Here is a peek at what I have been developing with my friends at Factor 31. These have been a BLAST to make and I can't wait to have enough pieces to make full space ship environments. We plan on launching this on Kickstarter in the coming months. To stay tuned for more on this, please sign up for our newsletter.
July 15, 2017 The Surreal Dice Tower is LIVE NOW on Kickstarter starting at $30. Click here to reserve yours today!
I am excited to announce that my wife Erica and I will be launching our first Kickstarter project soon in June 2017! We are combining our love for tabletop gaming and surreal art! What is a dice tower? A dice tower is an object used by gamers to roll dice fairly. Dice are dropped into the top of the tower, and bounce off of various hidden platforms inside it before emerging from the front. Dice towers eliminate some methods of cheating which may be performed when rolling dice by hand. A Roman dice tower artifact called, Vettweiss-Froitzheim dates back to 4th century! There are many forms of towers and they vary in construction and design. This dice tower was inspired by late visionary surrealist artist Zdzisław Beksiński's amazing architectural paintings. All of his works are fantastic and we hope to raise enough money in the campaign to produce a limited run of these dice towers at an affordable price and travel to the Zdzisław Beksiński museum in Sanok, Poland. I absolutely love Beksiński's work and must see it in person someday. Working with a factory that produces for companies like Sideshow Toys gives me great confidence on the quality and I can't wait to see our first sample. For updates and more info as it comes, please check out and like our Facebook page.
Jason Andrew Hite
Below is the tower sculpt in its clay form before the long process of molding it. This was sculpted in Monster Makers clay.
I just received notification from the factory that the first sample is on the way!! Beloware some images they sent me. I'm so excited to see this in person!
The Surreal Dice tower is; 7.5" tall x 6.5" wide x 4.25" deep and made of Poly Resin that is cast in a semi-soft material making it extremely durable. It fits standard size 12mm and 16mm dice for D&D and other table top games. Sorry, dice not included.
Lots happening here at Hite Studios. Not long ago I began diving deeper into 3D modeling, specifically Zbrush. I've been using the program for years on and off at work. Loving it, then hating it, hating it some more...etc. Now I'm loving it again! Above is a shot of a 3D mini print of my first Zbrushed miniature. A long time friend of mine, George Longo, started a 3D printing company 2 years ago called Factor 31. He and partner Peter Hamilton do an amazing job! I'm so excited to be working with them on my project! This freaky little critter is for my upcoming tabletop game, Incorporeal. We still have a looong way to g and I will be showing progress as we go. Below are some screen caps of the figure in it's near final Zbrush stage. George has been extremely helpful in guiding me on the tricks to making the leap to making miniatures in 3D. Just before this went to print I increased the details quite a bit to ensure that they read and are actually paintable!
My obsession with the 1993 video game DOOM continues. Back in November of 2014, I had this grip of inspiration to make 1 of the classic DOOM monsters at a large enough scale to look somewhat realistic. I had so much fun sculpting a small 2" version for "Icons of DOOM" in 2 hours, I thought it would be crazy fun to make a 12" version. It was fun but I severely underestimated just how long and how much work it was to make her. People sometimes get upset when I charge $3500 for a sculpture and don't understand all the time and materials that go into making something like this. Oh, and yes, I said her. I believe that these creatures are female, based on the DOOM sprites I referenced.
I started with a simple 10" styrofoam ball. After carving the mouth and eye socket, I mounted it to a base and coated the ball with a 2-part urethane resin to help seal the styrofoam. I jammed on the clay using Monsterclay, which is an oil-based clay. Little by little, I picked away at the details and shapes and slowly found my version of this sinister beast.
Here is a quick 17 second turnaround after my first 2 hours or so on starting the detail.
I started with the inside cavity of the mouth and slowly worked my way out. It was tricky as hell to do this and I wish I had made the lower jaw removable. Good thing I have skinny fingers!
Above is an image of first-person sculpting! After what seemed to be months and months of a little sculpting here and a little sculpting there, I managed to make my way through this strange 360 ball of pure, intense detail. The horn textures were inspired by a bitchin' horn I acquired at Disguise, my old job, sculpted by Miles Teves for a film that never saw the light of day called "This Present Darkness". Years ago, my old boss Paul Palmeiri brought this horn into work and told me about some of the monsters and designs he had a hand in. If I recall correctly, it was being done at Cannom Creations Inc? The film was based on the book by Frank Peretti and supposedly had loads of demons in it. One day Paul managed to throw some resin into a horn mold from one of the suits they made and now I've been holding onto that freaking horn for years! The subtlety of details and dynamic form always amazes me. Miles is such an amazing artist it boggles my mind. Have a look below, I can only imaging what the rest of this monster's body looked like. I owe a lot of my success in sculpture to Paul Palmeiri. He taught me a lot about sculpture and was always pushing me to the next level when he was my boss.
So this little demon ended up with 12 horns and a shit-ton of teeth. I really wanted to make this Cacodemon my own and bring as many details out as I could. The original inspiration for id when developing this creature for DOOM was a painting by Jeff Easley. I believe Kevin Cloud or Adrian Carmack partially pixelated the image from Advanced Dungeons and Dragon's 2nd edition Planescape manual. The creature in the image is called an Astral Dreadnaught. Check it out at the link here. I wanted to pay homage to that original Jeff Easly painting as well and was at the forefront of my mind when coming up with the textures on my Cacodemon.
The most difficult part of this project was trying to figure out how the hell to mold it! I started by cutting off the horns and larger teeth. Doing this simplifies the basic shape. Horns and pointy objects are tricky to cast out of a mold successfully without any air bubbles in the tips. I'll talk more on that later.
The trick was firmly attaching the sculpture to the board so it wouldn't move at all while in the molding process. If the sculpture moves, even a little out of place once I start the process, it can ruin the mold and possibly the entire sculpture. To firmly secure her, I devised a simple 2-pronged pipe which I inserted into her rear orifice. Having just 1 prong or pipe could allow the sculpture to spin. Two posts gives a mechanical hold preventing any spin. The image below is the simple 2-pipe-prong I built. I remember walking around the hardware store fitting pieces together praying it wasn't too big. Before I epoxied this into the sculpture I wrapped the pipes with floral wire to give them more teeth. The image below was taken post-molding and you can see that it took some of the styrofoam with it when I removed it from the sculpture.
Once the sculpture was completely secure on the pipes, they were incased in clay and would eventually serve as the pour spout in the silicone mold. Now it was time to start laying up the clay. This thin 3/8" of water-based clay, called bubblegum, is carefully placed over the sculpture. It's strange to see this but I have wrapped a plastic bag around the sculpture to keep the bubble gum clay from sticking to it. The equator-like ridge in the clay layup serves as the division point where I cut the mold apart.
Now the part I most dread...the fiberglass jackets! Fiberglass makes amazing molds and mold jackets but, they smell and are very toxic to work with. I think I spent four solid days wearing a respirator when making these molds. Below is a shot just before I was ready to pour the green rubber silicone into the mold jackets. The original 3/8' of clay was removed to provide the cavity to make the rubber mold.
Once the liquid silicone rubber is catalyzed, it firms up in about 8-16 hours. I use a 25 durometer silicone which basically means the hardness of the material. The higher the durometer the harder the material. 25 is pretty soft. Below is the front half of the mold after it was painstakingly cut with a special gutter key blade I make out of standard X-acto blades to create a uniform groove in the silicone to help the two halves key back up and fit together perfectly when casting parts out of the mold.
At this point I could have just started casting pieces, but I decided to make things a bit more complicated. I wanted a smooth interior surface that would accept a custom eyeball and registration points for all my internal LED light fixtures. Because the mouth cavity is so cavernous and essentially, anything ridged would lock into the mold, it had to be cut out of the mold and dealt with separately. The image below is the clay-filled front half with the acrylic eyeball. To do this, I melted Monstermakers clay to paint in layers until I built a sufficient 1/8" to 1/14" thickness. Once this was done I carefully cut the mouth cavity out. with the layered clay on top so the pieces would register when this was eventually cast.
Next was the interior mold over this clay skin, done again with 3/8" bubble gum clay, as seen in the photo below. The large tube in the bubblegum clay serves as the pour spout for the silicone once it has a fiberglass jacket. The smaller white PVC tube serves as the pour spout when actually casting the front half.
The same treatment was done to the back half of the original case mold with some modifications. The three black PVC rings in the image below are the brackets to hold the LED lights along with the strange clay posts that will hold the electronics. The white PVC tube again will serve as the pour spout. The little white circular ports labeled A and B, are spacers that will allow me to insert the translucent blue nodes seen in the back of the Cacodemon that turn from brown to blue when it is about to fire a plasma ball. To make these simple spacers I cast the nodes in the original mold first and remolded them separately then put them back into the mold before I painted in the clay. All of this was a lot of problem solving and trying to figure out how things would fit back together once made into separate pieces with each part cast in different colors. The clay ridge was created by casting just the ring of the front half and fitting it on to help key up the two halves. I have to thank my good friend Mike Biasi for helping me figure that out. This clay ridge was curtail in fitting everything back together.
Once I figured out that bit, it was time to finish molding the back half. I also forgot to mention that I was designing these molds to fit very snugly into my pressure chamber with an interior diameter of only 14 inches! This meant that my fiberglass mold jackets would be trimmed to the bare minimum.
Meanwhile, I was also making cup molds for each of the 12 horns and 2 large teeth. Below, my son Lucian helped me de-mold the horns.
The Cacodemon eyeball was very fun and challenging to make. First, I made a simple silicone cup mold of the acrylic sphere I used for the eye. Then I cast a resin copy and ground a flat area for the pupil (see pic 1 below). Next, I took some Monster clay and carefully sculpted a gross pupil, referencing cat eyes. These pupils essentially work like sphincter muscles (see pic 2). Once the sculpt was complete, I molded it in a silicone cup mold, then cast an eye using a phosphorescent yellow pigment. Carefully, I painted it green but made sure that the yellow would still shown through. In the fourth image below, check out the painted eye beneath an LED light pad. Finally, I put that painted eye into the first mold of the acrylic sphere and filled it with water clear translucent resin to create the cornea over the pupil (see pic 3). My first attempt at this failed. The water clear resin I used proved to be unstable with the thin layer I was making over the pupil. All the eye parts were cast in my pressure pot to reduce air bubbles. This pressure pot with 60 lbs of air pressure in it, shrinks the bubbles making them invisible to the naked eye until the resin sets up which is usually in about 2-4 hours. This worked fantastically at first, but about a day after the eye was finished, the water-clear resin started to bubble and delaminate from the pupil. The resin was not completely set up. To resolve this I kept the mold in the pressure pot for 2 days to make sure the resin set up properly. In retrospect, I should have purchased newer clear resin.
With almost all the molds being complete, it was time to start casting parts! Below is the front half mold fit very snugly into my pressure pot. The PVC tube sticking out with the orange funnel is the extended pour spout. The orientation of the mold is such that when the resin is poured it fills from the bottom up. This prevents air from being trapped in the mold during the pour. I have three tiny vents at the top of the mold that bleed resin indicating the mold is filled.
The front half came out beautifully! I should note that before I put the mold in the pressure pot I carefully cast only the teeth in the mold in plain white resin. Then I closed the mold and put it in the pressure pot to cast the remaining in a bright red color. This basic color differentiation helps immensely when painting later. I think it also looks like the Cacodemon has rabies!
The second half proved to be a bit more challenging. Essentially, I had to make a butt-plug to negate the original pour spout in favor of the PVC spout on the inside of the mold. This and other factors lead to a massive leak in the mold. A large portion of 1800 grams of red tinted resin ended up at the bottom of my pressure pot. I had to use a 4 foot crowbar to get it out :(
With a little more trail and error I finally got the back half mold to seal properly. Before long, I had 2 halves to reassemble. I started by first painting the inside with black primer to obscure any unwanted light getting though, then silver over that. The silver helps to reflect the light. Next was anchoring the light pads and electronics. In the below image you can see the blue nodes encased in the back half now along with all the light pads. I should also note that all the horns were glued then screwed into place.
The final step was mounting it to a base then attaching the halves together. Even though the halves fit well together there was a 1/16"-1/4" gap in some places making the seam very noticeable. To fix this, Ifound places to screw them together, then I thickened some red pigmented resin with Cabosil which is very toxic for our lungs, put it in large syringes and filled the gaps. This worked beautifully as a seaming agent. The only downside is that if I ever need to get back into the inside of the Cacodemon, I'd have to break it apart. Below is a video I made after it was completed to show it off a bit. I especially had fun making a latex version of the Cacodemon to make the death scene.
Someday, I need to make a Cacodemon that can fly and shoot, but that is for another time. If you hung on and read the entire post I have a treat for you! Leave a comment and I will send you my high resolution HD sprites for this Cacodemon, as seen below! If you are interested in purchasing a Cacolantern you can find different offerings in my Etsy store here.
Enjoy- Jason A. Hite
A long time ago in a land far, far away...I got an AT-AT for Christmas. It was 1981 on Christmas Eve, and I was 5 years old when my world changed with that gift. The thing was like a robot dog almost as big as me! My aunts and uncles put their money together to get it for me. I don't think it was something I asked for and my parents couldn't afford it, but I am so grateful for that toy. A year before that Christmas, when Empire Strikes back came out in theaters, I distinctly recall my uncle Peter telling me that I was not old enough to see it. I was heart broken and I didn't even know exactly what Star Wars was yet! I just knew that the toys were amazing and other kids on the playgrounds had them and coveted mine. I remember the day I lost my C3-Po to the sandy bottom of the playground in our apartment complex. I searched for hours and every time I went back there, I searched. Star Wars was the introduction of the wonderful world of toys for me and I never really got over it. Even after I got out of my Star Wars phase, another property or "license" replaced it. Transformers was a big one for me, too. My best friend Mike Kondis and I would put our figures together, build forts out of the packaging and create our own scenarios. The forts started to get so complex that we would tape them together with whatever we could find. I hated dismantling them so I began to build them in my very small bedroom closet. When I think back to those action figure forts I made and look at what I make now, I guess you could say, I'm out of the closet!
Have a look at the little intro video I made of the piece. The sculpture will be in the Copro Gallery's Conjoined V show, which runs January 24th - February 14, 2015. The size is approximately 59" tall x 41" wide x 10.5" deep. Come check it out in Santa Monica if you have the chance; I'd love to meet and talk about it at the opening show.
This assemblage sculpture represents that part of my childhood along with the millions of other kids who played with and collected Star Wars toys. There are seven different room or scenes within the "cross-destroyer" I created. It started with the discovery of some vintage 80's Star Wars play sets I never saw growing up and highly detailed game pieces of every fucking character from the movies and then some. I got obsessed with getting certain figures and I didn't even have a plan at that time. I just wanted the ones I always wanted as a kid!
Not having a good plan to start is a bad idea. Here is why. In January of 2014, I thought I had it. I thought I knew what I was going to do. I used an old star I made back in 2012 to make a "Death Star" using figures and sets. It was going to be awesome, right? WRONG! It looked terrible no matter what I did with it. It was an overcomplicated shape and anything I wanted to add around it looked bad. Frustrated the hell out of me. So I tore it apart, but my kids, 6 and 3, both loved all the Star Wars stuff I was collecting. They constantly wanted to play with it. Go figure. Then one day, my son Lucian, the 6 year old, and I took just the round wood base without the star, and cobbled together the sets into a little scene. We built it at his height about 3.5 feet off the ground. It was great! The kids played with it, set up their own forts with the bits I have around my studio and played with the figures. It was so cool to watch them play with it while I worked on other projects in my little sculpture room. I didn't realize this until now, but it was like a full circle from my childhood to theirs. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of it!
In November of 2014, I woke up one morning, sat down in my studio and looked at something my son arranged with the figures on the set we built. A battle scene that always changed whenever he came in to play. It was then I decided to take another stab at making something with the small fortune I spent on Ebay Star Wars toys. The moment I abandoned the circular base, I finally got my head around making something that looked right. Eventually, I landed on the cross shape. The hard angles are easier to make into rooms and I have an affinity for crosses. As kids, we are told to do things and made to go to school, go to church, obey your parents, teachers and so on. Things we don't really care about are jammed down our throats in those places by adults. Star Wars was something I wanted to know all about as a kid and it never insisted on itself. It was my religion, or faith, at the time, and all of the other kids I played with felt the same. Ironically, later in life when I was in college, two classmates in some of my classes would constantly debate Star Wars, every day for months. I got so sick of hearing about it I started to hate Star Wars. That hate got me thinking deeper about the dark side of it. The Star Wars license is what really started the entertainment-based action figure business that I love. How may tons of plastic toys, derived from petroleum, are made in a foreign country like China? How are the working conditions in those factories? How many of those workers making the toys out of hazardous materials are children themselves? We Americans tend to forget where our products come from and what goes into making them, and I'm not just talking about toys. Not to mention the economic problems outsourcing our factory work and labor to foreign countries causes. I've visited factories in China. Some of them were the worst places I have ever been. The smell of chemicals gave me a serious headache after 5 min. Below is a picture I took in a factory pouring hot vinyl. It was summer, sweltering hot, and that vinyl is heated to over 200 degrees to cast. The fumes alone are toxic to inhale. How many burns did this poor man and the others around him endure in just one week and for what? So that we can buy it in a store and discard it after a year? Millions of toys are made out of vinyl. They are not all done in this method, but I ask myself these questions when I look at a piece of plastic in the stores. I don't have all the answers, but I try repurpose as many things as I can. Never buy anything new if I can help it.
OK, I digressed a little. Sorry, back to how I made the piece. Just to get my bearings, I did a quick sketch of the general shape and details. In the end, I simplified the shapes a bit to make it read better as a cross. My main building material for this project was acrylic. I raided the scrap bins at my local plastics supply store and found some styrene in my garage from long ago.
Early on, I had the attention of my son Lucian who was always asking if he could help me with something. It didn't matter what it was, he wanted to try it. I was so grateful to have him around, because it needed a child's touch to make it. I delved down into my own childhood memories as much as possible to stay focused on this.
I was constantly putting on and taking off acrylic panels for fit, detailing, fit again, more detailing, fitting, adjusting, and painting.
Unfortunately, over the years, I have become allergic to the super glue I use. Now I have to wear a full-face respirator whenever I use it. To give it that "Star-Ship" look, I cut and glued hundreds of pieces of styrene to the acrylic, which translated into weeks of wearing a mask and gloves, closed off in my studio. The worst part of this was that I couldn't let Lucian help me. He was heartbroken and even asked if he could get a mask like mine for Christmas so he could glue, too! I couldn't even imagine it. How ironic. Since then, I have decided not to use super glue anymore. For parts, I used some of my own old Star Wars toy pieces, used model tree parts, and cast resin parts from old Star Wars model kits, specifically the Millennium Falcon and some other old silicone molds given to me by my friend Clint. My good friend Mike even loaned me his 3-foot-long Star Destroyer resin model kit. Looking at that REALLY helped me with the exterior textures of my "Cross Destroyer". I also attached return hinges to make clear window doors over each of the rooms except for the hanger in the center.
Lucian and I are attaching an additional base to the back of the piece for added support.
Primer is done! It smelled up my studio for days!
The first wash is applied to the exterior panels. I made 18 acrylic panels for this sculpture. One was a total redo.
During construction, I constantly toyed with the idea of gluing vs not gluing down the figures. Then, I had breakfast with John and Brenda Romero when they purchased my "Icons of DOOM" sculpture while I was in the middle of making this. During that, Brenda explained a board game she was developing in detail. I came away with a new perspective on art and games. Since I was already using game piece Star Wars figures, I started thinking about making it into a full-fledged board game! When I mentioned it to Brenda, she told me she would like to collaborate! We have not done anything yet, but I am so excited to see what we can make out of the 7 levels in this odd Star Wars shrine of sorts! Figure-based board games are my favorite to play with a group of people.
At the top of the "Cross Destroyer" is the Emperor's chamber. It has a working video monitor behind him that runs footage from all the space ship scenes from the original 3 films.
Directly below the emperor's chambers, Luke and Vader battle in the Carbon-Freezing chamber play set. This was fun installing the LED's to get that hot lighting effect.
In the very center of the ship is Hanger bay 327. Here a battle rages between the Rebels and Storm-Troopers. Somewhere in this picture you can also see a Star Wars wind up music box that plays the main theme. The Tie fighter is a store bought model Lucian and I built together. The platform everyone is fighting on is from some part of a fiber optic network box I think my uncle Billy gave to me.
To the right of the hanger is the Death Star play set with Detention Block AA-23 and the garbage compactor below with Chewbacca inside. Although I must admit, the garbage compactor reminds me of an outhouse, with Chewie howling for toilet paper.
To the left of the Hanger is my rendition of the Echo Rebel base on Hoth. With the exception of the figures and vehicles, this is all scratch built. The medical lab with Bacca tank was the very first thing I built. I love that entire scene in Empire.
Below the Hanger sits Jabba The Hut's palace. Jabba is a Christmas tree ornament with a neat sound recording. Han Solo in carbonite is resin cast from my ice-cube mold. My favorite part of this little scene is the screen where you can see the room below. This screen is typically used in Catholic confessional booths.
And of course, below, Jabba is the Rancor pit! For the stone cave, I used model railroad scenery rocks cast from rubber molds. At first, I was going to use real stones, but hydrocal plaster tends to be lighter and the stones are designed for that smaller scale look. The Rancor is a game piece. He was tricky to find, expensive to get, and not the best sculpt in my opinion but time was not on my side with this sculpture. Someday, I might have to sculpt my own.
All in all, I think it took me about a month to create from start-to-finish once I got the "Cross-Destroyer" idea. The best part is, the leftover toys I didn't fit into the sculpture will go to my boys to play with. Who knows, maybe we will make another one someday. Hope you like it and you enjoyed reading about my journey to build it!
If you've read through my very long-winded post, thank you! I've attached 5 free desktop image downloads you can use for your computer. Comment below this post if there's another piece I've done that you would like to see a desktop image for.
Check back to my site soon, as I'll have a video up on the sculpture.