Junkbot Sculpture

I made an art toy scupture of Junkbot, one of my Robot Roundup characters.

I started by printing out the vector drawing of the character at the size I wanted the sculpture to be. I used this as a schematic so that I could measure his proportions against the print out.

Except for some screws in his arms, legs, and neck, he’s made entirely from polymer clay, even his inner wires. Using a clay extruder tool, I made a bunch of “noodles” that I used to coat his insides with a messy nest of wires. I then made some thicker ribbed tubing by twisting a noodle around a thin wire.

After the clay was cured, I coated him with thinned modelling putty, dabbed on with an old paint brush. This added a kind of cast iron texture.

I airbrushed him with various rust and orange colors and then used thin washes of oil paint to add grease and rust streaks.

Black Star Base

The Black Star Maquette I made has been sitting around for a few years in my workspace but there wasn’t a good way to display it. It needed a proper base.

I started by using a clear acrylic Christmas ornament half-dome as a mold. Using baby oil as a mold release, I coated the inside with about a quarter-inch layer of polymer clay (Super Sculpey). Then I packed it with aluminum foil and added a top layer of clay. I took it out of the mold and sculpted the craters and added texture. I used a little lava rock to put gouges into the surface.

After baking the clay, I sprayed it with black primer and then dry-brushed several shades of redish-brown acrylic paint, going from dark to light.

The hardest part was finding a way to straightly attach the acrylic rod that holds the ship. I don’t have a drill press and my hand-drilled hole was a bit crooked. So I made the hole bigger, giving it some wiggle room, and built a jig out of Lego to hold it in place while I epoxied it.

I really like how it turned out.


I’m not sure if a single work of art has had more influence on me than Descent, by Michael Whelan.

I started delving into Science Fiction when I was in high school. One time I was at the public library browsing the sci-fi section when I found a paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, with Whelan’s illustration on the cover. I was immediately transfixed by his artwork.

Not long after, I found a large art book, The Art of Michael Whelan, at a Waldenbooks inside my hometown mall. This was pre-internet, so I ended up returning many times to study this book.

I started painting my own Martian and Dune-inspired landscapes in watercolor, but mostly I was trying to copy Michael Whelan’s style.

I was lucky enough to meet Michael at a convention in 2003. I got to tell him how much I liked his work, especially his cover illustration for The Martian Chronicles.

So I was overjoyed to find out that he was releasing a print of this work. I’ve been waiting almost 30 years for this.

Space Monkey - Sandworm

2020 be like…

A while back, while I was working on a Space Monkey drawing, I had the realization that I was drawing manifestations of my anxieties, and that I sometimes end up visiting this character during stressful times.

The painting itself I tried to render in a style reminiscent of vintage sci-fi book covers (and obviously Dune inspired). In any case, it’s reassuring to see someone who won’t back down in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

I sculpted a little maquette of the sand worm so that I could get the lighting right.

Painting Gemstones

This is a technique I’ve developed for adding gemstones to a painting.

I took a sheet of watercolor paper and painted a lot of different streaks on it. I don’t remember what kind of brush I used, but it was some kind of flat. I wanted a range of line styles, so I wet the paper in a few places to get more bleed. I also crisscrossed the lines in several places.

Now when I need a gem, I cut it from this sheet. Sometimes I will cut the shape out of a blank piece of paper that I can overlay as a stencil and see what the resulting gem will look like.

After cutting out the shape I glue it onto the painting using a thick acrylic gel medium.

I’ve used this technique a few times and really like the result.