A few of my least favourite things

In addition to musicals, there are a number of things that fall into my ‘fuck everything about that’ list. Notably, these are sculpting (as you might have gathered from some of my previous posts) and NMM (non-metallic metal, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about and are just here for the pictures and the swearing). Of late, I’ve been forced to do both.

Well, it’s not really ‘forced’ if it was my own idea, but whatever.

Anyway, the NMM. I dislike NMM for a few reasons:

  1. It forces the canvas into two dimensions. That’s not to say it’s impossible to get it to work in three dimensions, but it’s forcing a miniature, which is inherently three dimensional, to bow to a different set of rules.
  2. This leads into the second point: it works really well in photographs, which are obviously two dimensional. I’ve always felt that this is somehow deceitful. To be fair, metallics never look right in photographs, either.
  3. A lot of the really top-tier NMM going round in the last few years doesn’t even remotely look like metal once you see it in the round. In photographs, it’s remarkable – highly realistic reflections, specularity – all that. Incredible stuff. Until you see it in person and it doesn’t look like anything at all (with some exceptions – I really liked the gold on one of Kirill Kanaev’s recent pieces when I saw that in person).

Basically, my issue with NMM is that it’s ideal for models that you don’t actually have in front of you, which makes it perfect for box art. It shows off some incredible blending, and in extreme cases an astonishing appreciation for light and surfaces. However, I paint for myself and I like to look at my models with my eyes rather than through a phone camera.

This is all a very long way of saying “I’m really bad at NMM, but it’s just because I don’t like it on philosophical grounds, and also I’m out of practice blending anything because I spent a year painting tiny ducks that hardly needed to be blended at all”.

[I will note that there are strong arguments in favour of NMM as more realistic than normal metallics in the round, because you’re already forcing the lighting simply by painting the figure, and therefore the additional reflectivity of metallic paint is actually less realistic, etc., etc. Paint what you want, and paint it however you like.]

So, for the Normans (Graham and Trevor), NMM was unfortunately kind of a necessity – flats are, well, flat, so you need to force the light anyway, and they also feel much more like canvas painting, which demands NMM (although now I want to do a Klimt flat with lots of metallics). So, with all that out of the way, behold my abomination (spearhead and Graham’s shield currently unfinished):


You’re all very lucky that this is a photograph, because the NMM looks considerably worse in person.

On to sculpting. I don’t think I need to explain again why I hate sculpting, but I will.

  1. It takes absolutely forever.
  2. Putty enjoys sticking to everything.
  3. Putty hates me.
  4. I always mix up too much putty and end up wasting loads of it.
  5. Sometimes I think “I’ll just mix up a little less putty”, and then mix too little and fail to get anything done.
  6. I buy models so that I don’t have to sculpt. Anything that forces me to sculpt is, therefore, somehow inadequate and I feel cheated for having spent money on something inadequate. (Note that this is almost always my own fault for having a Good Idea that requires sculpting.)

Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of Good Ideas over the last year, and this is the first of them and the first part of my next major project. On the plus side, I didn’t have to sculpt everything on this – the main body is a mannequin from Michael Kontraros (now out of production, I believe) – so I suppose I should be a little grateful that I don’t have to contend with anatomy and all that.

Before I tell you what it is, I’ll post the picture and you should all attempt to guess what it’s meant to be in order to assess my skills. (Remember that I didn’t do the basic figure, just the decoration so far.)


That’s right, it’s Lady Gaga in her famous meat dress.

Unfortunately, the mannequin is a little too endowed up top, so I need to remove the boob-steaks, file her down a bit and then make new, less voluminous boob-steaks. I obviously also need to give her hair and a beef-yarmulke, medallion-boots, etc.

I’m also half tempted to just rip all the putty off and do the whole dress out of pieces of pewter sheet, but I think that’ll just lead to even more swearing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s