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he work you see here-in, is connected through a common thread - the exploration of facial sculpting. Our creative toy industry is formed of a myriad of skillsets, each attributing to the overall design that keeps us engaged with our passion. Sculpting, from concept to execution, is perhaps the most important at bringing us closer to the characters and iconography of popular culture in physical form. The Exclu Collective Team has set out to showcase a wide range of work emanating from both the industry standardsetters to custom creators working on one-off molds. This publication will explore and celebrate the craft with a full compliment of exclusive imagery taken by our team in an attempt to document the process from start to finish. We’ll be joined by those involved in the craft themselves to gain further insight into the process of capturing narratives in sculpt to tell a complex story. Whether its a well known character, or a completely new face, great sculpting has the ability to instantly convey thoughts and feelings, bringing us closer to the characters themselves. The process starts with conceptualising and identifying the character and their mindstate, and we’ll be showing some behind-the-scenes material from one of the industry’s top artistic studios to shine a light on the often overlooked area. The Exclu Team has come together to apply our photographic skills to showcase a full range of figures from the crystal clear 1:6 scale decreasing down the line with some surprising results. In 2017 we raised our own bar further with 4 community publications and a plethora of projects and engagements. In 2018 that bar will be raised once more. Jack Sturman Exclu Director

This publication is a protected piece of material produced by Exclu Media Ltd. Do not attempt to reproduce without explicit permission from Exclu Media Ltd. The photography seen here-in belongs to the credited photographers - do not attempt to pass off these images. A full list of crediting for the manufacturer’s whose products are showcased can be found at the rear of the publication.

Top to bottom, left to right:

Director - Jack Sturman Exclu Network - Jason Yang, Spencer Witt, Isaiah Takahashi, Shahzad Bhiwandiwala Reviews Team - Mark Walker, Stan Russell, Trevor Williams, Dale Schenck News Team - Matt Heywood, Patrick Pchalek, Tham Ying Keet




- Mark

From Guardians Of The Galaxy. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Mark Walker.

“This figure had been a Grail piece for me from announcement to my picking him up towards the end of last year. I’m a huge Guardians fan and so although I don’t have a big 1:6 scale collection, this was something that had to be included when I got the chance. The detail and likeness to Chris Pratt makes this a perfect example of what Hot Toys do best and why we love to photograph them. By using various lighting equipment and techniques - from strobes and studio flash heads, to propping an iPad to the side with a fully coloured screen - the finer details and subtle imperfections in the skin tones and facial sculpt can be portrayed.”

“One of the best characters to come from The Clone Wars and Rebels shows. Ashoka is an extremely interesting character. Hasbro did an amazing job on this sculpt. While the Lekku, or head-tails, definitely limit the articulation of the head, they look great! Hasbro also did a great job capturing her likeness from the animated show and transferring it to this realistic version. Since its release Hasbro has unveiled their new Digital Face Printing technology. Hopefully we can hope for one day getting an amazing paint application to go with this incredible sculpt.� - Isaiah

AHSOKA TANO From Star Wars (Animated). Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Isaiah Takahashi.

BATMAN (ARMOURED) From Batman Vs Superman. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Patrick Pchalek.

“Ben Affleck portrayed a broken man who is tired of fighting crime in endless fights. He’s angry and aggressive about man and has lost his faith in humanity. The armored suit shows how dangerous Batman can be if he has preparation time and a reason to fight.” - Patrick

OBI-WAN KENOBI From Star Wars. Produced by Jnix (Old Ben) & Inigo (Clone Wars). Shot by Trevor Williams.


From The Hobbit / The Lord Of The Rings. Produced by Asmus Collectibles. Shot by Spencer Witt.

“Besides Star Wars, I am a big fan on fantasy, and the Lord of the Rings are some of my favorite books and movies. Gandalf is such an iconic character. The Asmus figure has a great likeness to Ian McKellen. I took this shot trying to capture the part of The Fellowship of the Ring when Gandalf confronts Frodo and says, “Is it secret? Is it safe?” I tried to focus on using shadows and lighting on the face to bring out the sculpt.” - Spencer

“We all know K-2SO does not back down from anything, and will even sacrifice himself to save his friends. While he is a purely logical being, this droid showed the most emotion of all the ones we have seen in the Star Wars Universe. I took this shot imaging that an intense battle has just finished, and K2 is popping his head out from behind his cover to see if the coast is clear. Whether he hid because of fear, or because Cassian told him to, we do not know, but we do know he survived this encounter!� - Stan

K-2SO From Rogue One : A Star Wars Story. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Stan Russell.

SCARLETT WITCH From The Avengers. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Patrick Pchalek.

“She was first introduced as a villain but develops into one of the good guys but remains on the fence about her powers and which side to choose. Also a very deep character (at least in the comic) who thinks a lot about her super-powers and her place in things� - Patrick

“One of my favorite movies of all time. I wanted to show the fierceness of the expression on this sculpt and the detail of the paint which has the dried, caked, and cracked look of the real thing.� - Trevor

WILLIAM WALLACE From Braveheart. Produced by Kaustic Plastik & Dario Barbera Shot by Trevor Williams.

LEONARDO From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Produced by NECA. Shot by Matt Heywood.

“Like the Gollum figure, NECA absolutely nailed the ¼ scale Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures in terms of sculpt and paint. I went with Leo for this portrait project, because he has a very stoic looking facial expression, which can change the tone of his mood based on how you light the figure and angle his head. In the two shots that I did of him I made sure to shoot one showing his confident leadership expression, while the other offers a darker emotional feel thanks to the red lighting and head angle. “ - Matt

MAZ KANATA From Star Wars : The Force Awakens. Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Tham Ying Keet.

“An underrated figure from the Black Series in my humble opinion. Some people have labeled this figure as boring and not worth picking up. They’ve commented that there’s not much we can do with this figure but I beg to differ as I had a great time shooting her. She looks so good on camera and as always, Hasbro delivers when it comes to non human characters. They painted her eyes beautifully. I wanted to capture her as how I saw her in The Force Awakens, someone who has lived long, wise and has had so many adventures.” - Tham

GROOT From Guardians Of The Galaxy. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Dale Schenck.

THE FLASH From The Flash (CW). Produced by Kotobukiya. Shot by Patrick Pchalek.


From Jerrod Maruyama. Produced by Disney. Shot by Jason Yang.

“Released as an exclusive to Disneyland’s WonderGround Gallery, Hipster Mickey quickly became a grail piece for collectors. Jerrod Maruyama’s original illustration and concept translates extremely well when realized through vinyl. The contrast of both textures and bold colors accentuate the whimsical concept of Mickey as a present day millennial.” - Jason

- Tham


“Tortured soul”. That’s what I want to describe the feel conveyed in these shots of Logan. In the movie, Logan has gone through a lot, with the death of his teammates in the hands of his beloved Professor X and now he carries the burden of taking care of Xavier.”

From The X-Men. Produced by Hasbro (With OLDBOY CTTS Headsculpt.) Shot by Tham Ying Keet.

“Another favorite Oldboy_ctts headsculpt of mine is the Hugh Jackman version of Logan. Hugh Jackman gave us his best performance as the old canucklehead in the movie, Logan.

HAN SOLO From Star Wars : The Force Awakens. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Shahzad Bhiwandiwala.

“The Final Portrait - “The headsculpt has a very gritty and determined looking Han Solo, a far cry from his younger carefree self. In The Force Awakens we saw a Han Solo who knew what was at stake and he knew he needed to put on his A game to beat the First Order. That is exactly the emotion that I have tried to portray with this image. The whole winter gear along with the backdrop really helps sell the cold and determined mood portrayed by this incredible headsculpt.” - Shahzad


From The Guardians Of The Galaxy. Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Tham Ying Keet.

“Hasbro did a great job on this figure and the likeness to Zoe Saldana is uncanny. This was truly one of the best figure to come out of the Marvel Legends line in 2017. It was a joy shooting this figure. Gamora was portrayed as a hardened female warrior in the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies but I wanted to capture the more softer side of her in these shots. No weapons, just her facial and body expressions coupled with my lightings.� - Tham

YODA From Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Spencer Witt.

“Something that has impressed me more and more in the years I’ve been collecting and photographing toys are the leaps and bounds that are being made in field of the 1:12 scale figures. When I got my hands on my first figure by SHFiguarts early last year I couldn’t get over how incredibly detailed the sculpt and digital paint application was on a figure this size. Batman here is no exception, adding the one thing I was hoping for - a wired soft goods cape! Digirama was applied here using background images from the movie and promotional material for Justice League.” - Mark

BATMAN (JL) From Justice League. Produced by Bandai Tamashii Nations. Shot by Mark Walker.





hen it comes to the make-up of a great collectible figure several aspects are important; clothing details, accuracy of accessories, the right body height/build are all pertinent. But none more so than the likeness that sits atop the shoulders. A sculpt can make or break a figure no matter how nicely the weapons are detailed, or the stitching tight. Companies and collectors that want the best, turn to the best sculptors in the business. Among those great few, Inigo Gil has emerged as a go-to man for high quality, and high-accuracy likenesses. Inigo has done work for figure producers like Quantum Mechanix, Big Chief Studios, and Gentle Giant among others. His limited edition Indiana Jones sculpts are legendary. As both an artist and collector, he puts his soul into his work and painstakingly works and reworks a piece until he himself would be happy to own it as a collector. We sat down with Inigo to talk about his process and his passion for the work. Right - Captain Kirk by Inigo.

Hi Inigo! Lets get started with a little introduction to yourself; My name is Inigo Gil. I also use sign my work’s as “Inigou” too. I´m from Getxo, Spain, a beautiful town near Bilbao in the north and I´m 39 years old. I’m not married, but I live with two ladies - Elena, my girlfriend, and Mina, my dog. I love watching films, series and playing video games. And collecting! How did you get started sculpting scale likenesses? A few years ago, not happy with a stock head sculpt that came with a figure, I decided to make my own version. I began learning the way to print the digital sculpts with enough resolution, the process of digital printing etc. I met Sean Dabbs, an artist who helped me loads in that time. Since I was a child, I’ve liked to draw portraits and caricatures of my family, friends, and actors I liked. Were you a collector first or an artist first? I think both. Well, since I was a child, action figures have been my passion. I remember, when I was 6 years old, the day I watched Return of the Jedi for the first time at the cinema. Since then, I got hooked on Star Wars figures and merchandising. I also liked to customize my toys, adding features, painting them and modeling. I “sculpted” my first small-scale millennium falcon with playdoh :) You can imagine the terrible result, but I loved it.

How long have you been doing this now? Professionally, around 5 years, but I’ve built and painted models since childhood. Essentially when I discovered sixth scale figures, when I was around 15. “Dragon Models 1/6 scale scud hunter” was my first figure and after that, I fell in love and focused my hobby in 1/6. That hobby became a profession. So you consider this your profession or is it just a side job? Now its my profession, and I love it. I quit my 11 year job in an advertising agency to study 3D modeling and animation and things went well, fortunately. Do you do anything else involving art or otherwise besides from your sculpting work? Yes, I like music and played bass for years, and I still play drums in a band. I also like drawing but dont get to practise much. What is your process? What kind of research do you do when approaching a new sculpt? I look for best reference I can find, compile that reference and start sketching. I used to get captures of the film and find some pictures of the actor/actress of the main angles (front, side, 3/4) or the closer angle I can get and the required hairstyle and expression, then I’d create a big mosaic/collage in photoshop and use it in the secondary monitor. I always start with a regular expressions, even if I’m going make a totally different one, to try to first get the character without any alterations. Left - “Goldfinger” by Big Chief Studios . Right - Obi-Wan Kenobi (Revenge Of The Sith) by Inigo.


Do you take measurements or do you rely mainly on your eye?

What have you not sculpted that you would love to - either for the challenge or to have?

I should take more measurements than I really do. But I mainly do it by eye. Sometimes it causes me to make mistakes..need to change that behavior!

I´m lucky as I can use my free time to do my favorite characters apart from my day job with Big Chief but definitely would love to have time (and patience) to make all Saving Private Ryan cast or Band of Brothers for example. WW2 is one of my passions. Someday, I would like to make characters that I´m sure will not sell well. Characters from films I loved but are not so popular.

I really don’t like the overlay techniques or load image planes - the theoretical “benefits” that digital sculpting has. At least for me, it makes you lose the character “life” or essence. What software do you rely on when working on your projects? Mainly ZBrush. Also, I use Maya for hard surface modeling. Is there a difference in sculpting men and women - is one more difficult than the other? Yes in a word. Women are more difficult in my opinion, for two reasons; the features are softer and usually more beautiful, so you have to be more accurate to get the likeness and femininity. Also, the makeup is there in all the references. That makeup hides or alters the real factions of the face.

Would you like to sculpt for larger, even life-sized scales? Of course. I would love to do a 1/1 head, bust or statue, cast in silicone and with real hair. Unfortunately, I don’t’ see that happening soon. Not a big demand for those kinds of things. I really don’t have room in my studio to manage so big scaled jobs! Maybe in the future…who knows?! What are you future plans and any projects you may have on the horizon? I’m continuing to work with Big Chief Studios. I’ve loved James Bond for as long as I can remember, so I want to get involved more and more with the franchise. And of course, making my own stuff! A huge thank you for taking the time to share an insight into your work Inigo!




- Jason

From He-Man Masters Of The Universe. Produced by Funko. Shot by Jason Yang.

“As a designer, illustrator and child of the 80’s it makes sense that this designer toy ticks all the boxes for me. The stylized approach throughout the Hikari line is just plain fun! This 24k Gold variant is magnificent in its simplicity, allowing the aged patina effects to accentuate the details in the figure, truly making it shine.”

DARTH VADER From Star Wars. Produced by Kotobukiya. Shot by Patrick Pchalek.

“One of my favorite figures from 2017, I decided to get this figure for the impressive job done by Mafex in capturing the likeness of Will Smith in the 1:12 scale figure form.


From Suicide Squad. Produced by Medicom. Shot by Tham Ying Keet.

I wanted a cinematic feel to these shots, hence I decided to have him posed with his array of weapons just like in the Suicide Squad movie. The subway terminal set from Extreme Sets provided the perfect backdrop for this series of shots.� - Tham

SUPREME LEADER SNOKE From Star Wars : The Last Jedi. Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Isaiah Takahashi.

“Pathetic Child. I cannot be betrayed, I cannot be beaten…” When choosing figures based on sculpt, how could you not pick Supreme Leader Snoke? The detail and likeness is absolutely incredible! I could see this sculpt being one of Hasbro’s all-time best. While the paint application is what ultimately gives it away, there is no denying how good the details are. Hopefully we can see a Digital Face Tech version of Snoke as well sometime in the future.” - Isaiah

GOLLUM From The Lord Of The Rings / The Hobbit. Produced by NECA. Shot by Matt Heywood.

“NECA’s Gollum is one of the most detailed and affordable action figures around, and the expression on his face begs to be featured in a portrait. You can feel this hobbit’s pain through his scrunched up brow and snarling mouth. The sculpt perfectly illustrates the torture this character has experienced in his life, which is what I wanted to capture with these shots.“ - Matt


From Star Wars : Revenge Of The Sith. Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Isaiah Takahashi.

“One of the coolest clones around! A little weathering takes this figure to the next level. When you’re not sure it’s a 1:12 Black Series, or a 1:6 Hot Toy, you know you’ve got something great. Hasbro nailed the sculpt of Cody’s helmet. Very detailed, and holds up extremely well at close distance. With Hasbro announcing more and more Clones since Cody’s initial release, hopefully we can expect an even better version of him with removable helmet! Sad to see Cody go through with Order 66, but then I guess he didn’t really have a choice, did he?” - Isaiah

“This figure marked a turning point in collecting and toy photography for me. I had always longed for the opportunity to shoot a figure by Hot Toys, and last year I was given that opportunity when I won this figure through Sideshow Collectibles during one of their Instagram giveaway live videos. The detail and facial sculpt instantly blew me away and I knew Id be hooked for life. These shots were created through a combination of Digirama and lighting from soft boxes and coloured gels. Although the figure does include two head sculpts, I much prefer the unmasked version as this shows off the quality and craftsmanship that goes into these figures far better.� - Mark

WINTER SOLDIER From Captain America : The Winter Soldier. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Mark Walker.

GRISHNAKH From The Lord Of The Rings. Produced by Asmus Collectibles. Shot by Shahzad Bhiwandiwala.

“The Boba Fett Return of the Jedi Hot Toys was my first 1/6 scale figure. There is just something about the detail in these Hot Toys that makes it almost hard to do a bad shot of them. Boba Fett is my favorite character in Star Wars ever since I was a kid. I love his armor, helmet, jet pack, he really has such a unique look. Hot Toys really nailed the sculpt. My favorite aspect of Boba’s helmet is the visor.” - Spencer

BOBA FETT From Star Wars : The Return Of The Jedi. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Spencer Witt.

TUSKEN RAIDER From Star Wars : A New Hope. Produced by Sideshow Collectibles. Shot by Dale Schenck.

THE JOKER From The Dark Knight. Produced by Hot Toys (Ft. CREG Customs / Jay Deogracias).

Shot by Trevor Williams.

“When the idea of this issue was brought up, I knew I had to feature this fantastic work of art. While it’s a specific eye position, I wanted to see how many of the various aspects of Clown Prince of Crime I could convey; the humor, fear, and the criminal mastermind that is the Health Ledger Joker we all love.” - Trevor

FN-2187 From Star Wars : The Force Awakens. Produced by Funko. Shot by Matt Heywood.

“I went with the FN-2187 Funko Pop because while Pops are somewhat static in their expression, I do find this particular one to exude the pain Finn felt during the raid on the Jakku town in which he saw one of his squad mates gunned down by Poe Dameron. You can feel his sadness and his inner conflict through this Pop, so I used two different angles and different lighting to expand upon those emotions. “ - Matt

GREEDO From Star Wars - A New Hope. Produced by Sideshow Collectibles. Shot by Dale Schenck.


- Shahzad

From Iron Man 3. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Shahzad Bhiwandiwala.

“This figure boasts probably one of the best head sculpts by Hot Toys. While the portrayal of Mandarin was nothing short of controversial I personally loved it and being a Ben Kingsley head sculpt it holds a special place in my collection. The central theme I have gone with here is “Power”, the first photograph is “Hail the King” and the second is “The Offer”. Both aim at capturing the sheer power this figure exudes if posed just right.“

TIE FIGHTER PILOT From Star Wars - The Force Awakens. Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Stan Russell.

“Being one of the most iconic figures in pop culture and science fiction, Stormtroopers in action figure form aren’t hard to come by. Of the countless versions of troopers in 1:12 scale available, my favorite by far comes from Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series line, the Sandtrooper. Aside from the obvious features (paint, articulation, and price point), the proportions and accuracy in the helmet sculpt are what make this a superior figure.“ - Jason

SANDTROOPER From Star Wars . Produced by Hasbro. Shot by Jason Yang.





f a picture is worth a thousand words, then a portrait is worth volumes. And there may be no more vast and varied portrait library in the world than at Sideshow, a world-renowned creator of museum-quality pop culture collectibles. Sideshow has been producing iconic portraits of fandom’s most beloved heroes, villains, and creatures for more than two decades. With all that experience, it is no wonder that some of the finest examples of Sideshow’s portraiture lie in the studio’s own original property, the Court of the Dead. The Court of the Dead is a line of collectibles, books, jewelry and apparel based on an original dark fantasy horror universe created by Sideshow’s Chief Creative Officer, Tom Gilliland. EXCLU recently caught up with the team who produced the latest addition to the Court of the Dead collection: the Kier: Death’s Warbringer Premium Format (tm) Figure...

EXCLU: We’d like to better understand Sideshow’s design and development processes. How does a portrait evolve from an idea to a finished prototype? Jesse: I like to think of it as “Darwinism.” It is evolution. In this case, we are evolving the ideas that crawl out of the sea of Tom’s creative mind. We start exploring ideas in sketches and loose 2D art to see what best fits our needs. Our idea is now out of the sea and walking on four legs. Unlike a character from a movie or TV series, Kier is our own original creation. With a movie character, you have an actor who plays that character and is well established… so you usually have a fair amount of reference for your artists to work with. In some cases with our original properties, we will “cast” a look that we are going for. Not necessarily a know person but anything that gives us inspiration. It can be 2D art, or just a specific style of art. I know we have referenced classical sculptures of the masters to help focus our ideas. We then take all our ideas and “Frankenstein” them into our desired Look. Our idea is now walking on two legs. When it gets into the hands of our sculptor - in this case, the mighty Mark Newman - he will have a direction in which he can start to sculpt. Mark brings his expertise and grace to the project. In the case of Kier, he added the emotions of rage and fury. At this point, our idea is now that last character on that evolution chart: Upright, walking on two legs, and holding a spear. But, in this case, not a spear but a f*cking sword coved in the blood of her enemies!

Tom Gilliland: Chief Creative Officer Mark Newman: Master Sculptor Kat Sapene: Lead Painter Jesse Lincoln: Project Manager

Kat: At the start of every new project the painter will sit down with the Art Director and go over the entire project to determine the attitude and overall feel of the statue that we’re looking for, like costume notes and nuances of color. We’ll also discuss what’s possible to achieve with

paint; is there something new that we can try that will help sell the overall idea; etc. This can be anything from casting the skin in a tinted resin to adding metallics to the hair for a more realistic sheen. If it’s a female figure, we’ll discuss the makeup and what would fit each character the best; a more natural look, or smoky eyes and dark lips. Once the painter has a solid framework, the portrait can evolve from there. At that point it’s really a moment-to-moment decision as to what is and what isn’t working. Sometimes I’ll play around in Photoshop to try out a few different lip colors or styles for the eye makeup. That way I’m not adding unnecessary layers of paint to the final piece. That can add up pretty quickly and ruin a sculpt by filling in all the detail. Personally, when painting a figure, I like to start with the skin and the portrait. I think it sets the mood for the rest of the figure. EXCLU: Who is Kier, and what does this expression communicate about her? Tom: Kier is an outcast. She’s a Valkyrie angel who was discovered to be imperfect at birth, and thus discarded by a callous Heavenly Host, and left to die… But Kier was adopted by Death - or, the Alltaker, as we call him - master of the Underworld. Her celestial nature, mixed with a new afterlife in the Underworld, has given her a journey that will either follow the path of rage and revenge against those that rejected her, or one that will accept the flow of circumstances and seek a greater spiritual path of enlightenment. This version of Kier is titled “Warbringer” to suggest that she definitely struggles with her two potential fates. She is conflicted, yet possesses a tremendous capacity to absorb the challenges around her and channel them into more productive spiritual expressions.

Her portrait screams defiance, and burns with the still-smoldering aspects of her past that in battle she cannot suppress. Mark: This is the second statue we have created of Kier. Her expression in this depiction is communicating her explosive rage, and triumphant excitement in the slaying of her latest conquest. EXCLU: How did you decide on the final design for Kier’s portrait? Mark: To start with, being a strong female character, the structure of Kier’s face had to feel quite deliberate in nature: angular features; more of a rectangular shape to her face without being too masculine. She needed to have a stern look on her face, with an emotionless glare in her eyes, as in the first defining portrait of her. This second portrait had to keep those base guidelines, but stretch to the extreme emotional rage caught in the moment of battle. Tom: In the Court of the Dead story, the Underworld is covertly building a rebellion against the corrupted celestial realms of Heaven and Hell. Kier is one of the several major characters in Death’s plan to bring about a new balance that frees both Underworlders and mortals alike. The previous incarnation of Kier in sculpt form focused on the brooding nature of her inner conflict. This Warbringer iteration allows that fragile balance to explode with both her own rage, and that of the long-suffering Underworld. She is the very face of the Underworld’s struggle in this piece. EXCLU: Was this portrait sculpted traditionally, digitally, or both? What are some of the tools that you used to develop the Kier portrait, and have any recent technological advancements affected how you sculpt? Mark: This portrait was sculpted traditionally, using a polymer clay called Super Sculpey. I used a number of tools; mostly tools I made myself.

Some of my tools are based on existing tools that you can buy. I often make my own to better suit my specific needs, such as loop tools made from different sizes and gauges of steel wire for cutting and carving the clay. [I have also made] small flattened-spoon-shaped tools of wood, or brass rod stock shaped with a dremel grinder tool for pushing around the clay similar to how you use your fingers, but with better control. Flattened or forged steel wire stock with different shaped tips for pushing and scribing in details and fine feature like eyes and lips. Kind of hard to explain in writing.

different eye positions before settling on a direction that I felt really captured Mark’s intent.

I’m also sculpting more digitally now with the awesome program ZBrush. It seems to be the sign of the times these days. Sculpting digitally is key, especially in the “commercial sculpture” realm. The program is very versatile, as far as quick basic design iterations, tweaking, and sizing a sculpt for 3D printing.

Specifically, with this extreme expression of Kier, the most challenging aspect for me was more on the technical side of engineering the top and bottom teeth pallets to be removable and key into place for ease of molding, casting and painting - especially for the production side of things. Sculpting these type of high-end collectible statues traditionally comes with many challenges as far as engineering the piece for production. Basically, I’m designing and fabricating a complicated three-dimensional puzzle while keeping a natural and beautiful flow in the pose throughout the entire assembled, finished piece.

It seems that a sculptor coming from a traditional clay sculpting background can translate fairly quickly into digital, but interestingly enough the reverse isn’t that common. I see this quite a lot in my experience when co-teaching traditional anatomy sculpting workshops. Many of the students come from a digital sculpting background without much, if any, experience with clay. Some amazing digital sculptors with work showing a great understanding of anatomy, proportions and portraiture can feel quite lost trying to shape clay into the same results they are used to [producing digitally]. EXCLU: What was the most challenging aspect of sculpting Kier’s portrait? What was the most challenging aspect of painting her? Kat: The most difficult part of any portrait is getting the right expression to come through in the eyes. This was no different for Kier. Particularly since she doesn’t have your usual iris and pupil. Mark sculpted Kier with such a wonderfully fierce expression; I wanted to make sure that was still present in the paint. I used Photoshop to try out a few

Mark: The most challenging thing for me, usually, in sculpting an extreme expression is keeping the underlying bone structure sound and true without stretching the features out of the realm of reality and into caricature. You can exaggerate the features too far too quickly in the rough-in stage and find yourself all out of whack getting lost in the forms. Backtracking through a sculpt happens often for me in these type of challenges.

EXCLU: How important is a competent facial sculpt at connecting us with our favorite pop culture characters? Why? Kat: Oh, it’s crucial! We see so many faces everyday that our brain has a very good idea of what a real face is supposed to look like. Our brains have had years of looking at people and analyzing facial expressions. Faces and eyes are how we connect to people and characters. So, when you see a sculpt of a face that is “off,” you don’t have to know why it’s “off,” - it just is. And you loose that connection to what makes a character who they are. Sometimes, a good paint job can really turn a portrait around and make it better than it really is. But when you have a great sculpture and an equally great paint job, a portrait can really sing.

Tom: The face in its amazing complexity has a powerful ability to tell us so much in a short time about someone - for better or worse. Bringing character through a portrait is both an exercise in mastering anatomy and an artistic summoning of the empathic character. A successful portrait brings the emotional aspects into partnership with the more technical. When an artist has both strong sculptural talents as well as a keen eye for design and expression - like Mark Newman, who sculpted Kier’s portrait - you have set yourself up to make an amazing connection between viewer and statue.

Jesse: Portrait is everything! The character’s face is the first thing that your eye will be drawn to. If you are looking at a character that you are very attached to, chances are you will also be very familiar with that portrait. If the portrait does not speak to you, it is very hard for the rest of the sculpture to carry itself. Most the time, the rest of the statue will be overlooked if the portrait is subpar. It won’t matter how good the boots look, or if the sculptor got all the folds in the clothing perfect. You win the connection with your audience through the emotion and character that’s in the portrait.

I have collaborated on many Court of the Dead pieces with Mark, and the most important discussion point is what we need to say about the character through their portrait.

Mark: Portrait is very important - if not the most important part - of a sculpted character! Collectors of pop culture character sculpts are very picky with their beloved characters, and if the portrait doesn’t quite hit the mark for them they won’t want to add it to their collection.

Collectors come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak, all with their own individual likes and dislikes that can vary greatly. One portrait can be spot-on awesome for collector, and totally dismal for another. Some like and want portraits that match their favorite 2D comic book artists’ style or depiction of a character. No matter how technically “ good” a portrait can be, there will be someone who will not like it at all. Of course, likeness portraits are the most difficult to achieve. Especially trying to achieve an interesting action/emotion-type expression. You can have all the facial reference in the world of an actor, but if you’re trying to achieve a certain expression of that specific person and you don’t have the exact photo of them making that expression in multiple views (which never happens)... it can really be a tough challenge to achieve a true likeness in that expression. When I collect reference photos of a person for a sculpt I always desaturate the photos to black and white. Getting rid of the color helps a lot to get rid of some of the distractions in achieving likenesses while sculpting in a singular colored material. I’ve often thought it would be the best reference if you could get your subject, grey their face out with makeup (thus evening out the entire surface of their face) and reveal just the surface form. That would be cool! I still need to give that a try with a willing subject sometime.

EXCLU: What advice would you give aspiring sculptors and painters who want to improve their portrait skills?

you carve into the surface you create shadows. As you build up on the surface you create highlights.

Tom: Aside from practice - for which there is no substitute - I think the act of refining one’s willingness to be wrong and to take risks is the most best thing any artist can do to level up. Study is the cornerstone to improving technical skill, but technique in anatomy and how well you master the tools of sculpting or painting is only as useful as your ability to dare with them. Relying on your skill alone can create a large body of satisfying work. It will, however, be safe... and in that environment it is much harder to grow and cultivate your talent to new plateaus. Your sculptural or painting work will always benefit most from running free and wild, and connecting to your own subconscious (where I think most of our best ideas hide). I know this sounds like goofy artist talk, but my most successful paintings are absolutely the result of challenging myself to look deeper, and work differently to create - and not just replicate - what I have done previously.

Starting out thinking of the simple planes and shapes of the head first. Getting your proportions and the relationships of shapes together first, before trying to see detailed likeness, is important. Try to not get ahead of yourself. Seeing your sculpture in a mirror is quite an amazing trick to help you see what’s wrong with it structurally. Also, seeing your sculpture upside down helps to reveal problem areas.

Mark: Practice, practice, practice! And then practice some more. Try all types of faces: Men, woman, children, elderly, different races, fat, skinny, smiling, angry, laughing... dead. Keen observation is key. Watching a person talk and make subtle expression changes is very helpful in a making a “caught the moment” portrait. Still photos are good, but seeing faces in action - no matter how subtle the changes - has an intuitive affect on you that you don’t even realize. It can add personality to your sculpt. Drawing, drawing and more drawing is also very helpful in understanding form. Creating a 3D likeness on a 2D surface with shading and light is extremely helpful in tuning up your 3D portraiture skills. While sculpting, you are essentially manipulating the light and shadow that play on the surface. Get a decent lighting set-up in you workspace: Plenty of ambient light, as well as an overhead lamp that you can move around your sculpture to see how the light changes the shadow shapes on the surface. As

Most of all, just keep at it. Realize that you will get frustrated at some point with every sculpture you work on. I still do! You just have to push through, and work past it. Get away from your sculpture for a bit to clear your head. When you return to it, you often find that something jumps out at you as wrong. Jesse: Great portraiture is all about capturing emotion and character. I think that sometimes people can get lost in the carbon copy of a face. The micro details can distract from the overall form, and what you are trying to convey in the sculpt, in the first place. Look at reference. A mirror can go a long way. The slightest movements in a face can drastically change emotion. Kat: If you’re a sculptor and you want to improve your portrait skills, talk to a painter. Talk to a painter that has painted a few of your sculptures and ask for their input. Painters look at sculpture differently than sculptors. We’re looking at the elements that get more defined once color is added. Things like the eyes, mouth, and eyebrows. There are just some things that you don’t see until there is color on the piece. Like the shape and thickness of an eyebrow; is it going to look too thick when painted? Is it going to look like hair or a caterpillar? Just the particular way that one sculptor does something, like digging into a sculpture around the eyes, that sort of thing can just fight you on so many levels; really making it difficult to get the best-looking portrait.

In paint, we can adjust for some of these things. We can change the arch of the brow; change the expression in the eyes, all by just shifting the placement of a line. This is can be a good thing… or a bad thing. We can make a sculpture better, or worse. So to the painters out there, I would remind them that they aren’t just adding color to a sculpture, they are adding the final nuances to a finished piece. If you don’t feel that the sculpture is quite hitting the mark, then do what you can to adjust it. Look at reference, find examples of what you’re trying to achieve and really study it. Find the nuances that will make your paint job disappear rather than look like paint on a sculpture. Kier: Death’s Warbringer is currently available for pre-order. If you would like to add the fine handiwork of the Sideshow team to your collection at home, check out the Court of the Dead collection at Sideshowtoy. You can learn more about the dark fantasy horror world of the Court of the Dead at And if you have a burning question for the Court of the Dead team, Like or Follow “Court of the Dead” on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to ask Sideshow for yourself!

REY From Star War - The Force Awakens . Produced by Hot Toys. Shot by Trevor Williams.


Full crediting to the manufacturers and license holders of the figures and statue’s represented throughout this publication of which there is no affiliation with Exclu Media Ltd.

Marvel’s “Star-Lord” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Disney’s “Ahsoka Tano” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. Disney’s “Ahsoka Tano” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. DC’s “Batman” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Middle Earth Enterprise’s “Gandalf” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Asmus Toys. Disney’s “K-2SO” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Marvel’s “Scarlet Witch” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Nickelodeon’s “Leonardo” 1/4th Scale Premium Figure Produced by NECA. Disney’s “Maz Kanata” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. Marvel’s “Groot” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. DC’s “The Flash” 1/10th Scale Premium Statue Produced by Koto Inc. Jerrod Maruyama’s “Hipster Mickey” Design Vinyl Collectible Produced by Disney. Marvel’s “Logan” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. With Facial Sculpt by OLDBOY CTTS Disney’s “Han Solo” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Marvel’s “Gamora” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. Disney’s “Yoda” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. DC’s “Batman” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Bandai Tamashii Nations. Disney’s “Tie Figher Pilot” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Universal’s “Skeletor” Vinyl Collectible Produced by Funko LLC. Disney’s “Darth Vader” 1/10th Scale Premium Statue Produced by Koto Inc. DC’s “Deadshot” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Medicom. Disney’s “Supreme Leader Snoke” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. Middle Earth Enterprise’s “Golum” 1/4th Scale Action Figure Produced by NECA. Disney’s “Commander Cody” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. Marvel’s “Winter Soldier” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Middle Earth Enterprise’s “Grishnakh” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Asmus Toys. Disney’s “Boba Fett” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Disney’s “Tusken Raider” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. DC’s “The Joker” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. With Custom Sculpt by CREG Custom’s / Jay Deogracias. Disney’s “FN-2187” Vinyl Collectible Produced by Funko LLC. Disney’s “Greedo” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Sideshow Collectibles. Marvel’s “The Mandarin” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Disney’s “Sandtrooper” 1/12th Scale Action Figure Produced by Hasbro Inc. “William Wallace” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Kaustic Plastik. “Terminator” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Sideshow Collectibles “Kier : Deaths Warbringer” Premium Format Figure Produced by Sideshow Collectibles. Disney’s “Rey” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. Disney’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Hot Toys Ltd. With Custom sculpts by Inigo & Jnix. “Goldfinger” 1/6th Scale Premium Figure Produced by Big Chief Studios. With Custom sculpts by Inigo.



March 2018 Exclu Media Ltd.


"Portraits" is an intimate look at facial sculpting through the medium of toy photography. An Exclu in-house publication, with a fully exclu...


"Portraits" is an intimate look at facial sculpting through the medium of toy photography. An Exclu in-house publication, with a fully exclu...