How to Create Fantasy Figurines and Christmas Ornaments
Welcome to a website of pure fantasy, where you’re encouraged to create characters from a world of your own making. The only limits are your imagination. A place where you are the creator and you decide the direction taken in designing your original creations. Creativity in art holds no boundaries.
Humanity and art
Art comes in many forms. Humans have always had a great interest in art due to our highly developed brains. Long before there was an iPad, Kindle, cell phone, internet, and other digital wonders, paintings, sculptures, drawings, music, books, tall tales and architecture kept the human mind entertained. While we still have all these things today, much is changing in human interpretation of art.
Growing up before the digital age
I grew up in the mid 70’s, through the mid 80’s before my teenage years set in. During this time, I remember black and white television, long before cable. There were less than ten channels available and reception varied greatly between them. I remember a time before video games. Cartoons were shown strictly in the morning and directly after school until 5 pm. Aside from that, annual holiday specials appeared on a weeknight at 8 pm, mostly Charlie Brown holiday specials.
The VCR didn’t exist yet so if you missed them, you were out of luck until next year. There was no such thing as on-demand television/movies.
Saturday morning cartoons
Saturday morning was very special growing up during that time. What great nostalgia these memories bring me. At least three of the major networks featured cartoons from 7 am to 12 pm. That was a special treat to look forward to all week long. Aside from that, there were books, music records, comic books and a fantasy role-playing game called Dungeons & Dragons.
The arrival of action figures
In the early 80’s, things started picking up with action figures like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the Transformers, G.I. Joe and Voltron. Having an imagination was a necessity growing up during these years. I used to write my own comic books and create things out of empty orange juice cartons and the cardboard spool from paper towels.
Dungeons and Dragons were vital for a growing imagination during my early years and I found myself attracted heavily to Greek mythology which eventually led me into an obsession with sword and sorcery fantasy.
Other cartoons featured on special occasions that also greatly influenced me included The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I must also include fantasy stop-animation at the time like Land of the Lost, Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad the Sailor movies. Mythical creatures never looked more real up until that point. I should probably also mention the short-lived series Wizards and Warriors from 1983. While special effects were nonexistent in the program due to lack of budget, the character Dirk Blackpool captured my imagination and was a hero of mine at the age of ten. Sadly, once the short first season ended, it never appeared on television again. I was crushed.
My attempt at “art”
With all these interests, one would expect that I would want to contribute my art in some way. Not with the intent of becoming a professional producer, just something I could do myself. Unfortunately, my drawing and painting skills were severely lacking due to a hand coordination problem I experienced as a child.
At the time, writing comic books interested me but writing books did not. Since video movie cameras were rare and expensive back then, it was never a thought.
As with all children, we grow, get a little older and as teenagers, our interests change. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In hindsight, I wish I stayed an action figure and comic book nerd all my life. People today make great money on YouTube doing toy reviews. Such a life is simpler and happier than many other “hobbies” teenagers and young adults find themselves in. Being “cool” becomes an important part of a young person’s life. What’s really important isn’t what other people think of you, it’s what you think of yourself.
A rediscovery at the age of 40?
So, one cold December night, I was watching Jason and the Argonauts on DVD which reminded of the clay animation of Ray Harryhausen. After the movie, I watched a documentary on Ray Harryhausen on YouTube. I was saddened by his recent passing.
After the documentary was over, I laid on my bed looking up at the ceiling when I began to see past it. I knew I couldn’t draw or paint, but could I create fantasy clay figures as Ray Harryhausen did? The very next day I bought some polymer clay, wire, glaze, and tin foil in what began a long journey.
My first figure took over a week to complete. After much trial and error, I eventually finished and named my new character Gulik Horridus, leader of the Troglodytarum. From there I continued to create various fantasy figures, dinosaurs and Christmas ornaments numbering in the hundreds. Some came out great while others were not as good. I never claimed to be the next Ray Harryhausen, but I’m having fun doing it. I even wrote a story around Gulik Horridus called, “The Quest for Kimel Drago”. While it’s not yet complete, it is available for reading on this very website. I figured, why not? Just remember, it still needs work and it’s a very rough draft.
The Quest for Kimel Drago
I created many good and evil characters to take part in a story completely of my making. The original idea for The Quest for Kimel Drago was to create an action figure toy line. My logic at the time was that fantasy action figures were in great need. My son was three years old at the time and there were no such figures available in the toy aisle at any department store. Eventually, I wrote names and origins for each character, wrote a story, created a map, and even created a PDF comic book using photoshop. I’ll make the comic available here for download eventually.
The next step – The toy broker
I then decided to contact a toy broker to see what they thought of my figures. Truthfully, I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or not. I think it’s best I save this story for an upcoming blog post since it’s epic. I made my next move after hearing back from the toy broker and started looking into CGI and computer animation software. When I downloaded the program and started to learn how to use it, I realized I was burnt out on the entire project. Creating all the characters, writing the stories and comic book and the next thing I know, a category 5 hurricane is barreling towards my home state. After that, I took a break from it all. Until now.
My new mission
My new mission is to simply help you learn how to create figurines out of polymer clay. Perhaps you haven’t found what your specialty is when it comes to creating art. I’m not the greatest sculptor in the world, but if I can do it, so can you! Clay sculpture isn’t exactly everyone’s first attempt at creating something artistic. I stumbled into it myself and feel lucky for it. Allow me to help you – maybe we can build something together. Then, once you learn how to do it, off you go and the sky is the limit!