Steve Rogers

Monday, October 8, 2007

Before I begin a new Mythos book, I usually sculpt small maquettes of the main characters— in this case, Captain America's alter ego, Steve Rogers. I use Super Sculpey Firm, a modeling compound that you can bake in your home oven, or with a heat gun. There is a small armature made of galvanized steel wire that's looped around inside the head for dimensional stability. I will often bake in two stages, one to create a firm grip on the wire, and the second for the real sculpting.

Lately, I've been lightly oiling the baked maquettes so that they reflect light in the same manner as skin. This is especially important for achieving naturalistic highlights.

I sculpt the hair in a style similar to the way that I paint, using broad strokes. I use a rake, which produces many of the same results as a brush, only in three dimensions. I try to think of the hair as a mass with direction and edges, rather than as individual hairs.

Sculpture has become an invaluable part of my painting process. The proportions and angles of an individual face are much easier to keep consistent when painting from a 3D model. Beyond that, complex lighting effects are much easier to produce. Also, by sculpting the character, I get a better sense of their features, allowing me to maintain the same likeness throughout the book, not to mention that I can "cast" the perfect face for the role.

Once I've made the maquette, it sits at my desk, always ready to "pose" for me. My friends probably got tired of me asking them after several years of modeling.

And finally, here is a picture to give a sense of scale. This is actually one of the larger heads, the others being around an inch tall. As I get them all photographed, I'll post my other maquettes, which range from a Ghost Rider skull with moveable jaw to Professor Xavier's hover-chair from X-Men.


  1. That is a great little sculpture, it's cool how your style is so evident even in sculpey form.

    Have you ever tried using a 3D app such as Zbrush for you sculpting purposes?

  2. The only 3D programs I've used are Form Z and Sketchup. Despite all their abilities, I really only use them for making perspective grids.

  3. Paolo-this is so cool! Until I got to the last picture, I thought the heads were much bigger, like bigger than my fist, for example. I love this post--it's so interesting to read as a non-artist who looks with wonder and awe upon all of the things you create.

  4. Very cool. I'd heard you did these but it's much cooler seeing what they actually look like. Does it matter what kind of oil you are glazing on them or no? And do you use turpenoid to smooth the faces at all?

  5. I think I used some kind of cooking oil... pretty much anything will work. I used the same oil to smooth the face out with an old, soft brush.

  6. Nice sculpture, hey what is that book you have in the background of the first picture, looks like an ear on it?

  7. That happens to be my favorite anatomy book: Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist. The author also happens to be named Stephen Rogers (Peck).

  8. You have skillz brother, truly amazing.


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