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Double Barrel Critiques

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9 hours ago, TaleSpinner said:

@JeffWoodall: To be honest, I'm having a really hard time seeing enough detail to acutally give you a meaningful critique.  How/with what are you taking your pictures?

Old Kodak 3.1 megapixel camera, the aperture is at it's highest at 8. Let me try some things out and see if I can get something better in a few days. Thanks for letting know.

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17 hours ago, JeffWoodall said:

Took me some time to figure out but I believe this photo will show more details.



Excellent, this works.  Give me a few days though.  It will take me a bit to craft a response, as I am quite swamped at work right now, and I want to do it justice.

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On 11/17/2019 at 2:02 PM, JeffWoodall said:

Took me some time to figure out but I believe this photo will show more details.



First Barrel:

  • Over all, the proportions are fairly good.
  • The boot on her right leg is well made, smooth in the right spots, etc. 
  • Thighs are very good.
  • The kilt from the front looks well proportioned, even and clean
  • Hair flow looks very natural
  • She has well proportioned breasts.  A+ for not sculpting basketball boobs.

Second Barrel:

  • Boots: as I said, the right looks pretty good, maybe add a few wrinkles around the ankles.  The left seems to disappear on the sides of her legs. It is also a bit rougher and less well defined.
  • Kilt: the front is good, but the rivets look a little too pushed in, instead of popped out. The back is a lot messier. The belt is uneven and the center flap is very rough.  The rivets need to be better defined.
  • Torso: here she looks out of proportion.  I think you have the right vertical height, but it doesn't look like it because you have her so wasp-waisted.  The only way a human woman would get a waist that small would be with surgery and a corset.The hips are also very narrow for her height.  The following model is very thin, but muscular, yet you can see that she has considerably wider hips and sides than your figure:

Related image


  • Beyond the shape and anatomy, the skin texture of her belly, back, arms, and chest is rather rough; really needs to be smooth.
  • Her top armor, is defined, but rough especially in the bust region.  The straps are not well defined, and you really need an attachment method for those shoulder plates, usually a rivet.
  • The arms really need more definition.  Yes, many women have arms like that, but those women are not swinging a sword around.  If you want to sell her as a sword maid, she needs some more muscle. 

Image result for woman well toned arms


  • Bracer looks pretty good, but the rivets need to be more defined and the straps should have a means of attachment (buckles?)
  • Left hand: anatomy looks a bit off.  The wrist and palm pad needs better definition and the whole looks a little small, especially when compared to the other hand.
  • Right hand: The glove is too big, especially if the hand and arm in it are the same size and the other hand.  The glove also looks like one thick piece, like it is formed from molten rubber.  There needs to be stitch seams for the thumb, fingers, and down the outside.  Here's some old fencing gloves for inspiration:

Image result for fencing glove


  • Head: from a human proportion scale, the head is about right; for a mini, it is too small.  Minis typically tack in at about 6 heads high. You are sitting at about 7.5.  This forces you to have very small features and is likely one of the reasons why you are having trouble getting good, clear definition in her facial features.  The eyes do need eyeballs, and she should have a bit of a muzzle, i.e. the face is very flat.  I typically start a face extremely wedged out so that as I work I don't end up pushing it in too far.
  • Hair: the form is good, but the details are rough.  It looks like you are cutting the strands in, but really need to be pulling the tool through the putty, not cutting into it. As a result, your plaits are looking rough and a bit matted.  I'm not sure how you are supporting the hair either, but insufficient support for sculpting on could be a factor.


Biggest things to work on:


- Really focus on anatomy, and follow anatomy references closely.  I recommend Anatomy for Sculptors by Uldis Zarins with Sandis Kondrats; it is a great reference for the human form.

- Enlarge your heads to be 6 head proportions, it will make it a lot easier to get the details well and will be a more sale-able miniature.  I only know of two sculptors in the US doing mini scale realistic human head proportions, and they are some of the best of the best; yet few painters really want to take the challenge of painting their tiny features.

- Really work on developing a smoothing technique.  A lot of your issues just need more smoothing.  I'm not sure what your putty is, that can have an effect. It looks like FIMO though, so @Rainbow Sculptor might give you the best advice on that.

- Place your rivets like you placed that center gem; they will look more realistic; otherwise, work the area around the rivet with a clay shaper to sharpen and define each rivet.


That's all I have for now.  Sorry it took so long.  Let me know if you have specific questions you want more details on.




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On 11/17/2019 at 2:02 PM, JeffWoodall said:

Took me some time to figure out but I believe this photo will show more details.


@JeffWoodall Hey there! Thanks for posting! I would love to know where you're headed in sculpting minis, what you hope to achieve, and areas YOU personally feel need improvement. Idk if @TaleSpinner wants to add these points as part of any initial post in this thread but it makes it much easier to offer helpful critique. We don't want to give you advice that you're not looking for. As a general rule we are approaching these things from the perspective of selling sculpted miniatures professionally. If you are aiming to just generally improve on your skills or be able to sculpt something that looks decent on the table some of the advice will be different.

First Barrel

1. Strong silhouette and character concept. It's very clear who she is and what she's doing. This can be tricky to do at this scale and you've done a great job. From tabletop distance, painted up, this figure would read just fine in a game. @Talespinner critiqued your exaggeration of the waist and this is a topic that he and I differ on pretty drastically. He tends to prefer more realistic proportions and body types, I tend to stylize much more heavily. I'll get into that more later but suffice to say that she is both fierce and feminine and that is reading well.


2. Hair structures. You are creating clumps instead of solid blobs or just straight parallel lines. This is giving your piece movement and aiding your compositional flow (although that part could be improved on pretty easily)You're on a great track here it's just a matter of refinement and polish.


3. Face. This is an impressive face for the scale and experience. Most of my faces for the first couple of years weren't this good. Something you should be proud to have accomplished. Patrick Keith told me that he sculpts random heads as a warmup and with any extra clay he has left over at the end of the work day. He ended up with a big collection of heads he could use in a pinch and the constant practice really made him quick and skilled at it. If that seems like an easy enough thing to incorporate into your workflow I would highly recommend it. 


Second Barrel


1. Polish. So overall the clay looks very rough. This piece needs a lot more polish before I would consider it sellable. There's a lot of tool marks and your edge control needs more attention.


2. Design. You did a pretty great job of overall silhouette and shape design. You've got a repeating shape language going on throughout the figure with her sword hilt, belt buckle, and bracers but then there are a lot of amorphous components that are difficult to understand. What material are those shoulder pieces? How did her top magically grow from her body without any seams or attachment points to get out of it? This is a good place to study some other miniatures that you personally like and compare. As an example, compare your shoulder pads to these from a barbarian in Reaper's line (sculpted by Bobby Jackson)

He pays close attention to clean and crisp edges and details like the rivets and guard which help us to understand that they are clearly made of metal. 


3. That brings me to the studs/rivets on the skirt. I'm assuming you were going for a gladiator type studded leather look. The impressions are very uneven and far too large for the cloth pieces they are meant to be on. They are competing for attention with the belt buckle and other design components when they should be a third level detail. (First: Big armor and large shapes, Second: Smaller but supporting shapes like bags, bottles, major accessories, Third: Lacing, stitching, buckles etc.) You are clearly capable of thinking through these character design decisions but your implementation is not hitting the mark and I think it deserves more of your attention going forward. 


4. Anatomy. Okay, so like I said above I don't completely agree with @TaleSpinner on this point in that I don't think you should have gone with a more realistic body type. This is fantasy after all and if a tiny twig woman wants to swing a sword around than go for it. I will say that he's right in that it seems you've made this exaggerations without too much consideration to the anatomy underneath and that is an important distinction. You can absolutely emphasize the feminine tiny waist that you're going for (and achieving here) without it reading as "off" or that the anatomy underneath her skin doesn't exist. One of my go to examples for this is J. Scott Campbell. Obviously his overall proportions are a little too elongated for minis and the heads/hands/feet would all need to be beefed up to read well at our scale. Still, I think his work is a good example of exaggerating the feminine aspects of a figure without neglecting anatomical structures. Other great references for this would be artists like Jessica Madorran and Chris Sanders.


I hope this helps give you some areas that you can work towards improving. I don't know how long you've been sculpting or where you want to go with this but you're doing good. You have skill and I think with more refinement and practice you'll be making really quality work. I look forward to seeing your next piece. Out of critiques like this just take the one or two things you think you can focus on improving next. Try not to get overwhelmed, just study other minis, research the topics you choose to work on and implement what you learn in the next piece. Enjoy the process and know that we're here if you ever have questions! 

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@Rainbow Sculptor Thank you for the feedback. Mainly this is a hobby to escape the world for a few hours each week but I would like to get to a point where I have some of my sculptures cast and have others be able to enjoy them for painting and gaming. I have started another sculpture and the advice from @TaleSpinner and yourself are greatly appreciated.

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