Category Archives: sculpting

Big Trouble in Little China + Warcraft = David Lo Panda

Big Trouble in Little China, one of my favourite films. A few years ago an artist I follow posted a photo of something that really made me laugh which was a mashup of Big Trouble and Warcraft and for ages I thought I’d love to have a go at sculpting it. So before I go into this further it’s time for a bit of background information.

I’m a massive John Carpenter fan, I wrote about him while studying my degree at university and last year I actually got to meet the man when he toured the world to promote his second studio album and afterwards I thought I should get round to doing something based on his work which made me think of that drawing again. So when I found a small slot of time, I made a start. Theres are WIP photos in the gallery link at the end of the blog.

I wanted to do a big figure and ended up with quite a heavy piece.

Big Trouble in Little China

He’s a bit of a big chap

Details on him are made from buttons, pins, wire, drawing pins, a knitting needle, some brass tubes, a glass eye and a couple of wooden spheres. Nothing like a bit of random stuff to add interest.

Big Trouble in little oven

Just after baking

It’s a bit of a basic paint job at the moment but I am planning on going back to add more details at somepoint when I’m feeling braver. Probably after I’ve rewatched Big Trouble in Little China for the bazillionth time. If you haven’t seen it, it is a great film and worth a view.

David Lo Pan

Painted Panda.

A Google gallery, if you want to see more pictures including the WIPs, is here:

You can also keep up to date on whatever is going on in my cellar, on my Facebook page Castings of Cthulhu

Tools of the trade

I’ve been asked a couple of times about the tools I use on my sculptures. The main tools are my hands, that sounds a bit patronising, but it’s true. I’ll roll, push, poke, prod and generally mash Sculpey or clay around with my fingers to get the shapes. As for tools, heres some of my commonly reached for with the most important on the left and descending in order to the right.


First off is a couple of wooden tools that are I would struggle to be without as I use them not only for building forms, I tend to use them for detail work as well. The top of the far left one is the one I use for hair a lot.

The next one is a home made one which is a brass tube with a bent jewellers saw blade in the end. I’ve had this for about 15 years as I made it at uni. I honestly have no idea how I bent it as these blades are tough but snap easily, all I can think is I heated it and bent it. I hope I never snap it. Anyway, its a rake, the fine teeth on one side help to shave the top layer of material to make shapes in the clay.

The three together are ball stylus ended thingys. Technical I know. They’re good for forming folds and indentations.

The five black handled tools are silicone tipped sculpting tools. I had some cheap ones once and they lasted about a month. Seriously c**p. I bought these ones from a Spanish website called green stuff world for about 10 euros and they’re amazing. They’ve lasted for about 2 years and show no serious degradation. Shipping to the UK was a bit of jolt but worth it. I’d shop around if I needed new ones now but at the time I was too narked off at my cheapness and didn’t care.

The small silver thing is a Zirconi Zahle 4 Wax Carving Stainless Steel Instrument and will gut you like a fish. Good for sharp clean edge work.

The next bunch of tools are a mix of sculpting tools I’ve collected and dental tools given to me by a dentist a long time ago. Yes, they are second hand… I cleaned them. Many times. The lone brass tube in the middle is a home made pokey thing build from a bit of stiff wire and stuck in place with putty. It comes in handy now and then but not that much.

Red handled tools are silicone paint shapers from a cheap shop. They come in useful now and then but theres nothing the wooden tools can’t do.

Some paintbrushes round off the photo but only because it stopped the shapers from rolling out of the shot.

Not shown are a load of wooden tools that get used on big things, knives, loops (very useful items) and bits I use to make texture like sandpaper and sponges. I also use wooden balls for eyes as I’ve got a selection of sizes although Cthulhu used some glass beads we had in the garden. Pin heads for rivets or buttons. Guitar wire for pipes.

Any questions then drop by the Facebook page and ask or leave a comment on here. I’ll try and make sense with any replies.

Welcome to the Hinterland

Poor old blog… ignored for aaaaaages. I’d like to put it down to being really busy but its also that I’m too damn lazy to update this place. Still, not as bad as the five month gap between the previous two.

So whats been happening in the last couple of months? Well, the Bertram Fiddle kickstarter got funded so I’ve been casting up Gavins like you wouldn’t believe so I’ll write up how thats been going on at some point, I sculpted a Welsh Dragon as a Christmas present, I finished and cast the goddess figure I’d been working on and at the end of the year I did a little personal piece to amuse myself over December. Thats four blog posts waiting to be written.

OK, so I’ll write one up now, just to ease up my workload.

The personal project was my attempt to sculpt a ‘real’ thing. All of my sculptures are either gods, aliens, monsters or comical in some way, shape or form and it seemed like I needed to work on something different to stretch myself in a new way. As it’s easy to sculpt something unnatural and claim “It’s supposed to look like that” I picked a character from a rather dark TV series I watch, hoping I could get a good likeness. This is my attempt at DCI Mathias from the Welsh TV series ‘Y Gwyll’ as shown is Wales or ‘Hinterland’ to the rest of the world, filmed in Aberystwyth. He started off looking a bit rubbish but things always do.

It was a pretty quick sculpt, only taking a couple of weeks (quick for me anyway) and I ended up with this.


Built up over some brass tube and sculpted in super sculpey firm, I’m fairly happy with the outcome even if the paint job was a bit sloppy and I need to work on my flesh tones. The base is a chunk of drift wood which I found while wandering the beach a few miles north of where the TV series is filmed, so fits rather well.

Theres a full album with work in progress shots here:

More to come then, I’ll try and keep the blog updated but don’t hold your breath…

You don’t know Jack

Jack O’Lantern sculpture.

Jack O'Lantern as designed by Michael Bukowski

Jack O’Lantern as designed by Michael Bukowski

Jacks skeleton with Milliput

Jacks skeleton with Milliput

Jack with some Greenstuff slopped all over him

Jack with some Greenstuff slopped all over him

Jack with some more Greenstuff on him

Jack with some more Greenstuff on him

Jack all painted up

Jack all painted up

Another project finished and, as it’s that time of year, I have finished another of the now traditional Halloween sculptures. One of the blogs I follow is Yog-blogsoth by Michael Bukowski. The illustrations are all based on different parts of the Lovecraft Mythos and its refreshing to see a Mythos blog which doesn’t just repeat the same trio of Cthulhu, Dagon and deep ones. Several months ago he posted a picture which caught my tiny mind. It’s one of the aspects of Nyarlathotep who I have a soft spot for in the Mythos and I’ve already posted that I thought Steve Jobs was Nyarlathotep and I’ve come close to sculpting him before in the Pharaoh form he is more widely known for (Nyarlathotep, not Steve Jobs). So with the subject picked, I thought I’d try something new which this time was using greenstuff to sculpt the Jack /Nyarlathotep character.


Usual start, wire frame, milliput over the top and then green stuff which I’ve not used properly before so it was an experience. The first few passes turned out ok but I wasn’t feeling the love properly. Its nice stuff for getting details but I was struggling with the stickyness of it and how floppy it can be when its set. I did find a few interesting tips online, one is it can be mixed with milliput to make it firmer. This does have the minor side effect of making it even stickier so best only to use in smallish amounts.

Another useful tip is not to use metal tools, the greenstuff sticks to them, as well as anything else it touches except silicone tools.

I also found it’s best not to stop on an area and come back to it the next day, its hard to get soft greenstuff to blend over firm greenstuff so lines and gaps can be hard to get rid of. I ended up picking up some liquid greenstuff from Games Workshop which works but is a bit unsmooth as you have to brush it on so a little bit of wet and dry helps once it has set.

One last one, which could be seen as bit icky, smoothing greenstuff seems to be an artform. There are all kinds of suggestions from water (didn’t seem to work too well with me), vaseline which has to be cleaned off before the next layer is added or it won’t stick, but the best one I’ve found is the oil which collects on the nose and forehead. Rub the tools in it, rub your fingers in it, even rub the greenstuff on your face before working with it. Damned if it doesn’t work a treat. Yes, I smoothed the final few passes on this with my own blood, sweat and tears. Well, sort of. I’m trying out a couple of other things but at a pinch it works well.

Jack had his final paint job with Games Workshop paints after a few coats of Halfords finest filler primer.

Google gallery of the build


Cupcake Fairy

Mushroom body with plastic top

Plastic Shroom

Grumpy Shroom

Grumpy Shroom

Big hair Fairy

Big hair Fairy

Filler Primer Fairy

Filler Primer Fairy

Paint job started

Paint job started

Another month, another finished project and this one is a bit of a change of tack from my usual stuff as it’s a fairy.

This was produced as a commission for a chap to give to his girlfriend as a gift and the brief ran vaguely along the lines of: a fairy with bee-wings (NOT butterfly wings) and not a skinny standard fairy. Other than that I had pretty much free reign to do what I wanted. After some thought I came up with the idea of her sitting on a mushroom which gave me the chance to play around with two characters at once.

A chunk of metal rod and a plastic disc started the shape of the mushroom so I has something solid to put her on. On the first pass at the mushroom, I was trying to get something of a Brian Froud vibe going, with a grumpy looking mushroom along the lines of the goblin faces from ‘Labyrinth’ but ended up toning that back a bit. The fairy had a simple metal armature blocking out her shape and I knew I wanted her sitting on the mushroom looking at something but I wasn’t sure at what as I was making it up as I went along.

Early photos to the client came back with a request to make the hair shorter (more punk) which gave me a chance to work on the face more (I’m still not getting faces quite right but it’s all practice and this one brought hands and feet to the mix as well) and the suggestion of a her looking at a cupcake was floated and I went with that. My earlier thoughts had been around something like a flower, a dragonfly or a bird but the scale would have been interesting as they could have ended up being nearly as big as her.

Once baked, she was coated in filler primer (Halfords best), filled, some bits changed and filler primed again before being undercoated in black and painted.

The wings are made from silver coated wire, glued onto some fantasy film I got from ebay. It’s basically a kind of clear film which changes colour based on the angle you view if from. It’s quite cheap and I only used a small amount so I’ll have to find something to do with the rest at some point.

The grass on the base is made from a hanging basket liner I picked up from Wilkinsons for the princely sum of 10p. Chopped and glued down it looks pretty good.

More making of photos are in my Google photos album.

Final Fairy

Overall I’m pleased with how she’s come out (and the mushroom) and it’s made a nice change from all the bronze statues I’m cluttering up the planet with at the moment.

Sitting in the grass

Admirable Cthulhu

Admirable Cthulhu

Admirable head on

Three little bots from school are we, filled to the brim with bottish glee.

Admirable headless

Poor soul. And all his mates can do is look on while he is destroyed in the name of art.

Admirable Milliput head

Some milliput and wooden beads

Admirable greenstuff head

Slapping on the greenstuff

Admirable Cthulhu

All painted up.

It’s another Cthulhu related post! Wooooo! Nothing like being a one trick pony. Fhtagn!

I’ve sort of mentally decided that I’m only going to blog about projects when they’re finished, rather than step by step updates, which means less posts but hopefully more useful/interesting content. This one is about my experiments with hacking up an Admirable Crichton figure by Andrew Byham and adding a new noggin based on the giant rubberyness of Cthulhu. The figures are available in painted and unpainted versions on Etsy and I got three unpainted in white resin then immediately set about removing one head and jamming some wire in the neck ‘ole. Then, once the glue had dried I piled on the Milliput and put some wooden beads in the place I wanted the beady little Cthulhu eyes to be.

A few years ago I picked up some Greenstuff from Games Workshop and I’ve been meaning to try it out but never got round to it. I finally braved up and opened the pack expecting it to be dried up and unusable but fortunately it was still workable. As I’d never used it before I wasn’t sure what to expect but actually its nice stuff to use. Its firm enough to hold detail well but soft enough to mould into shape. I set about building the form up aware that it dries in a couple of hours from mixing so I had to work fast(ish). I jammed a load into place and left it overnight.

The next morning I was surprised at the way it was still slightly bendable, I was expecting something like Milliput which dries rock hard but I found the tentacles still flex a little when prodded. A quick look round the net confirmed this is what its supposed to be like which was a relief as I was thinking it hadn’t set due to its old age. One thing I’ve left off is that Cthulhu is usually depicted with big wings but I thought I’d not sculpt them with this chap. I wanted to keep as much of the core figure intact and only work on the head as a new part.

A few more nights of pushing and squidging putty into place gave me something I was quite pleased with for a first effort and was ready for painting but I’m a lazy painter. I need to improve my technique a lot as it tends to be loads of dry brushing and too many ink washes. I’m thinking about going back to some of my unpainted GW figures and practicing on some of them to try and improve. I undercoated in black and then built up the colours in layers while trying to avoid drybrushing as much as possible due to everything looking like stone when overdone. He’s come out well enough but I know I could do better with some more practice.

The admirable Cthulhu

The admirable Cthulhu