In the Silmarillion it is retold how Aulë crafted the dwarves. This blog tells how the gnomes come to be. I have taken a photo at each step of the process in order to share how I create my gnomes.
I begin each project with an in-depth study of the subject. In this case I pulled up all my images of gnomes and previous gnome sculpts. Then I looked to how others had posed pikemen. It's important that my poses convey motion, and attitude. But, it's also important to me that the poses are useful/appropriate to tabletop gaming needs.
Step 1: I make very rudimentary frames for each pose. You can see that I made some doodles on the corks to help me keep the poses straight and remind me what I want them to look like.
Step 2: I sculpt the legs and torsos. This is the biggest step, but it lays the foundation for everything else.
Step 3: I sculpt little face smudges that are just the eyes, brows, cheeks and foreheads, these are then put on top. These faces are very primitive and forgiving as the addition of hair, beards, and noses later are more important. I also did their belts at this stage.
Step 4: Adding beards and hair. I do this in one step. Usually I try to give some variation to the beards and mustaches but they were a bit lackluster this time.
Step 5: in this step I add the pikes (I make the pikes on the side around step 3.) I do this step after the beards because I often cut into the beards with my exacto knife to create troughs for the pikes to adhere to. I also file the paper clips so the the putty sticks better later.
Step 6: I add wood texture to the pikes. This can be fiddly as there is quite a bit of leverage on the ends of the pikes. I had to reglue one of the pikes after it broke off.
Step 7: I add the arms. These are mostly meant to act as frames for the arms. I keep them slim so they can anticipate the later layer of cloth.
Step 8: I add hands but not thumbs.
Step 9: noses!
Step 10: Ears!
Step 11: Hats and Thumbs. Hats are tricky. I try to create lots of variability among the gnome hats. I don't want them to all the look the same, but there has to be some continuity to imply a shared cultural aesthetic.
Step 12: Sleeves.
The final step will be giving them either a slotta tab or a pre-slotta base if I think they might tip over once cast.