The GovernorAdepticon 2010 swag bag miniature, completed January 2010
Since its inception in 2003, Adepticon has been commissioning and giving away a model (or models) with their event registrations. Over several years of attending Adepticon and teaching a few hobby seminars there, I've gotten to know many of the organizers and essentially asked the fellow in charge of their minis for the chance to sculpt a figure for the event. I'd wanted to try sculpting an entire figure since completing Fulgrim for the Primarch Project in 2007, and this seemed a golden opportunity. I was (and continue to be) very much a novice sculptor, but Hank gave me a shot and I'm very thankful for it.
After a fair amount of thought, I settled on a pseudo-military (planetary?) governor concept. He'd be a little taller than the average soldier - in this case a GW Imperial Guardsman (he ended up around 35mm tall). He'd have a haughty and arrogant look, a chest full of medals, and probably a cane or walking stick. He'd be older, kinda stocky, wear a sash - maybe he won the Miss Persephone pageant. As this would be my first sculpted face, I decided my best chance of success would be a subject with some hard facial lines and wrinkles rather than a younger, smoother, or feminine face; so my Governor concept promptly aged a decade or two.
Of the previous Adepticon figures, Jennifer Haley had already sculpted an excellent model in a very fancy, semi-archaic dress uniform with "pre-twentieth-century, Hussar-inspired elements." My natural inclination was to sculpt a lot of detail (rather like that one), but I didn't want to simply make a different version of Jen's piece, and I was a little hesitant to invite the comparison in my first-ever full sculpt. Given these considerations, the concept began to mutate into a more civilian governor: ex-military perhaps, but wearing more of a suit than a uniform.
I'd effectively finished the model when I began showing it in person and photographically to a number of friends and fellow hobbyists. The responses were very encouraging overall, but being me and largely unable to leave well enough alone, I continued to make a number of "improvements" well after a point where the model could have been considered complete. The most significant of these changes was probably the Governor's belly. It was suggested by three separate people that the figure's face was a little too plump for his frame and they expected to see a stouter body based on his jowly face. Sculpting a leaner face seemed like a lot more work, so I cut off the lower front of the sash and bulked out the governor's belly, re-sculpting the sash when that was complete. I completed that change around Christmas, and as I glibly told my friends later, even my miniature put on weight over the holidays.
Since my version of "concept art" is nigh-illegible, this mini had been developed almost exclusively in my head. However, there were a fair number of points that were "discussed" with friends and family before reaching a consensus and I have to give them a lot of the credit - more than I can easily list here, but they know who they are. I will mention that I'm particularly thankful to my longsuffering wife Nancy for helping me work out how best to hold the cane; I'm especially pleased with how that hand came out. I had a vaguely Churchill-ian look in mind when I started, but the final result looks more like a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and Dr. Evil. It's also been suggested by certain of my hobby-peers that I've managed to sculpt a tiny self portrait, but I'm quick to point out I don't even own a sash.
All in all, I really enjoyed both the process and the challenge of my first complete sculpt. It certainly took a long time to get the proportions [mostly] right, sculpt my first face, sculpt my first hands, etc, etc, etc, but I have to believe that "fully sculpted mini #2" will come together a lot faster. It has to, right? Right?