To those of you unfamiliar with the DC Comics character, Zauriel is an Angel from Heaven who fell to Earth to join the Justice League. He wears gold armor and a white bodysuit covered with golden Angellic glyphs, literally protecting him in prayer. Zauriel wields a sword of flame, a set of white wings, and an optimistic spirit.
The inside story: When Grant Morrison took over the JLA title in the 90’s, he wanted to bring back the iconic team. That line-up included Hawkman. Unfortunately, the character Hawkman was about to undergo a reboot of sorts, so Grant was forced to create a stand-in. That description doesn’t begin to cover one of the most iconic and inspiring new characters to come out of 90’s comics.
Since Zauriel was intended to be a substitute for Hawkman, it only makes sense to use a DCUC Hawkman figure as his base. First, I removed the chest straps. It wasn’t that bad. They’re tacked onto his back in four spots. It wasn’t molded or glued to his chest at all. Next, I carved off his belt and boot details with an Xacto knife, then sanded it smooth with a low-grit sanding sponge.
I couldn’t use the Hawkman head. If the helmet had been removable, I would have been overjoyed, but no such luck. I had a Benes-style Superman head laying around that suited him fine. After a few failed attempts to create a removable helmet, I finally gave up and started sculpting it onto the head itself permanently.
Due to his unique one-piece armor, there was no way to preserve the ab-crunch articulation without compromising the character’s design. I do my best to always preserve articulation, but in all honesty I’ve always hated the ab-crunch joint, so gluing it solid didn’t bother me at all. I then sculpted the armor as a flush piece, and then I carved the dove symbol into it, all the way down to the torso’s plastic. I also sculpted the wristbands and boot cuffs to roughly the same thickness, and then cut into them as well. Once the armor was hardened, I poured a little resin in the dove symbol to fill in the muscle lines. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before, but Zauriel has little wings on his ankles! I took snippets off of the Hawkman helmet’s wings and glued them on his ankles. Once the sculpting was complete, I covered the entire figure with white primer.
After it dried, I started painting the gold armor parts, and then the white. I left his skin (from the neck up) a flat chalk white, but the wings and bodysuit were painted in a pearlescent, metallic white.
Next came the Angellic glyphs. I had made a Zauriel figure a few years ago, and I was never satisfied with the way the glyphs came out. They were too big and chunky, lacking in elegance. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again, which was born out of me losing my patience after hours of minutia with a fine-tip brush. My solution was to find the finest-tipped gold paint pen I possibly could. I checked out a few hobby stores before I came across some gel pens. I brought one to test it out. It had the effect I wanted, but it took a couple of days to dry fully. I would do one small section at a time, let it dry for a couple of days, then clear coat it. I brought Zauriel with me everywhere I went. I spent more than a few evenings at my girlfriend Jeanie’s house, with Zauriel in one hand and a gold gel pen in the other, and my cell phone on my knee open to a web page full of runes. I did my best to replicate them, but most of the time my hand would slip into something unintelligible to all but the Angels.
On days when I waited for his glyphs to become smudge-proof, I worked on the helmet and sword. The sword was from a MOTU weapons pack. I sculpted the flames on, and then I painted it in layers of red, orange and yellow.
Eventually I drew the last of the glyphs, glued the head on, and gave him a healthy dose of flat-finish clear coat.