The idea for this diorama had been developing since 2017, slowly adjusting details mentally as I thought about it over several months. The idea was to tell a high concept Metal story, but still be as grounded and realistic as possible. After Crystal Brush 2018, I was ready to get started, so I put together a PDF for Charles Agius, the sculptor. I tried to put as much intention as I could into my garbage Photoshop concept:


My concept left the contents of the sculpt pretty clear, but the actual shape of the composition was totally ambiguous. Early designs from Charles were flat and square:

At some point we shifted out of that, but it included a bunch of horses, which were eventually removed after some back and forth:


The method that the previous year’s big diorama (Pharaoh’s Curse) was printed caused multiple cascading issues. The initial drawback it that it was very expensive. But on top of that, the material it was printed in was ultra brittle. In the course of painting it, I broke it twice. Then, on the way back from Adepticon 2018, some rough handling by TSA broke it again. I sold the completed piece to a collector and it was totally destroyed in the shipping process (also a total refund). So, there were clearly some major lessons to be learned. For Daddy Issues, I managed to print the entire piece myself on my own consumer grade SLA printer, for roughly $50 worth of resin. This was a major savings versus the previous printing service. And, I was able to be deliberate about picking a great resin that was very durable, so I didn’t have any of the same tensile strength issues. All of this compounded into a huge value increase versus the previous year.


My first step was using a digital lighting guide as a reference for realistic shadow placement:

The color palette built itself… since there was fire, I knew I needed a yellow/orange, so that became the hue/saturation that everything else hinged around. After playing around with Kuler and Photoshop, I ended up with this, although some deviation took place while painting:

I also did a pigment test, where I dialed in my selections:

After that, it was mainly execution… not only had I not painted marble floors, I definitely hadn’t done fire reflecting off marble floors. So, I watched some ‘how to paint marble videos’ (thanks Vince), did some experiments right on the model (later painted over), and dialed it in.


Daddy Issues placed 3rd in Diorama at Crystal Brush, in a very tough (and final) year. It also won BiS at Reapercon.

I tried taking my own pictures of the piece, but I preferred the Crystal Brush pictures, so I stuck with those for PnP.


This piece is available for purchase (DM me). Also, there may be a bust only version available for purchase.


Charles Agius
Aaron Lovejoy
Ben Komets
Jen Haley