Monday, November 12, 2012

Ijiraq 2.0 is finished (except for paint)!

Here's a quick post to show off the photos I took last night of the Ijiraq sculpture. I'm sooo happy that he's done, and even happier with how he turned out.

In the time period between my last photos of him and these, there has been a lot of skin texturing and fur-sculpting, both of which are always more time consuming than I expect, but the end result is really worth the hours spend with a loop tool making wrinkles, or with a needle (and various other tools I use to make clay look like hair/fur).

So, here's how he looks now:

That gray primer you see in the photos has to rest a few days while it dries, just to make extra sure the acrylic paint I'll be using adheres well to the sculpture.

So, the next update will include photos of the painted sculpture, and then I'll be off on my next project, which is finishing the Ganesha sculpture I posted about last year.

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ijiraq Version 2.0 is Almost Done!

It's been way too long in between updates, but I didn't really have a whole lot to post. I've just been sculpting along very slowly. No new updates on Ganesha, but I am nearly done with the final version of the Ijiraq (see my post from last year for the sketch/rough version in Chavant). I'm really happy with how he's turned out and I'm just a few days away from being ready to bake and paint this sculpt.

Without further ado, here are photos of the sculpture, this time sculpted in Sculpey firm and Apoxie Clay.

I used Apoxie Clay to create the weapon (refrenced a bear femur and jaw and sculpted each component separately, then glued them together; once this piece has been baked, the top of the weapon will have waxed twine wrapped around the jaw and the femoral head) and the antlers. Because Apoxie Clay is self-curing once the two parts are mixed, it lends itself very well to creating durable parts that wouldn't be all that feasible to create in sculpey. You can work layer-by-layer and then just leave the piece alone to cure by itself. Once cured, the piece is sandable and carveable. The horns and claws of the dragon sculpture in the post below this were all created using very fine guage steel wire and Apoxie. It handles going in the oven beautifully, and you can even speed the cure time by exposing it to low heat (or retard it by putting it in the freezer). It's great stuff for parts like these, though expensive enough that it wouldn't really be feasible for me to make an entire sculpture from it.

I am a big believer in using reference whenever possible, and was lucky enough to be working on this piece in a time when a brilliant reference tool just happened to become available. It's called L'Ecorché, and it is currently available to use on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, though the developer is currently working to put out versions for Android, PC, and Mac. Below are some of the sample images of the app from the iTunes store. What the app does is pretty simple and straightforward, but the benefits of such a tool are nearly immeasurable. You can rotate this three-dimensional anatomy model in every conceivable direction, and the high-resolution of the model allows you to zoom in as much as you want. The app comes with several different versions of the model, including a full skeleton, with all bony landmarks highlighted in orange on the skeleton. It's only five bucks, and though it doesn't replace my anatomy books, it goes a very, very long way to help me visualize the muscle groups detailed in them in three-dimensional space. I highly recommend it to all artists with an interest in anatomy, especially fellow sculptors.

As always, thanks for reading, and I promise not to wait nearly an entire year before my next update. It will be soon, probably only a matter of weeks!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Dragon is Finally Complete!

It's been a while since I last gave an update, but I've got two projects in the works (Ganesha and a sculpey version of the Ijiraq) and more to come, so another update soon won't be out of the question.

In any case, this post is mostly to announce that my Dragon sculpture is finally complete. He's truly a milestone piece for me in several ways, and one of them is the fact that he marks my first foray into creating a detailed base. I'm glad I pushed myself to make a base as opposed to just going with a plain wooden plaque, because I don't think this dragon would look right on an unadorned, plain base. Here's a photo:

The base began as a hunk of sculpey over an oblong piece of tightly packed aluminum foil, which I then shaped with hard, straight-edged tools to create an angular look. For this piece, even though the base is the last thing you, the viewers are seeing, it's actually the first thing I sculpted, and what I used to help me pose the armature for the dragon:

After I used it to pose the armature, it basically just sat around and gathered dust for a very, very long time while I worked on the dragon separately.

With a show entry deadline fast approaching, I decided it was past time I finished the base, so I mounted it to a wooden plaque and added some lava rock and vermiculite here and there around it to give it a little more realism and visual interest. After priming, I gave it a good coating of dark brown acrylic paint, and then began layering on lighter colors with a drybrush technique.

So, that's that, really. My next blog entry will be following soon. For all of you out there reading, thanks for doing so!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ganesha WIP

I've been working on this sculpture for a while now and thought I should share it since I've been neglecting my blog.
First, here is the very rough drawing I used to plan the armature:

Next, here are some shots of the lotus blossom I sculpted that will be part of the base the sculpture will be standing on:

And here's a 3-shot turnaround of the sculpture so far:

Tried something new this time and did a 75:25 mix of sculpey firm and super sculpey. I try to work on him every day, though that doesn't always happen.
Ganesha's around a foot tall at this point, I think, and the whole piece should top out at around a foot and a half.
I'll post another update when this is looking closer to a completed piece. For now, thanks for looking!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Amazing Resource for Sculptors

Until very recently, I've been a little out of the loop as far as the sculpting community, but I found out last week that one of my favorite sculptors teamed up with two other wonderful gentlemen to give sculptors one of the most thorough, detailed books on sculpting and mold-making that I've yet to see.

Pop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner, Ruben Procopio and Zach Oat would be a steal at twice or even thrice the price Amazon is asking. That's no exaggeration when you consider that EVERY page contains tack-sharp, full-color photographs that detail every step of the process of taking concept artwork and turning it into a three dimensional piece of artwork. There's also a section on sculpting a fully articulated action figure, as well as in-depth discussions of tools, different sculpting media, paints, and photography, not to mention some advice on good business practices. Tim even shares his own recipe for the sculpting wax he uses! The writing is entertaining, informative, descriptive and detailed without being dull for one second. Each page is skillfully laid out in a way that makes my eyes happy, and oh, there are SO many photographs of beautiful, finished sculptures from a variety of artists in addition to everything else I've described.

It will have you lusting after wax pens and cel vinyl paints, but it will also inspire you and encourage you to explore your sculpting potential to the fullest.

What else can I say? It's 272 pages of full-color goodness, for around $20 on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ijiraq: In-process and Completed

I've known about the Alphabeastiary Challenge for a while now, but didn't seriously consider joining it until about two weeks ago. Suddenly it occurred to me that the bi-weekly challenges posted on the blog would be a great way for me to work on my speed as well as my creature design.
The first challenge I participated in was the blog's most recent: the Ijiraq. Here's a quote from the blog describing the Ijiraq:
The Ijiraq ( ee-yee-roc ) is a monster from Inuit mythology whose name literally means "shapeshifter". They can come in a range of different shapes and sizes, even going so far as to copy the appearance of other monsters. The Ijiraq is a gruesome shadowy phantom that can appear as various arctic animals. Among these are the polar bear, arctic hare, raven or even the Tariaksuq (a half-man half-caribou monster). Some versions of the myth claim the Ijiraq and Tariaksuq (most often described as a great shaggy man with a caribou's head) may actually be the same creature in different forms.

Using tricks and disguises the Ijiraq steal children, hide them, then leave them out in the wilderness to die of exposure. Along with this gruesome hobby these creatures love to scare hunters and try to get them hopelessly lost or trapped in bad weather.

It is said that the Ijiraq lives in a strange no-mans land somewhere between the world of the living and the world of the dead. If an Ijiraq does manage to trick an unfortunate soul into following it into this strange frozen purgatory, they will be trapped forever and condemned to become an Ijiraq themselves.
 I immediately got a picture in my head of how I wanted my sculpture to look, just from the wonderful description of the creature. So I started sketching, scanned my sketch into photoshop, and kept working with it and tweaking it until I got an image that I was pleased with. My sculptures always start with at least one drawing that I use to plan out the look of the sculpture, as well as the armature.
So here is the concept drawing I did, as well as the plan outlining the armature I built for the sculpture:

This process is nearly identical whether I'm working in Sculpey or Chavant. The only difference is that I bulk out certain areas of the armature with aluminum foil when I'm working with Sculpey, just to save on clay, minimize weight as well as baking time (since the thicker the layer of polymer clay is, the longer it will have to bake). Chavant is cheaper than Sculpey, and since it is an oil-based clay, it doesn't go through a curing process and is reusable. I use my supply of Le Beau Touche for sketching and working out ideas since it is very soft, sticky, and allows me to work quickly without refining a piece too much. These properties make it ideal for the Alphabeastiary challenge since I only had two weeks to sculpt the Ijiraq.
Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the armature or the armature building process, but to make a long story short, I printed out the second drawing on an sheet of printer paper and laid out pieces of aluminum wire of different gauges on the drawing and bent them following the lines I planned out for the armature. Then I used plumber's putty to attach the limbs to the spine. Next I made adjustments to the armature to make sure it was posed how I wanted, and then drilled holes in a wooden plaque for the leg wires. From there, I began layering on the clay. I don't have photos of the early part of this process, but my boyfriend Dave (who is an incredible photographer and artist) was kind enough to take some later in the day. The first stage of sculpting is really rough--I basically just want to cover most of the armature and establish basic volumes in the piece. From there, the addition of clay is more careful and gradual, and I begin to slowly refine the forms in the sculpture using my fingers as well as various tools.

I was lucky with this piece in that everything went so smoothly and quickly. Not every piece is as "easy" as this guy was. He came together in about 16 hours of sculpting, which is much faster than usual for me. Sometimes there are areas of a sculpture that just don't come together easily, and sometimes I get stuck when trying to decide on the direction a piece should go.
Once I'd refined the piece until I was happy with it, I got out my light tent and camera and took these photos:

And that's that, pretty much. My next blog entry will probably be about the other sculpture I'm currently working on, which is my take on the Hindu deity Ganesha.
For now, so long and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here we go!

I decided a few days ago that it would be fun to have my own blog, one that focuses on my sculpting, although there might be some posts about drawing and metalworking as well. I work primarily in a polymer clay called Sculpey Firm, but I am always eager to familiarize myself with other media, so I am currently experimenting with Chavant Le Beau Touche plastilene and want to try their NSP clays as well as Castilene. One day I would like to work in wax and really get into moldmaking, but for now, Sculpey is the clay I'm most comfortable with.

Without further ado, here are some photos of my work in sculpey:

My next entry will have some in-process photos of the piece I recently completed in Chavant. So long and thanks for reading!