ROTLA - Chachapoyan Fertility Idol build ( with pics)


Active Member
Although I really enjoy making things and the processes involved I’m not much of a collector and there aren’t many props I actually hanker after owning. One fairly major exception to this is the Golden Idol from RotLA. I’m still kicking myself for not buying the Idol money-box I saw in my local comic shop fifteen odd years ago.

Given that I had some spare time at work recently I thought I’d model up an idol I could run out on my 3D printer. There are a few models already kicking around on the internet however I felt a better level of accuracy could be achieved.

01 Propstore_Idol.jpg

I used photos of the Propstore Idol for the majority of my reference, and photos of the Gobler Idol to fill in any blanks.


The mesh was built in Silo 2.0 using poly modelling. The model build was fairly smooth, only running into difficulty when it came to the hair. I tried a number of solutions but eventually settled on displacement mapping which I applied using a trial version of 3DS Max.


The finished mesh had to be very highly subdivided for a smooth displacement so I optimised it before print.

07 Idol-Print.jpg

I printed the model in quarters. This allowed each piece to be run without supports and none of the sections was so large it needed to be run over night (not everyone in the household appreciates the chattering of a 3D printer). This also meant I had to go through the pain of attaching the pieces together and filling the gaps.

08 Idol-Smoothing01.jpg08 Idol-Smoothing02.jpg

The pieces were glued together and then the sand/fill cycle began. Car body filler was liberally applied then ground away to get the model as smooth as possible before painting.
This took a few weeks of sanding on my lunch hours.

I know the original statue was vac-metalised however this process was a little outside of my budget. I ran a number of miniature tests to determine the best gold finish I could achieve. I experimented with Plasticote gold spray paint, Rub n Buff antique gold, liquid leaf, Gedeo gold coloured mirror effect leaf.

Idol gold test.jpg

The rub'n'buff was OK and the gold spray was pretty similar. The liquid leaf ate through the gloss black undercoat but eventually set. The effect was similar to the previous two but with a higher gloss finish. The mirror leaf looked great however I'd applied it over a red base-coat and any gaps in the finish were extremely obvious. I decided the best option was to apply this leaf over an undercoat of gold spray.

10 Fertility-Eye-Mask.jpg

Before I started the final paint work I masked the eyes as I intended to paint these in later.

10-Smooth.jpg11 Fertility-Gold-1.jpg

In my previous experiments with gold leaf I have always used a brush to apply the size. After testing this however I noticed that the texture of the brush marks was actually showing through the leaf. Fortuitously Volpin props has recently been working with gold leaf (on a fabulous Elder Scroll you should totally check out) and through that I got the idea of applying the size with an airbrush. I'd been um-ing and ah-ing about acquiring one for a while and this seemed like the perfect excuse to finally give in to my tool buying urges.

I have a few different types of gold size. I'd been thinking that Japanese gold size might be good for this job as it is a bit thinner and might self level more easily however I discovered (on a test piece thankfully) that this stuff ate through the layer of gold spray paint I'd already applied. This being the case I went with a water based acrylic size.

Gold size.jpg

I ran this through my newly acquired and exceptionally cheap airbrush. I kept a couple of scrap pieces of idol to hand so I could test drying times without touching the actual model.


After giving the model a liberal coating of size I waited for it to become tacky. When it was ready I applied the gold leaf as swiftly as possible, trying not to give dust any opportunity to settle on the tack. This went… OK. Bit patchy in places but I’m applying multiple coats. Eventually I got fed up of trying to airbrush the size on as it took ages and kept beading and running off the surface. I went back to using a brush.


Despite layering up the leaf the finish so far is not quite as smooth as I might like but it has given the idol an interesting antiqued appearance.

This is pretty much where I'm up to now. I’m building up a few more layers of the leaf to ensure complete coverage before I remove the masking and paint in the eyes. The model's available on my Thingiverse page if you want to have a go at making one yourself.


Well-Known Member
I like the textured finish. It is, as you say, antiqued - befitting something that has been sitting around in a cave for years :thumbsup


New Member
Awesome! I've had one of the other versions in my Things to Print collection for a while but hadn't printed it yet. This one looks far superior! I'll make sure to post pics after I print, thank you for sharing!


Active Member
Just about finished with the gold leaf application now. Need to find a way to seal it as the gold size seems to be eternally sticky. My initial varnish tests last night (thankfully on scrap pieces) were a failure resulting in the smooth gold ruffling up and giving the whole thing a glittery finish. Think maybe it was the solvent in the spray varnish reacting with something that caused the issue, will try some brush on varnish next.

Looks like you've gone through the same journey I have with gold leafing. My last one I ended up using gold spray paint to get all the crevices as the leafing kept leaving a gap in certain areas. So will be starting with a gold base before leafing next time.

To get rid of the brush marks I bought clay sculpting tools. They are are brushes with rubber tips of various shapes instead of bristles. Gives a smooth bristle free result. I've started using them a lot for painting as well.

Need to find a way to seal it as the gold size seems to be eternally sticky
How long did you leave it?
For the gold leafing I've done I was told to use gel retarder and tannin sealer together. I assume that the leafing medium you were given is a combo of those 2 so it will take a while to dry. I ended up skipping the gel retarder and using tannin sealer by itself and it dries a lot quicker.


Active Member
Looks like you've gone through the same journey I have with gold leafing. My last one I ended up using gold spray paint to get all the crevices as the leafing kept leaving a gap in certain areas. So will be starting with a gold base before leafing next time.
How long did you leave it?
I used this stuff for the leafing medium. It is supposedly acrylic based but I have no idea what's actually in it. My original gold leaf tests were carried out a couple of weeks ago and they're still worryingly tacky.

View attachment 747319

Like you I had the idea of undercoating the model with gold so I wouldn't see gaps in the gold leaf. I used Plastikote gold spray paint which is kind of my go-to for gold coloured objects and hasn't given me any problems before. I have my suspicions that it's this layer that the varnishes are reacting with though. I did a test yesterday with the same adhesive size and gold leaf over gold rub'n'buff and the varnish came up perfectly so it's not an interaction between the leaf medium and the varnish. I'm going to try to get some Plastikote based clear seal, see if that goes on cleanly. Really need to find something that doesn't interact with all the coatings already on the model as the idea of sanding up another one of these does not fill me with joy.
Could definitely be a reaction to the spraypaint. I've had something similar happen with 2 different brands of spraypaint not liking each other. Final layer reacted with an earlier layer and was still tacky days later. Ended up having to sand back the lot and start again.

Could you get some kind of gold powder and dust it? Like a gold eyeshadow. No idea if it would work.


Active Member
It was definitely a reaction between the varnish and the underlying spray paint. Here’s an example of what happened to the nice smooth gold finish on my test piece.


You can see the gold surface is all wrinkled up and glittery. Anyhew, I got hold of some Plastikote clear gloss spray and that seemed to do the trick.


The gold leaf is still not quite as smooth as I might have liked but it's as good as I can get, for the moment at least. Got the idol all sealed now and starting to paint in the eyes.


Nearly there :)