Making of Mai Copyright (C) Cody Kwok
Let’s cut to the chase this time
| Here’s a list of things I changed, with the picture showing the original version:
(1) For all her glory, the fatal flaw of the sculpt was her face. Using the same approach as the sculptor’s other figures, Mai eyes were relatively square, separated too far, and her nose was a little bump. Combined with the crude front hair piece, the figure looked like a Disney character more than a seductress that Mai is. That “cute” really doesn’t fit with her pose… so I went ahead and gave her a face-lift.
(2) Like Blue Mary, the ends of her hair are very blunt, and in many cases multiple hair bundle ends in one flat surface that has no detail at all. They need to stay sharp to avoid an action-figure look, just like you don’t want a blunt Gundam antenna.
(3) The clothing on her chest suffers from the same syndrome a lot of other kit has, that they should not be adhering to the body, but are only so because of casting limitations. It makes the kit look less detailed and dynamic.
(4)The gigantic waist bundles are also ended flat and detail-less; it reduces the kit to a more action-figure look than a delicate garage kit. The same problem exists for the end of the back hair piece.
(5) Finally, a great kit like this should be given the appropriate base, and I was inspired to do a tradition wave-splash-on-the-rock thingy (like those Toei movie openings) Although it’s commonly done for naval ship dioramas, I haven’t seen one done for a larger scale kit, so what I did for Mai was mostly trial and error.
|On top is the original face. You can kind of see the problem features I described (well kind of… flash just doesn’t work on white resins )
Below I planned the new eyeline by drawing it on the kit. They need to be narrower and wider. This version here is too wide actually. I drew a better one later. In addition, her face is too round, mostly contributed by the bloated chin/jaw area. I redeinfed the jaw-line by blackening the areas to be removed. Again a bit too much here, I sanded away less than this amount.
Also you can see the craptastic ends of the front hair piece where it’s purple. Well why is it purple in the first place? I soaked the kit in Castrol Super Clean to remove mold release, but the resin around these areas are badly cast and are of low density, so the agent soaks into the resin. It’s not a problem, but you can tell the casting isn’t top-notch.
|I then scrapped off places where I want to extend the eyeline, and fill the necessary area with Mr. dissolved putty. The new nose bridge to replace the original nose “bump” is also built this way. I like to use the dissolved putty here because with a little thinner you can blend the putty on to the kit, whereas with putty like Mori Mori or epoxy some sanding is likely required.
I also removed the clothing on top of her chest to prepare for the next step.
|To create the floating clothing, I first built the support with thin wires. Otherwise, since the pieces are so thin they’ll break easily, not to mention I have nothing to stack the clay on.
The third pic shows the finished upper body. After a lot of scraping with the back of the knife to sharpen and create finer grooves for the piece, she’s looking a lot more refined. Adding more stray hair strands with pla-plates and she’ll start kicking.
|The first two pics shows the ends of the waist bundles and hair. As you can see, they’re really flat, and I think it’s really unacceptable.
So I embarked on the journey of I-hate-my-life work of adding the hair ends. I overdid it here with the bananas, and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the pieces; later I lumped more putty on and smoothed out the bananas so that it looks more natural.
|Two pieces of base were provided. On the left is the one Mai stands on with her left foot, on the right is an optional piece that you can attach to her right shin so that she has extra support. As you can see, Mai is really off balance so they provided that piece; however you don’t really need it if you pin the kit well. With two solid brass pin on her left feet, Mai shouldn’t fall down.
Since I wanted to build a wave splashing base for her, I first need to increase the height of the left piece, because splashing will only occur with a vertical surface. To that end, I sawed the right piece into half and tacked them to the bottom of the left piece.
|Then I built the base out of a photoframe. First I fill the depression with celluclay, and then I pinned the composite rock I made above to it. Then I filled the gaps in the rock with more celluclay. After they’ve dried a little, I rolled an aluminum sheet and created a little relief on it.
The celluclay took its time to dry After heating under the lamp for a couple of days, they’re fully dried, and I created the water surface with acrylic self-leveling gel so that I fill all the porous holds of the celluclay layer. Then I build the rising waves out of acrylic extra heavy gel. They hold peaks well, but you can’t really get that high a peak with one application; with some patience you can get transparent watery peaks. Since the gel is very streaky, I piled another layer of self-leveling gel and painted the sea. The painting required some patience too so that you can gradually build up gradients on the wave peaks, and I have to keep reminding myself that real water is pretty much dark dark blue once you’re out of shallow water. After the blue gradients are defined, I dry brushed oil on the wave peaks and made streaks along the travelling wave fronts. The result is pretty pleasant! However the splashing wave on the rock is harder to get right, and I did the best I could to simulate the splashes. They’re difficult because in reality, you no longer get a body of water on the splashes, rather, the water breaks up into large droplets in mid air and falls back to the sea. That’s really hard to model on this scale, but I hope the uneven drybrushing on the splahses will create some of that effect.
Afterwards, a thick layer of self-leveling gel will give the water depth, and some Future on the wave front gets the base done! I pooled some water with more acrylic gel on the rock so that it looks wet alongside the lower edges.
|Finished! I love this kit and she’s one of the most wonderful dynamic figures. I’ve said this probably a few too many times so I’ll shut up now|