Friday, July 31, 2009

Styracosaurus Sculpture

Using Super Sculpey polymer clay I roughed out the general size of the Styracosaur. The stop motion raptors that appear in Eric Kessler's King Kong prequel are going to be feeding on the thigh area.

Once Kessler gave the green light on the pose I stripped the armature of the Super Sculpey and prepared to begin the sculpture in Aves Apoxie Sculpt clay.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Roughing out the Styracosaurs Head

After completing the body of the armature I moved on to roughing out the Styrac's head. I carved a skull out of balsa wood and a nasal horn from a hardwood dowel. I wired the jaw to allow me to open and close the mouth. The Coke can in the photo was so that Kessler could get a sense of the scale of the head.

Styracosaurus Sculpture

Once I had the pelvis of the Styracosaur completed I began work on the rear legs. A small piece of brass rod was inserted in the Apoxie Sculpt clay before it cured. This would enable me to place the rod from the thigh in the hollow tube in the pelvis.

Kessler said he may have a scene in his Kong film where one of the attacking raptors perches on the body of the Styracosaurus. The feet of the raptor puppet would need to be anchored securely to the dead dinosaurs body. I reinforced the shoulder area of the Styrac armature with a block of wood to allow for this.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sculpting an Apoxie Clay Styracosaurus For a King Kong Film

After completing several stop motion native puppets for his King Kong prequel Eric Kessler asked me if I would be able to sculpt him a plant eating dinosaur that could be made to have a movable neck and jaw. In his film the plant eater was to be the victim of an attack by Raptors.

It sounded like an interesting project and being a rabid fan of the original 1933 version of King Kong I jumped at the chance! While discussing the size and type of dinosaur that the Raptors would be preying on we decided to go with a Styracosaurus. Its nasal horn and head ornamentation would make it an interesting subject.

Kessler provided me with photographs and measurements of his stop motion Raptor puppets so I could design the Styracosaur to be on a similar scale. The first step was locating good reference material. I based most of my Styrac measurements on the skeletal drawings of Gregory Paul :The Official Website of Gregory S. Paul - Paleoartist, Author and Scientist

Next I began to make an armature for the sculpture. Using aluminum wire I roughed out the backbone and pelvis of the dinosaur. I drilled a hole where the hip joint would meet the thighs and glued a brass tube in place. Here is a picture of the start of the armature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Finished Skull Island Native Puppet

After the head was painted I glued it onto the aluminum wire armature with Zap A Gap glue. The next step was to hot glue foam rubber I had saved from an old mattress to the armature. When I thought it looked about right I used manicure scissors to carefully trim the foam rubber to the appropriate shape.

After test fitting the latex skin to see if it covered the foam rubber properly it was time to glue on the front and back skins. I used the same tinted liquid latex that I made the skins from to adhere them to the armature. I brushed a light coat of latex on the inner surface of the skin and the foam covered armature. Once it was dry I carefully tacked down the skins.

There was a little overlap of skin that had to be trimmed off. Then the puppet got a final thin coat of liquid latex over the seams and where the cast head joined the body.

When it came to dressing the puppet I settled on a straw like material I found at the local Arts and Crafts store. I hot glued it in place and wrapped it snugly around the waist with Dacron line. I applied Zap A Gap over the Dacron to lock it in place.

I made a cardboard template for the shields and traced them out on thin Bass wood. After sealing the wood with primer I painted them with acrylics and top coated them with Testor's Dull Cote spray. The spears were painted metal rods topped with Apoxie Clay spearheads.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Painting The Skull Island Natives Head

After washing all the mold release from the cast head I sprayed it with gray auto body primer. When it was dry I began brushing on acrylic paint that had been mixed to match (as closely as possible) the latex skin that would cover the stop motion puppet.

When I had the face painted to my satisfaction I gave it a coat of Testor's Dull Cote spray to protect the finish. Finally I put a drop of clear gloss on the eyes and a touch on the lips.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sculpting A Head For The Stop Motion Native Puppet

When it came time for sculpting the natives head I again used plastilene clay. I decided on making two different heads so my puppets wouldn't all be identical. Once the heads were finished I made a two piece latex mold of both heads. Then a two piece mother mold of Apoxie Sculpt clay. The mother mold acts as a rigid support for the flexible rubber mold.

I sprayed the inner surface of the latex mold with mold release. Then reassembled my mother mold. I used Polytranspar Liquid Cast as my casting material. Here is a picture of the mold in my hand and one of the cast heads.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stop Motion Puppet Latex Skin

After the tinted liquid latex dried I carefully peeled it from the plaster mold. Fresh latex will stick to itself so I rubbed a cotton swab dipped in corn starch over the latex skin as I freed it from the mold.

Next using the size of the mold as a reference I began twisting two strands of aluminum wire together to form the torso and limbs of the natives body. Aluminum wire can be bent many times without breaking so it is often used for animation puppets. Using Apoxie Sculpt clay I built up areas of the body.

Once the clay set I began hot gluing foam rubber over the aluminum wire armature. Using scissors I trimmed the foam where necessary to shape and define it. When I was satisfied with the body shape I painted a thin coat of liquid latex over the foam and the inner surface of the natives skin. Then I carefully tacked the rubber skin into place on the armature. Here is a picture of the armature and latex skins fresh from the mold. Next I'll work on the natives head.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stop Motion Puppets

A friend of mine is making a prequel to the 1933 film version of King Kong. Just as special effects artist Willis O'Brien did in the original classic he is using stop motion animation to give the illusion of life to Kong and the other denizens of Skull Island.

After seeing the native I sculpted for my Kong bust he asked me if I could make a native that he could animate. It sounded like a fun project so I gave it a whirl.

The first step was sculpting a 4 1/4" native figure in Plastilene clay. After the sculpture was completed I cut the head off the figure so I could make a separate mold of it. Then I went about making a two piece Plaster of Paris mold of the body.

Since plastilene is an oily clay I didn't need to coat the figure with mold release to keep the plaster from adhering to the model. However plaster sticks to plaster so I needed to coat the first section of the mold with Vaseline to prevent the second half from binding to it.

The plaster mold came out well enough for my purposes. After the plaster dried I coated the inside surfaces of the mold with an acrylic sealant. Now I needed to tint liquid Latex rubber with acrylic paint till I got a suitable skin tone for my native puppet. The mold was given several thin coats of the latex/paint mixture. Here is a picture of the mold with the latex being painted on. Next I'll be making a mold of the natives head.

Monday, July 13, 2009

King Kong Chewing On A Native

After finishing up detailing the native figure with a grass skirt and necklace it came time to mount him in Kong's mouth. I used a Dremel Tool to slightly enlarge the hole I had made in the figures body. The hole allowed me to slip the body up snugly against Kong's canine teeth. Here is a photo of the finished bust of Kong.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sculpting The Skull Island Native: Kong's Victim

Once I had the wire armature for the Skull Island native finished I positioned it in Kong's mouth to test the fit.

After arriving at a pose that would work I began sculpting the figure in Apoxie Sculpt Clay. I'd work a section at a time letting it completely harden between sculpting sessions. I built the native up slowly carefully test fitting its position in Kong's mouth.

Once the figure seemed right I began painting it using acrylic paints. I sprayed the finished native with Testor's Dull Cote to give the fleshy areas a flat matte appearance. The eyes and mouth got several coats of clear gloss to give them a bit of a sheen. Next I made a necklace for the victim out of Super Sculpey clay. Then hot glued on a grass skirt. Here is a couple photos of the finished native.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Painting The King Kong Casting

I'm going to have to skim over making Kong's shoulders and attaching his head. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of this stage of the work. It was pretty straight forward. I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood for the base. The shoulders were cut from the same 1/4" plywood stock. I stapled wire mesh screening over the plywood form.

I mixed up a batch of paper mache and covered the screening. After about an hours time I gently worked over the shoulders with a plastic spatula to smooth and further shape them.

Several days later after the mache had dried I coated it with Liquitex Matt Medium to seal it. Finally I covered the entire shoulder area with Apoxie Sculpt Clay giving it a fur texture and blending it up and into Kong's cast head.

The mouth and eyes were masked off and the sculpture was sprayed with gray auto primer. Next I began dry brushing on white acrylic paint where I wanted hi lites. Working light to dark I next dry brushed on light gray, followed by raw umber. When I was finished with my dry brushing I sprayed the sculpture with Krylon Matt clear spray to protect the paint.

The last step was antiquing Kong with a mix of thinned down black and raw umber acrylics. This would tie all the dry brushing work together. I worked in small sections wiping off the excess antiquing medium till I achieved the effect I was looking for.

Now came the time to begin creating the native that would be struggling in Kong's mouth. I roughed out the size native I wanted in aluminum armature wire and wound green floral wire around this to give the clay something to stick too. Here is a photo of Kong with the native armature in his mouth.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My King Kong Casting Gets Some Teeth

After I prepainted the teeth I cast for Kong it was time to install them in his mouth. Using a Dremel tool with a cutting bit I carefully removed the excess material around the mouth.

Once I had access to the mouth I began building up the gums and interior of the mouth using Apoxie Sculpt clay. This is a two part modeling material that is mixed in equal amounts by hand. It sets in a few hours by chemical reaction.

When I was satisfied with the gums I marked off the locations where I wanted the teeth to go. Next I took the tongue that I had sculpted the evening before and set it into the wet clay. One of the benefits of using Apoxie Sculpt is that it acts like an adhesive and will bond strongly to most materials.

I made a slight depression for each tooth and sunk them into the gums. Using a stiff brush and some water I smoothed the gum area around the teeth and the tongue. After the Apoxie Sculpt set up I painted a base coat of acrylic pinkish flesh on the gums and tongue. Here are a couple photos of Kong with his new choppers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Casting Teeth For Kong

For Kong's teeth I sculpted Polymer clay over nails. The nails made convenient handles during the sculpting and subsequent mold making. Once I had the teeth finished I brushed on a thin layer of Vaseline as a mold separator.

Next I coated the teeth with an application of 100% pure silicone caulk. Providing your model isn't highly detailed silicone caulk can make a satisfactory mold of it. After the silicone fully cured I used an exacto knife to slice one side of the mold open to remove the clay tooth.

One of the benefits of using 100% silicone is it won't require using a release agent. I assembled all the teeth molds in plastic caps to prevent them from rolling around. I also planned on casting a piece for an unrelated project at the same time. After I had my molds set up I filled them with Polytranspar Liquid Cast. Here are a couple pictures of the clay teeth and the teeth molds being cast. Next post Kong will get his new choppers installed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Casting Kong's Head

After I finished building up the latex rubber mold to about an 1/8" thick I made a mother mold. A mother mold is made of a rigid material and supports the flexible latex mold while it is being cast to prevent distortion. For this piece I used plaster of Paris and strips of burlap to make the mother mold.

The casting material I used is called Polytranspar Liquid Cast. It is a two component product which requires mixing together equal amounts of Part A and Part B. The reason I like it is because it sets up within 3 minutes, has little odor and can be removed from the mold in a short time.

I sprayed the inside of the two mold halves with a light coat of mold release and clamped the mold together. After mixing the Polytranspar liquid cast I slowly poured it into the mold trying to avoid causing air bubbles. When I had poured about 8 oz. into the mold I began to rotate the mold by hand to make sure all the surfaces of the mold were evenly covered. I continued doing this for several minutes till the material set up.

Here is a picture of Kong's head fresh from the mold and ready to be cleaned of the flashing left on the casting from the mold seam. Next post I'll get down to installing some teeth in Kong.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Starting the Latex Mold

Since I wasn't planning on creating multiple castings I chose liquid latex as my mold making material. Latex won't adhere to damp clay so I didn't need to apply a release agent to the sculpture.

The first coat of latex will capture all the detail. For this reason it is important to apply it carefully. Blowing gently across the surface of the sculpture can help the latex to flow into any crevices and also helps pop air bubbles.

Here is some photos of the first coat of latex brushed onto Kong's head. Later after several applications of latex had been applied I began tacking down gauze wet with latex. This helps strengthen the mold. Next post I'll show the completed mold and the casting of Kong's head.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

King Kong Sculpted Bust

I'm a big fan of the 1933 version of King Kong. One scene that I've always been fascinated by was when a full size mechanical bust of Kong was used to film a native struggling in the giant apes mouth. Recently I decided to recreate this scene albeit at a more modest size. I decided to do the sculpting in red stoneware clay. Here are a couple pictures of my Kong piece. Next post I'll show the mold I made from which I'll cast the finished head.