By now, pretty much everyone has heard of the upcoming 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. In preparation for it, Jon Schindehette has held a challenge on his site The Art Order, mirroring a call for artwork on the Wizards of the Coast website. I decided to jump in and I picked the Cook character. Here she is, along with a turn-around and some steps.
And a little step by step.
I’m finished with my Strahd Von Zarovich Mighty Mugg project! And the final post of my Mighty Mugg series happens to be my 250 posts!Great timing. For the whole story, you can check the two previous posts here: The Mighty Mugg Challenge part 1 and here The Mighty Mugg Challenge part 2.
I also found the “original Strahd” while cleaning up the studio so I had to take a group photo. You see, I started playing AD&D when I was in college and I was really into it, I read a lot of the novels and I really liked the concept of Ravenloft and all gothy things. This is also around the same time Interview with a vampire and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came out. When I was in third year of college I was in a paragliding accident and broke one of my vertebrae and other less serious injuries and spent a week in the hospital. It was shortly before Halloween and I go flowers with a tiny vampire finger puppet in it which I immediately called Strahd. It has been consistently sticking around my computer or my work desk since. So in a way he’s part of the inspiration for this Strahd Mugg.
The next step was to give Strahd his signature cloak. I studied fashion design in college so I had a fairly good idea of how I wanted to proceed even if I needed a little refresher for the math. The pattern is really just two truncated cones with the same slope. I dug in my fabric bins and I pulled out everything I needed: stiff raw cotton for the toile (the proof of concept for the pattern,) some black satin left over my a past Halloween costume and red satin kasha for the lining. So his cloak is really lined with warm winter lining.
I cut and assembled the pattern in raw cotton and tried it on the figure.
And then I cut and assembled the real thing.
And here’s the final Strahd, as close to Clyde Caldwell’s original as I could make it.
If you enjoyed this post, I’m also planning a complete Mighty Mugg how-to for Jon’s ArtOrder blog.
As I mentioned here: The Mighty Mugg Challenge part 1, I have received a blank Mighty Mugg from the mighty Jon Schindehette and I decided to turn it into a tiny Strahd Von Zarovich with a big head. (Edit: there is now a Mighty Mugg Challenge part 3 that can be found here.)
There were a few challenges, for one, we never get to see Strahd’s feet on the Caldwell illustrations, in fact, we don’t see a heck of a lot of his feet even in the more recent images. Also, I like Strahd because he looks dignified and melancholy, his whole point is that he made a choice that turned his existence into a tragedy, so even if some of the new Strahd illustrations are perfectly competent and enjoyable, I can’t imagine Strahd as a young punk in colorful clothes. It’s hard to speak of dignity and tragedy with a short big-headed cartoon silhouette but I’m doing my best. I also decided that Strahd is not Strahd without a billowing cloak, so I decided I would sew a tiny cloak for him. I’m a pattern designer by training but I have never done anything like that. We’ll see how that turns out.
I’m not convinced I will keep the Louis XIV style buckle shoes, I feel that they might clash a little with his end-of-the-19th-century type suit. Strahd was a forward thinker, always before his times.
I also did some research on DIY toys and found a lot of advise. But I’m not entirely sure the figure I have is vinyl, I don’t know much about those but I was under the impression they were slightly soft and rubbery. The little guy I have is hard plastic, he’s also light gray and not entirely all of the same color, unlike the blank Mighty Muggs I saw on Hasbro’s website. Maybe he’s a production Mugg who just didn’t get painted? Nevertheless, I have figured that plain gesso should do the trick as a primer. But first, he got a dunk in the sink with dish soap and a good scrub to make sure the chemical stuff that goes into mold to make the plastic release easily is gone.
The next step was primer. I used regular acrylic gesso that I already had instead of buying something specific that I might never re-use. I just brushed it on in 4 thin layers letting him dry properly between layers. Then I gave him a light sanding with 220 sandpaper and when he was cleaned of gesso dust and dry, I drew the lines on him with a colored mechanical pencil.
I never entirely assembled the figure because I didn’t want to pry it apart with a knife or something if it got stucked, but I did assemble it partly to have a good idea of how the parts fit. I painted him with normal acrylic paint. I was careful to mix enough of it that I wouldn’t have to remix the same color, since I wanted him in rather flat colors. His body parts were stucked on skewers to dry.
Painting precise lines on a curved surface is harder than it looks.Now I just did a layer of varnish and in the next installment, I’m going to show what he looks like assembled, and I’m going to figure out how to give him a cloak.
I’m also planning a complete Mighty Mugg how-to for Jon’s ArtOrder blog.
A few weeks ago, Jon Schindehette posted on Facebook that he had a bunch of blank Mighty Muggs and that he was willing to ship them to artists, provided they transformed the blank plastic toys into D&D characters. Well it seems I replied to Jon’s offer in time, because on December 30th, I got a bag in the mail containing bits and bobs of pale grey plastic that can be assembled in the shape of a squat large headed figure.
Now I want to figure out what to do with it. Do I want to go old school with 2nd ed. type characters from my days playing (but mostly DM’ing) AD&D or do I want to go more contemporary and look at the new races and hipper designs.
My boyfriend Sylvain suggested I do the character I was playing until recently, a female dragonborn warlord, but the dragonborn anatomy is not very well adapted to the shape of a Mighty Mugg and it’s my first figure so I want to do it relatively simple, no Sculpey attachment or reshaping of the molded parts. Elves are not a good match either, Mighty Muggs don’t look lean or graceful, so doing the elf warrior I painted for the Dongeon Delve challenge doesn’t seem like a good idea. That means that Drizz’t Do’Urden, the most iconic D&D character ever isn’t that good a match either.
And then it striked me; Strahd Von Zarovich is both one of my favorite D&D villains, and the old school Clyde Caldwell renderings of him were some of the most influencial illustrations for me. Along with the Dark Sun Brom’s, they are some of the paintings that made me want to paint fantasy. So I want to do a classic blue skinned dignified Strahd in his billowing cape. Let’s see how that works out (especially the dignified squat bobblehead part.)