Saturday, November 30, 2013

Drawing a Mascot

Before I became a sculptor, I loved to draw.  I drew constantly.  Actually, as far back as I can remember, I have always had a sketch pad and a pencil lying nearby and whenever I had the opportunity, I would spend my time drawing.  In elementary school, I went to extra art classes and I loved it.

Art was always my favorite subject in school and my dad's miniature company gave me plenty of inspiration when I began painting and finally sculpting miniatures. 

While drawing was my first passion when it came to art, I haven't had much opportunity to draw over the years.  Work, family, ect has cut back on time I can draw and, of course, I do like different R&R time now, such as World of Tanks.

But what am I getting at?  Simply that I took the time to draw Sgt. Grumpy from my logo.  I had planned on hiring an artist to draw him but the more I looked at him, the more I wanted to take the time to draw him myself.  So I set aside some of my free time, sorry WOT, and sketched out this concept art.  I will be sculpting him but for now, I wanted to share the piece.

Over the next few weeks, I will pull out some of my old sketches that I did years...and years ago.  My wife, who hates clutter and actually had a bonfire with collectable cards (a horror story to tell another day and no, it wasn't during or after a fight), refused to let me get rid of them and has them safely tucked away.  When I get a change to scan them in, I will share the pictures with you.

But for now, here's SGT. GRUMPY.

Note:  If I refer to him as Sgt. Stumpy from time to time and don't catch it in edits, just ignore it.  I always think of Sgt. Stumpy who was a war dog in WWI.

And here is an alternate Christmas Version.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Stretch Goal and Pro Sculptor 2 for 1 sale on Kickstarter

Another stretch goal has been reached and to celebrate, Fire For Effect Studios and James Van Schaik have opened up several stretch goals that are free to all backer levels as well as some that are open to select backer levels. What that means is backers get more for their investment and can start earning free rewards with a backing level of only $15.

With the second stretch goal opened up, backers can receive 4 free QuikTec courses that are available to pick 1 and up backers. These courses are quick, mini courses that look at a specific detail techniques, such as sculpting cigars. They are quick to take, most taking no more than 15 to 30 minutes of your time and add a wealth of character to your miniatures and models.

In addition to the free QuikTec courses, backers who pledge at a pick 10 and up level receive 4 free courses. These are complete courses that can be taken on their own or with other courses available by Fire For Effect Studios.  

Finally, Fire For Effect Studios is offering pick 5 and up level backers 7 add on courses for as little as $5 to $20 dollars depending on the course. These are courses that are above the 30 core courses the company had planned on producing. With every stretch goal, the Fire For Effect Studios will increase the number of courses that they will produce.

At the next stretch goal of $10,000, Fire For Effect Studios will be opening up 3 free courses for a total of 7 free courses for level 10 and up backers, another 4 free QuikTec courses for a total of 8 free courses for pick 1 and up level backers and 2 more add ons for a total of 7 add on courses and 2 add on reference figures.

In addition to the stretch goals being reached, Fire For Effect Studios is offering a limited sale on Pro Sculptor courses. These sales are buy the male anatomy pro sculptor course and receive the female anatomy pro sculptor course free of charge. As well as purchase the male superhero pro sculptor course and receive the female superhero pro sculptor course free of charge.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fan Appreciation Contest

Wow, it has been a busy two days.  Before I get into the contest, I would like to take a minute to thank my wife. She is the person behind the keyboard who is updating the kickstarter and making everything run smoothly. 

While she has been busy working on the kickstarter and business end of everything, I have been happily sculpting along for my clients.  It is exciting to see the kickstarter doing so well and while I would love to watch the computer, my wife is the tech savvy person in the family so it is just safer if I check on it over her shoulder.  Also, I want to make sure that I get my client's miniatures done and shipped out for them.

If you have a question about the kickstarter, you can email her at and address it to Sirena.  She will have all the answers to your questions.

But right now, I wanted to take my lunch break to announce a fan appreciation contest that we will be running on the Fire For Effect Studios Facebook Page.  This contest will have the following prizes:

Ultimate Prize Win 1 Free Commission: 32mm Figure of any genre.

In addition, we will be raffling off a number of greens, miniatures and copies of miniatures that we have here.  So there should be something for everyone.

What you need to do to win:

For this contest, there are a few things that we will need to do as a community and it is very important.  This contest will only happen if we reach the goal. If we don't, then the draw won't happen.

So, between now and December 9th, we need to raise the number of fans who like our facebook page to 5000 for the Ultimate Prize to be raffled off.

However, if we reach a goal of 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000 likes, we will be raffling off miniatures and greens, more details to follow.

To enter in to the contest, you must do the following:

1. Like the Fire For Effect Studios Page
2. Like and Share this image and link on facebook.
3. Relax and wait for the draw

And that is it.  No muss, no fuss.

We are raffling off three different types of items.  For warhammer 40k fans, we will be raffling off 10 marines throughout the contest; for heroclix fans, we have super rare, resin preproduction copies of miniatures that I received when I worked in studio; and for fantasy fans, we have a bunch of fantasy greens that I have kept over the years.  Here is a photo of some of the items in the raffle.  More details will follow the closer we get to a draw.

Thanks for all of your support in getting my studio name out there. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kickstarter is Live!

James Van Schaik and Fire For Effect Studios are proud to announce the launch of their kickstarter.  It is an exciting initiative that brings the world of sculpting techniques to everyone through comprehensive, easy to follow, sculpting classes.

The courses offered are high quality courses filmed in HD without time lapse on techniques. You see everything as it is done, clearly and concisely, so you can learn the skills you need for adding to existing models and miniatures or sculpting your own. The courses will include a virtual classroom, several modules for each course, PDF quick cheat guides, module notes and references for students. There will also be a course forum for one on one attention from James Van Schaik while you are learning.

These courses are designed for everyone, whether you are new to using putty to enhance your models and miniatures or not. All skill levels, all jobs, learning that is easy and enjoyable.

The kickstarter runs from November 19th until December 9th and we are offering great incentives to backers of the project.  Courses are offered at over 75% off what they will be when released to the general public.  In addition, some great miniatures are being offered to backers including a chance to have your own private commission from James Van Schaik. Stretch goals are planned with the opportunity to receive free courses and special add ons.

For more information on our sculpting courses, you can read the descriptions at or back our kickstarter today at

Monday, November 18, 2013

Housekeeping, Winners and a Figure

Good morning, good morning, good morning.  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I did for the most part but spent a lot of it working.  The live of a freelance sculptor often means that I work weekends but there are a lot of perks to the job as well.

One of them are the figures that I get to sculpt for clients and I have a few that I am working on that I am really happy for.  I will definitely put them up as soon as my client releases the figures as I have to stick to NDA agreements and wait.

But today, I thought I would post a new figure that I wanted to show everyone. That is, after all, a big reason for this blog, to showcase work I have done.  Last week was really busy with news about the launch of my own studio and a few of the initiatives for the business.  While the sculpting classes are going to be a lot of fun, the majority of my work day is dedicated to clients and I will continue posting photos of the work I have done for clients over the years and continue to do.

With that being said, I do have to make one announcement for the studio and that involves the two contests that were running over the weekend for 1 of 5 miniatures.  The cut off date was this morning at 12:00am EST so when I woke up, the first thing I did, after having a coffee, is draw the names for the winners.

If your name was drawn, please email me at to send me your shipping address.

For the facebook contest, where you needed to like and share the Fire For Effect Studios facebook page and post, the following people won a miniature.  The winners are:

Sean Wesley Johnson
Lee Foster
Mark Farebrother
Richard Poffenberger
Adam Beanish

Congratulations on your win.  Again, send me your address, either on facebook or at the email listed above and I will get them shipped out as soon as possible. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for the miniatures to get to you as I am working with Canada Post ;).

The forum contest was similar and all that was needed to register and post an introduction.  Unfortunately, we are just going by usernames for the forum so if you see your username here, send me a message with your shipping address.

And the winners for the forum contest are:


Congratulations on your win and the same thing, please allow 4 to 6 weeks for shipping.

So the only other housekeeping is to announce that I will be having a contest for you to win your own private commission from me in the next week or so.  There will be free miniatures, scifi and other, including some of my own personal heroclix that will be signed.  It will be run through facebook and will be running during the time that my kickstarter is running.  If we can get enough fans by a certain date, we will do the draw.  But I will post the details when the contest begins.  Just to let you know, no purchase is necessary.

And that is it, now I want to share a few figures that I did for Mierce Miniatures.  These were for their kickstarter that they had.  I had a lot of fun with these figures and they are "historically themed" miniatures.  They do have an alternate timeline with fantasy.  And as you know, when I get the chance to do something historical or involving a superhero, I have a lot of fun sculpting them.  So here are a few of the miniatures that I did for them.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kickstarter Announcement and Sample Course Video

I have mentioned this several times this week but for an official announcement, I am launching a kickstarter.  For over 7 years, I have been teaching sculpting techniques to modellers, converters, modders, and aspiring sculptors.  It has been a process that has included writing several books on complete sculpting for people who have been in my courses and doing a number of video tutorials on here.

Through all of my teaching, I have found out one secret that many people don't realize...Sculpting can be done by anyone.  Even if you don't think you have a creative bone in your body, you can sculpt and make your miniatures go from ordinary to extraordinary.  Sculpting relies on two things; practice, which you will get over time, and techniques, which I will teach you.

While I could go through doing a full figure from start to finish, which I do have a course for, the average hobbyist doesn't want to do that.  Instead, he or she wants to learn how to add a skull to a shoulder pad or do a head swap or make a custom base.  All of the courses have been designed with this in mind.  Each course focuses on one technique that range in difficulty from beginner to advanced.

All of the courses will be offered online through an eClassroom.  In addition to high definition videos, each course will have module notes, quick guides, references and resources. Every course has its own online campus forum to get advice from me and to post your work and homework...and yes, there will be homework that you can do when you get the time...or not at all if you prefer.  The online campus forum is also a community to connect with other students and peers.

If you aren't sure whether these courses would work for you, take a look at the list at for basic, for intermediate, for advanced and for the sculpting apprenticeship programs.  As you can see, there really is a course for everyone.

The kickstarter will be the start up cost to produce 30 of the courses and get them hosted onto the virtual classroom.  Anyone that buys in at the kickstarter level will receive up to 75% off the regular price of the courses as well as free courses and kickstarter exclusive perks depending on the perk level you buy in at.

But enough about the kickstarter.  Below is an excerpt of the blending module from my course on Basic Sculpting Techniques.  There are 6 modules total, so 5 in addition to this one, covered in this course alone and with the kickstarter, depending on the level you buy in on, you could get the course for as low as $10.  This includes a 1 month access to the classroom when you activate your code to download your videos and files, which you can do whenever you want, and a lifetime access to the classroom forum.

So here is the video.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  The kickstarter is launching November 18th, 2013.

Name our Mascot Winner

Thanks everyone for your entry into the Fire For Effect Studios Name our Mascot Contest.  After tallying up the votes, duplicate votes weren't counted, the winner of the contest, by 1 vote, is Sgt. Grumpy by Lazaro Arellano.  

Congratulations Lazaro.  Please private message me or email me at with your address and I will get your copy out to you on Monday morning.  

If you didn't win the contest and would still like to win a free miniature, be sure to enter my contests running on facebook and my forum right now.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Name the Mascot Voting

Thank you to everyone who entered a name into our Name the Mascot contest.  There were some amazing names submitted and it was hard to narrow it down to the top 10.  But after some careful consideration, I did just that.  Here are the 10 finalists, in no particular order:

  1. Sgt. Mayhem by Austen Sweet
  2. Sgt. Grumpy by Lazaro Arellano
  3. Sgt. Pork Chop by mike szokola 
  4. Sgt. Hobo by Brandon Hakker
  5. Sgt. OddDog by Dave McKay
  6. Sgt. Zodian by Sean Wesley Johnson
  7. Sgt. Boomer by David Santucci
  8. Sgt. Ruff by  Jorden Schrama
  9. Sgt. Bully McWoof by Pixel Fabian
  10. Sgt. Steel'o Dogneill  by David Bios

So now we have to do the vote for his name from these 10 entries.  Post in the comments section below with the number of the name that you think our mascot should have.  I will also be posting this on Facebook and will tally the votes between here and there.  Get as many people as you can to vote for you name to win your miniature.

Name with the most votes will win.  Ballots close at 12am on November 16th.  

Thanks and good luck!

Another Day; Two ways to Win a Free Miniature

This is an announcement that I have been waiting to make for several months now but I had to wait until everything was finished and launched.  My business has "officially" gone live today.  Check out my new website at

I am so excited to get started on some really great things and while I will still be a full time sculptor for many of your favorite companies, I get to do something with my evenings that I have done on a smaller scale for the last 7 years...and that is teach others how to sculpt.

The website has lots of information on what I will be teaching but for right now, I am simply celebrating the launch of the website itself, which has been a long time in the making.  And that brings us to the two contests.  Which I will go over the rules shortly.  Both contests will allow 5 people the chance to win a free miniature, which is pictured below so more than one person will be able to win this bad boy.

All you need to do is check out the website at and let me know what you think. If you find an error that we have missed with our fine-toothed comb, post it so I can get it fixed.  I may be giving out random miniatures to a few lucky spotters.  I am sure we missed a few mistakes but we have been looking at this site for several months and have stopped noticing some of the finer details.

Next, choose one of two contests to enter (or enter them both if you would like):

The Facebook Contest:

This contest is simple and all you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Fire For Effect Studios Facebook Page and like the page.
  2. Like and Share the Post:  I want to win a free MINIATURE!  Please make the share public.  If it is a private setting, I won't be able to see the share and you will be missed during the draw.
  3. Comment in the post thread on facebook to let me know you liked and shared.  Make sure it is in the original Fire For Effect Studios post.

And then sit back and wait for your chance to win 1 of 5 Free Miniatures!

The Forum Contest:

With my website, I have also launched a forum for the courses that I will be running and for a general sculpting community.  This will also be a general forum for miniature hobbyists and I invite people to join the forum and share their miniatures.  The rules for the forum contest are simple as well.

  1. Go to the Fire For Effect Studios Forum Page and register on the forum. 
  2. Introduce yourself on the forum with a post either in the introductions or general forums.
  3. Look around at the various subforums.  Right now the campus is open so you can see what I will be doing.

And that's it.  I will draw names from the registered members on the forum. All you have to do is wait for the draw and your chance to win 1 of 5 Free Miniatures.

The contests will run from now until November 18th at 12am PST.

So the total number of draws is 10 Miniatures, 5 for each contest.  You can enter into one or the other or both if you would like and I hope you can give me some feedback on the direction I am going with my website, forum and courses.

Lastly I would like to thank my friends and family for all their support and help in launching this new venture. In particular my wife for all her support and hard work and believing in me. Without her, none of this would be possible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Press Release: Name the Mascot and Win a Free Figure

Okay, we are finally moving forward and I am really excited about it.  As I have mentioned, I have decided to start my own studio and have a website.  The website should be launched tomorrow, barring any catastrophes.  While I could have started a website with just my name, I have wanted to start my own company for over 10 years now.  And I finally have.  The studio name is Fire For Effect Studios or F4E Studios and will be both my source for private and commercial sculpting commissions and a way to offer fans and hobbyists something a little different.  I could go on by myself but the easiest way to do this is to just give you the blurp from my about us page on the website.

James Van Schaik has run a successful, freelance sculpting studio since 1999, working for all of the major companies in the gaming industry such as WizKids, Wyrd,Ral Partha, RAFM,Reaper, Battlefront, Gale Force 9, Dust Studios, Dust Tactics, Mantic and many others. In 2013, James Van Schaik relaunched his studio under the name Fire For Effect Studios. 
The studio is a full range sculpting company that focuses on providing hobbyists with the tools they need to make their models excel.  Not only does the company offer private and commercial sculpting services for a range of genres, it offers professional sculpting tools and supplies for hobbyists, miniature painters and modelers.
In addition, Fire For Effect Studios offers complete sculpting and modeling courses through a state of the art, virtual classroom.  Not only do students gain access to unique and individualized sculpting courses, but they get live, hands on advice from the class instructor himself, James Van Schaik.

Fire For Effect Studios also hosts a robust, and concise sculpting community where modelers and hobbyists can learn from each other and get advice from sculptors.

So hopefully you are excited about what will be coming up within the next week but you are probably wondering how you can get your hands on a copy of a free figure.  That is simple.  Like my facebook page and submit a name suggestion for the logo/mascot shown below.  The mascot is the dog in the tank. (One rule, he is a Sgt. so make sure his name starts with Sgt.  for example, Sgt. Fluffy.)  

Post your name suggestion in the comments section down below.  The deadline for names will be Thursday, November 14th at 7pm PST.  From that list, I will pick the top 10 names submitted. On Thursday, November 14th at 8pm PST, I will post up the names for people will vote on.  The contest will run from November 14th until November 16th at 12am PST.  The name with the most votes will win the free figure below.   And that's it for the contest.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day or Veteran's Day if you are not in Canada.  It is an important day to me.  Today, I wear the poppy over my heart and I think about all the men and women who have served for their country.  Some of them have lost their lives fighting in wars overseas, others have made it home and all of them deserve our respect.

Remembrance Day, to me, is a day to remember the sacrifices that veterans made for us and to be thankful for everything that they did.

Everyone, regardless of where you live, knows a veteran.  I have known several throughout my life but one that really means a lot to me is Colin McClelland.  He was the co-founder of RAFM, which was one of the first miniature manufacturers for gaming.  I grew up with Colin, who was and is my dad's best friend.  They have known each other since they were kids.

When the Vietnam war broke out, as soon as he was old enough to enlist, Colin went down to the States and enlisted in the US Marine Corp.  He fought in Vietnam, not because he had to, but because he thought it was the right thing for him to do.  He  was injured in Vietnam.  First by a concussion grenade that caused internal bleeding and the second time when he took a gunshot wound to the shoulder.  The bullet traveled through his shoulder where it bounced off his shoulder blade and exited out his neck.  The helicopter that came to medivac him out was shot down with him in it and he had to continue fighting for 8 hours (+) with the wound as they waited for evac.

I grew up hearing about some of his stories, many he kept to himself but some of them trickled out over the years.  It is through him that I found my love military history and it is him that I often think about on Remembrance Day.

So I want to end this but simply saying thank you to all our veterans, all the soldiers we have lost and all the soldiers that are fighting right now.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk Sculpture WIP #7

All I can say is wow, this piece is taking up a lot of blog posts and a lot of time to get it done. I was hoping to have the entire skirt done for the post today but that isn't going to happen. I figure Eric, and all of you, would like to see an update to prove that I am putting in the hours on this monster.

And I am definitely putting in the hours.  I think the skirt has involved more hours to just do the front than the legs took.  Every layer of the skirt is built up and every layer of the details are as well.  I am spending a lot of time getting it just right and while the front of the skirt looks pretty close to finished, it is still a long ways off.  I have a lot of details to add to that skirt but I wanted you to see how it is turning out.

In these photos, you will see that the layers on the skirt are finished.  I may add to it still but it will be minor additions that you won't really notice unless I point them out.  In addition, I will be adding more of the details that are hanging off the skirt. So as I post in the future, keep an eye on the skirt area to see how it comes along (I may forget to point it out).

So, if you have any questions about how I am doing the skirt, please post in the comment section and if not, just enjoy the photos of the WIP.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ciaphas Cain Miniature

I just thought I would post up another of the figures that I did for my Games Workshop interview.  I really enjoyed making this figure and I enjoy the books that the character is in.  My friend, Tom Frank, suggested that I do this figure.  I actually had to sculpt this one in about two days before my flight to the UK.  The reason being is that although I had a large portfolio of hundreds of figures, they asked me to bring samples that were as close to the "GW style" as possible.

My portfolio had a very limited number of miniatures in that style.  The ones that I did were done when I was first starting out before I started sculpting superheroes, which greatly changed my style in the long run.  So to show them that I could do their style, which is chunky with elongated torsos, I decided to just sculpt something.  Since I had very short notice about going up to interview, I did the piece as well as I could given the time constraints, which is why it didn't have much detail to it.

Being able to match into existing styles is one of the skills that you need to do as a sculptor.  Companies always want you to match in to their existing and established ranges.  Sometimes it is hard because you have to do things the way you don't like to.  Regardless, if there is artwork provided, you always have to match to their artwork and poses.

So here it the figure: