Games Workshop are producing some fantastic models, that’s something that surely isn’t in any doubt. They’re technically close to perfect, due to the sculpting being done on computers. I wonder if that perfection might have come at the expense of character though. *
I painted a Space Marine Chaplain the other day, that surly looking chap at the top of the page in fact and it’s a sculpt that comes nowhere near the technical perfection of modern GW. The skulls are basic, the pose is that static stance that anyone who’s been into the hobby for a while will recognise and there are a couple of detail voids in the hard to reach crevices. Despite all that though, the imperfect little bugger has personality.
There are a few reasons for this I think and the biggest one is the difference between sculpting by hand and sculpting in a computer. When sculpting by hand all the imperfections come through; the little mistakes and idiosyncrasies of the sculptor. If you’re familiar with the work of a person, it’s often possible to identify their work without being told that it belongs to said individual. Whereas that all seems to be erased from the process when using a computer. Any mistakes are easily corrected and the personality of an individual sculptor just doesn’t shine through in the same way.
I’m not saying that Games Workshop should ditch their computers and go back to sculpting by hand. The current method allows them to turn out the best plastic kits they’ve ever done, at a rate that couldn’t be matched using traditional methods. Entire editions of a game could come and go without entries in an army list getting models to represent them. As far as I know that just doesn’t happen now.
On balance, I think the hobbyist gains more than they lose with modern sculpting techniques, but those old metals were something special. Never-mind, I can continue to satisfy my craving for classic lead, from Ebay, while going to Games Workshop for my top-notch plastics. I get to have my cake and eat it and I’m a guy who likes cake.
*I’m not going to pretend I have anything but the most basic layman’s knowledge of modern sculpting techniques, but I have opinions and I’m not afraid to use them.