Sometimes I'm a victim of my own convictions. Take this guy for example, Swarm. I made a decision last year that I would enter the next Figure Realm contest, no matter what it was. I wanted the challenge!
So I was a bit lost when the next contest was insect themed. Not because I couldn't think of insect based characters to make, but rather because I instantly thought of Swarm and the challenge of realising the character really stuck with me.
How do you convey the idea of a human skeleton covered in bees, wearing a purple cloak and gloves?
The answer was unfortunately, not easily.
I chose a LCBH Madman figure as a base. He had very little definition to his design, so I wouldn't be losing a good fodder piece by tearing him up for what was a bit of an experimental custom.
I dremeled randomly all over him to create a rough surface and gouged out holes in his limbs and hollowed out most of his upper body. I swapped his head for a Spider-Man Classic Hobgoblin, and his hands for a F4 movie Reed Richards.
I chose Hobgoblin's head as it matched the image of Swarm I had in Runaways. It also already came with the hood. I sliced the face off of Hobgoblin and attached a magnet to the back of the face and embedded one in the head so that the face could be swapped out for his alternate look which comes from a ML Face Off Red Skull.
Then, to create the skeleton inside his body and limbs, I took some electrical wire and glued it inside the cavity of his upper chest, arms and legs. To get the flexible wire to remain stiff I covered it in superglue and then sprinkled talcum powder over it. The powder was absorbed into the glue and when it dried it created a hard crust which made the wire rigid. It also helped to create a nice, calcified effect rather than the smooth surface of the insulate wire.
Next, I started to work on the main feature: the swarm of bees. I had thought long and hard about how to convey the effect, but I just didn't have the patience to be sculpting lots of little bee sized balls and glueing them on. I thought that would look like he was covered in yellow balls more than anything, so after wandering round the craft store looking for inspiration I settled on using beads. I chose the smallest transparent yellow, gold and black beads I could find and just went to town on him.
Before I put the beads on, I coated the whole thing (apart from the skeleton) in yellow paint.
I used hot glue on some parts and then just poured the beads over him, letting them attach in their own haphazard way. I was careful to stay away from the articulated sections as I didn't want his movement to knock the beads off. I also just superglued the beads on in some sections and they started to make cool shapes. I used wire in some sections where you can see the bees spiralling out from him.
I covered the beads in transparent yellow paint, and then washed it with transparent black at certain parts. I drybrushed some sections with gold as well to pick out areas.
The final addition to him was his cape. I had been working on it all the while I was making him as it was a very time consuming process. It is made from scratch using liquid latex. I drew out a rough shape on greaseproof baking paper /parchment paper, and mixing a little purple paint in with the liquid latex, painted onto the paper. After a thin layer had dried I would mix up another batch of purple latex and add another layer, and repeat. Once I had about 5 layers down, I added in some electrical wire around the edges of the cape so that it would be poseable. I then painted another 5 or so layers on top of the wire to make sure it was good and embedded in there.
Once the cape had dried, I coated it with talcum powder so that it didn't stick to itself and peeled it off the paper. I then cut it to shape and attached it to the figure to create a full poseable cape.
All in all, I am happy with how Swarm turned out. He was a lot of work and quite experimental, but satisfying. I don't know if I've quite managed to capture the effect of a humanoid swarm of bees, but I'll let others be the judge of that.
I hope you guys like him.