Friday, 28 February 2014

A bit of progress and some bonus ranting

This week has been a slow week on the sculptural front because I've had to make a pair of work trousers.  Making work trousers is not my favourite activity, but I absolutely hate shopping for them.  I hate work trouser shopping more than almost anything else in the world.  Casual trousers are fine, but cargo pants are not my office's preferred corporate image and off-the-rack work trousers never fit properly because they are always cut wrong.  It's not actually too hard to cut trousers that fit, but manufacturers stubbornly insist on cutting the seat curve wrong and doing bizarre things to the shape of the outer leg seam.  As the saying goes, if you want it done right you have to do it yourself.

So anyways, here is what the skin on the trophy head looks like now.

I rather like the way the knobbly skin contrasts with the smooth, bony armour plates that cover the gills and the top of the head.  These were very loosely based on the armour of placoderms, early fish that lived in the Silurian and Devonian seas.  Their forequarters were covered in bone plates to protect them from predators.  In the case of Dunkleosteus the bone plates were also used as teeth, and I had Dunkleosteus in mind when I made the jaw on this thing.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The trophy head in profile

This side of the head is now mostly finished and should give you an idea of what I want to achieve with this project.  In this photo, it's hanging on the clothesline to dry.

Also, here's a shot of the inside of the mouth.  I'm still not entirely happy with the paint job, and will have another go at it soon.  I think a sponge brush may possibly be the thing to use.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Reconstructing the face of Crystal Head Vodka

The genius behind this project is forensic artist Nigel Cockerton.  It first came to my attention when my friend posted a link on me Facebook timeline, and I wanted to share it here because it is just that cool.

Crystal Head Vodka Facial Reconstruction
Picture via Geekosystem.

To read a bit more about the project and see some photos of the sculpture in progress, see here.  Nigel is based in Scotland, at the University of Dundee.

I'm not sure if the bottle is based on a real person's skull.  I also don't know if the happy facial expression is a result of the reconstruction process, or if Nigel deliberately applied the muscles in such a way as to make it look happy.  I have a bottle of this stuff at home, and I can assure you it makes me happy.  It's very good vodka.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Gill arches from underneath

I'm very pleased with the way the underside of this head is coming along.  I like the thick, pebbly appearance of the neck skin and the way it blends in to the underside of the jaw, as well as how it contrasts with the gill arches.  The jaw isn't finished, as you can probably tell.  It needs a lot more texture and it needs to be properly blended into the neck.

Then, of course, I'll need to take a look at the mouth.  I'm kind of avoiding the mouth, because I have to re-paint it and I'm not entirely sure how I want to do that. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Lentils: not just a food product

In my opinion lentils are not a food product at all.  I don't eat lentils, because I had some very bad experiences with them when I was a kid.  However, they do make an excellent texture effect.

What I've done here is to take some dried lentils and glue them onto the head.  Then I've covered them in tissue and lots more glue.  This causes the bumpy, knobbly skin you can see around the gill plates.  Remember all that time I spent making hundreds of individual scales when I was working on the Glykon project?  Yeah, won't be doing that again.  Lentils all the way from now on. 

I've left the gill plates fairly smooth, but I may put a few scattered bumps on them later to mirror the main skin texture.

A close up of the skin.  Pretty cool, huh?

And speaking of gill plates, here's what I've done with the inside of them.  These gills are very losely based on horseshoe crab gills, but the important word in that sentence really is "loosely".

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Gill plates and such

Last time I posted, I'd made eyes for the trophy head.  Now, I've attached the eyes and started to build up the exterior of the head.  The gill arches in the mouth now have corresponding gill plates behind the head.

Obviously they're pretty scruffy-looking right now, because this is just armature.  The next step is to add surface texture.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


When making eyes, I find the important question is always "how lazy do I feel today?"  I can either paint my own irises, or I can download some off the internet.  In this instance I have found some nice trout eyes, but they are very definitely trout eyes.  My sculpture isn't a trout.

In fact I nearly always make my own irises, because they're easy and fun to do.  These ones have a thick layer of iridescent medium, with purple and yellow glaze on top.  The colour and shape are loosely based on squid eyes.

Normally I make the lens of the eye using transparent acrylic cabochons, which you can get from places that sell jewelry supplies.  In this case I've cast my own resin lenses, because I need larger ones than are available from the jewelry supplier.  Honestly, I don't recommend casting resin lenses if you don't have to because getting the air bubbles out is a major pain in the backside.  I've found you have to heat up the resin before you use it, which makes it runnier and thus allows trapped air bubbles to escape.

I painted black pupils directly onto the resin lens, and once that dried I used Selleys' All Clear sealant to stick the lenses to the irises.  The key thing here is to apply a good thick layer of All Clear - and I'm talking half a centimeter/quarter of an inch here - and then press the lens down to squeeze any air bubbles out of the sealant.  Any clear glue or sealant will work for this, I just used the All Clear because I happen to have some.

Lastly, I put a sclerotic ring around the eyes, and then they're all ready to go.