Golden Demon winner Chris Clayton on his jaw-dropping giant diorama

Few prizes in the world of competitive art are as sharp as the Slayer Sword — the unique prize awarded annually, once in the US and once again in the UK, by Games Workshop. Awarded annually since 1987 to the miniature builder of the Golden Demon painting event, the 5-foot-tall weapon is an aspiring miniature painter’s dream. Few held their tongues. The last one is a former entertainer named Chris Clayton.

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Thirty-five years ago, Clayton won two early UK painting competitions, while Games Workshop had just eight sales to its name. Clayton was only 14 years old when he was given his first murderous sword. This year, Clayton’s sword is raised, for a giant duel he pulls out of time.

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“For me personally, small paintings are an escape from the everyday,” Clayton told Polygon recently. “That’s when [in 1987]small painting was in the beginning and there was not much teaching method or technique let alone equipment or society. […] Even a small painted image is rare.”

After 38 years of painting, Clayton today operates what he calls a “modest studio,” where the windows are covered with film that diffuses light; where Citadel paint pots share space with acrylic lacquers, oil paints, airbrushes and sable hair brushes; and a place where music was always heard “to stimulate or enhance the memory,” Clayton wrote.

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This year’s Slayer Sword winning entry was born here, and it’s where the sword resides today.

Image of a giant, standing on the waves with his feet visible under the waves, holding a kraken by the neck.  The kraken's hydralike head thumps and grinds.  This close-up shows the clear resin in the base as well as the detail in the front of the torso.

Photo: Games workshop

The rear view of the giant and kraken statue shows the details of the flotsam and jetsam hanging from its waist.  The tide seems to be getting rough.

Photo: Games workshop

The right side view of the giant and kraken statue shows the water dripping from the hydra and the large tattoo of the giant.

Photo: Games workshop

“I love monsters and the bigger the better,” Clayton wrote. “They lend and if anything, reinforce the human frailty in the world. When I designed the piece I began to create a story to match the visual narrative of the sculpture. “

“I thought of a sailor who was whipped, cursed, and thrown out by his crew because of superstition at sea. Our Kraken Eater happened upon this sailor […] the sailor, now undead, bargained with the giant to go with him to avenge his former crew.”

After the story comes the “complete” structural diagram to create a “convincing idea of ​​action, tension, and reality,” to capture this moment in time. Part of that plan laid the groundwork for the duel. “Effectiveness is necessary to perform the whole part,” Clayton wrote. “I saw a great example of ship design where submarines were going through the ocean and thought it would be really cool to incorporate that kind of effect into something fantasy.”

The main components of the model come from the 8-inch Mega-Gargant Kraken-eater ($210) and the Kharibdyss ($70), a model originally designed for the Dark Elves party in the country. . Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. Much resculpting, rethining, cutting, hacking, and gluing later, Clayton had the bones of a duel – a giant, a hydra, and all the details of the shallow seabed beneath them.

Image of a giant fighting a kraken.  This photo was taken before painting and shows where the model was modified with scissors, saws and putty.

Photo by Chris Clayton

Image of a giant fighting a kraken.  This front view taken prior to painting shows how Chris Clayton has captured the texture of the connections between the plastic components based on the bag.

Photo by Chris Clayton

For the next 360 hours — 8-hour days for 10 weeks as last year’s English spring turned into summer — Clayton worked hard. “I always like to work with a limited palette especially for large and detailed objects,” Clayton writes. “It would be easy for this part to become complex, so by keeping a few key colors and then using tints and shades around those choices, I can keep the colors consistent and homogenous.” .”

With an ocean-themed palette, “the first part of the piece to be painted is the giant’s feet and the seabed area. That way, if the water effect on the resin failed, I didn’t waste time and effort painting a giant,” Clayton wrote.

The Assembly is designed to capture this phenomenon between two wooden organisms, but how can it capture moving water in the same way?

“I wanted something more dramatic and stormy where the optical clarity was very important because there would be a lot of detail under the waves,” Clayton wrote. By sculpting the waves in clay, Clayton created a silicone mold of the rough seabed, and “once the base was fully painted, detailed and finished…

Extreme close-up of water — resin cast on base — two large figures in a fighting diorama.  The waves are well sculpted, and the water is clear but has bubbles on it.

Photo by Chris Clayton

Silk thread and tiny clear beads “coated with clear varnish and carefully placed” formed the central air dust and water droplets, Clayton wrote. Once the core was in place, Clayton moved up, working over the tiny lines of white belly visible between the hydra’s scales, washing purples and reds across the giant’s hide.

After 15 days of work and a drive to Nottingham later, Clayton had his sword in hand.

When asked, Clayton said he doesn’t consider himself an artist, but closer to a woodworker or ceramicist. “I care for miniatures […] as a three-dimensional metaphor and as a result these are the tools I feel I can fully express.

“I am in the fortunate position of being able to have miniature paintings as an integral part of a more holistic creative lifestyle. If you had told me in 1987 that I would still be painting miniatures 35 years later, I wouldn’t have believed you, but secretly hoped so,” Clayton wrote. “Nowadays it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are to live in an age where entertainment is now part of mainstream popular culture. special.”

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