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I have just finished studying Entertainment Design Crafts at Cleveland College of Art and Design where I specialised in the design and creation of props and set for film, TV and theatre.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Creating His Hands

To create his hands, I had to get them in scale with the rest of his body. To do this, I printed out a skeleton hand and scaled it down so it was a little smaller than his head (just above his eyebrow). Once I had the right size, I created a skeleton out of metal by placing cut strips of it over the print out. Then I used a pop-riviter to connect the metal together:

I had to connect it to the metal skeleton somehow so I used the left over sections I wood I had created for his joints and cut a slit out of one side. I cut two more strips of metal and pop-rivited it to the bottom of the hand on one side and screwed it into the wood at the other end. I could then just slot them into the metal skeleton:

I now had the task of building up his hands...
I decided to start with the finished hand first so that I would know how to work around the open area on the unfinished hand. I started off by trying cotton wool balls dipped in my skin coloured latex and stuck them to the metal but it looked very segmented and I couldn't blend it very well:

So instead I tried using flat peices of cotton wool soaked in skin coloured latex and wrapping it around the metal but it took a lot of time:

So instead, I went back to the cotton wool ball idea and added cling film, that I had also covered in the skin coloured latex, over the top of the wool and applied heat from a hair dryer over the top of it so it shrank and wrinkled like real skin. I also added string so act as knuckle wrinkles before I added the cling film in an attempt to give him some knuckles:

However, there was something very un-natural looking about the shiny appearance of his skin (especially because his face wasn't shiny) so I removed the cling film to see if it would look any better:

It turned out that by adding extra latex over the top of the cotton wool (which wasn't completley soaked in latex as it was in my first attempt) made it a lot easier to blend so I decided to use this technique but adapt it slightly.
So I didn't have to use as much cotton wool and latex, I wrapped tin foil and wire mesh around the metal skeleton and added thin layers of flat cotton wool ontop of the mesh. (I used un-coloured latex with the idea of painting it with the skin coloured latex later would not waste as much latex):

I added pipe cleaners to act as tendons (which I covered in cotton wool and latex) and pinched the cotton wool around the knuckles to create the wrinkles:

I then made finger nails out of Sculpey and glued them to the fingers. I made sure to add a thin layer of cotton wool under the nail so that the bottom of the nail wasn't as obvious. I also coated the Sculpey in latex so that once it had dried, I could peel it back to the sides of the nail and the latex would act as a cutical. Whilst doing this, I also created a wrist:

All I had to do now was paint the hand and the nails. I wanted the nails to look as if they had been dead for a while so I kept them quite long. To help create the 'dead nail' look, I pushed down on either side of the nail to try and create a natural crack in it, once I had done this all I had to do was paint it (which I did with acrylic paint):

I was quite pleased with the nails but they still looked a little 'dry' so to make them look more realistic, I added a very thin layer of clear Glaze (the same stuff I added ontop of his teeth):

Now I had worked out the best way to create the hand, I set to work on creating his other hand. This one was going to be more difficult as he was going to be holding a medical tool so I would have to curl his fingers slightly. I used exactally the same technique as before but I realised I would have to create the open area on the back of his hand first so that I could build the skin around it.
Through experimenting a little, I found I quite liked the effect of coating a pipecleaner in red latex and wrapping cling film covered in latex around it to create a tendon. However, I was still stuck on how to create the muscle around it! At first, I tried wadding covered in red latex:

I continued to build up the skin around the open area and covered the entire hand (bar the open area on the back of course) I also added the nails in exactally the same way as before:

I was quite pleased with how it was looking but there was something that just wasn't sitting right with me about the look of the wadding. It looked too different from the muscle on his face and when you think of the muscles in your hand, you think of small tight muscles rather than just a giant meaty slab. So I tried a bit more experimenting and found mixing silicone sealent with red acrylic and smearing it on to cling film with a cocktail stick created a really nice muscle texture. It also looked as if it was slightly wet and it had the added benefit of being slightly squishy.

So, I placed a bit of cling film over the back of the hand and placed some tendons over where I had placed the original tendons. I could then try and create a full slab of muscle with tendons inbetween so that I could just glue it in to place:

I decided not to create a wrist for this one because I had planned to have the arm open and unfinished as well, so I would create a wrist once I had created his arm:

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Creating The Latex Head

Originally, I had planned to sponge on different shades of coloured latex on the inside of the mold so none of the detail from the sculpt would be lost if I painted on top of the head after I had made it. Unfortunately though, time was against me at this point so I made the decision to just paint base colours on the inside of the mold because I felt that the detail I had put in the face, would not be lost by a thin layer of paint.

To start, I mixed the colour paint I had decided on (a dull yellow colour as described in the book) and added a small amount to some latex. I decided it would make sense to connect the back of the head to the side of the head to minimise the chance of a visible join (especially because both sides are the same colour):

The unfinished side of the face was a little more difficult because there were two different colours involved with this: the muscle colour and the bone colour. I put his teeth back in so that the latex would create a 'skull' around the teeth and would enable me to slot them in to the outside of the latex cast. To try and get a thicker layer of latex and of course to try and keep the lines as neat as possible, I used a syringe to apply the latex:

I should have put all the sides together at this stage and coated the inside in an extra layer of latex. However, I decided to strengthen it slightly and add an extra few layers of latex to all three sides. I used latex thickener for this and also chose to colour the latex green so I could make sure it had covered every part of the mold. I had to be careful to not allow any latex to get on the sides of the mold or it could cause trouble when trying to put the three sides together and would also create a sort-of-skin-tag on the head that I would have to cut of. I thought, if any green was visible through areas I may have missed when painting the bone, skin and muscle; I could just paint over it on the outside of the mold (or even make it a feature and turn it in to some kind of 'infection'):

Unfortunately though, the latex had began to shrink away from the plaster so I had to keep repairing it by sticking it back down with latex. Eventually, I had to tape it down until it had set and I was ready to put all three sides together for the first time.

Once I had clamped the sides together and made sure it was secure, I ran latex down the sides of the mold from the inside using my fingers so I was sure it was all covered. I then poured latex into it and rotated the mold so another layer of latex covered the inside and poured out the excess latex. I waited for this to dry and mixed up some J-Foam and poured it in to the mold and watched the foam expand out of the mold:

Once the J-Foam had set, I took the clamps of the mold and held my breath!...

It had worked! Thank goodness. There were a few areas that hadn't gone as well as they could have; for example, there were a few flaps of latex on the join down the middle of the face that needed to be cut off, there was a large flap on his head and two small holes in his ear as well as one small hole at the side of the open neck and on the side of the unfinished face. Luckily, these were all things I could adapt but all in all, it had worked really well:

I could now start to neaten him up and add the detail.