New Store Layout! Hope you enjoy!
July 15, 2021
A few folks have mentioned an interest in our design process, so I thought it might be fun to write a little bit about that! I want to start by saying that most of this process happens in my head, where I can't get any screenshots. It makes for a fairly uninteresting visual journey. But I poked around some of my shop folders and found some progress shots of our model Ziq from back when I was sculpting it and I thought that might be fun to share. We'll see if any of this makes sense by the end of this blog post :D
If you're not familiar with our model Ziq, I'm going to point you to the info page to have a look: Ziq's page is here. Ziq is a very texture heavy model that we premired in October of 2018 alongside several other models as a Halloween event between 9 different shops. Oh what fun we had! The theme was Heaven and Hell where each shop picked a side and sculpted a toy appropriate for the theme. I chose Hell and my brain was off to the races!
I've always been super keen on demons and angels, so this theme brought a RUSH of ideas! At this point I had a good line-up of regular shapes in the shop and I wanted to do something very different. The first sketch I did was of a mouth with a tongue, but for some reason i just didn't click with it. (This was before Ohdan was born and surprisingly there's no resemblance between the designs.) But at some point I put pencil to my sketchbook and this came out:
A claw? A fist? A clawed fist! As soon as I put these lines on paper I knew I had to make an attempt at this design. You can see the general shape being felt out in that top sketch. The bottom was more a refining of the idea. You can see that there's not nearly as much detail on these sketches as there is on the final piece. As well, there's no other sketches beyond these. This is usually about how much sketching I do before I jump into the digital space.
So I had my idea and I needed to see if i could make it happen. Before this model I hadn't really done much in the way of 3D sculpting. My brain has a hard time with programs that have as many minute functions as Blender has and I mostly ended up leaving my husband to do the bulk of the sculpting. I'd come in and add final details and touch ups to a model he had done most of the work on. That's how Batou's first digital sculpt went (he sculpted it based on my hand sculpted model). That's how Aelit, Vetti, and Yuri had gone. Tyv had been sculpted for me by another artist and Ceela was in the middle of being sculpted by another artist as well (both were commissioned and designed by myself).
But something changed with Ziq. I was ready to be brave and just...learn to goddamn sculpt. No more putting it off! So I had my husband make the primitive shape for me and I dove in to...digital sculpting in Blender :O I started out with the fingers at the top, trying to clean up the rough shapes, trying to figure out the best way to get the details I wanted. An evening of work gave me the below result:
I had achieved fingers! :D You could tell what they were! Hot damn! So I dived in again the next evening! Slowly, after a night of just picking away at this digital clay, learning how to make it do what I needed it to do, I ended up with this:
Hell yeah! That pretty much matched what I had initially sketched up! I did it! But I couldn't just leave this model with so much smooth space. No, I had to add...DETAILS. So here's where I just let my imagination wander. I knew I wanted to add eyes. An uncomfortable amount of eyes. One big giant eye right there under the claws to start with and then more and more from there. It's a demon! It's gotta be weird! So there was very little rhyme or reason to where I put the details, I just went with my gut. In the end, after a couple of day of poking at this model, I ended up here:
The name came later (as you can see), but I was pretty well satisfied with the sculpt. From here it was up to my poor husband to print and finish this damn thing! He busted his butt and I'm afraid I don't have any photos of that process around. I know all those details gave him fits! We printed the first attempt on our first, very small printer and it just couldn't handle the details well. But then we upgraded to a bigger printer and success! The master was a thing of beauty!
Then it was time to mold. This was back when we were still using glove molds and I remember this being a booger to work with. So many nooks and crannys! But we got a working mold and our first pour was a thrilling success! Here's some photos of that first mold and the first pour!
Initially I looked at Ziq and thought, there's no way I'm going to sell very many of these. Look at all that texture! It's so weird and intimidating! And the size was bigger than most people would prefer. So I pretty much figured that Ziq would be a limited run, one size toy. Here's the first batch I made for that Halloween drop:
I prepped a handful of Ziqs for the Halloween drop that year. I made a handful of others for friends who had also participated in the event and were interested in having a Ziq for themselves. I was very satisfied with the work I'd done. But when I released them I got a LOT of people asking for a smaller size! They liked it! So I immediately got my husband to print up and start working on a small size. Eventually we added a large and that's probably the biggest Ziq we'll end up making. The large is VERY BIG!
So that's pretty much what goes into making a toy. Sometimes I ask for multiple test prints to get the sizing correct. Sometimes I get it right the first time and we just get straight into production. Sometimes things have to go back and get some extra sculpting (looking at the new toy we're putting out next month). And you never really know how well something is going to be received until you put it out there!
I hope y'all weren't hoping for something too deep here. Most of my designing and sculpting is done on the fly once I have a couple of thumbnails done that really resonate with me. I sculpt fast, usually my models are done within 3 days of when I start sculpting. I gotta keep momentum on things. If I leave and come back there's no guarantee I'll remember what I was trying to accomplish with a design. Once I have the thing finished I can go back and refine ideas as needed, but I'd say 90% of the sculpting is done in one or two sittings.
So that's the story of Ziq! I hope you all enjoyed it! For an extra treat, here's the original Ziq art I made for our Halloween event. It's very complicated and weird, but my digital art tends to be like that. Enjoy!
November 23, 2022