In 2018, Aquaman made a big splash sending ripples around the world. The cinematic debut of the stand-alone Aquaman movie was a box office hit, breaking the “Batman: The Dark Knight” record to become DC’s bestselling movie.
After the release, the aquatic King’s fan base swelled to epic proportions thanks the incredible performance by Jason Momoa in the title role.
The Queen Studios team are also proud to be among the Aquaman fan base. So much so, we thought it would be awesome if we could bring the character to life like no one has ever done before. So we got out our sketchbooks and began on the concept work for the 1:2 silicone Aquaman, and here’s the story behind the statue.
CONCEPT: INSPIRATION AND BACKGROUND
The concept for the statue is taken from a pivotal scene in the movie. In the movie, Arthur (played by Jason Momoa) enters a cave in the Hidden Sea to retrieve the Trident of Poseidon.
Like most things in life, it wasn’t that easy, he needed to prove that he was worthy. In the cave, he met Karathen, the guardian of the trident. Before she could kill Arthur, he communicated with her, a feat that no mortal had been able to achieve since King Atlan. Karathen declared,
“No man has ever freed the trident from King Atlan’s grip. Should he deem you unworthy, well, I haven’t feasted in eons.”
Arthur was successful, and the scene fades out. We’re then transported back to the Hidden Sea where we see Mera and Atlanna. They both stand and watch as a figure appears through the waterfall. As the figure steps through, we see Arthur is now “Aquaman” the one true King. He stands bravely clutching the Trident wearing his new gold and green scaled armour.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Queen Studios' 1: 2 scale full statue of the King of Atlantis has been a completely new challenge for our artists. From the initial concept, to 3D designs and the final painting, he's undergone more than a dozen modifications and adjustments to get everything spot on.
We started with the 3D designs based on our initial concept (pictured above). Once the 3D concept designs are approved, we moved on to some test sculpts for the body and head.
The production of the head starts with a clay sculpture. Queen Studios’ master sculptor will make multiple sculpts for reference, based on 3D designs and pictures from the movie. The clay used in the initial sculpts is soft in texture. This really tests the skill of the sculptor who must manipulate the clay in the character’s likeness. To a certain extent, the quality of clay carving determines the appearance of the final sculpts.
Some of the early clay sculpts like the one pictured above didn't quite capture Aquaman's likeness. Therefore, we had to go back to the 3D sculpting making multiple versions and iterating the process again and again until we were happy with the final result. (3D sculpts pictured below)
BODY SCULPT AND DETAILING
Once we’re close with the head sculpt, we need to make a prototype for the body and base. This is important so that we can see how everything fits together and get the proportions right.
The body parts for the prototype are all 3D printed. This might sound easy, but the results depend on the skill of the artists. Just like with the clay sculpting, the artist must create a “virtual sculpt” on the computer. If there are any mistakes or errors in the virtual sculpt, there will be problems with the 3D print.
PAINTING AQUAMAN'S BODY
For Aquaman, the paint work is critical. In order to accurately capture the detail in the armour, we've adopted a multi-layer colour spraying process. Before painting, the painter sands down the body, until the surface is smooth and flat. The painter then adds the base colour. It’s crucial that the painter gets the transition right between the scales in the suit. If the base colour and the overlaying colour aren’t correct, this will be visible and it won’t look right. Multilevel spraying is a true test of skill. The artist must keep the same intensity and frequency to make the colours uniform.
ADDING COLOUR TO AQUAMAN'S HEAD SCULPT
The body parts aren’t the only pieces that need painting. The head sculpt is very pale and doesn’t look much like Jason Mamoa (Aquaman Actor). To match Momoa’s skin tone, we’ve applied a delicate layer of paint sprayed gently over the top. Once we’re close with the skin tone, we need to implant his hair and facial hair one by one, before trimming and styling.
Our biggest challenge so far has been the head sculpt. We revealed some of our early work back in May. Although he looked awesome, the scale wasn’t quite right. We’ve since been tweaking and changing the size and his facial features to get the scale and likeness down. After months of hard work, we think we’re there!
THE ATLANTEAN KING'S BASE
Because Arthur is the King of the Seven Seas, we’ve opted for a base that shows this in some way, and also fits the scene from the movie. For the base, we’ve added uneven rocks at his feet, and he’s surrounded by a shimmering water-look surface. For an extra touch of realism, we’ve added seaweed and other aquatic plants emerging through the water.
To create the water effect, we pour a clear liquid resin on to the base. We then build from the base layer adding more each time until we can see the shimmer effect as if the water surface is refracting. The rocks are also sprayed in multiple layers to show the difference between the texture and shades.
THE FINAL STATUE
After months of hard work, tears, sweat and beers, we finally made it. The 1:2 Aquaman statue by Queen Studios is finally complete. The finished product will be shown very soon, and we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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