Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Making a skull: the basic shape

UPDATE: to see what the skull looks like now it's finished, click here.

Today, I'll be talking about making the basic shape of my skull and getting all the important bones in place.  In my next post, I'll talk about fine tuning it to get it nicely finished.

Here's the first stage of the skull. 

Today's post is all about cranial anatomy.  Here's my proto-cranium which I made in the last skull chalice post, along with a slew of various pictures of skull anatomy that I'll be using to make my skull: 

How difficult and frustrating this step will be depends on the level of detail you want from your skull, and in my case the answers are "very" and "a lot".  The skull chalice is, in many ways, a proof of concept, but I still want to make something I'm happy with and that will make an impression at parties.

You can see I've started with what is essentially half a sphere.  The next step is to build the facial bones out from the sphere, using those anatomical diagrams as a guide.  I start with the eye sockets and upper jaw, then I block in the eye sockets, brow ridge and zygomatic arches using paper pulp.  I started with the brow ridge, purely because that's easy. 

The eye sockets start out as paper rings...

...then they get filled in.
 One of the important things here is to pay attention to the inside of the eye sockets.  They have little holes in the back of 'em where the ocular nerve passes through the skull.  Making those little holes takes just a couple of seconds spent poking around in there with a nail, but it makes a big difference to the look of the skull.  Also, if you're looking to do one of these for yourself (and really, why wouldn't you?), keep in mind that the surface doesn't need to be smooth.  Bones aren't really all that smooth.

This photo shows the little bones inside the nasal cavity.  I just used glue-imprenated paper curled into place with a pair of tweezers.  I was putting it off because I thought it'd be difficult, but it isn't really.

Detail of nasal bones

Yes, I did make all the individual teeth and glue them in.  Teeth are one of those things that look pretty intimidating at first glance, but really aren't all that hard to do.

Molars waiting to get glued into the jaw

Paper pulp sets like concrete when it's dry and can be sanded, which makes it quite good for making teeth.