Imagine my panic when told to draw something that I normally would have agonized over for hours in 30 seconds. So there were frantic scribbles made with broad strokes of charcoal on newsprint. And the worst was yet to come. After four or five of these drawings we were then told that we had 20 seconds to do the next series. Then 10 seconds and finally 5 seconds. Panic set in with each new time constraint.

    I was totally drained after that hour and a half of class, but my body was loose and relaxed. Looking back over the days work I could see the progression from many frantic scribbles for each attempt to a few precise, elegant lines describing the essence of the pose. Maybe there was something to this after all.

    Vercingetorix, by the way, is well under way to completion.  I have details to wrap up and the last choice is cloak or no cloak. A cloak would add some movement and flow to the work. But I kind of like the clean, simple look of him right now.

    Last week I was getting tense after an hour of work on a project. I decided to try gesture sculpting on a few figures. I had two goblin ninjas to do for Goblin Factory. So I bent some wire, pushed some putty and about three hours of work later (time lapsed for curing time between layers of putty) there were two ninjas on my table.


    A little rough, but the anatomy is where I want it and the poses have a decent sense of balance and motion. A little clean up work and they're good to go.

    All right. On to another guy that has been sitting in armature stage for several months. I tried the loose sculpting with the first of the High Kings in 28mm.

    This is a shot after about four hours of work. Again that doesn't count the time for the putty to cure between stages.

    I'm estimating another hour of rough work and probably a second of clean up.

    I started the second High King yesterday.

    Here he is after half an hour of work.

    Just some wire and putty, but again, the anatomy and pose are worked out and  major muscle masses are blocked in. The left arm will have to wait until I have the torso done as it crosses over the body and will need to be bent into place.

    The greatest benefit of gesture drawing was that when we had longer to work on later projects, they were all tighter and more accurate than previous efforts. I expect that the same thing will happen with the sculpting. I'm already starting to see it on another client's project. I'll post some pictures of that later if I get permission.
    I have permission to blog about these now. They are 28mm pinup Napoleonic girls for RastlWorld Minis.

    These will be wearing British Horse Artillery jackets and helmets when they are finished.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Changes at Highlander Studios, Inc.

    Some changes are happening here at Highlander Studios this year. I sat down with the board members (me) and it was decided that I would no longer be working on commissions for other people on the weekends. I've tried to do this in the past, but I started feeling pressured to complete an assignment and ended up working most weekends as well as throughout the week. That led to a lot of resentment about projects.

    So far this year (yeah only one weekend ;p), I've been able to set work aside and spend some extra time with family, friends and the projects I want to finish for myself. This has had the benefit that I am champing at the bit to get back to work by 1200am Monday morning. So I look forward to more productive work weeks and more relaxing week ends.

    It was also decided that I would not be rushing out to the post office every time an order came in. I will be shipping on Wednesdays. Period. Well, OK, barring holidays on a Wednesday when I may have to pick another day. That allows me to make a more regular work schedule during the week and should lead to better productivity.

    My priorities are taking care of my health, my family and then my business. When all is said and done, I make and sell toys. No one will die or even be injured in the slightest by waiting a few days for their product.

    After the craziness last November and December, I have three commissions that need to be wrapped up. I should have them completed by the end of January. I'm taking most of February to get caught up on the Space: 1889 line and a couple of other Highlander Studios projects. So I won't be scheduling work for other folks until March. I'll be glad to provide estimates and start blocking time for your projects in the interim.

    I appreciate your interest and support of Highlander Studios and hopefully these changes will increase productivity and the speed in which I can get your projects and orders out.

                                                                                                                 The Management (me)

Goblin Factory Ninja Goblins

    I wrapped up another part of the Goblin Factory oriental goblin range last Friday. This will be a set of 6 ninja goblins pictured below. They are sized for 28mm gaming, ranging in size from 20mm to 22mm tall sole to top of the head.

    I'll be sending them to the mold maker this week. So hopefully they will be available around the middle of next month. We'll see how that works with his schedule, though.

    These will be available through the Highlander Studios web store More information will be posted regarding price when that is worked out.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

State of the Onion

    November and December were pretty much a wash for sculpting. Travel, Christmas prep, care taking, illness and home repairs really ate up a lot of time. I did manage a few hours of sculpting now and then, but not enough to keep me abreast of the commission work.

    2013 has started off well, though. I got a good bit of work done the last two days and I'm starting to build momentum for the rest of the month. Here are a few of the items.

     The third generic FIW casualty is done. Three more will be wrapped up this week and I have 6 to do as quickly as I can after that.

    Hopefully you all remember Binky. If you don't, he's gonna be angry. I've added one more gang member. This one is the leader, Big Momma. Three more to go to complete this set.

    Just a guy with a SAW and a zombie version. Nothing else I can say about these right now.

    The first set of horses is done. Finally. I hate sculpting horses, mostly because I'm not so good at it yet. Anyway, this set of standing horses will be sold as is and also used as dolls for other projects. I believe Splintered Light will be licensing these as well. So they should be available from both companies.

    New ninja goblins for Goblin factory. Bow and Naginata here. Sword and blow gun in the next WIP photo. This will be a set of 6 when these are completed and available for purchase when the Highlander/ Old Glory/ Goblin Factory stars align correctly.

    In other news: I've decided to take a chance on selling Battle Miniatures Emporium's Tommorow Black range of figures as it becomes available. Yeah, I know Joe has had some issues on the web in the past. But he's been a generally decent guy with me and the conditions for consignment seem to be favorable to both of us. So I'm expanding the ranges of product I carry from other companies. I'll post links to the Tomorrow Black sales page when it's time to start selling.

    And now I need to get on with the rest of the day. Thanks stopping by. Have a great weekend and many fun games!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And so the new one begins...

    First, I'd like to bid 2012 a fond farewell. Some cool things happened like the wedding and all.

     Second, I'd like to give the last two months of 2012 a swift kick in the rear. Thanks for proving that the universe tests the bounds of our patience and reserves. Hopefully all of you who have had some rough times have weathered or are weathering it well.

    Third, thanks to all of my clients, customers and readers for their patience and support this last year. May you be blessed with all the good things you want for yourselves and your loved ones in the coming year. Let's make 2013 a great one because of or in spite of what the universe hands us.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!