It figures; it's just a couple of figures

JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
edited July 2012 in Artist's Corner
Hello all; longtime lurker, first-time poster. I realize this sort of thing isn't everyone's cup of tea around here, but I thought I might give it a go and put up some of my sculpture work. I've been working with Super Sculpey for many years now, learning little by little on my own. I usually only make my own characters (they make useful reference maquettes), though I've had a very small amount of exceptions over the years. Everything here is made with Super Sculpey and painted with acrylics.

The Mechanic is my latest figure (and it still may get a few paint detail touch-ups); she was started at the end of September 2011, but a hand injury halted work for many months. She stands just about 18 and 1/4 inches high (without the base). The head, ponytail, bangs, wrench, and tool belt bags were all made to be removable (for easier painting). (If this image stretches things too much, I'll replace it with a smaller one.)

The Adventuring Mummy, made prior to the Mechanic in about two months. He took far less time since he's only seven and a half inches tall. If he was the same scale as the others, he'd have wound up being 24-27 inches high.

Here's the previous figure, The Captain, made last year in about six months (though that was interrupted many, many times without any injuries involved). This one is just over 16 inches tall. The coins are little metal craft coins, and are the only things not made of clay. The head, pipe, and barrel are all removable.

Sorry the photos aren't exactly spectacular; I've only got an older digital camera to use and tried my best. Also, I really hope it doesn't fall into the category of "site-whoring" to mention that I've documented the entire process of making these figures, and you can see the procedure at the blog in my signature if you like. I didn't want to drown the board in making-of images, since many would only want to check out a finished piece instead of seeing its armature, etc., but if that's wrong then I'll edit this post immediately. I usually like seeing the steps taken with things like this, and thought others might, too.

JumpingAbbot on


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    tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited July 2012
    There is not as much emphasis on sculpture here as on some other things, but there are a few of us who sculpt on here.

    I like your style, it's clear you have cultivated a "look" for your figures. I think I might suggest that you get more adventurous with your paint-ups. The colors are very flat dimensionally - - this isn't a complaint so much as a suggestion; a lot of artists are not very confident in their color choices and they tend to paint "safely" with stock colors in flat areas. The Mechanic at least has oil spatters, but her coveralls look very "new" because they're so brightly colored. The Mummy guy has a similar situation, he could definitely use a little grunginess.

    Do you do any resin kit molding and casting at all? These pieces are neat and remind me of some resin garage kits I have seen.

    tapeslinger on
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    JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
    I figured there wouldn't be many, but this place has such a diverse population that I couldn't resist trying.

    Thanks, I try to keep every figure looking like it belongs in the same universe with the others. I definitely agree about the painting; I'm still unsure of how to go about adding shading so it won't look out of place or unnatural when coupled with natural light. My acrylic work has never been spectacular, so I've usually resorted to flat tones. I once tried airbrushing them but it didn't turn out well at all. These things tend to gather dust like magnets, and the dust gets into the paint itself. I can easily remove it with a damp paintbrush from figures like the ones in the photos, but dust more or less ruined the airbrushed paint in a very short time. I couldn't clean it, and definitely couldn't glaze it to protect it from dust - adding glaze ruined the paint instantly. I tried to get a denim look on the coveralls, but it basically turned out flat. The Mummy is a gentleman and keeps himself very neat and tidy as a rule. Most people instantly associate mummies with rotting bandages, so it's perfectly understandable for pretty much everyone else to want him to look dirtier. I keep forgetting to include that whenever I mention him.

    Funny you should ask, I've been thinking about resin and molds lately. I've got some InstaMorph plastic on the way in the mail at the moment so I can try something basic with plaster or something. I'm going to start with an InstaMorph mold before giving resin a shot, since I can reuse the InstaMorph if the test molds don't turn out well.

    I like the busts you've got on your site; my hands are far too shaky to make fine details like those on such a small scale. Do you work with Castilene primarily?

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    tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    I do mostly 1/6 scale and smaller; Castilene is one of my main material choices because I can basically work with it whenever, it travels well in a container, but I do have some Willow products waxes and some other hybrid waxes. I also do a lot of action figure mods and kitbashing so I also use a lot of epoxy putty. Most of my polymer clay stuff is small one-offs for gifts and things but I have a few pounds of Sculpey Firm trying to convince me I need to work on it.

    I personally hate airbrushing mostly because I don't practice at it so I suck at it. Some airbrush paints don't cure on polymer clay - - I usually recommend to my clients stripping the piece with nail polish remover after it is baked and sanded, then doing washes with watered down acrylic to prime it. Acrylics stick pretty well that way and it helps with getting more tones. Don't be afraid of the paint! You can always take it off or go back over it.

    Not familiar with Instamorph, I am assuming it is a thermoplastic?

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    JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
    I've always meant to try out some other materials, but I guess I've always stuck to Super Sculpey for whatever reason. Most of my stuff winds up 14-18 inches high, so I'm always running out of space. I've had a pound of Sculpey Firm sitting around for about nine or so months now; I keep saying I'll get to it when I run out of Super, then I go and buy more super...

    If I had a dedicated area where I didn't have to care about making a mess I'd have probably kept up with airbrushing, but eventually it transformed into a huge hassle. I have no idea how people airbrush sculptures; masking in for details in 3D was a nightmare. Washes and nail polish remover? I'll have to try that - I usually just bake, sand, and paint straight out of the tube/mixing bottle.

    Yep. I thought it might be good to experiment with that sort of material since I could just toss the mold back into hot water and reuse the material for another try if it didn't turn out right. If it works, then I'll have a mold I can accidentally drop and not shatter into a thousand pieces. If all else fails I can still use it to make another figure with.

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    tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Generally speaking, thermoplastics won't work with casting resins but you can use them for push molds to copy commonly used elements in polymer clay.

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    JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
    Good to know. I'll skip trying it with resin; I've got some plaster now and I'll probably test it out as a mold-maker soon alongside the Instamorph. I'm a bit underwhelmed by the Instamorph (much too rubbery for figure making by hand; it tends to expand moments after I shape it), but it came in handy for a clay doodle's base:
    This probably won't go anywhere, but it made for a decent test subject; the plastic became a temp base for Fionna and Cake (from Adventure Time). This is about 7 inches tall (bunny ears included), much smaller than my usual stuff and definitely not in any of my regularly employed styles, so it was me trying to get outside my comfort zone a bit and branch out. I tried to stick to the proportions of the character's model sheets, but Cake ended up being a bit too small. I'll flip a coin to decide if this piece continues or if they're to be stripped of all reusable resources.

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    tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Huh, I never thought of using a thermoplastic for temporary bases, might have to try it sometime.

    Nice work! Those are really cute. I would say keep going, but that's me. I have not watched Adventure Time yet, but I consulted an expert and found some reference art and it looks like the styling is spot on-- the cat is a little small but so adorable I don't know if it matters

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    JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
    The thermoplastic didn't flatten as evenly as I'd have liked, but otherwise it's working out pretty well to hold these two in place. I think if I lay a hefty book or something on it while it's cooling next time, that might to the trick.

    I'm still on the fence, but in the meantime I remade Cake in a more or less correct scale and made a few minor changes to Fionna (that are barely noticeable; lopped off two fingers since I didn't notice they've only got 3 and a thumb instead of 4 in the art style).

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    NappuccinoNappuccino Surveyor of Things and Stuff Registered User regular
    One think you may want to do is try to add some dynamisim and curves into the figures. They seem a little stiff right now (Like the mummy adventure, as awesome as the design is, seems like he would be falling forward with his hands that way. He would be leaning back a bit to offset his arms placements.

    That said, I really like what you're doing- I hope to see more of these and some improvements along the way :)

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    JumpingAbbotJumpingAbbot Registered User regular
    With the mummy I had some balance issues, since he's so top-heavy. He actually is leaning back, but it's not a steep angle (and the bending in his spine is more or less covered up by his arms in the profile photos).

    Hopefully the new ones aren't going to wind up as stiff; I just wanted to get the body proportions all set before trying to pose them:
    These tiny little feet are killing me. Every time I need to move them to pose the legs, the clay smashes against the wire (or gets demolished in Fionna's case). Foil is too much for them; it adds some stability for the clay, but makes them too thick in the end, so it winds up going back to bare wires. They'll be taking a stroll once I can properly pose them, so this isn't the final look. I need to remake the base with more holes for the wire to fit into so I can have something with a lot more flexibility to work on - the ones I've got now are too far apart and don't give enough placement choices. Back to the drawing board!

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