Friday, July 30, 2010


The DCD Dynamics line is one of the most gratifying of my career. I was able to explore an idea that began with my Prometheus statue from 2007. Being able to bend the style of the wonderful J.C. Leyendecker to iconic DC characters was almost too much fun. And adding little costume anomalies to a couple of them, felt like ditching school and getting away with it. I thought the line would be retired after the first six. But, I’m glad to say there’s a few more waiting in the wings. Sinestro, the first of the second wave of Dynamics, was previewed at San Diego Comic Con a couple of weeks ago. This was my fourth go at him and really enjoyed working on his character. “Fear will rise and Willpower gather…” Ladies and Gents, Sinestro!

1: This is the first pass at a Sinestro head. I’m trying to find something to hang his portrait on, something a little different from the what’s been done before. I’m trying things out on the right side of his face. When Georg reviews the pix and lets me know if I headed in the right direction, I’ll move the approved stuff to the rest of his face.

2: Here’s the Master Wax head. For me, it was all about the mouth, and what that particular gesture did to the rest of his face. Since he would be leaning down a little,
hooding his eyes would give me a more menacing expression. I probably spent too much time on the ears, trying to make them a little more organic. A guy’s got to take his fun where he can get it.

3:This is the first pass at the torso. Elongating his torso and arms would hopefully indicate his overall, long, slender body type. The open collar was too a little too far out of character, so we closed it up some a little later.

4: Here’s the second pass at his torso. Just tightening and cleaning. Hand is just a dummy for position.

5: This is where a great art director can help you pull you head out of your ass. It’s all about trust. Georg thought his lowered left hand felt a little too relaxed and didn’t convey enough power and tension. I always try and put more tension and muscle strain in the arm/hand that’s directing the action. I thought I’d done that. But I could have doubled the muscles in his left arm and it still wouldn’t have done what raising the arm and changing the position of the fist and wrist did (which I did later). Thank you, G.

6 :Pix of the Master Wax of Sinestro’s torso. I went in after these pix were taken and fanned down the fingers of his right hand and turned his left fist in and up a little which meant resculpting the forearm.

7: Once I had his sculpt approved, I made molds, cast a set re resins to build the base to. The character of his energy needed to be different than Green Lantern’s. There’s a lot more action and movement with Sinestro’s which would offset Green Lantern’s more majestic imagery.

8: Sinestro is broken down into six parts: The base, the energy ball (two parts) and both of his hands and Sinestro. These are pix of the resin Tool Parts.

Paint Master: This is s set of pix of the Paint Master. There’s a couple of nice little touches. Some of that stuff you just do for your own amusement. A good many of us in the business are pretty easily amused.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Karen Palinko's got game! Animated characters? No problem. Superheroes? Bring it on! Portraits? Did that statue just wink at me? Not only does she sculpt, she molds, casts and paints her own stuff. A triple threat! In a business currently being driven by technology, Karen does it the old fashioned way; with hands, head and heart, an abundance of talent and the most basic tools of the trade. The result? He work is inventive, thoughtful and down right beautiful. As a true professional, her focus is on the work. Looking at a Palinko piece, its almost impossible to imagine adding
or taking anything away that wouldn't undermine the sculpt's integrity.
And that, my friends, is game!It's my pleasure to introduce, Ms. Karen Palinko. -THB.
One of the first challenges I faced sculpting this figure was figuring out how to make her look angry and attractive at the same time. Pushed too far, angry features can become so distorted that the face becomes ugly. It’s a fine line to walk—putting in enough facial lines and distortion to convey emotion, but not so much as to make the character look grotesque. What I decided on was an ‘up and down’ directional pull to the face rather than a ‘side to side’ one. Pulling the facial muscles outward to create a wide gaping mouth works well on male figures, but for an attractive woman, I wanted more of snarl than a grimace, to make the finished product look angry-sexy, not angry-ugly.

I’ve sculpted a lot of female characters, and one of my favorite parts is doing what I think of as "swishy" hair. A superheroine needs good, swishy hair. Hair does more than make the figure attractive---it’s a continuation of the action; and done right, it adds energy and dynamics to the figure. I also find it very relaxing to sculpt. To me, it feels like a swirly abstract sculpture within a sculpture. But while half of my brain is relaxing and sculpting it, the other half is keeping in mind that it has to be castable. I try to be careful to work the strands so that they feed into each other, or that gates can easily be positioned from one strand to the next so the whole thing can be pulled out of the mold easily.

Like Aquaman, Mera’s costume is composed of countless fish-like scales, which require painstaking effort to get right. Unfortunately, there’s no painless way to put all those scales in place. Each one had to sculpted on individually, using tiny dots of wax. I sculpt the figure first, laying in the musculature, and then apply the scales on top. I sculpted the Mera body underneath to be a little thinner than I would have usually, to allow for the added thickness of the scales. Sometimes this takes some trial and error to get it right, and I have on occasion had to strip the scales off a section to redo them if I thought a limb looked too thin or too heavy after applying the scales. Scales also take some planning ahead, since when applying them on a 3-D shape, the rows will have to contour around the curves of the body. I lay out etched guidelines on the figure to plan where the rows will fall.

Like many of the figures I’ve done over the years, this was a complicated figure involving multiple parts, all of which had to fit together like pieces of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Besides her scaly costume, she also had shoulder pads, spikes on her arms, fins on her legs, and a Red Lantern emblem on her costume. This called for careful handling, since the small delicate pieces would squash when they came in contact with each other. I did the joint sections last, as well as any pieces that would touch, and moved them in and out of the freezer to keep them cold while I worked on them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


First, we want to thank everyone who participated in our contest. And not like a “oh, yeah, thanks” but a real “look you in the eye, shake your hand and offer to buy you a drink – thanks”.

On July 12, 2010, at 3:49 PM, Liza M. Martin was the first to send in correct guesses for all fifteen details. Some folks had a hard time identifying No. 11 and No. 12. Hell, if I didn’t sculpt them, I’d have hard time coming up with half of them.

Congratulations Liza! If you’ll send your address to, we’ll send you an autographed copy of the book as soon as we have them available, mid-October.

I picked fifteen of pieces I have a real fondness for, for one reason or another.

1: Of all of the nine Jim Lee Hush figures I did, Catwoman was my favorite. I can’t tell you why. The sculpt just came together. And the goggles were a cool touch.

2: My wife and I went to Italy some years ago, and I rediscovered my love of Mannerism after seeing some of it in person. When we got home, I did this piece, The Dance of O, in homage to that weird and wonderful style. I’d planned to do four pieces, but like all best laid plans… I had to make some dough.

3: This was a fun piece to do, with his pivot stomach and articulated jaw. Seems money can buy your kid a membership in a very exclusive intergalactic club. G’Nort.

4: I enjoyed the hell out of doing this piece. Not the least of which was being able to translate Mr. Ross’s wonderful design for the Joker. This was the first figure I was able to use the inverted ball joint, with the ball being on the end of sculpted neck, as opposed to the head being mounted on a ball that is part of the body. The arm articulation was a challenge in trying to get him into the pose Alex wanted while being able to adopt alternate poses.

5: I did four of these Hellboy busts for Dark Horse. Kate turned out to be a favorite. I liked her expression. This was the first line I got to use the pivot feature and employed is again on the Elf Quest busts.

6: I love the work of George Petty. I was lucky enough to do an Elvgren with Gil’s son, Drake’s blessing. The Petty estate was having none of it. So, I wondered what George would do with one of his girls adventuring in Outer Space. Here she is. The name, Major Marjorie is in homage to Petty’s daughter Marjorie, who was his model and muse for many years.

7: McKay is, for all intents and purposes, a portrait of Alex’s dad. Not often you get to sculpt a guy in a cardigan with a pocket protector.

8: There’s a great scene in the book, just before the Ghost of Christmas Present takes his leave of Scrooge. Scrooge sees some movement under the Ghost’s robe. He reveals an emaciated pair of kids. The Ghost tells Scrooge that these kids belong to mankind. “The girl is want. The boy is ignorance. Beware of them both, but in particular the boy.”

9: There were so many interesting things about this piece. Lots of problem solving. My wife modeled for Promethea’s knees. Nice knees, eh?

10: This is my take on Quasimodo with an obvious nod to Mr. Lon Chaney. The first time I saw it was at a revival house with organ accompaniment. So, cool.

11: Translating Ed McGuinness’ style was fun and he was so great to work with. And you got to love that flashy blue suit.

12: I’m a huge Todd Schorr fan. Getting to work with him on this piece was a pure joy.
Under Autumn’s Tentacled Spell.

13: I really liked this character from Red Son. I got to design the base. It reminded me of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis for some reason.

14: I ain’t kidding when I say that working on this Amano piece was an honor. And, a pain in the behind. Details! Details! Details! The smoke base was fun. This was the beginning of my clear cast resin phase. Vampire D.

15: Adam Hughes is one of my favorite living pop culture artist. A great designer. He’s got that same enviable ability to tell a full story in one frame, just like the Amazing Rockwell.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Name the Statues, Win a Prize!

Hey, kids! We're having a contest. That's right, the first-ever Pop Sculpture Contest Give-Away. And boy howdy, it's fun! Here's how you play: Simply identify which of Tim's sculptures these details belong to. The person who gets the most right with the earliest submission wins! What do they win? Heck-a-doodle, they win a free autographed copy of our book, Pop Sculpture, when it comes out on October 19. What could be simpler? Mail your guesses to: Only one guess per household. The winner will be announced next Friday.

And here's another clue for you all (aside from the Walrus being Paul): All of these details come from pics at Tim's site ( But I hear you asking, "Hey, isn't that just a shamefully blatant way to promote his site and increase traffic?" You bet it is! Ain't America great? Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

La Belle et la Bete 2006

I think I saw the 1946 La Belle et la Bete movie, by Jean Cocteau, on TV when I was eleven or twelve. Whenever I first saw it, it made a lasting impression. I’d never seen anything like it. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly. The lead characters' complex relationship is something I’ve been wanting to explore for many years. Early in 2006, I started nibbling away at it. As I worked on Belle, the rest of it came together. I knew who these characters were and how I wanted to present a relationship of interdependence, the lure and power of sexual attraction and the duality of appearance vs. content. What I hadn’t worked out then, was how to get her up in the air.

1: I worked Belle directly in wax but needed to do a few clay studies for Bete. He had to be physically imposing, a giant, but restrained, introspective and shy. My two main sources of inspiration were gorillas and Karloff.

2: After a set of waste molds, I poured a set of waxes and began finish work. The pix of this part has been tool toleranced toward a final rub finish.

3: Working the wax arms and legs to the body, making sure everything lined up and the balance was right.

4: Pix of Bete’s Master Wax head. I had to keep checking the tilt and eye direction so when it was all put together, his gaze was where it was supposed to be.

5: Pix of the Master Wax of Belle’s head. I was kind of proud of the finish of that head at a half an inch. But that’s before I saw some of the work by a few sculptors who specialize in miniatures I’d always felt, a good miniature never gives away its scale. Belle’s head looks like a small scale sculpt. Some of the stuff I’ve seen on the web lately is frighteningly good. You’d be hard pressed to guess just how big or small the sculpts are.

6: I needed to test my theory of support. Using the unfinished waxes, I hammered out a length or armature wire and wrinkled and bend it to look like heavy ribbon. It worked surprisingly well. I refined it a bit more, did a sag test, refined a bit more and went with it.

7: The first set of castings of the base and Bete, making sure things were still where they were supposed to be, before a final finish and priming for paint. Both arms had to come off to make it castable. I cut his left arm at a place I knew would be easy to patch. His right arm was a bit more tricky, so I used an arm band to mask the join. The shape of the band keyed the arm in the right position. For the base, I built a KromeKote circular dam and filled it with resin. Sanded, glazed the pin holes and gave it a good coat of primer then worked the rock formations on top of it. I wanted a kind of Frazetta texture for the rocks and so sculpted and finished them in clay. Then molded the whole damn thing.

8: It seemed right that a bat-winged woman would have prehensile feet. The glove was a design solution so I could use a large ring in scale with the ribbon.

The last three pix are of the Paint Master. I wanted to break up the texture of the piece, so used tufts of model grass to add some wispy, lighter elements.