Tuesday 16 September 2014

Zombie Hunter

This is my latest sculpting project that has been inspired by my watching a well known series on television and getting quickly hooked. I am also considering casting this figure in resin and possibly marketing it in small numbers.

The concept for the pose of the figure will be kept quite simplistic. A standing figure with his arm outstretched holding his weapon ready to fire. I chose this pose as it will hopefully look good as a stand alone figure or it could be posed along with another figure such as a zombie?

Sculpting began as always with basic armature from copper wire set in the rough pose for the finished figure. A rough base for the body was placed on it made from super sculpey and baked to set the pose in place

For the sculpting of the figure itself I will be using Super Sculpey Firm. I have read a lot of articles where people have expressed their dislike for this product as it is too firm for sculpting purposes. I absolutely love this clay but would add that I only started to like it once I purchased a pasta machine to condition the clay prior to use and also started to use baby oil as a finishing layer onto the clay to enable the fine details to be scribed into it as the oil softens the surface of the clay and bakes off it once the clay has been placed into the oven.

I decided to start with the shirt for the figure to begin with and sculpted/baked it in three sections: the front left, front right and the back of the shirt:

I will admit that I am not enamoured with the stitching patterns that I put onto the shirt. I think that they are sitting far too proud and I will more than likely carve these off the figure and replace with something a little more subtle. For the trousers I have opted for a pair of jeans that will be quite tightly fitting and a little long. To do this I wrapped the legs in a thin layer of the sculpey, roughly marked the creases and then blended them into each other using the sculpting tools that I have followed by the "baby oil method" that I described earlier. I also altered the position of the right leg slightly as I was a little unhappy with the original pose that I had set for the leg. If your not used to working with sculpey, this can be done by altering the limb that you want when it has come out of the oven. I would strongly urge that you do this with a pair of thick leather gloves as it is obviously very hot from the baking process.

I've decided to work on the arms and the boots in turn. purely to give me a break from the arms and hands as this is the least favourite part of sculpting the human body and I can get quite frustrated whilst doing them. By alternating between the forearms and the boots I hope to alleviate my stress levels! Progress shots of these parts are below:

I actually managed to sculpt the right boot quite quickly so I decided to forget my original plan of alternating body parts and went straight for the other boot as well! I also extended the trousers over the sculpted boots to look a little more realistic and at the same time added more sculpey to the tops of the figures legs as to me they looked a little too skinny. I have a few more details like the smaller pocket on one of the jeans front pocket and some stitching to add above the rear pockets but on the whole I am happy with the figures progress. I will also sculpt the other arm and the gun belt. You may also have noticed from the above photos that the right arm has also suffered in the baking process has has blackened quite significantly.

I decided to remove the burnt sculpey up to the rolled up shirt sleeve and start from scratch again with this section:

As you have probably noticed from the above photos, a lot has happened since my last update. Some of the major additions are the gun belt, the lower arms and the neck. I have also added some bulk to the stomach and upper leg areas which were looking far too thin. There are also some other minor "tweeks" such as re-sculpting areas such as the pocket, lower right arm short sleeve and many more that I have forgotten at this point but I am sure would reveal themselves if you scrutinised the shots at the beginning of this page to those above. I tend to add/remove sections of the sculpt as and when I notice them. These alterations can sometimes be quite small and on other occasion involve a limb! It all really depends on what I find and in all honesty adds to the fun of the sculpting process for me.

The next major areas for me to concentrate on are the hands and face. For the facial features and the over all look of the figure, I want him to resemble the actor that inspired the piece, but not dictate exactly how the finished sculpt should look as it is after all intended to be an original sculpt and not a direct copy of any fictional character at the moment. The skull and face were first sculpted to gain the dimensional accuracy of the head and this was then baked off. My favorite comment of this piece so far is that this stage of the sculpting process closely resembles Voldemort from the Harry Potter novels!!! This is also the first time that I have used stainless steel dress making pins for the eyes. This is something that I picked up from another sculptor as an accurate way of maintaining eye shape and giving the sculptor an opportunity to fix the eyes in place. So far this has proved very useful and I suspect that I will be using this method of setting the eyes for many more sculpts to come.

For the facial features I first added the forehead followed by the nose, cheekbones, ears and then the first layers of the hair. The beard and mouth were then added until I was happy with the beginnings of the facial features. This was then baked in place to set the features so far with the plan of adding them to finish the face at  a later date

For the hands I opted to start the right hand first which will hold the pistol as well. I decided that I would sculpt the rough shape to begin with, bake it then finally sculpt the details over the hardened clay so that it would be a more rigid platform to provide the details required for the hand. The pistol grip would be sculpted as part of the hand, however the remaining part of the pistol would be sculpted after the hand has been finished and baked, For the left hand I have opted to sculpt this as a closed fist. I chose the fist as a conscious thought for another model maker make want to provide an addition of a weapon of some kind such as a knife or crow bar. (This is the first figure sculpt of mine that I am thinking of casting for commercial use once finished).

Whilst sculpting the left hand I also performed a little more work on the figures facial features by fleshing out the cheek bones a little more, adding a more defined brow ridge which resulted in a deeper shadow for the eyes and allowed a more angry expression for the face. I also made the nose a little stronger and added a more defined hair line to the temple. The last major sculpting job left is the remaining part of the pistol. Once this is complete it will be a simple case of ensuring that the details of the figure are good, there are no sculpt marks present and the overall piece looks good and is in proportion.

The figure is now complete as far as the sculpting phase is concerned. I'm really happy with the end result and I have decided to cast this figure in resin with the possibility of selling copies of him to anyone who is interested. This is a new venture for me so it may be a while before I take the plunge and cast him. Until then I am going to call this one complete pending my final decision to cast him and paint the resin cast or whether it will stay a singular sculpt that is painted. The finished figure pictures are below and as always I welcome any comments or observations that any of you may have:

Painting the Figure

I've finally gotten around to painting the figure! One of the drawbacks for me when it comes to painting sculpey figures is that you can't use enamels and oils. After a quick shopping trip to my local hobby store and armed with some acrylic paints, I began the painting phase of the figure:

Following primer and base coat colours, I decided to add quite a lot of blood spatter on my figure, (he is a zombie hunter after all!). The base which can be see in the photos above and below was originally intended for a different figure that I was sculpting, but later aborted.

All in all  this was an enjoyable figure to both sculpt and paint. Yes there are many areas with room for improvement and this is something that I will also work on in the years to come. For now though I am very happy with the completed figure and it will take pride of place on my model shelf in my office:

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