Beyond the Bare Bones with Kat Sapene: Painting Death’s Warbringer
From her exploits against Ghetis Avancor in to her reincarnation as , Kier has been reluctant to miss an opportunity to expel her unresolved rage. This latest statue features the apoplectic fallen angel as she returns from battle, severed angel head in hand, and face of ferocity fully visible.
The highly detailed sculpture expounds upon Kier’s character arc, expressing her personality and emotions in a more comprehensive and vivid manner than previously seen. Read on for a behind-the-scenes interview with Kat Sapene:
What were your favorite elements of this project?
My favorite part of the project was combining the different armor elements while still fitting them to the overall palette for Kier. Her armor has spirit elements to it, but there are now bone elements as well. So for some of those bits of bone armor, I played around with the colors, adding blues and purples where the more typical bone armor has yellows and browns.
What were the most challenging aspects of painting Kier?
Kier is a character that is both beautiful and scary; two things that can be a challenge to combine. With this version of Kier, I wanted to revisit how the blood was painted and also how the skin itself was painted. Once I had the skin painted to my liking, the challenge was to paint the blood and not mess up the skin. There’s no “undo” button for real paint so I had to have a good idea of what I was looking for before starting in on the blood. The intention was for the blood to look less as though she’s covered in blood up to her knees and elbows, and more as though the blood stains are under her skin and gradually engulfing her the more she kills. I think i feels more like it’s a part of her now, something that’s consuming her, rather than something she can wash away.
How do you go about blocking color placement and patterning in a figure like this?
Usually I will start with painting the skin tone and face on a figure. This helps to set the mood for the piece. For Kier, there was the added element that she is wearing new armor in this version. So I mocked up a couple pieces of armor to see how this would work with her established skin tone and made adjustments accordingly. Sometimes, when it’s a clothing element that needs figuring out, I’ll just do the mock up on one of the copies that are getting painted. But when it’s a facial element, like eye placement or makeup, I’ll take pictures and play around with options using Photoshop. This keeps the paint buildup on the face to a minimum and is a bit quicker too.
Did you use any references when painting this figure? Was her faction, spirit, an influence on the painting choices at all?
Many of the elements on Kier were established in the first statue so the reference I needed wasn’t as extensive as it would normally be. She has some new bone armor in this iteration. For much of that I used the same techniques that I used Xiall. But for her shoulder pauldron, I went looking for images of bleached bone to find a cooler, less yellowed image of old bone. The fun thing was looking up different types of stone with teal colors. I found some really amazing images of rocks that just look like they’re from another world. They were great reference for the base.
Kier’s personality and story as a character is vividly expanded upon in this statue. What sort of considerations were given to the blood stains on her arms and legs?
The intention for the blood stains has always been to make it feel more like a stain than fresh blood, but that’s a delicate line to walk. What is it that really defines the markings as a stain rather than fresh blood So on this statue I tried blurring the edges of the blood so that it felt more like it was something creeping up under her skin; consuming her.
What about to the marks on her back, where her angel wings used to be?
The goal for the shriveled remains of her wings was to make them not too gory, but at the same time to show that they had been damaged, ripped away. I did this by making the skin around them look red and sore and by darkening the tips of what’s left of her wings so that they looked charred. I like that they feel like they’re tucked in to her back and hiding; protecting what remains of them.
The figure features the Valkyrie with a severed angel head in her hand. How do you use paint to differentiate between the angel head and Kier?
The key to making the angel head feel like an entirely different creature than Kier was in its blood. It’s a severed head, but there’s no red blood. The blood of the angel was more of a thick, black, nicotine stain that oozes rather flows. It’s pretty gnarly, but I think it helps to tell the story.
The opportunity to expound upon this venerated warrior’s character arc through sculpture left the entire Court of the Dead creative team eager to continue growing the unbridled collection. is available now!