Levels of Detail

Since the first Marvel minimates were released, we have seen the detail level of the tampos steadily increase. For example, compare the relatively simple Spider-Man from wave 2 with the Classic Spider-Man from wave 24. Besides the obvious addition of chest and leg muscles, the number of webs on his costume has also increased. Some people believe this level of detail is too high, and creates a visual separation between earlier minimates and recent ones. This argument also comes into play when you are making custom minimates. How much detail should you add? Do you want your customs to blend in with earlier waves of minimates, or recent waves? And will minimates continue to become more detailed, thereby making your customs too simple?

Today I am going to go through three stages of a decal design, showing different levels of detail. These methods apply to hand-painted details too, but it is easier to demonstrate with decals. I am starting on a set of classic Dr. Who minimates for myself, and one of the first decals I designed was the 3rd doctor, John Pertwee:

I am going to modify a CEO Tony Stark hair piece for him, so I know that I can use most of the space on the head, without worrying that the hair will cover up too much. He is a good example for this discussion because he is an older gentleman with lots of “experience” written on his face.

1. Basic Detail

In this first stage I have only captured his main facial features. He has relatively thin eyes, with large bags underneath. He has very pronounced cheek bones, and a slight frown. His eyebrows arch up in an inquisitive manner. This face is probably still too detailed for the earliest waves of marvel minimates, but this is the least amount of detail I would be happy with for this character.

2. Standard Detail

I went through and added additional details to the basic design. I felt that forehead wrinkles were important to show. I added more wrinkles between his eyes to better match the actor’s face. I also made additions to his eyebrows, mouth, and chin. I think this level of detail is more consistent with recent minimate releases. I also think it looks more like John Pertwee now.

3. High Detail

I decided to push the design a little further to show a higher level of detail. I added shadows around the eyes and cheek bones. I drew in more wrinkles around his eyes, forehead, cheeks, and chin. These wrinkles are all present on the actor’s face. I also added the pink corners of his eyes. I think this decal is over-designed, and the additional details are not only distracting, but they make him look too old. However, this could be the level of detail that we will see in minimates in 2010, given the current pace.

I personally like the current level of detail on minimates. I like the newer versions of characters like Hulk better than the original version. I think the detail brings out more of their personality and the artist’s style. However, I think some of the upcoming minimates have too much detail, similar to the third decal I presented. Just look at the chest detail on the New Captain America for example. For this custom, I will be using the 2nd example that I labeled Standard Detail. It just feels right to me.

Which decal would you choose for this custom? How do you feel about the level of detail on minimates and where it is heading in the future?

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3 Responses

  1. Jatta Pake says:

    Luke – You’d better be careful. You continue on this route and you are liable to be hired by Art Asylum.

  2. Minifiend UK says:

    For me its the 2nd one it shows age without overdoing it to much.

  3. Captain Minimate says:

    I would try doing the second one if I had the ability to.
    And those are some great decals!