Creating Creatures

Of all the great features of our new boardgame Miremarsh, the miniatures draw the greatest praise. From the nefarious goblins to the swamp monster, from the Fenlord to other creatures at large in Miremarsh, these miniatures have, without fail, seized the imagination.
With this in mind we interviewed the mastermind behind these miniatures, Matt Parkes, and find out exactly what it takes to populate a swampy swamp with deadly denizens.

Room 17 Games: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in 3D sculpting?
Matt: I started my training by painting miniatures for Games Workshop back when, if it wasn’t good enough, you painted it again; that was great training!
After working for various companies, I went freelance. Eventually I landed a gig on Games Workshop’s  Lord of the Rings range.
Room 17 GamesAs a 3D sculptor or painter?
Matt: I have not really ever sculpted a figure, as I concentrated on getting good at painting.
Room 17 Games: So you source and coordinate the 3D sculptors?
Matt: Yep. After 25 years of painting, you kinda get an eye for what makes a good miniature.
Room 17 Games: That makes sense.
And how did you get into painting in the first place?
Matt: I smashed the Golden Demon by winning the sword at my first attempt.
Room 17 Games: Wow! Good skills! And that led to your working with Games Workshop?
Matt: Yeah.

One of Matt’s briefs for his 3D sculptors. This brief is for Tanker, one of the dozen goblins in Miremarsh.

Room 17 Games: So we know what you do now, and how you got into the industry, but what attracted you to the hobby in the very beginning?
Matt: Playing Dungeons &Dragons, which is weird, as I do a lot of work for them now. I’ve come full circle.
Room 17 Games: You work on D&D? That’s pretty cool.
Matt: Yeah, I write the briefs for 3D sculpts and manage the process through. I’ve been doing it about six years now.

A WIP progress render of Tanker, complete with Matt’s feedback and instructions for the 3D artist.

Room 17 Games: So how did you get into the whole managing 3D sculptors thing in the first place?
Matt: I fell into it when I worked at Battlefront Miniatures. Someone got fired or whatever, I got the gig. It was a case of,  ‘We need these figures making, do you know anyone?’ So I rang around and sorted it. I gradually built it up from there, working with new sculptors on new projects.
Room 17 Games: And who have you provided this service for since then? Such as you’re allowed to tell us, anyway.
Matt: Miremarsh, D&D Collectors Editions, Firefly: Brigands & Browncoats, Dr Who, Spartacus, Flames of War… Plus a lot of others I can’t talk about yet.
Room 17 Games: That’s an impressive list, irregardless of the projects you can’t talk about.

A render of the final version of Tanker.

Room 17 Games: So how did you come to be involved in Miremarsh?
Matt: I’ve known Ricard for years, and I love the stuff he and the staff at Room 17 are doing. They’re full of fresh ideas.
Room 17 Games: And judging by the goblins you’ve produced thus far, it looks like a great collaboration.
Matt: Yeah, it’s been fun.
Room 17 Games: So talk us through the process. How do you get from an idea through to a dozen plus plastic miniatures?
Matt: It’s all about the brief. On that are all the details, including artwork and the engineering. Before making anything the client has to decide how many parts the miniature will be composed of, what material it will be produced in, and — the most importantly — the deadline. Most of the artwork I work on at the start won’t make a miniature. I have to convert the idea into something that can be produced.
There’s always a fine line between art and engineering; it’s all about finding the balance. There are often concessions. This is why rapid prototype prints are so important; they allows the client to get their hands on a representative miniature.
Room 17 GamesSo it’s a case of seeing if something that looks good on paper can be made to look just as good in 3D?
Matt: Yes, keeping the character is very important, even if you have to change the original concept.

Artwork, 3D render, and final resin casting of Tanker.

Room 17 Games: Thank you for your time, Matt. We look forward to interviewing when Room 17 Games releases another game with your awesome miniatures in!

Our next game, Miremarsh, hits Kickstarter on 2nd July, 2018. Guide dastardly goblins as they prowl the swamp, fight creatures, hunt unicorns and try not to die. Again.
Want to know more about this great new game? Then join the Facebook group and check out the preview of the Kickstarter!

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