Dancing DryadOriginal sculpt; April 2014
This model is the final realization of one of the many (many) ideas languishing on my mental back burner. I've always liked the idea of the tree-spirit dryad, though I was never entirely happy with any version I'd encountered in miniature. The majority seem to be mostly-naked females, perhaps with a fig leaf here or there for modesty. GW has the other extreme; a vaguely humanoid tree to represent a dryad in "combat mode" with very little human appearance left. I don't actually dislike either version, but I thought the figures I'd seen had missed an opportunity to sculpt a variety of plant-based textures into clothes and/or bark-like skin and resolved to do that myself when I got around to this project.
My core concept [and appallingly simplistic sketches] incorporated these vegetable textures as well as one of my favorite hobby helpers: asymmetry, which removed the need to exactly match the bilateral proportions, etc. The dryad's right side is more tree-like (including the base leg and the raised right arm) so that skin has wood grain and some heavier definition and folds like old tree bark. Those limbs are also slightly longer than standard, and the fingers on that hand are gnarled and extended. The left side and most of the torso are basically a normal humanoid shape, though the flowers and vines that form her jewelry are actually growing out of her skin.
For the vegetable textures, I gave her a birch-bark corset stitched together with vines, a skirt of leaves, and a bodice of slightly different leaves. I added a few more vines, leaves, and flowers as jewelry and accents, my favorite of which is the one that grows out of her hair, circles her throat like a necklace, and ends with a flower positioned like an earring.
The slightly balletic pose I'd settled on resulted in a figure whose upper body and lower body are on two very different planes, a nicely three-dimensional composition that would nonetheless create significant molding and casting challenges. Happily, the corset provided a convenient place to cut the master model in half for production and let me keep the stance I'd developed.
- More commentary to follow with the painted version -