Patrick Masson’s sculpting workshop in Madrid review

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The first weekend of June we attended the workshop by Patrick Masson, a truly unique opportunity to learn sculpture from one of the best creators in the miniature world nowadays. Patrick is a professional sculptor working for different miniature companies currently, and one in particular, CoolMiniOrNot (if you follow our weekly Do Not Miss we are sure that you will be familiar with his Dragyiri for the Dark Age game). Patrick works on any kind of scale but since he usually works for games, it is very common to see his creations in about 35-40mm. It’s especially remarkable his capacity to refine details, with surfaces that are smooth to perfection, sharp details, crisp finishes… something to add to the special taste he has on the poses, and his knowledge of anatomy. Patrick always sculpts physically (that is, with putty and manual tools, as opposed to digital sculpting which is becoming the market rule) but his creations seem to have been sculpted with a computer. He is even known by some as ‘the human printer’ (and when you see his creations, you understand perfectly why).

The workshop was celebrated in La Catorce-Quince, in Madrid, and it’s the last of a wonderful cycle (Marc Masclans, Romain Van den Bogaert, Rafater y Patrick Masson) organized by Banshee Studio. The perfect cherry on top to close the season! This course, just like the others, was structured in two full-time days over the weekend. Patrick and the organization provide everything needed in the workshop: tools, wire, cork, a reference mannequin and a booklet with very useful explanations and diagrams. The idea of Patrick’s workshop originally was to roughly sculpt a complete miniature’s anatomy. However, Patrick realized in time that it was way more useful to provide a half sculpted mannequin to use as reference to sculpt the other half. In the end, there are symmetries to take advantage of to use the limited time in the workshop more efficiently. That is the greatness of the mannequin provided by Patrick as material for the workshop.

The half mannequin used is some sort of ‘ecorché’, which the name for a sculpture of a complete muscular structure. We say ‘sort of ecorché’ because in reality it is a hybrid. The mannequin has a series of key points highlighted that following Patrick’s teachings ease very much the understanding of the muscle structure in movement. The workshop consists of building the starting structure with wire on the left side of the mannequin and prepare with polymer putty (Fimo Professional), and then sketch the anatomy from the legs up to the head. The first day there is time enough to complete the legs and torso, and in the second day the arm, the head and learn a set of tricks and techniques to create different structures, as well as specific requests from students.

Watching Patrick is a true delight, his dominion over putty is absolute. He is a great expert in the matter and he explains everything easily and enthusiastically, especially the anatomy topics, that are later applied to the miniature. Something that is deeply complicated in the beginning, is completed relatively easy thanks to having Patrick as a guide at all times. He basically stops with everyone continously to review what the students are doing so that nobody gets lost. The subject at first may seem a bit dry for someone who just wants to learn how to sculpt miniatures for wargames, however, anatomy proves to be absolutely essential. This is a workshop that is somehow ‘theoretical’ since it’s an exercise to learn anatomy, but it’s fundamental because with this you understand much better the basics of every scultpure. The fact that you use a half sculpted mannequin is very positive because this is a great guide that makes this exercise valid for everyone that is starting with sculpting and also experts in the matter. In fact, in this edition in Madrid we had the chance to attend the workshop with other professional sculptures from Big Child Creatives, proficient both in the physical sculpting world and in 3D modelling. This proves we are not saying it lightly!

Creating the mannequin from scratch using wire, even if you have half as a guide, may prove a bit daunting for someone that has never touched putty before, either for sculptures or conversions. Anyone with a bit of experience with green stuff, maybe for simple conversions, will take great advantage of this workshop. And then, as soon as you get hooked with sculpting in the course, you will just want more and more. The two days go by in an instant and you will want to get deeper in the world of anatomy and sculpting. Applications to the world of model making are infinite.

We await therefore a future edition that may serve as a continuation of this course, which I would even consider repeating if opportunity arises. The exercise performed in this workshop is extremely useful and you learn new stuff everytime you execute it. In fact, it would be a great idea to get one of the mannequins from Patrick just to practice on your own. Basically, this is a sculpting course dedicated to anatomy that the world of miniature making was lacking, in a format like this one. If you have the opportunity and you are curious about sculpting, we encourage you not to miss this one. Highly recommended!

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Miniature painter, sculptor and huge enthusiast, established 2005. Very passionate about community, events and conventions, has won plenty awards in contests worldwide. Miniature art devotee, engineer, contest judge and teacher, focused on spreading the word of what we do in the miniature world!

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you very much for this great review of the workshop.
    It was a true pleasure to teach to all the students during this course.
    Every one was very dedicated to learn and interested.
    I will still try to improve it to make it even more enjoyable for the students thanks to your feedbacks.
    Sincerely hope to do more of these as it is a great experience for me.
    Thank you again.

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