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Clone Trooper (VC45) - Hasbro - The Vintage Collection (2011)



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Special Report: An Introduction to Customizing
by: Joris DeSmet

Pursuing Movie Accuracy

This paragraph is for the die-hard fans. When you start making movie-accurate customs, you have arrived in the final possible mental state of Star Wars fan-hood. Allow me to introduce you to it.

It can't be said enough. When you want to make your figure movie-accurate, you will actually have to look at the movie. Having witnessed the conception of tons of customs I'm stressing this, because fans very quickly seem to assume having seen things and fill in details with their own imagination. That still doesn't say you won't make a good-looking custom, but it won't be movie-accurate. And upon meeting the likes of me, you'll probably be discouraged profoundly when your attention is put to all those little details you seem to have simply missed.

So your first mission is to look up all the references you can. I'll try to sum up here the ones that I'm using myself. "Stills" or "movie shots" and BTS (behind the scenes) images take the bulk of what to look for… and there are a number of good sources for these to be found both on-line and off-line: There are always a number of photo books or sticker books that are made available with every movie, not to mention magazines which will feature detailed spoiler images of characters even before the movies are in the theatres. Shown up here are the Panini sticker book and a French Lucasfilm Magazine...

Next to that, there's Steve Sansweet's work. First there is his Star Wars EncyclopediaStar Wars Encyclopedia. Even though you will not get a picture with every entry, the descriptive text can sometimes help just as well. It also features a handy index with references that may take you to other publications where you do find pictures. Steve Sansweet also made a toy guide called Star Wars: The Action Figure ArchiveStar Wars: The Action Figure Archive, in which he shows many movie stills that I didn't see anywhere else yet to show how accurate the latest Hasbro toy line is. It speaks for itself that these are equally a pretty good source of reference pictures.

     

And, of course, you can not forget Steve's Star Wars Chronicles and Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels. They are pricey additions to a collection but are full of the most detailed images of anything in the Star Wars universe you can think of...and most from more than one angle!

Other great references are the "making of" CD-ROMs of the Classic Trilogy and "the Phantom Menace". Not only a bunch of actual movie stills, but equally the best source around for BTS images. The CCG cards, of course! Not only can you also find them online (www.Decipher.com), you can have the nitty-gritty cards themselves for your perusal. Nothing is better to do some scrutiny on details! Except for these, there is the Internet. A simple search in an Internet Search Robot will probably yield a large number of pictures already, but you know that there are also thousands of Star Wars fan sites around of which many feature their own reference guides: www.StarWars.com and Iradonian’s excellent Jedi Archive pages, just to name a few...

It's usually a bad idea to use drawings (Essential Guide to Characters) or computer-generated images as reference pictures. Some of the time, the designer didn't care to do the necessary research on details himself when making the picture, meaning that he or she filled some of the gaps with his or her own imagination. So don't be a lazy copy-cat, do your homework properly...

As already pointed out, the same usually goes for other people's customs, except for the ones produced by customizers that claim to pursue movie-accuracy themselves. But even then, you'll need to be careful ... an opinion of what one “sees" may differ and the eye can be easily deceived.

Once you assembled enough pictures, it's a nice idea to make a collage of them. Even if that looks a bit awkward at times, you'll see that it's very valuable to "understand" how the character you want to customize looks like. Sometimes, putting pictures in relation to each other allows you to imagine the bits you don't actually get to see in the photos.

Once you know what your next custom really looks like, you can start looking for the body parts that are already close to what the movie character looks like and start putting them together. Use all the techniques that are described here above to assemble the parts into a figure.

Epilogue

Well, here, that's all you need to get started, young Padawans!

I hope this article wet your appetite to get up and try the wonderful hobby of customizing. From here it’s all practice, practice, and practice … just like learning how to swing a lightsaber around properly.

Do you think (after all this) that there's something that needs to be added to this introductory tutorial or you just want to contact me with your customizing questions? I'm always here in the Jedi Temple War Room Customs Forum along with a bunch of experienced customizers. And guess what? We're very willing to listen to any remark and answer any question you may have...


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