Monday, 30 June 2014

Wrinkly skin

The harpy's neck and scalp are all about skin texture.  Most of this lot got done while I was on hold, trying to get through to my internet provider's tech department.  There's something very zen about moulding paper mache skin while listening to the vile tinny "music" these companies play at you in the hope that you'll give up and go away.   

Everyone has their own method for making skin, and my tools of choice are toilet paper and glue.  I use a brush to apply the glue, and I also use the brush to help me sculpt the wet paper into shape.  In a way, it's almost like painting with very thick paint.  I suspect this method would work with latex rubber too, though latex is more commonly used with moulds - see this totally awesome tsantsa made by David G. of Dark Artifacts.  

The structure underneath the skin layer is made from crushed newspaper, then covered over with "skin".  In this photo you can see one of the neck tendons before I put the skin on it.  To the right of the newspaper tendon you can see the gullet, which was made in the same way.

To make things a little more interesting,  I added bumps to the skin.  Quinoa seeds make small spotty bumps, while dried lentils produce big warty bumps. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A bit more harpy face

Last time I blogged about the harpy, it needed more work to sculpt the nose and brow ridges.  Now, I'm a lot happier with it.  I like the low forehead and the nose, while not a traditional nose, is certainly eye-catching.  This nose shape results from me taking the idea of bird nostrils and squidging them around to fit where the nose would be on a human.  In fact the main impetus for doing this project was to see how I could make a bird face and a human face fit together.  So far, the result is gratifyingly unpleasant.

I'm also giving the harpy bird-like ears without much in the way of external ear flaps.  In this photo, you can see the fold of paper that will eventually be an ear.  It was wet when I took the photo and needed to dry before I could work on it again.

When you work with tissue and glue the key to success is patience.  Do a bit, wait for it to dry, do a bit more.  It's a slow process, but the results can be very worthwhile.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sculpting eyelids, with particular attention to the eyelashes

As you can see there's still a lot to do on this sculpt, but you'll be able to get an idea of where I'm going with it, and I think making eyelashes is quite an interesting process so I'm going to blog about it.

These are doll eyes.  I got a bag of them online a while back, thinking they would be perfect for the harpy.  I stuck them in the appropriate place and got started on the eyelids.  These are fun to do.  Look carefully, and you will see the lids come complete with eyelashes.  In this case the eyelashes are made from hairbrush bristles, but any kind of appropriate bristle will get the job done.  I don't recommend using false eyelashes though.  Whatever you do with them, they look like - well, like false eyelashes.

Eyelashes aren't hard to make.  I start by gluing the hairbrush bristles along a strip of brown paper.

Then the eyelash strips get arranged around the eyes and glued in place, and the eyelids are sculpted up over top of them.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A quick post about the harpy's beak

Since I posted last, I've added the lower jaw and tongue.  I've painted the inside of the mouth dark blue-grey, and haven't worried too much about the colour, because it won't be very visible.  I've got the mouth only slightly open, and to be honest you can't really see that it has a tongue, never mind how good the paint is.

You can see here the inside of the mouth isn't painted or sculpted very well.  There didn't seem to be any point when it won't be visible.

I paid a lot more attention to the texture underneath the beak, and I'm relatively happy with it.  It's quite a smooth surface, but it's not too smooth.

Here's what it looks like in profile.  I'm not sure about it yet, and I think I need to see how it fits in with the rest of the facial features.

That's all for now, I'm afraid.  This has been a long week and it's only going to get worse before it gets better.  So far the highlight of my week has been getting bitten on the arse by a white-tail spider (don't click that link if you're eating), but tomorrow we have our work planning day, which will doubtless make the spider bite seem fun.  Oh well.  My next post will be about something interesting like the harpy's eyes or nose, or maybe some skin texture.  I'm really looking forward to doing those bits.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Setting up a beak armature

I hung the Beast from Beyond up on my wall at work, and it has got quite a bit of attention.  People seem to think it's a real animal at first glance, and most are rather surprised to learn it's made of paper mache.  I've always said paper mache is an underrated medium.

Recently I discovered Ian Johnston's translation of the Eumenides and after reading the passage where the priestess describes the furies she saw inside Apollo's temple, I got the idea to sculpt a harpy's head.  This, I thought, would be an interesting subject.  So far I've been making an armature to give me the internal structure of the head.

It reminds me a lot of a Corinthian helmet.  This was unintended, but it seems appropriate.

When setting up a head armature, I find it's helpful to break the skull down into its component shapes.  This ball represents the brain case.  Next we have a beak that juts out from the base of the brain case, and a lower jaw underneath that.

Once the basic shapes are securely stuck together it's easy to build up the vague shape of a face, as you can see in the first picture.  This will form the basis for all the facial features.  And here you can see one of the reasons I like paper mache so much: I wasn't happy with the shape of the jaw, so I simply cut it into a better shape with a Stanley knife.

From this angle you can get a better view of the cheekbones and where the eyes will eventually sit.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Lovecraft's creature From Beyond

I finally made myself get out the paint tubes and finish the Beast from Beyond.  I think it's a fairly good response to Propnomicon's challenge.

As you can see I used a lot of dioxazine purple and white paint, and I'm pleased with how that turned out.  Whenever I make these things I keep telling myself I should use more colour and expand my palette beyond grungy brown and grey.  I admire the way Fauvist painters like Andre Derain use colour, but whatever colours I use generally end up transformed into shades of brown and grey.  This project, I think, is quite colourful yet still looks plausibly organic.  

There's still a lot of brown and grey here.  The creature's underside and the tops of its fins are finished with a wash of diluted white paint, and the result is a pale, sickly, somewhat unpleasant grey effect.  I like it.

I really enjoyed this sculpt, and I think Propnomicon may have got me hooked on extra-dimensional specimens.  I may have to make another of these.