Slayers of the Pastry Drake

datetime March 19, 2017 6:22 PM

The Dude

As laid out in my sketch, the two models would be sculpted to hold hands; however, the cork bases they were standing on didn’t currently permit them to be placed close enough to each other for a live mockup, so I shaved down one side of each cork to let them scooch closer.

Like so!

The first stages for sculpting Jonathan were pretty much identical to what I’ve already covered, so let’s burn through this stuff quickly.

Putty around wires!

Clay around putty!

More clay!

Manly Paunchβ„’!

Face putty!

Face clay!

Smooth face clay!

…aaaand back to real commentary.

Jonathan’s mini was being posed with its face raised up to yell at the sky, so I flattened out a facial plane on about a 30 degree angle, building up clay at the bottom to define a chin.

The angle was good, but made him look too skinny, so I added some extra material to round out his jaw and neck.

Using a metal hoe tool, I pressed in the rough shape of Jonathan’s mouth. Combined with his wide eyes and V-shaped eyebrows, he’s starting to look right, but there’s still something missing.

So, a quick face-drawing lesson: the difference between a surprised face and an angry face is a lot of lines pointing toward the bridge of the nose. When people get mad, all of the soft tissues in their face contract, becoming smaller and tighter. However, the bridge of the nose is semi-hard tissue, so when all of those other squishy tissues bunch up, the nose stays exactly where it is, and everything else basically just draws in toward it.

It’s quite similar to planning out cloth drape, actually– just as cloth bunches up with its folds pointing toward points of attachment (e.g., a cape attached to Superman’s shoulders will droop with folds that point toward one shoulder or the other), “face drape” will bunch and fold its tissues toward points of bone and cartilege.

It’s helpful to know all of that when sculpting a model to have an actual facial expression instead of the completely neutral face that most model bear. Knowing where the skin, fat, and muscle will bunch up, and why, makes it easier to figure out where extra clay masses need to be placed.

So, what was missing from Jonathan’s face? Lower eyelids. The eyelids themselves have fairly small muscles, but they’re immediately adjacent to much larger slabs of cheek and eyebrow muscle that drag them around when the face moves. Upper eyelids get yanked up into the brow, exposing a lot of the upper eyeball; but on the bottom, the cheeks are lifted upward and inward, shoving the lower eyelids over the eyes.

Don’t say I never taught you anything!

SDE models don’t technically have noses, but they do have a slightly raised bump where the nose would normally go.

Whoa. Too much nose, way too much jowl.

And I honestly don’t remember if I noticed in time to go back and clean it up.

I really hope so. ;_;

The clients had requested that I sculpt Jonathan to his natural proportions, so I filled out the torso area with ObΓ©lix Anatomy; this didn’t need much detail, as long as the masses were placed in approximately the correct spot.

A belt was added by flattening a thin putty snake around his waist.

I then added material between the thighs to create what would eventually be his strappy leather skirt.

The individual straps were created by flattening short putty snakes against the flat skirt; the straps near the legs were angled away to show them swaying away from the upraised thigh.

Rinse, repeat. We’ll come back and add detail to these in a moment, but for now, let’s build more accessories.

The paintbrush had been built around a straight wire, but Jonathan’s hammer needed a more complex shape for its armature in order to support the hanging parts of the head.

As before, the wire was dropped into a pin vice to create a secure handle.

Putty went over the wire…

…then clay went over the putty.

A few hours of cleanup with clayshapers later, I had the final CamHammer. πŸ™‚

The cropping of the wedding invitation art made it hard to tell if he was wearing a sporan (aka Classy Scottish Fanny Pack), but I like sculpting pouches, so I added one.


The flap and seams were detailed in with clayshapers. I also added a belt buckle.

I really, really hope I came back later and cleaned this up, because HOLY CRAP is that messy. @_e

The art also called for Jonathan to wear a Captain America shield. To build it, I pressed a small clay blob onto a quarter, smoothed it into a low mound, and then carefully etched rings into it with the edge of a metal hoe tool.

There’s probably a joke to be made here about Captain America’s shield having the Queen’s face on the back, but I’ll leave it to you to mine that vein of pure comedy.

Alright, apparently I did eventually figure out how weird the jowly lines on Jonathan’s face looked, because it looks like I eventually went back and fixed them.

It is a weirdly harrowing experience to go back and caption such old photos. Current Spud can never be totally sure whether Old Spud was smart enough to catch things like this.

Said fixing happened when I added his mustache; while working on this, I also smoothed out some of the surrounding lines on the cheeks and eyelids.

The original art called for Jonathan to have a fairly short spiky beard, but in my own modified sketch, I expanded this into a full braided beard for some extra Barbarian Chic. I sculpted this on my trusty Canadian quarter, but this time did not bake it before placing it on the model.

Instead, I carefully lifted the beard off the quarter with a knife and carried it over to the model’s chin, where I squished it into place.

The individual braids were then smoothed into his face with clayshapers.

The pair were starting to look pretty good at this point. πŸ™‚

Next random item: shield strap! Like all other belts and straps, this was a thin putty snake, flattened out with metal tools and cleaned up with clayshapers.

It was continued up over his shoulder and terminated on the back.

The actual shield will be attached toward the end.

Here’s a trick I figured out quite a while ago. Sculpting rivets onto models is fairly annoying and tedious, but in some cases you can get away with the shortcut of simply pressing a circle into the flat surface. However, clean circles tend to be pretty difficult to make as well. My trick for this is to buy some very thin styrene rod (Woodland Scenics makes these in many different widths) and drill a shallow pocket straight into the end.

This lets you create small rings simply by pressing that end into the surface. Perfect for studded leather. πŸ™‚

Jonathan’s mohawk hairdo needed to be sculpted around a wire, but I had a bit of a problem on that point, as I didn’t currently have a protruding wire lodged in the top of his head. I could have added this just before baking and then done the hairdo in a second pass once the wire was encased in hardened clay, and to be honest, that was probably the smart way to go about it. However, in the increasing rush that I was feeling to finish the project, I decided that the hair needed to be attached NOW… despite the fact that it wasn’t actually any faster overall to do it now or later.

I… don’t really make great decisions when I’m in a hurry. :/

So, yeah– here I’ve lodged a short length of wire into the side of a cork, and sculpted the spiky hairdo around that support.

I then lifted this off the cork with a knife…

…and transplanted it onto the model. Unfortunately, pulling the model off the wire collapsed the taller part of the hair toward the front, so I had to stretch this back out after it was attached.

It looked okay in the end, but I still think I should have done this after baking.




At this point I did a general clean-up and nitpicking pass, and took photos to send to the clients for general spot checks. Jonathan’s model was nearing completion, with only the hands needing to be added.

I was pretty happy with how he was turning out. πŸ™‚

Liz was looking good overall, but the face was still bugging me.

I did some extra detailing during the clean-up pass, finalizing the flaps and folds of the veil, and cleaning up uneven bits in her hair.

The intensive clean-up pass FINALLY led me to notice the problems with Liz’ facial expression; I realized that the eyebrows were a bit too drawn down, and the mouth was just a bit too wide, expecially around the bottom corners.

I filled her current dimples in with clay, and then resculpted the mouth area to be slightly smaller, and less pulled-down at the bottom.

Much better. πŸ™‚

I had originally been planning to add the remaining hands after baking the rest of the model, but realized that it actually wouldn’t hurt anything to do it now, so I went ahead and sculpted Liz’ hand.

That only left Jonathan’s hands. I wanted to start with the upraised hammer hand, so I set about mounting the hammer to the end of the arm.

I don’t remember where I picked this technique up from, but it is a HUGE help for sculpting handheld objects. I used to struggle to get my weapons attached to the ends of my models’ arms with wire or glue, but the tiny attachment surface always made these joints extremely flimsy and prone to breaking.

With this new method, weapons are sculpted with a long wire coming out the bottom, which is then looped around and embedded into the base. This makes the weapon almost completely free-standing, eliminating the need to hide structural supports inside the model’s hand. So the model ends up more solid AND better-looking.

Great technique. Strongly recommended. πŸ™‚

At this point I noticed that I hadn’t yet given Jonathan his foot wrappings. Oops.

These were really fast to build– I added a bit more clay to bulk them out, then pressed spiraling lines around them.

To help reinforce the barbarian look, I had his toes hang out the end. As a concession to the chibi art style, I didn’t add toenails.

Alright, back to the hand. With the hammer’s wire holding it up, I added putty to secure it onto the end of the wire, then used clay to sculpt a hand around it. I didn’t get a good shot of the hand here, but you can see it a few pictures down.

And with that, I thought the models were ready for their first big trip into the oven, so I took some nice pictures of them. (There was actually still a bit more to be done, but I didn’t get a second set of nice photos after the last-minute add-ons, so screw it– let’s pause and ogle for a sec. πŸ˜› )

So, yeah– shooting and editing those pictures made me aware of a few more things I could do before baking.

First up: attaching the shield. I drilled a few shallow holes into Her Majesty’s face to provide gripping points…

…then added a small clay wad on the model’s back…

…then squished the shield onto the wad. The clay pushed into the gripping holes, which would keep them firmly engaged after they were baked.

Finally, I decided that there really wasn’t any reason I couldn’t do Jonathan’s open hand right now. First the fingers…

…then adding the thumb…

…then detailing and smoothing everything.

In the end it isn’t the smoothest joint in the world, but I don’t think anyone’s really going to care. It’s good enough to create the illusion I wanted. πŸ™‚

And then I finally baked them. Super serious this time. πŸ˜›

Next: The scenic base

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