Creature Concept

Posted in Design, sculpting, Uncategorized, zbrush with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

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A new creature concept from this morning, which I hope will next clay sculpt. The scales were a happy accident from clicking on the wrong brush in ZBrush without realising; the IMM Scales brush, subdivided without the smoothing option and then hit with one of the mallet brushes. If I do make it in clay, it will be around a half metre in height, maybe a little more depending on how imposing I decide to go with it.

I’ve been working on my areas of focus over the last week or so, ditching some projects so that I’m not spreading my energy too thinly. I’ve decided to stop making props (helmets and weaponry), to focus on my writing and to keep my sculpts organic rather than anything with a machined look. I’ve been getting to bogged down in technical problems with the ‘machined’ work, mostly around having a symmetrical base head to sculpt on. I might revisit this decision later on, but I enjoy the organic sculpts much more.

I’ve now only got one sculpting project on the go, and the relief is significant. ‘The Mother’ is coming along excellently, and most of her form is now blocked out in clay.

This first shot is a few weeks old, and shows the basic form of her head and the basic detail of her halo; this is detachable, and will be moulded and cast separately from the main bust. She’s almost a metre tall including the halo, which is extremely time consuming to detail… holes within holes within holes using a small, round-ended tool.

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This second shot shows her as I’ve started refining the details, and she’s starting to feel much more real… as real as anything like this could be (mostly in my nightmares). So, to put this piece in suitable context, her eyes will eventually light up and she’ll be another nightlight sculpt. More nightmares!

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There’s still a lot of work to be done before I consider moving onto the symmetry for her right hand side. Then comes the fine detailing, moulding and casting, before I finish off the halo. I’m going less for ‘old and wrinkled’, which was my original concept, to ‘old with stretched and hanging skin’.

The song ‘Isn’t she lovely?’ is my current ear worm.

Jim.

Resin Helmet: Part One

Posted in 3D, casting, Design, General, Pictures, sculpting, zbrush with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

I needed some practice splitting a sculpt into several pieces, so that I can make sure I mould my Current Big Sculpt properly (The Mother in the post below)… so I decided to make a helmet!

I’ve included a shot of the ZBrush concept, which I’ve then built on a plaster cast of my own noggin. This cast was wrapped in cling film and then duct tape to protect any clay (as the plaster cast is getting old and flaky, and I’m fed up of picking bits out of the clay when I reuse it!). I then started building the helmet in Monster Clay medium, getting the basic shape down.

After that, I cut off the face plate, which I’ve refined and is now almost ready for moulding. I’ll mould it in silicone with an two-part Easyflo 120 resin mother mould, then cast it in the same resin.

The face plate will then be stuck to the front of the rear piece of the helmet, which will be sculpted, then the face plate removed so that the rear piece can be mould and cast too.

I’m planning on hohlding the two final cast pieces together with rare earth magnets, and it *may* have some lights. The two areas on the side of the head (on the rear piece) that are inset, I’ll cut out and place a dense wire mesh into. I’m *planning* on painting it as worn/ battle damaged, but it shouldn’t take too much work with some fine grit sandpaper to make it much smoother if I change my mind and want a more polished look.

Cheers,
Jim

Adding Eyes to a Sculpture

Posted in casting, Design, General, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

So this is a method for adding eyes to a sculpture; a sculpt that’s going to be moulded in silicone and hollow cast in resin. Someone else told me about this method, so I take no credit for it, but I thought it might be nice to share a simple pic of how to do it.

I needed this method because I wanted to insert light up eyes inside my finished busts, and was fed up of having to drill out excess resin, sanding down the edges eyelids, and all without damaging the sculpt around where I was drilling. It can be difficult to secure the bust adequately. With more than one cup of coffee in the morning, I just didn’t have a steady-enough hand (and wasn’t going to sacrifice my caffeine intake!).

This method is easy and, once the parts have been created, they can be re-used indefinitely.

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  1. Take the intended shape of your eye and add a key in clay. I use a 5cm acrylic hemisphere, with an oblong of clay sculpted onto the front. Be careful to make the key fairly narrow, but sizable enough for it to stably sit inside the final mould (more on that further down), and bare in mind that you might want the eye lids on the sculpture narrowed – don’t let the shape of the key limit the eye lid pose.
  2. Cast this ‘eye shape plus clay key’ in silicone.
  3. Produce two solid resin copies, one for each eye.
  4. Spray some non-silicone release agent into the eye mould, and produce two silicone casts; the non-silicone release agent will stop the silicone cast sticking to the silicone mould.
  5. Use your resin copies on your sculpt, sculpting around in clay as you want.
  6. Mould your completed bust in silicone as is best, and demould.
  7. Insert the silicone casts of your eyes into place inside the mould, and hollow cast the whole piece in resin. The keys you created should sit snuggly inside the main mould.
  8. Whether you’re slush casting, roto-casting or applying the resin inside your mould with a brush, what you should be left with is your complete cast, with a thin shell of resin around the silicone eye-plug. When you demould, the eye plug can eye pop out inside the cast bust… worst case scenario is that you’ll need to get a craft knife and cut through the resin at the back of the eye forms.
  9. Sand to perfection!

This saved me a whole lot of time, effort and pain. Hope you find it useful!

Jim.

The Mother: Sculpt WIP

Posted in Design, Fantasy, General, Horror, Pictures, science fiction, scifi, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

This is my latest full-sized creature bust project which, as always will end up being mould and then cast in resin, painted and set up with glowing eyes. I’m really excited about this sculpt, and it’s coming together very nicely.

The concept was done in a couple of hours in ZBrush, which was then rendered in the front, side and rear views, sized up in Illustrator and then printed out for scale, and taped to a shelf at the rear of my work area so that I could work with full-sized references.

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I then started work with a polystyrene foam base, and a core column made from the same material to provide stability and support, with the base in mind to use as a convenient surface to mould on when it’s ready. I knew this was going to get pretty heavy as I worked on it, so picking it up and shifting it around isn’t something that I want to do. For convenience sake, the base was set up a lazy Susan.

The bust sculpt was then built up in Monster Clay medium-grade, turning as I added clay, and then leaving to cool; building up a lot of Monster Clay in one go can sag when it’s still warm. After getting the general silhouette right (checked by shifting the lazy Susan in front of each of the printed references), I cut the end off a broom handle and set it into the top of the skull. This would be the mount for the halo crown.

I then took down the reference images, to allow myself the freedom to develop the piece without being tied down to the original concept. Some of the details changed; replacing the shoulder ‘tentacles’ with the masses pictured below at the front and back around the base of the neck.

After completing the overall forms, and doing some of the detailing, I tried out some skin textures, before moving onto the crown – the detail of the symmetry will come later on.

As this is going to have to be moulded in several distinct pieces, it was time to think about how the moulding would occur. The mould will be a two-part silicone mould, covering the left and right halves, with a two part resin mother mould for stability over the top. This means that the crown will have to be sculpted and moulded separately, in addition to the skull ‘tentacles’, two of which are set behind either ear hole. When the pieces are cast, I need to fit them all together and for the seams to be hidden in a natural manner… so that’s why I’ve started on the crown.

A sized template was printed and cut, then traced onto 5cm polystyrene foam. It was then cut out with a foam cutter, a hole cut into the center, and one end of the sawn-off broom handle slotted into place. The first pic shows the test fit, which is positioned higher than in the concept. She’s now 71cm high (!), the largest piece that I’ve worked on, and extremely imposing on the desk!

The halo was then removed, covered in clay, and I’ve started to lay out the forms. Again, I’ve changed the design into something that I think feels better. The final two shots are of the unfinished halo fitted into place so I can check the size, developing silhouette and overall feel.

This is going to cost a couple of hundred pounds to mould and cast, so I need to make sure that everything’s as perfect for moulding as it can be. When the sculpting is done, I’ll take my time with the mould, so I don’t waste the money. I need to get it right first time. Eventually, I’ll stick The Mother on Etsy as casts for sale, after my own cast is painted and wired up with her glowing eyes. I might add some more LEDs in the holes around the neck too, if the tests look good.

She’s beautiful and scary and, like the other ‘night light’ busts I’ve done, will look really creepy in our hallway. The sculpting work should be basically done this month, and I’ll mould and cast the crown, the two pairs of skull ‘tentacles’ too. Then I’ll fit these into the main bust and finish the sculpting there to get the seams right, before removing the cast pieces, moulding and casting the main body… though that might have to wait until June; so I can afford to mould such a large piece, and to give me time to check my thinking on how the moulding for the main part of the bust will actually pan out.

Thanks for looking!

Jim.

Acrylic Pour

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

Really love this one. I prefer the wider canvases too. They allow your eyes to move more, and follow the details of the piece. It will dry matt and, as the water evaporates, the texture of the canvass will then be evident. I’ll spray it with a matt varnish to protect the colours from UV exposure too.

The reds are far deeper than in the picture.

At some point I need a better camera 🙂

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Reptoid Bob: Finished!

Posted in Design, General, Pictures, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

I finished working on Reptoid Bob today, so here are some pics of him with his eyes fitted, and a shot of my very basic wiring set up. He’s pictured next to Grey Bob. All my sculpts are called Bob, because Black Adder was onto something 😉

I’m really proud of this work, and really excited to share him!

Reptoid Bob: Cast and Painted

Posted in Design, General, Pictures, scifi, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

I managed to finish moulding and casting my reptoid bust a few months ago, but it’s taken me a while to get a paint job that I like. ‘Reptoid Bob’ is a full sized, hollow resin cast bust at 41cm high x 21cm wide x 33cm deep (around 18x12x16ins), originally sculpted in Monster Clay, then glove moulded in Platsil Gel 25 with a two part Easyflo 120 resin mother mould/ mould support jacket. He was then cast in Easyflo 120, cleaned up with some dish soap, then primed with a general purpose white priming spray.

Here are some shots of his casting, with all of the flashing cleaned off.

His eyes are acrylic hemispheres, the sculpt and mould set up so that I could easily clean out the eye sockets without damaging the thin structure of the eye lids, and the hemispheres just easily slot into place without any glue.

I first sprayed him a light blue colour, planning to darken areas and add detail, but it just wasn’t working out for me. So, I then sprayed him cherry red, which gives the base colour that you can still predominantly see around the horns, spines and scales.

Other colours were then added by air brush in several layers, making sure that there was variation between each part of the piece: a brilliant orange, then light grey, dark grey and a deep indigo around the shaded areas, thicker, fleshier sections and where his skin rises up around the horns, spines and scales. The lower sections of each scale were lightly sprayed with the same indigo.

To finish off, I added a deep green all over, making sure that the other colours were still visible in some areas, adding a light garden green, with some white highlights on the skin, scales and on the tips of the horns.

He’s done, painting wise, now. He just needs spraying with a matt varnish, and the next major and final step is already underway.

I’ve filled the acrylic hemispheres with some untinted Platsil Gel 10, which cures a semi-transparent milky white. The hemispheres come in male-female pairs, so the female sections will be sprayed a matt black, with a hole in the back of each to allow an LED to be hot glued into place.

Then, with some wiring, a resistor and a 4xAA battery back wired up to a switch (which I’ll need to drill into the cast to fit), he’ll finally be done. He’ll have light-up eyes, either in white or red, and he’s going to look stunning!

Acrylic Pour Art

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

As always, I’ve got at least four projects at the working stage.

Here are a couple of pics of my acrylic pours so far.

I love them.

It’s so easy to get good results with a little research. On top of any videos that you might watch, I’ll add a couple of pointers that took me a while to find.

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– Acrylic pouring requires that you water any paints down so that they drip of your mixing sticks like slightly diluted cream. You can use an acrylic flow medium *or* just PVA glue to save you money. Doing this cheaply is great, and doesn’t undervalue your time or skill.

– Cheap acrylic paints are fine, just be sure to mix them well. Use flow medium or PVA glue, with tape water to get the desired cream-drip. It might take time to mix things properly, but it’s worth it in the end.

– Silicone is advised as a means to get the cells you see in acrylic pour art. You can go online and buy some ‘Treadmill oil’ silicone, but what serves equally as well is a couple of squirts of WD40, which a lot of people will just have in their cupboard. Spray it into the cup holding each colour and mix it in well.

– People use heat guns, or paint stripping guns to get the cells to form; moving the gun quickly to prevent the paint burning or hardening…. but you can also just use a lighter, waving it above your canvass at a much less greater cost.

– Unless you’re doing this with resin, when you heat blast areas, you can get visual lumps in the surface of your paint. This doesn’t matter.  The paint will just dry up, losing a significant amount of water. As it dries, it will appear to lose some of its saturation; strong, dark colours will appear to fade, but don’t get disheartened!

– Once your work has dried, spray it with a satin varnish, and everything will come back to life!

Acrylics always dry darker than they appear when wet, so the above tip will help you see your work in a new, invigorated life!

Resin Prop Gun: Progress

Posted in General, Pictures, science fiction, scifi, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2019 by Jim St Ruth

I finally managed to finish the resin prop gun that I’ve been working on, and wanted to share it on here! It was a real labour of love that involved a pretty huge learning curve, because I’ve never done anything like this before. I wanted to turn the piece into a ‘working prop’, complete with lights, and that’s not something that I’ve ever done before. I’ve done some soldering, but not since I was twelve… I think my dad insisted that I go and help him with his projects in the garage rather when I was insisting that I wanted to help my mum in the kitchen. Looking back, I think my mum just needed some time free to cook Sunday lunch, and finally I can see what use that brief time soldering was!

So, here’s some pics of the ‘completed’ clay sculpt. It took a few hours to smooth everything down, using my usual cut-off chip brush, a soft small paint brush and a kitchen scouring pad/sponge, all with some white spirits/ mineral spirits… but only because I had to the spirits evaporate from one side before I could risk turning the piece over. I ended up making a few small changes before I was really finished; sorry for the lack of pics, but I was on a roll 🙂

 

For moulding the piece, I raised it up off my cutting mat on some old piece of soft EVA foam, so as to reduce the risk of the clay being damaged. I then built a base of water-based clay around the blaster, which came up to the halfway point with the gun lying on its side. The clay was smoothed out with a water-covered finger, a wet sponge, with the detail around the very edges of the piece made smooth and tight-fitting with a soft rubber sculpting tool. This was then surrounded by mould wall made from cut sections of A4 foam board, and the top half of this two-piece mould was filled in with silicone.

This was done in two layers; the first for detail, and the second thickened with some Polyfibre II so that I could ‘sculpt’ the silicone on in a half-jacket, which saves a lot of silicone compared to just filling the mould up to the top.

For a mother mould, I used just a couple of layers of Easyflo 120 resin; the first layers poured and then spread with a paint brush, and the second bulked out with more Polyfibre II, which saved resin and made it easier to adequately cover the curved and vertical surfaces.

The whole piece was then flipped over. the clay was cleaned out, and the moulding process repeated, using some silicone free mould release to stop the silicone from the first part of the mould sticking to that of the second.

 

After opening it all up and cleaning out the clay, it was then time for moulding. I poured some Easyflo 120 into each side of the mould, spreading it around with a paint brush. Once this had cured, I mixed up some more resin, poured it in one half of the mould, then closed the mould and sloshed the resin around. Feeling how the weight of the piece shifted as the resin moved, I tried to make sure that everything inside was covered evenly, making sure that the seems would be completely covered… and it worked!

 

Since I needed to make this piece ‘functional’, I needed to open it up; batteries, lights and wiring needed to be fitted inside, so I cut off the top section with my Dremel. I then primed and painted the piece, to make it look as if it was well-used.

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Then came the wiring, and this was the real learning part for me. With help from my partner, I came up with a wiring diagram (which I won’t show you, because I scribbled all over it, and it’s a mess). I drilled out the barrel of the blaster, and the hole I’d marked for the ‘laser’ sight. I bought a couple of LED switches form eBay; a main power switch that would light up and provide power to two strips of LED lights for the sides plus the sight LED, and a moment switch to function as the trigger, which would light up the beam emitter when being fired.

There was a problem, though… the voltage for the LEDs embedded in the switches was 12V, and the other LEDs was 6V. Testing this out with four AA batteries left the switch LEDs a little dimmer than I’d wanted, but I was happy enough to run with things. I then soldered and wired everything up, drilled out the side panels and hot glued some cut pieces of opaque acrylic sheets over them and behind the beam emitter.

Everything was then re-tested before final wiring… the light on the beam emitter isn’t as strong as I’d like it and, thanks to getting too eager, the laser sight is actually slightly off target…. But I’m really happy with the results. Additionally, wiring up the LEDs for the side panels was a nightmare, simply because the connections were 3mmx2mm. This was extremely hard. My hands were shaking just from my heart beating, which I wouldn’t normally notice, but it was apparent at this scale.

The contacts on the strips are arranged in pairs, repeating between each LED. It doesn’t matter which contacts along the strip you solder on to, and in fact you can cut the strips to length. So, when working on the positive contacts, I put bluetac on the negative, and vice versa, to prevent any shorts. I then used hot glue over my soldering to anchor the connections in place; I don’t plan on opening up the blaster very often, but at some point I’ll need to change the batteries, and I need the connections to be physically secure. Because of this, I burned through a couple of the LEDs on the sides strips, making them non-functional. I think it works though. The piece is supposed to be well-used.

It was pointed out to me that there are designers that develop projects to be wired up, and that the process can take a great deal of time and effort. My results, on the surface, are great for cosplay, and I’ll know how to get a better result in the future… but inside things are quite messy, and although it can be used, I wouldn’t give this to a kid to play with. It just won’t stand up to their enthusiastic abuse.

So, here we go. Here’s the final product. 20190115_124552.jpg20190115_124751.jpg20190115_124738.jpgThe pictures don’t quite do the piece justice. It’s far more exciting to look at in real life! That’s partly due to my lack of decent photography skills, and also due to my phone’s camera.

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Resin Gun Prop Sculpt

Posted in Design, General, scifi, sculpting, Uncategorized, zbrush with tags , , , , , , , on November 8, 2018 by Jim St Ruth
Hey folks!
This is my current piece, which was meant to be a quick project but, as I’ve started it, I’ve realised that there’s a lot I want to do…
The first image is just a couple of renders from the ZBrush concept, which I pulled together in about half an hour. It’s not very detailed, but I just wanted to get the forms and masses worked out.
The second shot is of the core of the actual sculpture.
I printed out the side-shot render from ZBrush, scaling the width of the hand grip to 4cm in Photoshop (that’s the distance between my right index finger and the base of my thumb), to make sure that the prop ends up being the correct scale. I then used some spare modelling foam (dense but very light weight to keep the weight of the sculpt down), traced out the outline of the weapon and cut it out with a craft knife. I then sanded it with my trusty mouse sander to try and get it roughly into shape.
The third shot is my current progress, with Monster Clay added over the foam core and sculpted, then buffed smooth with my *amazingly advanced* tools… which, as you can see in that image, is a small pot of white spirit, a scouring sponge, a hog bristle brush and another very fine brush to get a good polish in the tight spaces where I can’t use the back of the sponge.
The final piece will be moulded and then cast in resin, with LED lights inside and a power switch that will act as the trigger, but…
I need the piece to be hollow, both for weight and so that I can add the lights, wires and batteries inside. To give me reasonable access to the hollow innards, I need to cut the sculpt into two pieces, mould and hollow cast them separately, then slot them together when they’re both complete.
This is taxing my mind-brain.
In my head, I can visualise the structure that I need to do this, which looks like a ‘groove and slot’ arrangement in foam or wood, and I’m planning to use magnets to lock the resin cast pieces securely together.
I don’t want to have to cut it up, though, lol. My anxiety is running at volume 9. I think a hot wire foam cutter should be able to do the job smoothly, as long as I’m careful working along some cut-in seams that I still need to add.
This is a lot of fun. I’ve never sculpted and cast a weapon before, and pushing myself to get a good machined look feels really good. It’s going to look damned fine… I hope 🙂