What is The Orchid Mantis Project?
Orchid Mantis is a character I’ve been designing for a while. While my first sketches were done back in 2014, the character has continued developing over time. Pages and pages of sketchbooks are filled with drawings and ideas for making her into a cool character I might like to play in a video game. She became the subject of several concept development exercises, including my senior project in college. I’ve done a full timeline of her evolution on the blog here.
I love collecting figures of my favorite characters from games, shows and movies, and after working on Orchid Mantis for so long, decided I really wanted a figure of her on my shelf. And so began the Orchid Mantis project, my journey into creating a fully-articulated figure from scratch of my own character.
When I started this project, I decided I wanted to make the coolest figure I possibly could. Too rarely do I find figures on the market with novel features, accessories or anything more than some standard articulation. I want this to be the type of figure that would be an instant-buy if I were to see it online somewhere. To that effect, I’m building in several little moving features and compartments, like a helmet that opens to reveal her face, hidden weapon holsters on her legs, and LED lighting features.
The Working Process
To build this figure, I’m first modeling it in software using Maya and ZBrush. At this stage I’m making all the joints and testing all the working pieces before I start using real supplies. Once the model is complete, each piece will be 3D printed and cleaned up. Some of the larger pieces can be made on my home printer, but for the smaller pieces or anything requiring fine detail, I will probably have to go through a professional service online with higher-grade printers.
After sanding, detailing and final inspections, I plan to mold and cast every piece in plastic, resin or rubber for the final assembly. This way I can make several if necessary, and I can do some final touch ups to the pieces with clay or resin. Casting will also allow me to use materials I can’t print with, like transparent resins and flexible rubber.
Once all pieces are cast in their final forms, I can paint and assemble them for the finished figure. Some decals at the end will complete the look nicely.
My goal is to have a completed figure displayed on my shelf by the end of the year.