Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.6

Now I start putting the parts together. I connected the finished head to the body, then moved on to sculpting the Gator's left hand. As I've mentioned before, the laser cannon won't be glued on until after everything has been finished and painted. I just need to keep making sure it fits properly as I sculpt the rest of the Gator.

Making the hand took longer than I planned, because I originally started without an armature inside the fingers. Before I knew it, the hand kept getting larger than I wanted. So after the second failed hand-sculpt, I did what I should've done from the start. I made the hand shape with wire, sculpted the fingers, then baked it. After finishing the glove, I baked it again.

After attaching the hand to the arm, I started working on the chest and neck area. I modified the collar design, and added shoulder guards.

Next, I finished other glove that would mostly be hidden inside the laser cannon, then moved to the Gator's back. I was originally going with an "old school" type backpack rig, with knobs and doo-dads, but I liked the simpler shapes that began forming. So I ended up with a vac-molded kind of look. Not sure what's inside that thing...maybe a power booster or something.

So that's it for now. After this, I move on down to the boots and tail section. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.5

Finally finished with the head of Space Gator. In my last post, I showed how I made some "gator bump" textures. Below is one more stamp that I made for the small areas on the head. I used "Sculpey Firm" to make the stumpy little tool (about the size of a short pencil). I also made a tiny hole in the pointed end for single bumps.

The process is very much the same as on all my other sculpts. I began with a very rough head for proportions. I cut off the helmet, since the shapes were all going to change. I started forming the mouth first. The eyes are ball bearings from an old "Lazy Susan". Next I form the eyelids. I kindof liked the pointy eye ridges and cheeks...felt more stylized for space travel!

Now comes the texturing phase. I cut some grooves under the chin, then cut some perpendicular lines from those. I made the tool from a piece of wire that I hammered flat and stuck in a dowel handle...one of my favorite things to sculpt with. I moved on to the bumps over the rest of the head, followed by the standard glazing with thinner.

I then baked the head before proceeding to the helmet stage. I didn't want to mash the details. This also allowed me some flexibility while figuring out how the helmet would be designed. I could sculpt, then peel off the parts I didn't like, then start again.
With this part done , I'll reattach the head to the gator body and work in more details as I refine one area at a time. See ya back here next post!

Friday, March 19, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.4

Here's proof that I love gators! I dug around in the attic to find this photo that was taken of me about 22 years ago. My wife and I took a vacation trip to Orlando, Florida. We stopped by the Gatorland Zoo to watch alligators leap 5 feet out of the water, and snatch raw whole chickens that dangled from a cable stretched across the pond. Pretty cool and scary!! I had to get my picture taken with one of the little guys (note that it's mouth is taped shut).

I've been reading up on some sculpture sites recently to find some techniques for making bumpy skin. I tried a few quick experiments...thought I'd share the results.

The first approach required a "bump stamp". I made a wedge of Sculpey Firm (the gray-colored clay), then used various sized stylist tools with the round ball on the end. I pressed in lots of holes, baked the wedge...then rolled it into some Super Sculpy. Viola...bumpy texture!

I also tried several other tools to make individual bumps. I created a "rake" from sewing pins stuck into epoxy...several passes in the clay makes some good wrinkles. I also used old paint brush handles...I ground out the ends with a dremel tool. A brush tip without the bristles makes a nice circle, too.
For little tiny bumps, I used an old razor-point pen...I pulled out the felt tip which left the hollow metal shaft. On the bottom row, I used a coffee stir stick. Another great way to make warty bumps is to roll up tiny balls of clay. You can burnish them down around the edges a bit.

Once you create a nice random pattern, you can brush on a light glaze of paint thinner to blend it smoother. Not too much, or you'll lose the delicate details.
This weekend, I hope to start on the detailing of Space Gator's head. When done, I'll post that next time.

I just did a web-search...yep, GATORLAND is still there! Here's a great image by Jason Cordoba from the site's 2009 photo contest. Mighty tasty chicken!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.3

Welcome back! Space Gator is starting to take shape. The shot above is in the very early stages...this guy will change quite a bit as we go along.

Below are the usual steps...I wrap a little bit of thin wire around the armature, so the clay has something to grab onto. Then, I just start adding bits of clay until I get the basic form figured out. To paraphrase Michaelangelo..."I saw the Space Gator in the Sculpey and carved until I set him free." (I know...sayin' that seems wrong somehow.)

I temporarily place the laser cannon on the Gator's arm, so we have a snug fit. I realized after taking this image, that the weapon is upside down. I guess it's personal preference...it looks fine this way, too.

I thought I'd throw in some of the sketches that I drew for inspiration...they're NOT my original designs. I usually pull images from all over the place, just to get my brain working. These are drawings I made based on stuff I found from a couple of websites and Flash Gordon comics. I'll use them as inspiration for figuring out what the Gator's space gear might look like. It's sort of like the assignments we'd get in art school: go copy the works of the "masters". I am blown away by the wonderfully cool artwork at creaturebox.com and agent44.com...super talented guys!

Now things are starting to head in the right direction. I've added some very quick props for basic placement, but may totally go another way as I think it through later.

Off with his head!
I'll be working on the face and helmet separately, then bake them, so I won't mess up the detailing. Then I can place them back on the body, and go from there.
See ya later, alligator! (Sorry...had to.)

To be followed by:
After a while, crocodile!

And a new one from one of my nephews:
Not too soon, ya big baboon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.2

Now it's time to show the base for Space Gator!

I began with covering the wood with a thin layer of Sculpey. I have a really old box of the clay (years old!), that is almost too dry to work with. But it makes pretty good rocks, so I started mashing them on. Once I got the whole thing covered, I started working on the psuedo mushroom-like forms. After glazing it with thinner, the base seemed too big for the size of this piece.

So I peeled off the clay from the edges, and had to rethink things a bit. I had no real game-plan for how everything was going to end up. My wife said it reminded her of Chiclets gum or "pop rocks" candy. Yummy...but not the alien planet look I was going for. Eventually, I went towards a coral reef feel, with some layered lichen fungus growth, and lots of tendril-roots on the mushrooms. Again, I glazed everything with thinner, to blend the surfaces.

After looking the base over, I felt like it needed a bit more. So I twisted in a wood screw for support, then added a few "baby shrooms".

So here we are with the final base. I'm not sure what colors I'll go with, but I'm leaning towards a brighter palette.
Next post, I start working on the Gator...til then, enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Space Gator!" pt.1

Okay, LUDstuff buddies...we're goin' into SPACE for my next sculpting project!

This is a Retro-Future idea...I'm being influenced by old school "Flash Gordon" and some modern comic book/sci-fi elements. My recent trip to Florida reminded me of how much I love alligators...so I'm mixin' in a little Deep South Space Opera, too. So buckle up and let's get started with SPACE GATOR!

After drawing a VERY quick, small sketch above, I needed to make a Laser Cannon. The scale of that would dictate the size of the Gator. I love seeing what I can make out of junk...below is the pile of "treasures" I started with. I did some quick drawings of some really cool new "IRON MAN" toys by Hasbro, just to bring in a newer influence for the weaponry.

Below are some shots of the finished Laser Cannon...it will fit over the whole forearm. While I like how the different colors look on the "found objects", I will unify everything with a base coat, then figure out the final colors later.

Here's a fun device I rigged up some time ago to aid me in sculpting. The dowel can be moved around to various holes...the arm can be reconfigured with the wing nuts. It came in handy when doing the base-coat of gray.

Once I gave the Laser a second layer of undercoating (this time black), I needed to create my base and armature. Space Gator will be standing on some kind of alien rock formation. I did a quick sketch to scale, with the wires and dowels that would be inside the sculpture. On the right, the armature is ready to go.

To help me configure the wires inside for the Gator's pose, I slapped on some slabs of Sculpey Clay temporarily. When it looked about right, I pulled off all the Sculpey, to start fresh. The little inset below shows the wire I added for the Gator's tail. The armature can be modified as needed during the sculpting process.
That's it for this post...see ya again soon!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "More Faces Again"

I often make it a practice to have a sketchbook with me, if I am expecting to be sitting and waiting for any length of time. I ran across the sketch above from a trip to San Diego...this guy was asleep in the airport. Hope he made his flight.

The two sketches below are of a guy I saw while waiting in line last year to see the premiere of the new "Star Trek" movie. These B&W line drawings were done in a tiny little sketchbook I have that is about 3"x4"...great for hiding in a pocket.
This gal below was standing in the same movie line, a few people in front of me. I had to be seriously sneaky drawing her. It's a fact...not everyone likes a caricature drawn of themselves. If I had to guess...that lady would have been one of those "non-like" types.