Archive for the sculpting Category

Decorative Mask in Resin: How To!

Posted in Design, General, Halloween, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 12, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

I’m really proud of this.

It’s been a work in progress for a couple of months, but I finished the paint job today!

Note: As when using all powders or chemicals that might get onto the skin, in the eyes or lungs, please use adequate precautions! Look at product data safety sheets (easily found on the net) for anything that you use, familiarising yourself with any risks!

Step One – Sculpting

The piece was moulded in Monster Clay on a full-face life cast of my own noggin. The details were then smoothed out with small amounts of white spirit/ mineral spirits using two small, cheap paint brushes; one very course, and the other a fine sable brush, both bought from the 85p paint brush bin at Fred Aldous in Manchester. I made sure not to make the surface too smooth, so that there’s some variation in the fine detail; I wanted it to look a little rough when it was done.

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Partially-sculpted Monster Clay on Plaster of Paris face cast

Note: if you want to get Monster Clay really smooth, then using the end of a dish cloth that’s been dabbed in white spirit can help a great deal, but you might need to make the sculpt pretty smooth first with a sculpting tool, to save you time later on.

Note: If you do this, you’ll need to make sure that the white spirit evaporates before taking the next step. White spirit can, if you use it in any volume, turn Monster Clay to complete mush, and you don’t want the moulding process to ruin any forms or detail. I’ve also no idea if, since the moulding is done in silicone rubber, whether this will prevent curing of the mould. I’ve never had a problem if I leave the white spirit to evaporate.

Note: You’ll need to use white spirit in a well-ventilated area. For me, this is just working with the window open and a fan on. Be cautious. Make sure that you can breathe fresh air!

Step Two – Moulding

I used Tinsil 80-15 to mould the piece, applying a relatively thin detail-capturing layer first. The ’15’ in Tinsil 80-15 relates to its shore hardness, with ‘0’ being the most soft and therefore the most flexible.

Tinsil is very runny, and pretty viscous. Applying in thin layers and letting it cure in between applications means that the rubber won’t just run off all over your work surface (and onto the floor). This method gives you a dome-like mould, which saves rubber too.

Note: You can create a box mould, which means you can just pour the rubber over the piece in one go. This does use more rubber, however, and you can quickly find yourself using a full £35 tin up in one go.

The ‘dome’ method used less than half of that, built up into an overall thickness of around 1.5cm. I left it a full 24 hours to cure, then built up a support jacket make of modroc, to keep the rubber relatively well-held when the final casting took place. This only took around half an hour to be dry.

Step Three- Casting

First, I shook some sintered copper powder into the silicone mould, brushing it around with a cheap make up brush from Poundland. I made sure every bit of the mould’s interior surface was covered, then shaking the rest off back into its bag.

Note: You’ll want to use a decorator’s dust mask for this step, so that you don’t end up breathing in the copper powder.

I used Quickcast resin from Trylon, with a black casting pigment, applied in several layers. The working time was around five minutes on a warm summer’s day in north-west England, and this may vary depending on the temperature and humidity where you live.

Only a small amount of pigment was used, well-stirred into the resin after parts A & B had been mixed. I then just slush cast it into the mould, trying to make sure there were no air bubbles, and that every part of the mould’s interior surface was covered.

This step was then repeated, building up the layers of resin. The final piece is only about 2.5mm thick around the edges, but much thicker around the details of the eyes, chin and nose. This stops it cracking when pulling the piece from the mould. I stopped slushing the resin around when it began to cure, turning into a tar-like substance.

The resin doesn’t take long to cure. It’s a heat-accelerated reaction, so the thickest areas of resin will cure first. It’s strong, but you might find the edges can be brittle. Just de-mould with caution, and you should be fine. I let the piece rest for half an hour after my final layer, just to be sure it ha cured before de-moulding.

Step Four: De-Moulding

Just do this with caution, after removing the plaster support jacket from the silicone. You should be able to just peel the mould off, but be cautious around any sharp or fine edges on the resin; using a low shore hardness rubber for the mould really helps.

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De-moulded resin cast piece. The sintered copper powder is dull, and looks almost the same as the Monster Clay

Step Five: Buffing

The sintered copper powder is only a thin surface coat to the resin, and looks very dull and non-metallic after de-moulding. I polished the piece with some very fine grade steel wool, being careful not to scratch any of the sintered copper away. This leaves it looking pretty good. Using the back of a metal teaspoon on highlight areas can really help.

I then attempted to polish with Brasso… and this was not a good move. The fine pits and streaks in the mask allowed for the Brasso residue to build up, and no amount of research could give me a good solution for completely removing it. More Brasso just made it worst. With hindsight, I should have just then buffed with the buffing pads of my Dremel and an old sock, but I didn’t…

This did, however, make me go off and think… and that produced the final step: painting!

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Buffed-up piece, with an second cast with sintered aluminium for reference. You can clearly see the unwanted Brasso residue.

Step Six: Painting

I bought some metal, Humbrol enamel paints, and some more cheap, wide paint brushes. After mixing the paint in their small tins, I dipped a brush in, wiping off most of the paint onto a clean sheet of paper.

This left a very small amount of paint on the brush, which I then used to paint highlights.

Et voila!

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Final, Painted Piece

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Reptoid Sculpt

Posted in 3D, Design, Fantasy, General, sculpting, zbrush with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

Part of a series of Zbrush concept sculpts that I might turn into a silicone mask.

The upload quality of the turntable video is pretty awful. It was recorded at 720P and the file on my PC is absolutely fine. Something I need to look at in more detail for the future, I think.

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Painted!

Posted in Design, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

So the finished mask came out well, though it was a little rough in places. My basic process is down now, and I know I just need to be a little more cautious when I’m filling the mould with foam. The mask was baked for 4.5 hrs in the end, and I left it to cool well before removing it.

Some pics of the airbrushing and a little stippling, though please note that this isn’t actually affixed to my face, and that there isn’t any makeup on my skin; so it hasn’t been blended in, and the opening around my eyes and mouth are clearly lose.

Cracked Mould… and Repair

Posted in Design, Fantasy, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 18, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

Things went far better than my nightmares predicted!

Yet when I tried to pry the mould from the sculpt and its underlying life cast, the damned thing split into four pieces; three large pieces and one sliver along one of the main splits, right between the three pry points that I’d put into my flashing.

The solution was easy, and it’s worked really well:

  • I repositioned all of the four pieces together, which thankfully slotted together with mostly only hairline cracks visible on the inside of the mould. There were some larger chunks missing, creating some small, ragged-edged holes… Also, I realised that one of the nostril cavities had broken off.
  • Using Modroc bandages, I patched across the seam lines, then ran a ring of bandage around the whole of circumference of the mould’s outside, to add further strength. I then let this dry for a good half hour.
  • Mixing small batches of dense plaster, I then filled in the holes and the hairline cracks, only doing an inch or two’s work at a time. Moistening the surrounding plaster first, I applied the new mix, dipping my index finger in some clean water, and using this finger to remove excess plaster. Keeping that finger clean is important:
    • I didn’t want to spread the excess plaster.
    • The mould’s existing plaster soaks up water like a sponge, and this dense plaster is only in small patches, so it dries out  very quickly. A wet finger keeps it damp just long enough to smooth it out and remove any excess.
  • To restore lost wrinkles I used a pen-shaped sculpting tool with a firm, rubberised tip. Repeatedly dipping this in water as I worked on each small section, I was able to ‘sketch in’ in the wrinkles. It’s worth noting that usually I’d have to be aware that I’d be trying to created the inverse of wrinkles; as this is the mould, I’d need to texture in raised lines that would turn into the groves on the final mask. However, the ‘sketching’ I did was only shallow, and it matched the surrounding texture. I was very lucky here; the fine detail I was recreating was already faint lines and groves around where I was patching.
  • I then mixed a small batch of plaster and applied it in a relatively thin layer, around 3-4mm thick, on the whole of the outside of the mould. This covered the Modroc gauze completely, preventing me from snagging it in the future, and giving a little more strength to the patched seams.
  • Once this was dried, I found the broken nostril piece, and used a *tiny amount of superglue to stick it back on. Be careful if you need to do this; you don’t want glue seeping out of the join and into the mould itself. This can retard curing with liquid latex, at least, and leave thin spots in your creations… With foam latex, I’m not sure, but I didn’t want to take the risk. I then smoothed over the hairline joins with plaster, and used plaster to smooth over some ragged parts of the nostril, to reduce the risk of tearing when it comes to taking foam latex from the mould.

So here are pics of the outside and the inside of the mould.

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This is now being left to dry for another day or two before I try and do my second ever run with foam latex… but this time, I’m confident I can reuse the mould for multiple runs, that the mould isn’t going to have to spend an hour in the over getting up to temperature to allow the foam latex to actually bake, and to be damned careful when I’m opening up the mould.

I was too eager. I’ll be more patient in the future. This *is a learning experience, and it’s fun… so don’t panic if this happens to you. Take a step back. Consider your plan of action. Make sure you have everything you need ready for use before you start… and maybe a glass of wine waiting for when you’re finished!

New Sculpt

Posted in Design, Fantasy, General, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2017 by Jim St Ruth
My new sculpt, which is now ready to be cast. The wider strip around the top and back, with the weird-looking bumps, is flashing, which will give me some room to trim down, so an area that can suffer damage both for the mould I’ll create and the final mask. The weird bumpy bits are pry points to cram a chisel into, to get the clay and the life cast out of the mother mould once it’s dry.
 
I’m now getting a little nervous, because this next step (moulding) has been my screw-up point before. *This time, I’ll not make it overly bulky. I won’t use a release agent either, because with Monster Clay that just seems to make the plaster for the mould drip off, allowing air bubbles to form.
 
I think that the thing is that, after seven months of working with Plaster of Paris, I just don’t like it as a material. Its sets too quickly, and my anxiety makes me panic, hence one of the reasons for the screw-ups.
 
So: planning, taking it slowly, don’t make the mould too massive, apply two layers of Plaster of Paris so I can work with it as it’s still a fluid, and apply modroc bandages between the two layers to add strength to my small-mass mould.
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I’m now working with foam latex, rather than liquid latex… so my last mask failed because my mould was so huge that the latex didn’t cure in the oven. The bake time is 2-3 hours, and I realised that a lot of that time was spent just getting the plaster mould up to temperate… Hence the planned smaller-mass mould this time.
My fingers are so over-crossed that I think I might need surgery.

Mask V2: Paints, Casting and Varnishing

Posted in Design, Fantasy, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2016 by Jim St Ruth

Here’s my finished second mask, painted and varnished!

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Bob II, as he’s called, was cast in liquid latex in a Platsil Gel 25 mould.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly possible to cast liquid latex into silicone, but there are some things to be aware of:

  • As there’s no porous plaster mould to absorb the liquid latex’s water, it will take a long time to cure and dry. Bob II took a whole 48 hours in a well-ventilated room. I left it in my work area over night with the window closed, and there was very little change to the curing process by morning – keeping the window kept things moving along.
  • Smaller areas, and areas where the latex has been applied more thickly, will take longer to cure… So, whilst the main body of the mask is fine, you can peer into those horns and see that the latex is still a very obvious white. It will cure. Just leave it be. Don’t be tempted to look; you’ll separate cured latex from non-cured… although this can give you some nice severed horns with suitably ragged edges. Just be careful!
  • The liquid latex won’t work with silicone with the dwell method of casting. Since there’s no plaster, you won’t get a skin forming around your negative. It’ll just sit there. Instead:
    • Get your liquid latex and add some latex thickener – check instructions on the bottle for the right amounts, as too much will just slow the curing process even more.
    • Pour this latex into your mould, but don’t worry about filling it up to the top. Just use a decent amount so that you can slush the latex around in the mould. Swish it around so that it gets to cover every part of the mould, then drain it into a pot.
    • Leave it thirty seconds.
    • Drain it again into the pot. What we’re looking to avoid is pooled latex, which will cure much more slowly. You don’t need to worry about it being a very thin coat. Just be aware of it gathering, and try to drain it. If it does pool in areas that are hard to drain, or there are areas that refuse to be coated, don’t worry. For the pools, use a cotton bud and gently spread the latex out. Don’t push the the latex so that it touches your negative, as this will drag on any latex skin and mush up the detail you’ve spent so much time sculpting.
    • Leave it 5 – 10 minutes. You’ll most likely see gaps in the latex, where the material’s surface tension has pulled the latex away from the underlying silicone. Don’t fret! Leaving the latex for those few minute will have started the curing process a little. It’ll be thicker, but still soft, so don’t touch it!
    • Repeat the process of swishing with liquid latex, sloshing it around so that everything’s covered. My castings have been fine at this point. Those gaps in the latex have disappeared, and everything’s been covered.
    • Drain back into the pot and leave for another while – 15-20 minutes.
    • Repeat the process 3 – 5 more times. You won’t really be able to gauge how thick the latex is but, as long as you’ve not sloshed it around the edges of your positive too much, it should be nice and thin there, and thick enough on the rest of your mask.
      • You’ll need it thin around the edges to blend the mask into your skin – I haven’t blended the mask at all in the picture, it’s just sat on my melon.
    • You might get ridges that do appear to be thinly covered, just dip a cotton bud in latex and lightly drag the bud over them. This will cover them to your satisfaction, though you might need to repeat the process a few times.
      • Very thin areas on the interior of the mask (away from the edges) will tear much more easily when you remove it from the mould.
    • Leave the mask overnight, and carry out a quick visual check the next day.
    • The edges of the mask might start lifting away from the silicone. Lightly dust these edges with baby powder to stop the latex sticking to itself if these edges start dipping inwards/ folding over.
  • The mask is ready to remove when all the whiteness has vanished. Brush the inside with baby powder again, and gently tease the mask out of the mould, limiting how much you pull. I’ve found teasing it out and lightly brushing at any stress points with a large, soft makeup brush that’s been dusted with baby powder helps a great deal – again, it stops the latex sticking, and the bristles will help detach the latex from the mould in a very gently fashion. Work with the shape of the mask, not against it, and don’t hurry! Take your time!

A Quick Note on Painting and Varnishing

I used acrylic paints in an airbrush, thinned with acrylic thinner for air brushes. You can use water as well, but that tends to make it much thinner, and getting that particular mix right is difficult. If you spray with it being too fluid, it’s easier to get unwanted spatters.

I didn’t bother sealing the mask first, which is fine, but there’s another note for caution. If you don’t seal it and your airbrush is at a higher pressure, it will blast into the mask, creating little tears and open bubble formations. You can choose to seal with a 50/50 mixture of Prosaide (a medical-grade adhesive) and water. Apply this gently with a sponge, to prevent unwanted stippling and brush strokes on your mask.

The finished paint job will need sealing, as although the acrylics will stick, if you accidentally scratch them, they will peel. The acrylics will also be liable to damage by UV light, making the colours fade over time.

Varnishing works to solve this. Both Liquitex and Golden make varnishes for acrylics, in both matt and gloss. Just make sure you get one that sets to transparency. They’ll make your colours really pop, keep your paint safe from scratches and stop them fading.

Bob II was varnished with Golden Polymer Medium (Gloss) in a thin layer.

You can clean your brush with plain water if it’s still wet, too – bonus!

Exploration Buggy: Test Comp

Posted in 3D, Design, Maya, Photoshop, Pictures, science fiction, scifi, sculpting, zbrush with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2013 by Jim St Ruth

Much to do still: model the rear and inside, and add texturing… but couldn’t resist posting!

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