Jason Babler is MAKE’s Creative Director. Late at night he sneaks into his garage to work on one-of-a-kind sculptures. Here’s his latest! -Gareth Branwyn
I began this sculpture two years ago, when I was working for a book publishing company. I had the good fortune to be the Art Director for Blizzard’s book, Diablo III: The Book of Cain.
Diablo is one of my favorite PC game series, so designing the book and helping Blizzard direct the illustrations of some of my favorite fantasy illustrators (Brom, Iain McCaig, James Gurney, Adrian Smith, John Howe) was a dream come true.
One of the bosses in Diablo III is the Lord of Sin, Azmodan, a Lesser Evil of the Burning Hells. True to his moniker, he’s a monstrosity in every regard. As soon as I saw the sketches, I just had to sculpt him. He ended up being more challenging than I even expected, as it took me an estimated cumulative 2-3 months to complete him. He has six insect legs, multiple texture types, and his hands and head glow with demonic energy. And if that wasn’t difficult enough, I had to light him up with LEDs.
I wanted this thing to be large, imposing, and he does not disappoint: the base is two feet across and he is 17″ tall.
The beginning I first sculpted one of the legs with Sculpey and Magic-Sculpt. To save time, I made a mold.
I cast six copies in resin and cut each one at the joints, posed them differently, glued them together and re-sculpted the seamlines. I then drilled holes in the ends to insert 1/2″ armature wire in order to pose them. By using big globs of Magic-Sculpt, I was able to cement all the legs and locked them into place. I used Magic-Sculpt to add the ornamental joint guards on these two front legs.
I then began on the torso. I blew up a balloon that matched the basic size of the beast, and laid a shell of Magic-Sculpt over it to harden. That gave me a starting point to build up his torso and arms, rolls of fat, and final skin texture. I needed his torso to be somewhat hollow to cut down on weight on the legs and to also hide the wiring.
I sculpted his left arm, and glued on strips of styrene for the bracelets. I made a mold of his arm and cast a resin copy for the right arm to save time. I was able to get away with this technique because his arms were so flabby and massive, they didn’t have much definition. Plus, they were going to be in the same pose. After drilling holes in the arms and torso for the wiring, I glued the arms on.
I sculpted both hands and cast them in clear resin so that they would glow. I also sculpted one energy ball and a wisp of smoke/energy to simulate the fireball he summons. I wanted the effect of the fireball to be floating above his hand. After casting them in clear resin, they looked great.
The large horns on his back were actually really hard to make due to the limited space I had when his legs were posed. I first got the general shape with aluminum foil wrapped around thick armature wire. I built up the form with Magic-Sculpt, and glued them to the body right before painting.
His *ahem* codpiece was all done in strips of styrene, except for the skull portion, which was made in Magic-Sculpt and glued on. All the metal parts were base painted in black, and simply drybrushed with metallic paint over that. The large mouth in his torso was done with more Magic-Sculpt fangs. After I painted him, I added Heavy Gel Medium over the teeth, which gives that wet slobbery look when it dries.
I wanted his mouth and eyes to glow as well, so I initially did not paint over his eyes. However, when the lights were turned off, you didn’t have anything to focus on when you looked at him. So I added a bit of white, and when you turn the lights on, the edges still glow, so it was a good compromise.
I had to mold his head in two parts, so I could add the teeth later. Here are the two pieces after I molded them and were later cast in clear resin (his tongue was also separately sculpted and cast in clear resin). His larger teeth were sculpted on with Magic-Sculpt. The little teeth were so fine, I decided to use the ends of little wooden toothpicks. Worked well enough!
Some other build notes:
The strips of cloth that hang between his legs were cut out of styrene. I first heated up the strips to get the sweeping curved motion, then glued them together. I laid Magic-Sculpt over it and dabbed it with a brush to give it a textured cloth look. Adding magnets to the strips so that they are removable helps me get at the inside of the torso to access the LEDs. Not a great solution, but I’ll figure a way to hide a switch in the back of him one day.
Painting him was incredibly fun. I used anIwata HPC-Plus airbrush to put down base colors and some shading work. I used black and burnt umber washes to give that grimy look. The metallic paints on his ornamentation are all dry-brushed as well.
For the base, I took a large disposable party platter and filled it with Durham’s Putty. I let the putty dry and broke it into large rocky chunks. I used some of the rounder-edged pieces and treated it like the ruins of some architectural arch. Using my Dremel, I carved in more architectural detailing, and added magic runes. By painting those specific pieces gold it gave the base some more visual interest. All these rocks were simply glued to a base of plywood. After I glued the larger pieces down, I sprayed the entire piece with Scenic Glue, and sprinkled on cat litter. After that all dried, I sprayed everything with textured paint, primed the entire piece in black, and begun drybrushing.
Our wonderful intern, Brian Melani helped wire up the LEDS for me, which are tucked inside of his body. Greg Hayes, our staff photographer, took these great pictures.
It was a great piece to work on, posed a lot of challenges, and I learned many things from it! If you have any questions about any of the specifics, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.