Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Building Paul's Dinosaur

When I started this project, it was kind of like a test for another sculpture idea I have. I needed to know if what I had planned would work and since my friend Paul had a birthday coming up, I figured I'd try some designs on this sculpt as a sort of experiment. The idea was to design the dinosaur so you could change his expression by rotating the scale on the top of his head which in turn would change his eyes.

I picked an apatosaur ( or brontosaurus if you are old school...) because it was simple and I could sculpt it pretty fast. The hard part was the design of the gizmo inside his head that would change the eyes. I stated with a simple armature design and sculpted the torso.

After that I designed the turntable that would hold the eyeballs. These were simply tiny wooden beads I bought at a craft store. I took apiece of epoxy putty to build the flat disc and glued the beads onto it, along with a thick piece of armature wire that would later be cut off to make the turning knob.

I baked the body and shaped and sanded it. As I do this I always like to keep in mind that the sculpt should be interesting from any angle.

I sculpted the head to my "style" keeping in mind that the turntable would have to move smoothly and fit inside the head at the same time.

I used epoxy or plumbers putty to fill in the spaces that would join the head and neck pieces. The putty cures hard in about 10 minutes so you can mold and shape it into what you need, but you gotta be quick sometimes. It comes in handy because you don't have to re-bake the sculpey pieces- you can just add the putty and let it cure. After I got the shapes somewhat interlocking, I would them join them and fill in the seam after the 3 pieces were assembled.

I had to sand and re-fit the pieces several times before everything worked the way it was in my head. When the pieces were finally fitting together, I added more putty to the inside and keyed the pieces so they would fit together in the same way everytime.

It worked!

With the head finished, I sculpted the rest of the body, finalizing the tail and the neck. The head assembly would be glued or puttied onto the neck. I wanted the neck to go kinda thin and then end with a big dinosaur head so it had to be strong.

I sculpted him with teeny tiny feet as an homage to the dinosaurs in an old Tex Avery cartoon I really liked!

I puttied the head assembly together and sanded down the seams. After that, I puttied the head onto the neck to complete the dinosaur. At first I had planned to paint the pupils on the different eyeballs themselves. But I decided try to "float" the pupils in front of the eyeballs and paint just the lids on the beads because you could then double the possible combinations.

I sculpted a little rise of land and put wires into the sculpey for grass. This was baked and glued onto the wooden base to create a river setting.

Then you paint it!

And the finished piece. Don't forget to check out the video clip of how it works in the earlier dinosaur page on this blog!


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