Tag Archives: sculpting

Art Challenge Days #1-5

Art Challenge: Day #1-5

Welcome to the 30 Day Art Challenge update for days one through five.

Sorry these art pieces are a little belated in terms of getting them out on their specified day. I have been working on these consistently day to day, but I am discovering that the scale of each of my projects are too large for the timeline I have set for myself. Clearly I need to scale everything back just a bit and concentrate on quality over quantity.

For now, here is the first batch of art pieces I have made this month! Enjoy.

Day #1 – Self Portrait

I wanted to start off with something I haven’t done in several weeks, and that was a photoshop piece. No banners do not count. For my self-portrait I chose to do something that is half way between my own style and something a little Tim Burton. The yarn is so that you definitely know it is me.

This piece is one of the main reasons that I fell behind right off the bat. Between the line art and scouring for textures, this piece is not something I could crank out in a short drawing session. Love how it turned out though.

Day #2 – Scenery

When I think of scenery right now I think of the game with some of the most stunning visuals and environments I have played in a long time. Unravel is so very detailed, saturated and immersive that I feel like I could reach out and touch the thistle patch.

Learning from my previous mistakes, I scaled this piece down significantly from my self portrait piece. This was done in water color and gouache, and measures at about 3×5 inches. I’m a little annoyed with the yarn along the bottom, but all in all I really like how this one turned out.

Day #3 – Love

I had a bunch of spare sculpy lying around, so I thought why not? This tiny sculpture is only about as big around as a toonie (for all of my Canadian friends). It is based on a sketch I did back in the summer titled “Until Death Do Us Part”. It was basically a darker take on couples merging into one person as part of the relationship.

This one is technically incomplete as I have no idea what I want the color scheme to be. I plan on finishing this before the end of the challenge. Any thoughts on colors guys??

Day #4 – Tattoo

Day four featured the tattoo challenge, and for some reason everything afterward ended up looking a lot like a tattoo design. This piece is done in black gouache and is 5×7 inches.

I tried to push myself outside of my comfort zone with this piece. Obviously this is not referring to the skull in the middle. We all know how comfortable I am with drawing bones. I actually dislike drawing and painting roses. I am fine with almost any other flower, but my roses always came out looking chunky and awkward. I think these might me some of the favourite roses that I have ever illustrated.

Day #5 – Skeleton

Day five’s skeleton is almost interchangeable with day four. I wanted to steer clear of a purely technical drawing, so I took a lot of artistic licences with the overall design and shape.

The ribcage ended up looking a little more cluttered than I would have liked. It is a little hard to see but the rib bones are meant to be branches full of bleeding hearts. Bleeding hearts are a type of flower that flourishes in heavily shaded areas, which is why I paired it with the moth motif. I may come back to this one a little later and add some splashes of color, but for now I am over all happy with how this turned out.

Next Time:

Tune in later this week for 30 Day Art Challenge Days #6-10. This challenge is making me sweat already, so let’s see how this goes!



Stabbing Things with Barbed Needles

…Otherwise known as needle felting.


For those not familiar with the craft, it is the art of stabbing various coloured wool with a barbed needle for hours on end. It is actually quite therapeutic after a bad day. Right up until the point when you stab yourself in the hand hard enough to draw blood. That may or may not have happened once in the making of this project already, but a teacher of mine once told me a project is not real until you bleed on it. That’s the rule.

I got into needle felting while in college when one of my textiles classmates literally blew my mind with a super adorable needle felt dragon in a tiny bird’s nest. I ended up making a ton of fun things a few years ago, including an shenani-goat for my D&D group (yes I do that too). Since then though I have seriously let it fall by the wayside and all of my rather expensive needle felting wool has been living in a tote under my bed.  IMG_0368

For my first video of the year has been seriously belated thus far and I was hoping to finish filming today, but a combination of my camera battery dying and losing the good natural light in my house has put it on hold for the night. I shall continue tomorrow with daylight and fresh batteries.

I hope to have this video up sometime early this week. Until then, here are some selfies with a white felted worm-looking-thing.


Fan Expo Monster Suit

Twisted Tales Studio Presents:

Monster Suit Fan Expo 2014

This is a bit of a throwback from when I was still in school but I am now finally properly set up for video editing. So, better late than never, here is an actual video of our monster suit actually walking around at Fan Expo 2014.

This video was just an opportunity to actually practice cutting footage together on my computer. The video and sound quality are poor because it was shot on my iphone in the middle of the convention center. Even at the best of times, this was not an ideal space to record anything. At one point I was actually sitting on the table of the booth directly across from us, so thank you to the boys selling Doctor Who merch. You were super sweet for helping me!

The actor in our suit is the husband of my teacher, Fred, who did an amazing job! There are very few people who would put up wearing all the fur, while walking on stilts, in the middle of an insanely crowded convention center. Also, at one point the fan for the cooling unit shorted out, so the poor guy was sweating buckets under all there.

Also featured in this video are two of my teachers helping our actor get into the costume and on his feet. A few of my classmates can also be seen in the background acting as human pylons so nobody accidentally bumped into the stilts.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. Our group had the opportunity to get into the con in exchange for working at the booth and promoting the school. I was able to make my rounds of all the vendors, as well as get a photo op with one of my favourite horror franchise actors!

Fan Expo 2014 will forever be my favourite year!


Fan Expo Monster

The Monster

After long hours of work our monster is finally done! This guy was a big hit at Fan Expo 2014. There were many photo ops and high fives to be had that weekend.

This monster (unofficially called the furby) was about 6 weeks of fabrication work done by a team of six students and three members of Sheridan faculty. Every piece of this monster was specially made for the fan expo event from the hand sculpted face to the body suit and the cooling unit built in for our actor.

The structural parts of the body were built out of sheets of 3/4 inch reticulated foam and hooping wire (similar to the kind used in corsets). The fur for this suit was patterned from scratch, hand sewn, and punched with about a million feather plugs … or at least it felt like a million at the time.

This monster has two pairs of legs, one normal sized for easy wear, and one set built to accommodate a pair of drywall stilts. The stilts ended up being one of the beast features of this costume. In a crowded convention center it can be very difficult to see a person standing more than a few feet away. At an incredible eight and a half feet tall, nobody at Fan Expo was missing this big friendly monster!

I will also post videos of this guy once I can figure out how to convert file types. This guy was surprisingly difficult to film and photograph due to the crowds and the narrow space between booths in which to move. I actually ended up sitting on the table across from our booth to take some of these pictures. Thankfully the vendors selling the Doctor Who merch were good sports about it!

I would like to thank Fred Stinson for wearing this insanely hot fur suit while wearing stilts. It made me happy to see my monster walking around and interacting at the con. I would also like to thank all my teachers who helped us make the suit. They contributed so much of their free time to this project!

The Booth

For being part of the team I was offered a pass into Fan Expo for a couple of the days so long as I helped attend the booth. My major responsibility was plugging the school to potential new students, I spent a mass majority of the time painting faces and applying airbrush tattoos. The airbrush tattoos actually ended up being a huge hit because my teacher brought a laser printer so we could make custom stencils on the spot.

We all assisted our monster getting ready, and just generally moving around the booth. Inside the suit the visibility was limited, and there was a danger of people bumping into the stilts and knocking him over. I got to act as a human pylon to make sure there were no accidents.

The Con

I did have some time to myself to wonder around the con. We had plenty of volunteers to run the booth, so it wasn’t hard to sneak around and see what there was in the vendor’s hall. A few good friends of mine were also selling their wares in artist’s ally, so I couldn’t be at Fan Expo and not stop by to say hello. Artist’s Alley is always one of my favourite parts of any con, and I almost never leave without buying at least one thing.

I also purchased a photo opportunity with Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) which made my weekend. I have been a fan of the series since I was most definitely too young to be watching them. As a horror fan I could not miss the chance to meet the man who is Freddy Krueger.

Oh, and I do have one funny con story to help wrap up this post! As I was sitting at the booth eating my pizza between tattoos I some very large men in suits came hustling past. They were pushing the crowd aside for one of the celebrity guests. I looked up from my foot and who else do I see but Stan Lee walk by not more than three feet from me. I can’t say that I met the man, but I can now say that I was close enough for his body guard to justify breaking my arm if I got any funny ideas…

The End

The end of this project also marks the end of my college career. This is the first September since 1996 that I will not be going back to school. Next comes the question of what the heck I’m going to do with myself now. I guess I will just continue to make stuff. Maybe something on a little smaller scale.



Jackalope Skull

Some of you probably recall me posting about my rabbit skull and skeleton studies a while back. For those of you just now joining me, the project currently holding my attention is a study on mythical creature anatomy and skeletons. To be specific, in this instance I have decided to begin my journey with something small and simple in design. Say hello to the mighty majestic Jackalope … or at least the rough base for what will be a jackalope.

Roughed out sculpt
Roughed out sculpt

The jackalope was made famous as a hoax in the 1930s when a couple of clever gentlemen grafted deer antlers to the head of a taxidermy hair. It has some basis in a disease known to cause abnormal bone growth in rabbits, but it was mostly just a way to rope in tourists as far as I can tell.

You can begin your jackalope journey here on the jackalope wiki page if you would like more information on the cutest hoax of the 1930s.

Moving onto the project proper, I of course began this journey by staring at a model rabbit skull for a few hours. To get a true sense of proper proportions I drew some preliminary sketches from side, bottom and top views. That is what professional artists do, right?

For this sculpt, I am using chavant (also known as monster clay). It is an oil based clay which behaves a lot like Plasticine. It is commonly used for sculpting movie makeup prosthetics because it does not dry out, it can be easily reheated and reused, and it is incredible for holding detail. It comes in three densities: soft, medium and hard. I prefer to use medium for my projects as soft holds less detail (and gets damaged easier when casting) and the hard version is a pain to work with (literally, it is killer on my wrists). One of these days perhaps I will do a sculpting tutorial with chavant to demonstrate different ways to sculpt with this material.

I happened to have a tub of recycled chavant left over from making my zombie makeup. Since the scale is going to be about one half of a true sized rabbit I decided I had more than enough for this project. It is refreshing to work on something small scale after spending weeks building a nine foot fur monster.

As you can see from the above picture, I have the size and overall shape of the skull mapped out. The next step in the process will be to add the horns and then start in with the details. I don’t use any sort of special tools for this job. Mainly I stick with a pin tool and a pointed wooden sculpting tool you can find in any beginner sculpting kit. For the final texturing I will be using a course sponge to give the illusion of porous bone. The sponge will also get rid of any unusual ridges or burs from the sculpting process.

From here it will be on to casting. I have personally never made a mold of something this small, and I am a little concerned about bubbles forming either in the silicone or in the plastic I will be using to make the copies.

I will post progress pictures as this project gets underway. There will likely be a delay in updates for the jackalope skull as my due date for my large monster project is fast approaching. If this turns out well perhaps I will start sculpting skulls for creatures of my own design. That could be a lot of fun!



Sketching Animal Skulls

I’ve always loved skeletons and skulls so I thought it might be fun to sculpt some mythical creature skeletons and cast them. That way I can make multiples in plastic to sell. My first idea is mainly just to do the skull, but with extended plans to do an entire skeleton once I work out the technical bits. Maybe for Christmas I will make them with little Santa hats included. You know, to be festive.

I like to be fully prepared and do my research before starting any project so I have been staring long and hard at rabbit skulls for the past couple of weeks. I’ve done some rotation drawings to try and get a grasp of all the different shapes and sutures involved. While I don’t expect to include every single bone in the body, I do intend to keep them as accurate as possible. I fully intend on counting ribs and vertebrae to acheive a realist feel.

Here are some of the sketches I have come up with so far. Can anyone guess what the first mythical animal is going to be?

Yes, it is the majestic jackalope of North American folklore. The fluffy bunny rabbit with antelope horns. One of the more well-known hoaxes of the 1930s, the “authentic stuffed jackalope” was made by grafting horns to a stuffed taxidermy rabbit. For a full description of the origin of the jackalope and its role in popular culture a very informative wiki page can be found here.

Yes, I will admit I am doing this one simply because I wanted an excuse to draw bunnies (and bunny skulls). The jackalope is truly the cutest of all mythical creatures.

As far as construction for my purposes goes, the references are rabbit and deer. The placement of the horns is a little awkward as a rabbit skull is not sloped in the same way as a deer. I also discovered I actually hate drawing antlers.

As of right now I have started blocking out a miniature skull in monster clay. If nothing else it is good anatomy practice.

The casting process for this project is going to be a major hurtle. Either this will have to be strategically posed, or this will have to be cast as separate pieces and glued together later. Regardless, the antlers of this project will be done separately. Having it be hollow verses solid plastic is also something to consider seeing as the ribs will be delicate if cast as a hollow sculpture.

These are all things to consider. I simply wanted to share my thought process as I go along so I have a record of each step. As I go along I will share was does and does not work, and I will post updates when (and if) I decide to include this in an Etsy store. If I can figure out a way to make these with any sort of efficiency you can bet I will make it available in a variety of fun colours! That is festive, right?



Book Review: The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation

After a long grueling week I have managed to work my way through the second book that I ordered a few weeks ago: The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation by Ken A Priebe.

The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation
The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation

I’ve always had a soft spot for stop motion movies, and as part of my classes at school we got a mini lesson on the basics of stop-motion puppet building. On my long list of things that I eventually want to build is my own stop-motion puppet, but I like to do my research first before I dive into a project. I had an inkling that making these puppets is a time consuming process, and as it turns out I was correct. There are a lot of steps between designing the character to painting the finished product. I wanted a book that outlined all my steps and all my different options for puppet building, and in this book my money was well spent.

The Advanced Book of Stop Motion Animation has a long comprehensive chapter on the building of stop-motion puppets from design, to armature, to finishing. It also outlines the use of different building materials for different applications. Some stop-motion puppets are sculpted and cast in silicone or latex, while some are clay and latex buildup. Depending on the complexity of the puppet any number of materials can be used.

There is no one way alone to build the armature inside the puppet, and a couple methods are simple enough that a person on their own time could build it without the steep cost of machined parts. On the advanced end of the spectrum this book also goes over the minute details involved in making expressions with head armatures. The latter is probably a little beyond my skill level at this point, but one must always have long-term goals.

Also casting, casting, and more casting. Stop motion puppets often need to be repaired or replaced so casting the puppet is probably a good idea. If anyone is planning on making one of these puppets read this part of the book carefully. Casting an molding provides multiple opportunities for screw-ups, so don’t skim this part. I know this from personal experience.

The part of the book that admittedly goes a little over my head is the actual animation of the puppet. I have only a little knowledge on cinematography and the art of using a camera, but I did find this section easy to follow. Having visual examples of what all the settings on the camera do is definitely helpful. This section covers everything from camera settings to visual effects and compositing.

Of course, this book goes through the process of actually animating using a stop motion puppet. This part is actually more time consuming than making the puppet itself. A stop motion movie is comprised completely of a series of still images. A standard high resolution contains 24 frames per second, so its not hard to imagine how much time it takes to create even a minute of footage. There is a reason these movies take years to complete. This book gives all sorts of tips and tricks for realistic movement and efficient work. This is the only part of the process I have little to no experience with, so this book is likely going to end up being an invaluable resource.

If it is not clear by my overview of this book’s contents I clearly have the mind of a builder and not an animator. I spent a lot more time going over every detail of sculpting and casting, but someone who prefers the animation side of this art would also get a lot out of this book. Even a builder should know what types of movements will be required of the stop-motion puppet to get a better end result. This book makes for an excellent start-to-finish how-to manual. As a person who does tend toward building I think I will search for something more specialized in my next book order. Does anyone have suggestions on stop-motion building books? I would love to hear them!

I think next up will be a comic book. Perhaps Fables or Sandman? Also coming up soon are some more illustrations and some technical drawings I have been working on for a new side-project I have in the works. Things were a little tight this week between school and my internship, but I will get back to the making portion of my blog I swear!



Fanexpo Project: Tag Team Sculpting

The Project Overview

Meet what we have unofficially named Mega Furby. We finally got the go-ahead to start constructing the giant fur suit for FanExpo, and we dove right in starting with the head sculpt. This was a combined effort between my classmate Carson and myself. I have to say, it was nice not to sculpt this guy all by myself just considering the scale. You can get an idea from the pictures below of how large this monster head is next to us.

Monster face sculpting time
Monster face sculpting time

The overall plan is this: we as Sheridan students have been “hired” to create display pieces for Sheridan College’s booth at Fanexpo Toronto 2014. The faculty told us roughly what they had in mind for the project, and we came back to them later with concept art and proposals. If the proposals were approved, the school would order us the appropriate materials and we would begin building under a faculty team lead.

This is the maiden voyage of this project. Sheridan has never invested in booth at Fanexpo before, so this is a test of sorts. When you think about it though, Fanexpo is an ideal place to seek an art school’s target audience.

I am hoping the project is well-received at the convention because it would open up opportunities for students in the future to work on large projects and have their work displayed to their niche market.

The Build

The end goal with this monster suit is to build a giant furry creature to act as a mascot at the booth. It will be build with two sets of interchangeable legs so it can be worn with and without the use of stilts. Once it is completed the finished suit will be puppeteered by our teacher’s husband, who is a professional performer.

Carson Lines and the furby
Carson Lines and the furby

As you can see we are currently on the sculpting stage of this project. This creature head is being sculpting out of WED clay, which is ceramic clay with the addition of glycerin to retard the drying process and to prevent cracks. We opted for WED clay over monster clay due to the scale and the time crunch we were under to complete this project.

I tag teamed this sculpting project with my classmate Carson. Working together and alternating sides every few minutes we were able to block in large chunks of this monster’s face in record time. I’ve never sculpted a project with a teammate at the same time before. It is certainly something I would recommend for artists as a sort of team-building trust activity because you have to release some control over the final product.

So far I think this sculpt has benefited from having more than one set of eyes. The symmetry was spot on almost right away, and he ended up having so much personality in his expression.

In terms of technical application, we can already see that the ears are going to be a problem. Clay has limitations, and the weight is not working in our favor. We could tell that the ears were not going to be able to support themselves when we were only half way done sculpting them. Clay needs a certain amount of bulk at the base to support itself, and these big thin ears can only be so thick before they start looking awkward. When we left the sculpt over night and came back in the morning we found that half the clay had actually fallen off the wire armature.

Moving forward, the plan for the ears is to cut them off and sculpt them separately laying down. That way when we make the mold we can cast it with as thing a layer of foam latex as possible. This way we can still get some transparency that you can see in mammals with naturally large ears.

From Drawing to Sculpt
From Drawing to Sculpt

I am already imagining this beast as a gentle giant. He is somewhere between a cuddly bear and a turkey with sad eyes. He is kind of cute in his own way.

I will post an update when this project in completed, and I promise I will include pictures from the Fanexpo convention.