Sartorial and Coiffeurial Progression

With the major body shapes in place I’ve begun adding some details. This includes the beginning of her lab coat, and of course her glorious pigtails. Have a look:

Incidentally, there were a few steps in here that I left out (sorry). After working up the initial body shapes I found that I had bulked up the armature a little too much. The foil and wires were right up the the surface of of the layer of clay, so some surgery was required. I stripped away most of the clay from the body and head and then with a pair of pliers I crushed the foil and wire of the armature so it was about 10% smaller. Then built the clay layers back up.

Sometimes it’s a little disheartening to take such drastic measure. At first I kept sculpting hoping I could make things work, but I think I lost a lot of time doing this. No worries it was worth it. Everything is dandy-swell and peachy-fine now.

The other bit I should probably mention is the wire I added to the back of Ada’s giant mellon to give some structure to the pigtails. You can just barely see the ends of the wire peeking out from the ends of each lock. Just as before I used a section of of heavy gage wire wrapped with thinner wire, but this time the wire isn’t really attached to the head armature at all. It’s just held in place by the thick clay at the back of her head.

Coming up, a face.

Ada, Modern Pretentious Minimalist Sculpture Edition

Starting to add some clay now. I’m using Super Sculpey to make this model. However, the Sculpey that comes out of the box is a sickly semi-transparent flesh tone that I am particularly averse to, so I mixed the straight stuff with 1 white and 1 black square package of colored Sculpey III to get this neutral opaque grey color ( or is it gray colour? ). If you’re planning on trying this, get yourself one of those little pasta machines to help you mix the clay. Otherwise it will likely take you an entire day of kneading and rolling to get them mixed (that was my experience anyway).

So far I’m just generally building up the mass of the major shapes.

If you compare this version with the armature in the last post you’ll also notice that there is an extra support coming from Ada’s back. I was hoping to get away with only the 2 leg wires running through the base but after a little work with the clay that proved to be unstable. With Ada’s new appendage things are much easier.

More to come, including pig-tails!

Ada’s Wiry Bones

I’ve started a new sculpture project and I’ve committed this time to try and take some exciting in-progress pictures.

One of the last things I made before leaving school was a maquette of an animal character I created as part of my final semester project. I had no idea what I was doing at the time so inevitably the whole process was loads of fun. And you know what? It turned out brilliantly.

This time around I decided to make something a little more ambitious, a standing figure model of Ada, the little pig-tailed scientist girl from my animation project.

I’ve started with an armature, basically a loose skeleton of wire that can be affixed to a base and will give the model a bit of support. Here’s my initial armature.

The base is made from a blank wood round I bought at the craft store. I simply drilled 2 small holes and ran my leg wires through them. On the bottom I took a chisel and made some channels for the loose ends of wire to sit in so that the base could sit flat.

I used 2 sizes of wire. One heavier gauge for the main shapes and one much lighter to tie things together. If you look close you can see that in places like the arms and legs I’ve wrapped bits of the smaller wire around the larger structural wire. Becuase the large wire is smooth it can be hard for the clay to stick to it in places like this. Wrapping the bare wire like this gives the clay something to hold on to.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added in some balls of aluminum foil to form the major masses. By using the foil I don’t have to use so much clay, so the final model is lighter and less expensive. I use foil because it can be baked in the oven right along with the clay.

More progress shots to come so stay tuned.

Artemisia and Désign

I go to college at a large midwestern university. Our campus has maybe 2 dozen major buildings — a charming if a bit eclectic mixture of styles from gothic, classical, and art deco to modern and, well, just plain ugly — and like most universities these buildings are named for various historical benefactors. Ideally these names are intended to honor those who made great contributions to the university or to the world in general, and a number of them are. Many are also named for those lucky people with the ability to write lots of zero on a check (it’s harder than you might think). When I was an engineering student for example the department was in the process of constructing of a new facility to house labs and offices. The building was almost but not quite finished, and as of yet unnamed. I can remember one day at a meeting the dean of the school in a speech to the students and their parents joking that, should anyone like to write a 6 million dollar check for the naming rights, their son or daughter could start the next semester with their very own building.

The point of all of this is that most buildings on campus have such a name, but not all of them. One such case in fact is the building in which I spending most of my time these days, what we call the “Art and Design” building. The name leaves a bit to be desired, but I think I prefer this to having a building named for a mid-level GM executive or the like.

We students of the Art and Design building are lately thinking a lot about our futures, and our graduation, and our impending careers of fame and fortune that will no doubt give us the kind of walking around money to have whole institutes named in our honors. But before all of that can get started we have a senior show to plan, and like the Titanic themed prom I once lived through and the Victorian Murder Mystery Wedding I will one day live through, this thing needs a theme, and that my friends had me thinking: what if I’ve got this whole “Art and Design” thing wrong?

It turns out (in the completely fictitious world in my head, stay with me here) that our building was named in honor of someone, or two someones to be exact.  Meet the titular Art and Design: Zelma Artemisia and Pavel Désign.

Artemisia and Désign

Artemisia was named for Artemisia Gentileschi, one of my friend’s favorite artists, an Italian Baroque painter in the early 15th century. Désign got his name mostly because I like characters with diacritical marks. The two were students at the University around the end of the 19th century, and went on to found one of the most influential secret societies of artists and designers, which most certainly never existed and does not even now control the seemingly capricious course of art and culture.

Speed Painting!

I’ve never been a big fan of digital painting, mostly because I’m not very good at it. I could give you a litany of it’s short comings but I’ll admit it, it’s just frustrating.

I know, I know, boo hoo you cry, and your right.  Well it’s time to do something about it. And not just because I’m being forced to by a class assignment either (though that always helps).

We’re starting a unit on speed painting here in concept art, and after watching a thoroughly engrossing instructional video (complete with highly entertaining  French accent, “reactors” were prominently featured), we all selected paintings to reproduce sanz-paint.

Guess what, it was loads of fun! So much so that I did three.

This first piece is a reproduction of an illustration by Gianni De Conno for the book When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. De Conno is one of my favorite illustrators because of the way he works with color. My reproduction is on the left, and the original is on the right. I made it smaller so, well . . . honestly, to cover up some of the inconstancies.  Don’t give me that look. It’s my blog.

The second reporduction is from a sketchy sort of study painting by Gustave Caillebotte, one of the French Impressionists. The original is called Man and Woman under an Umbrella. Again, mine on the left, original on the right.

Now I said before that I did three speed paintings for class. Being the scoff-law that I am I decided to paint the last one by hand, a gouache reproduction of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X. Unfortunately I neglected to scan it before turning it in, so you’ll have to wait to see it.

Obviously it was superb, fantastic, shiny, I may have heard the word “genius” at some point, who can remember. If you could see it I’m sure you would agree. Oh, but now of course you’ll build it up to something beyond magnificent in your head. You’re doing it right now, I can tell. *sigh* Now when I finally post it there’s no way it can ever live up to your expectations.

Just remember when you finally see it, it IS magnificent, it only LOOKS bad because YOU built it up so much.

In any case, I had a lot more fun at this that I though I would, so I’m thinking of doing a few more of these over the winter break. Hopefully it will be a good way to get some practice with color theory.

Now In Living Color: Vehicle Paint Studies

I don’t seem to be getting much painting practice as of late, but with classes canceled and a drizzly day outside yesterday I decided to have at some of my vehicle sketches with the acrylics.

I’m still developing the idea for this one, but the current concept is a little clockwork vehicle that looks a bit like a shrimp or a sea-monkey (the actual ones, not the ones on the package). I imagine they’re made by one of those misguided mad inventors, and piloted by whatever unfortunate creatures she finds in the forest for her experiments.

thing in a glass

gear head

fly wheel


A Tooth? A Marshmallow? Why no . . .

This little fellow is the final design for my Alien Creature concept art work. About the size of a large bean (or a small Brussels sprout, whichever you prefer), these little mobil vegetables do their part to clean up their environs by scouring surfaces with their little trunk-like proboscises. Often forlorn, they emit a dolorous low-pitched moan to indicate their presence to others.


Animate Inanimate Objects

Concept sketches for inanimate objects brought to life. Coming off the previous robot project, it turns out there is a fine line between animated object and robot. Take for example the water tower below. This was one of my favorite designs but the critique group couldn’t get over the War of the Worlds aspect. Similar issues with the wind turbine bird I’m afraid. Also I got a lot of confused looks about the otoscopes at the very bottom. I thought most people would be familiar with them, but I guess not. Maybe I was just a sickly child.