Macca Chung's Sorayama Marilyn

I had a fantastic time at Crystal Dragon this year. It was my first time and I will definitely be back. It was also an absolute thrill to receive a best in show award for the Sorayama Marilyn bust.


Fans of Hajime Sorayama will recognise instantly where the idea came from. I wanted as much as possible to emulate the hyper-realism style of Sorayama's robot pinups, which included several paintings of Marilyn. The original Marilyn Monroe bust is from Life Miniatures and it is a gorgeous kit. The sculpt and the quality of casting made it a joy to paint.

Before I started the project, I spent weeks looking at Sorayama's work trying to understand how it could translate to a model. Immersion is an important part of my process.

Sorayama employs 2D illustration techniques to communicate the way light behaves in a 3D environment. For me, the most impressive aspect is the way Sorayama negotiates plane changes and the reflective behaviour of different materials, from metal to fabric to translucent skin. I really had to think about how to use a 2D painting technique on a 3D model to look like a 2D painting that was depicting light on a 3D form—quite a meta-dilemma!

In terms of execution, I kept to a few landmarks in Sorayama's approach: sharp lines to seperate volumes combined with the impression of edge highlighting to emphasise a surface change; soft colour transitions; heavy use of reflected colour; characteristic light flares particularly on metal surfaces. The piece was painted by brush over plain white primer. A lot of time was spent on the linework that would transform Marilyn into her robot version. The majority of colour work was done with glazing and fine directional linework. Finally, the "Skynet" logo on the jacket was a cheeky tip-of-the-hat to pop culture (Trent Denison and I came up with the idea to do this on both our busts—see his K0-HANA). Overall, there was about 30hrs painting on Marilyn, which is relatively quick for me!

A huge thanks to Meg Maples and Mark Soley for running and judging the Crystal Dragon painting competition. Thanks also to the judges: Sebastian Archer, Roman (Groobsy) Gruba, and Kara Nash. It has been amazing to meet and swing a brush with so many fine painters. I can't wait to see everyone again next year!


Part of the Judge's Choice Award that Macca won for his Sorayama Marilyn is that he will be participating as a Guest Judge at Crystal Dragon 2019. We look forward to welcoming him as part of our judging team as well as seeing what other fantastic creations he cooks up in the next year. Congratulations again, Macca, on your win this year! May your paint stay wet and fire burn bright! 

--Meg and Mark