The one redeeming feature of Orthanc is of course its geometry. Consisting of four identical quarters, Dave "only" needs to make one, which will be replicated for the other three sides.
Once the proportions are right and the basic tapered shape has been created, the next step is to create the pillars, framing, cornices, balusters, brackets, bays, windows, doors, cavities, parapets etc and, in the case of Orthanc, details that cannot be found in traditional architectural nomenclature such as "those great finny things", "the sticky-outy teethy bits" and the "ridgy-ma-jobbies down the bottom".
Dave makes all these by hand. Tiny little bits of almost nothing that most would probably wipe off the table with the bread crumbs are to Dave something that needs to be hewn further. Hewn and assembled into complex shapes the size of half a finger nail before they are appended to the basic structure.
Whenever there is more than one of something, it gets sent over to Bruce Campbell, the mould maker who multiplies them as required.
Once all these tiny little details have been added to the structure, Dave is left with an architectural model that's all clean, exact, correct and smooth.
But that's of course not what Orthanc looks like.
Orthanc is rugged and weathered and rough. So Dave gets his miniature chisels out and adds every scratch, every gouge and every dimple exactly as they appear on the original miniature.
There are no shortcuts.
Now read Part II of the Making of Orthanc when you will get a fair bit of insight into the work Bruce Campbell does for the mould making process and into making the first six Orthanc "Masters".
In a great black tower in Isengard dwells Saruman the White.
Before the great wizard was turned to the dark side, in the time when Gandalf sought council with Saruman - the head of his order - Isengard was lush and green and its gardens lent themselves well to a contemplative stroll.
This Orthanc is the inspiration for Weta's latest environment from The Lord of the Rings, revealed today at San Diego Comic-Con and opening for pre-orders on 31 July.
When Weta first started creating The Lord of the Rings collectibles, an Orthanc collectible was created based on Isengard AFTER Saruman and his orc cohorts felled the trees and turned the once-pleasant sanctuary into an industry of war and destruction.
A pre-ruin Orthanc sculpture has been at the very top of the wish list from our friends on The Shadow and Flame message boards and model maker David Tremont didn't need to be asked twice.
Dave has done a superb job documenting the model making process as well as the work done by his colleagues in the paint, mould making and sculpting departments in Weta Workshop.
With all those photos, we have enough for a few articles before the piece opens for pre-order on Sunday 31 July at 2pm Pacific time. So stay tuned.
Crated and packed away just after Saruman fell to his death (oops - spoiler) 12 years ago, the first challenge was to re-discover the shooting miniature used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings. Weta has around 200 shipping containers full of past projects, but luckily records have been kept of what went where. And even if they hadn't, Weta technicians Duncan Brown and Matt Mills somehow know where everything is anyway and had no trouble retrieving it.
The guys got the two large crates from a warehouse down the road and placed them outside David Tremont's workshop. There was a hiss and a pop as the bolts were loosened and fresh air once more entered the crate.
Inside was Orthanc.
As black, as menacing and as awe-inspiring as we remember it from the movies.
Being a particularly meticulous modeling maestro, David spent a lot of time early in the project with his steel ruler and caliper measuring every detail and getting the proportions exactly right. Every measurement on the shooting miniature was divided by 10.6 - a nice round number, according to Dave.
This was to achieve a piece that was bigger and more detailed than the original Orthanc collectible from 2002. People who say that bigger isn't necessarily better don't know what they're talking about. Obviously.
Once the measurements were done and double checked, David's work was pretty much cut out for him for the next 8 weeks. Building the pattern, or the "prototype" from which moulds will be taken and replicas made.
If the finished piece (once paint and finishing touches, washes and dry brushing and texturing have been added - more about that in future articles) has a lot of intricate detail (and let's face it - Orthanc does) then the pattern needs to have even more.