Creature Feature: Sculpting Poxxil with Mark Newman

The dizzying array of biodiversity in the mortal realm is perhaps only outstripped in the Underworld, where creation is not bound by the laws of nature. Poxxil is a riveting example of how both the extremely grotesque and the exquisitely ornate can co-exist in one creature. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (And our Queen is not known to let go of an eyeball once it comes into her possession.)

Master sculptor Mark Newman spent three months forming and detailing the Poxxil: The Scourger Premium Format Figure. Read on for a behind-the-scenes interview with the commanding artist.

Q). What did you enjoy most about sculpting Poxxil?

A). I really enjoyed the whole thing. For Sideshow, I rarely get to dig into sculpting a creature character. This guy was ALL creature. I usually really enjoy sculpting the portraits of a character, but his legs were really fun to get the right gesture and skin textures.

Q). What was most challenging about sculpting Poxxil?

A). It almost always is the engineering of the sculpture for modeling and casting. Planning ahead with the armature so it can be taken apart. Although lots of the process is ‘figure it out as you go’ so things change quite a bit as you progress along. Cutting parts off and keying the pieces to all fit together.

Q). What medium did you use to sculpt him? How did you decide on what techniques to use with Poxxil?

A). I used a polymer clay called super sculpey. I’ve been using this material for many years. It’s easy to work with. It’s designed to sculpt with and bake in an ordinary oven to cure or harden it. Then the piece is easy to cut apart, key it together and ship it off to the client. This was before I got up to speed with digital sculpting which is a completely different process all together.

Q). Did you use any references to guide your design? 

A). The overall design was flushed out through Tom Gilliland’s grand idea. He worked with concept artist Amilcar Fong among others to draw it out and come up with the 2D artwork along with some ZBrush design work. I was given this work to start the three-dimensional prototype. I used photo reference material I found online of ostriches for his legs, rotting animal carcasses for Poxxil’s body. You know, fun stuff like that.

Q). What steps go into preparing to start the actual sculpting of a project like this?

A). First step is creating the armature to build on with the clay. The armature is basically an aluminum wire skeletal structure supported by an armature stand mounted to a wood base. Most often I blow up the design drawing to the actual size of the sculpture so it is easier to lay out the armature to the correct size and proportions. Then I pose the armature and start bulking out the main primitive shapes and forms with the clay. Once I get the form, shapes and pose working well together, I start working out the secondary forms such as the muscle groups and shapes. I make sure every stage is working well together before progressing on with details and textures.

Q). How long did it take to plan and sculpt this piece?

A). This particular sculpture took close to 3 months from start to finish. This includes sending progress updates in stages, and getting notes back from Tom for edits, tweaks and changes. Often the design evolves and changes from the 2D Art at the beginning. Fleshing out the character in 3D takes on nuances and other ideas that work better for the character.

Q). What elements of Poxxil’s design took the most attention? 

A). The underlying details such as his skeletal structure and musculature beneath his withered skin. Making sure this creature could actually exist and move around as a biological life form, as we know them in this world. When you get all the anatomy working well together you can torque and tweak it into uncommon shapes to create underworldy (is that a word?) fantasy characters that look real.

Q). Did you focus on imbuing Poxxil’s personality into certain aspects of his design?

A). The hunched arch of his back and torque of his neck really add to his personality.

The pose and posture of his legs shifting his weight as he walks, and the pose of his gnarled hands really helps portray his character as well.

Q). There is so much amazing detail in this statue. How did you decide to add on trinkets like the spoons that hang off of Poxxil’s skirt? 

A). Most of those details were added after I sent in my work on the piece. I sculpted the spikes nailed into his body and a few of the bottles and containers hanging off them but many more details and trinkets were added afterward.

Q). What can you tell me about sculpting Poxxil’s face? He has such an incredibly intricate, gruesome visage – it’s a wonder to look at.

A). Amilcar Fong’s drawings and ZBrush roughs were basically what I sculpted. He did such a great job on a unique design for a creepy ass face that I really did not have much to add or change. I really wanted to capture the character he put into this design.

Q). Did you listen to or watch anything in particular while creating Poxxil?

A). Not really anything in particular. Just the normal zany internal activity in my own head.

Sounds like Mark Newman must be a member of the Flesh Faction, because “normal zany activity” rarely produces a creature of the nightmarish magnitude of Poxxil: The Scourge!

Partnering with Mark to bring Poxxil to life through clay was an incredible experience for the Court of the Dead team. Capture the necro-magic for yourself, by pre-ordering Poxxil here.

For more behind-the-scenes content, follow Court of the Dead on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Rise, Conquer, Art!