Designing the Ceratopsian Series: an In-Depth Look into the Process
12 months ago
– Tue, Oct 01, 2019 at 06:23:26 AM
Often with action figure lines all you ever get to see is the figure itself, but what about the planning and designing that's done beforehand? One of the benefits of creating the Beasts of the Mesozoic toy line is being able to share insights into how the figures are made at every step. For a look at how this action figure campaign came into being, let's go back to the beginning.
Brainstorming (Nov. 25th, 2016)
Just after sending out all of the completed parts for the Raptor Series to the factory in China (it took six months to sculpt all of the stretch goal parts!), I went to visit family on Thanksgiving vacation. While there, I decided to start jotting down ideas for the next 'Beasts' series, which was always planned to be Ceratopsians. Armed with only my trusty Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs and a sketchbook, I began jotting down ideas and possible scale sizes.
As you can see, some of these species ended up making the cut while others didn't. 1/12th scale was even considered, but it wasn't long before it became clear that 1/18th was the way to go for the majority of the line. You'll also note that the T-Rex was factored in from the beginning.
Reference (Jan. 4, 2017)
After I'd decided on the scale and the species selection, more visual context was needed for the sizes, and the quickest way to do this was to find modern skeletal drawings on the internet, mostly by Scott Hartman , and print them at 1/18th scale. By doing this, I was able to see which animals had potential for parts sharing. And while there isn't a lot of variation among the ceratopsian body anatomy, I was careful to make note of the subtle differences, especially between the Chasmosaurines and Centrosaurines.
It was at this stage that I could begin planning the number of body types required. Even after this, more species would be added and omitted.
Figure Design: Fleshing Out the Ceratopsians (Feb, 2017)
After finding my skeletal reference, I drew fleshed out versions of each to get a better sense of the part shapes and sizes. This was also the stage at which the articulation was decided.
Matching up species of similar sizes, I color coded each part to map out where each part could be used.
Keep in mind that much of this didn't make it through to the end, sizes would be adjusted, parts changed, and species traded out. Plus, being just side views, I couldn't factor the difference from front and top views. But despite all of this, the work here helped point me in the right direction.
As you can see, there were even a few planned that were smaller than Zuniceratops.
The Sculpting Plan (March, 2017)
After I had a parts map designed, it was time to figure out the most efficient path to creating this vast parts library and it's initial figures. At the time, I was the only sculptor factored into this plan, so it was essential that I could see where I was going with each set of parts and how they would all be used on the upcoming figures. My starting points were set: Xenoceratops and Zuniceratops.
At first, as some of you may recall from the social media posts, I had planned to do two Kickstarter campaigns over two years- one for Centrosaurines and one for Chasmosaurines.
After a while though, I decided that it would be best to move on to Tyrannosaurs sooner, so I adjusted the plan to have only one Kickstarter for the Ceratopsians. I could then release the other previously- planned figures at a later time without crowdfunding while moving forward with upcoming Tyrannosaurs Series.
Sculpting began shortly thereafter for the first figure on the list, Xenoceratops, and the project was officially off and running!
Xenoceratops and Zuniceratops were not actually meant to be main campaign figures, but it seemed like the most logical place to begin sculpting-wise.
In the end, the large Xenoceratops worked better as a stretch goal and Zuniceratops fit well with the main campaign, being at a more affordable price point.
Final Sculpted Parts (Sept. 2019)
After two years of sculpting, a few adjustments to the plan along the way, and getting help from sculptors Jake Baardse, Simon Panek, and Raul Ramos, we now have what we need to create 23 of the Ceratopsian species (25 total figures including the two are sub-adults).
It's been a long process, but well worth it as the figure count can be maximized while overall cost is kept down. It's the type of planning that is unique to action figures due to the amount of parts each figure is made of and one of the main reasons for keeping the family 'Series' approach with these figures.
In the end, twenty-five Ceratopsian figures are sculpted in a relatively short period of time thanks to thorough planning and design.
Color design and paint though.. well that's a whole separate beast.
Hope you all enjoyed that inside look. Until next time!