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!?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Boba Fett costume

This is my Boba Fett costume I made as a surprise for Halloween the year of 1993 (wow) I believe. All of it was hand-made and scratch built in my one-bedroom apartment in North Hollywood. Now this was before the Internet, before DVDs (WHAT?), before you could buy a full costume from some guy sellin 'em. The whole thing was built from nothing! Which is why there is no rocket-pack... for alas- I ran out of time!

The helmet was sculpted in front of my laser disc player in pause mode. "Return of the Jedi" was my main reference, along with pictures from books and trading cards I had. Eric(Thomas) helped me make a plaster "cast" of my head and I sculpted the helmet on top of it with green plasticine (I think) clay. I figured this would be the safest way to make sure that it fit on my head.

When the helmet sculpt was done- I needed help. A friend arranged for another friend of his to help me mold and cast the helmet. I need to buy everything and just bring it to his shop. I had to ask one of my friends to help me get it there. I wanted to surprise everyone at Simpsons with it so no one would know who it was until I took off the helmet, but I had to let someone in on it. Paul Wee and I had kind of talked about how cool it would be to "make-this-or-dress-up-as-that" for Halloween and once we were thinking how tough (but awesome) it would be to make a Boba Fett costume. When I told Paul what I had in my apartment and why I needed his help he nearly fell over. So at lunch one day we drove to my apartment and with Paul holding this green Fett helmet thing in his lap, off we went! When we got there, the guy thought we dropped it because of the "dent" on top. Right on!

The cast was made in a creamy brown fiberglass so it looked like it was made out of chocolate! I filled in any pits and air bubbles with epoxy putty and finished the helmet with lots of sanding and rebuilding. It was really fun to paint it in the flat colors and then mess it up with scrapes and chips and stuff. The macroscope ratchets down over the front and was built from the leg of a Transformer toy I found in an old toy box from home in North Dakota!

The armor and gauntlets and stuff were built and formed out of styrene sheets, cut and fitted together. Lots of Velcro and hot glue anchored it in place on the cloth uniform, which was made by a friend of my Mom's back home who happens to be a seamstress. She did a great job!

Now (of course) you can find unlimited reference for Boba but back then it was hard to find really detailed pics of all his gadgets and his paint schemes and stuff. I think I got pretty close.

Everybody at worked loved it! Paul was inspired with the styrene sheets approach that he borrowed my heat-gun and made his own armor and came as a Colonial Marine from "Aliens"!
Eric was working at Universal ( I think he was just starting designs on the Popeye ride in Orlando), so I drove over at lunch to show him. This is where the pics of me in the full outfit (sans rocket-pack) were taken. Eric was dressed in full-on Pirate mode that year.

That year I didn't win anything in the costume contest back at Simpsons... Pete Michaels beat everybody! He dressed up as a trashy hoochie-girl. Can't beat that! (He looked so HOT...!) It was fun getting big reactions at all the parties that year. Good times!