Twenty years in an industry is a long time. Sam Greenwell, who’s sculpted for some of the biggest names in comic companies (DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Diamond Select…just to name a few) started off sculpting in clay and wax. Two decades later, he now works exclusively in Zbrush. I got the opportunity to ask him some questions about the transition from classic tools to modern software and his work on DC Collectibles new Bombshells Cheetah statue.
yfnjman: In your bio it states that you started your career working in clay and wax, but now work primarily in zbrush. What was that transition like? Was making the switch by choice or just moving along with the times? Anything that you miss in particular about working in clay or wax?
Sam Greenwell: It was a pretty tough switch. I had been sculpting traditionally, in wax and clay for my whole life. I’d been sculpting professionally for about 20 years. I had been thinking about making the jump into digital sculpting, but had been putting it off cause it was pretty intimidating. What finally pushed my hand was when a friend of mine, who I had worked with in the past sculpting traditionally, asked me if I could revise a zbrush sculpture that he’d commissioned and I had to say no. It was the first time I had to pass on work because I just couldn’t do it. I bought zbrush the next day and jumped in. It was a huge learning curve. I didn’t even let anyone see what I was doing for months. It was over a year before I was comfortable doing work for clients in zbrush. There’s not really anything I miss about clay. I still will pick up a piece of clay and rough out a quick head just to relax.
yfnjman: You sculpted one of my favorite Ame-Comi statues, Jade. There’s something fun and dynamic about the statue. The thing I like most about it is her construct headphones and ipod. Did you have any input on the designs? Did you work on any other Ame-Comi statues?
SG: Jade is my favorite of the Ame-Comi statues that I did too. I didn’t do much tweaking of the original design on her, the design was pretty tight. I did a few of them, Jade, Raven, Star Sapphire, Hawkgirl and I also did a bunch of the Mini Ame-Comis.
yfnjman: How did you get involved with DC Collectibles’ Bombshells Cheetah statue?
SG: Pretty simple, DC Collectibles asked and I jumped at the chance. I love all Ant Lucia’s Bombshells designs and I’m honored I was given the opportunity to work on such a fun line.
yfnjman: Ant Lucia did the designs for the character. But, did you have any input on the statue itself? What kind of designs do you get from him? Do you get a full turnaround/character sheet for her? Or just the pose she’s in?
SG: For Cheetah in particular, her pose was already created so there wasn’t much room for input on this sculpt. The goal was to have the sculpt match Ant’s work.
yfnjman: From start to finish, how long did it take for you to complete her? What’s the sculpting process like for you on a statue like Cheetah?
SG: It takes a few months of sculpting and approvals. I do some sculpting, send it to DC for feedback, and repeat. We just go back and forth until we are happy with the sculpt.