Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas everybody!

Every season, since 1998, I've been coming up with a new Simpsons Christmas card to give to all my friends and relatives. Everyone always looks forward to getting one and see what I came up with this time! This year is the very first time I've put one up on the web for everyone to see. Some day they will probably all be up here. Here is this year's card.
May your season be merry, may your new year be even better than last year, and may God continue to bless us, everyone one!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snoopy (WWI Flying Ace)

My good buddy Kurt has a pilot's license and flies planes (real and model) and is a big aviation buff, so for his birthday one year I made him this Snoopy sculpt.

Pretty basic setup... I did the doghouse first and then put Snoopy on top after he was finished. His arms have small armatures in them but that's about it. The doghouse is solid. Snoopy didn't take me that long to finish. The hardest part was matching Snoopy's classic grimace in his face and making it work from every angle!

His scarf has wires running through it. This gave it support to make it sturdy but also doubled as the yarn in the end of the scarf.

I left this one unpainted because Kurt is an artist himself too. In fact these pictures were taken at his desk when he was doing storyboards for Warner Bros. Kurt really got a kick out of it.

Thank you Mr Schulz for giving us Snoopy and all his pals. You are very missed down here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

BILL from SchoolhouseRock!

"Bill" from the old SchoolhouseRock! cartoons is another costume I came up with for Halloween. He was just a big sheet of thick foam-rubber, glued together in the right places. The pupils in the eye piece have black nylon behind them so I could see out. The eyepiece is Velcro-ed onto the foam and I cut a square out behind it so I could see through the pupils. The nose was a small sheet filled with stuffing and pulled through a slot in the foam. I put a piece of wire into his top corner to curl it over a little, like Bill's did in the cartoon.

The bill badge was a piece of cardboard covered in fabric and attached to the sash. I wore long underwear underneath to keep everything white. The eyebrows and mouth were simply thick pipe-cleaners I pressed into the foam. The brows wiggled a little when I moved!

The briefcase turned out pretty cool! I bought a case at the Salvation Army and then glued foam-core on it to make the brass buckled and locks. Then I painted it the right colors. To make it look really cartoon-ey, I painted a thick black outline on every edge of the case. I worked pretty good.

The BILL costume was really comfortable to wear too. It was really easy to dance in! That looked pretty funny by the way. People would come and talk to you over the top of it. You couldn't take a leak in it though... well not in public anyways- WHAT!? ... guess it could use an upgrade.

Bill's resting place in my garage. He has yellowed over the years. Now he looks more like a parchment bill... or law!

"Ohhh Yeah...!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bugs Bunny

Bugs was a gift for my Dad the following Christmas after I gave Ariel to Mom. Like me, my father loves cartoons and Bugs Bunny was always one of our favorites. I picked a moment from the opera spoof "Rabbit Of Seville". The pose wasn't too hard, but what was difficult was nailing Bugs Bunny's attitude as well. I wanted him to look like he did at the end when he says "...Next!"

I used the technique of making a poseable armature figure again like I did with Ariel, so I could adjust the pose while Bugs came into being. Of course his ears had armature loops in them to keep them sturdy. His outfit was fun 'cause it had all the barber stuff along with it to figure out. Plus I made a little barber pole out of PVC pipe to put him in opera stage setting.

The comb was the hardest prop to build because of the tiny teeth. I sculpted and baked a rough version of the comb and sanded and filed the teeth in afterward.

The razor was a thin piece of polystyrene that I glued on top of a piece of armature wire. After I painted it silver, the whole thing looked like a straight razor. I was going to give Bugs whiskers, but at the time I couldn't find wire thin enough to pull it off. Everything I tried looked too thick and course, so I left him without them.

I painted his shirt pure white and then mixed a tiny bit of tan into the white to paint his fur. It gave the fur a creamy, off-white color next to the clean white of the outfit. I matched the green tile color right from the cartoon.

Bugs was great fun to sculpt and figure out. My Dad really liked it!

"...Yell and scream and rant and rave!
It's no use! You need a shave!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Ariel was the first human(well semi-human) character I tried to sculpt. One of my Mom's favorite movies is "The Little Mermaid", so I decided to try and get Ariel done in time for Christmas and give it her as a Christmas gift. I really liked Glen Keane's version of Ariel and wanted to try and make the sculpt capture that moment when Ariel is singing "Part Of Your World" in the secret grotto.

I sculpted the rock she is sitting on first. That was pretty easy. When it came to the Ariel figure, I sculpted a sort of pose-able doll with my armatures and sculpey. It had small head, a small rib cage and a small hip structure with thick armature wire throughout that acted as a kind of spinal column. I baked this first and then sculpted over it. This way I had something underneath that was sturdy so I could constantly adjust her pose as I worked.

The process worked really well and I've done all my other sculpts this way ever since. I was always arching her back more or raising her head a bit to match the pose from the movie.

Her hair was fun to figure out because she was underwater and it had to look that way, kinda like there is a current pulling at it. I made the seaweed look like it was being pulled by the water too. I cut strips from a sheet of brass and painted them to look like kelp.

The fingers on the hand of the outstretched arm gave me a little problem... I kept breaking them off while I was working on stuff! I should have put little wires in them as well, but I didn't think of that until too late. I worked around it and kept fixing them.

The tail being very delicate had to be handled the right way. I wanted it to look like the one in the movie, very thin, very feminine, very graceful. I sculpted the fins separate, each with a wire loop inside, and sanded them down to the right thickness. I mounted the fins onto the tail with epoxy putty and sanded the tail down to the right shape. When I painted her you couldn't tell.

I tried really hard to capture the feeling in her face and eyes the way the animation did in the movie. It took a while but I eventually got it. After that the whole thing really took off and I had fun putting it together. My Mom and Dad thought I had bought it somewhere!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Kaa was a gift I gave to Eric Thomas, for Christmas I think. Unlike my other sculpts, this one relied on a good armature. Kaa is just one big tube with an armature through his entire body.

Originally, I had started sculpting Kaa in the typical "coiled-up-pile-of-snake" pose with his head coiling out. But I started over because it wasn't interesting enough. I decided to try and sculpt that awesome moment in "Jungle Book" when he hustles off with that trippy animation! I couldn't remember ever seeing any toys or sculptures of him all spread out, so I tried it.

Complete with a knot in his tail.

Kaa was really fun to figure out. But- simple as he is, being simply a long tube with an attitude, this sculpt really taught me that a great sculpture should look cool and interesting from any and every angle! I wish I had more pics of him but I didn't have a good camera at the time. He turned out really nice.

I couldn't resist painting this one though. Eric is a great artist and would have done an awesome job if I would've given him Kaa with just in primer-grey... but I wanted to do it.

I sketched his spot pattern and his underbelly on the primer-coat with a soft pencil. After the primary colors were done, I flat coated the whole thing with dull-coat to protect the first paint layer, in case I screwed something up. The lines on his underside were simply drawn on with a prismacolor pencil, then I dull-coated him again. He had this satin sheen to him that looked really cool. Finally, I finished his eyes over with a gloss coat to make them shiny.

"Ohhhhh... my sssssinusssssss...!"

Would you trust him?


Ivan was a birthday gift for my friend Tommy Tejeda. He was just a crazy creature I came up with when I decided to make Tommy a sculpt for his birthday one year.

Looking back now, Ivan was the first sculpt I actually started playing around with armatures. Before I hadn't simply because the sculpts I had done before were solid designs that didn't really need armatures. Ivan had that huge tongue and tiny arms and legs, so I put armature wire through whatever I thought might be prone to snapping off.

The tongue was a a small challenge because it's the biggest feature on this character. He was propped up in the oven during baking with little scupley pillars so he wouldn't fall over. Super Sculpey gets softer first when you heat it up and then starts to harden, so you kind of have to account for that when you bake it.

I gave him a coat of primer and left him for Tommy to paint up if he wanted. Tommy is another great artist so I thought he could handle it.

He even has a bit of anatomy goin' on. WHAT!?