I recently had the pleasure of chatting with digital modeler/sculptor Adam Ross. Adam’s worked for some of the biggest names in the business; from Mcfarlane Toys to Sideshow Collectibles. Over the last couple of years, Adam’s turned his expertise in digital sculpting to his advantage, starting Idol Workshop and designing/creating props for major studio blockbusters like Fox’s The Wolverine...

Your friendly neighborhood jman: Tell me a little bit about your work. For instance, the Dagger and Scarlet Witch statues you did for Sideshow Collectibles. How did you come to sculpt those?

Digital sculptor Adam RossAdam Ross: The Dagger and Scarlet Witch pieces grew out of my relationship with Mark Brooks. I had done a proof of concept piece based on his Mary Jane drawing back in 2007 or so. I did that while I was heading up/building the digital department at McFarlane. With the advent of ZBrush being this new tool to fully generate digital pieces for print, i wanted to push it a little and see if there was interest in doing pieces fully digital. There wasn’t at the time, and McFarlane has gone on to do some amazing pieces with some phenomenal artists, but at the time I don’t think it fit with their plans.

Sideshow on the other hand, they loved it. I got an offer of a solid year or two of work at the onset. They got behind it completely

jman: That’s awesome. What’s your background in?

AR: I started in this about 15 years ago, I went to SCAD for Computer Art, thinking I wanted to get into VFX. I got my first job at Gentle Giant, where I got acquainted with 3d printing and kind of ran with it.

jman: Seems like a lot of sculptors pass thru Gentle Giant at one time or another.

AR: Ha, indeed. Back then 3d printing was a tool, but more of a novelty…it took off later on for sure.

jman: So, you did Mark Brooks MJ in Zbrush….and the picture on your site, that’s the printing of it?

AR: Yep, did all the sculpting in ZBrush (with some low res base meshes in Maya). I worked with Mark on developing the piece from the waist down so we could have it work in the round.

I believe everything on my site (which I need to update for my recent projects) is the final printed parts. I dont usually do any color renderings.

jman: How long does it take you to get a piece done? Start to finish.

AR: It can vary wildly based on client interaction, revision turnarounds, etc.  However, added up in consecutive time, 1-3 weeks depending on overall complexity. Film props usually move a lot faster than that…3-5 days.

jman: No kidding! Less expectation on the props?

AR: No, expectations are high, time constraints are often that tight. With collectibles, production release is minimum 6 months away, as it all goes to china for mass production. Film pieces are usually expected on set anywhere from 1 week to a month after concepts are received. That means I have to get it to print, they have to do any cleaning, molding, casting, electrical work, painting, etc.

jman: So, with the props, your job is just to do the master? After that, it’s up to the studio to get it finished. Or is that your responsibility, too?