Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Reaper Mask, from Overwatch

Ignore the ear!
Overwatch, a new and awesome looking Blizzard game was announced at Blizzcon.

It looks super exciting, and was announced with a Cinematic that made my cry, and was utterly brilliant.

The game has a range of very, creatively designed character!  And then one goth one that every liked, including my boyfriend and, you know, it's been a while since I've done anything with polyurethane casting so, lets give it a go.
Time to Reap

So, first step as always is to isolate the mask itself, get the best images I can, scale all the reference images off a human and make a scaled copy of the mask on paper.

These are not the reference images you're looking for.
I scaled this off my Boyfriends face, him being a standard male nerd guy.  We both have 'large' sized head I'd say, that being better than us being too small for most people.

So, I have two options for this sculpt really, something resistant, or something soft.  I did play around with using rigid expanding foam with the intention of coating it with a rigid apoxie resin that I could then sand down for a nice edge.

But since I've just come off a very long sculpt with WED clay(My Dragon Sculpt), have a bunch of it laying around, and feel pretty confident in it I stayed with doing a soft sculpt and just trusted myself to give it good finishing.

My blank sculpting armature.
My sculpting table begins.
Sculpting through time!
A night of sculpting lead to a base 'anatomy' of the mask that fit the reference but was pretty basic, and missing a lot of correct scaling.

End of second night of sculpting.
 After my second night of sculpting, I got to something that I was very happy with, it was all as accurate as I could make it, some of the edges weren't exactly perfect, but I would carry on with that in surfacing and texturing.
Details coming now!
Details and surfaces take as much time as half the sculpt.
Good care for a WED sculpt, a water based clay, is to put your sculpt to bed each night, covering it with cling film and plastic bags.  However, if you leave it out overnight it doesn't dry out straight away but gets a leathery surface, harder, better for doing details and texturing.

This third night of sculpt involved a lot of glaring at a screen, picking out every detail on the mask, copying the position of the rivet caps, the crap, the nicks and getting everything as crisp as possible.
Lots of nasty spray in an enclosed space.

Now this was an odd step, I'll admit.
After leaving it to dry out a bit, I sprayed the sculpt with a grey paint.  Then used a very wet mix of clay to go over uneven parts that stood out, before hitting drying it out with a heat gun and hitting it with another coat of spray and repeating until I had a complete surface and edges that I was 100% happy with.
It also smoothed the divide between the rivet and the clay.  For easier mould making.
Everyone who knows how to make moulds is allowed to cry seeing this.
 Speaking of mould making.  First you build the walls around your sculpt!
Time to Mould!
Then your poor an un-thickened layer of silicone over it.  I actually did two layers of un-thickened silicone over that, as my walls aren't very high.  However, doing a really thin layer of silicone means the fact that I have no ability to de-gass my silicone doesn't hurt as bad.
After this I did a large batch of latex with it's Thixo agent to turn it into a really thick, very stable mould silicone mould.
Finale stage is a mother mould.  This is a solid plaster outer shell that holds the silicone in shape so my final moulds will all be a consistent shape.
I was bouncing around the house when it actually worked.
Then the thing came!
It actually came out and looked real good!
Looked like a mask, just like something a person would buy!
If I say so myself.

Now, this was basic Roto Cast, Polyurethane plastic rolled around in the mould, helfted around for like, fifteen minutes.  That was left to set for a bit, then another small amount of plastic sloshed around to reinforce any areas that I had missed.
Grrr, I look fierce.

Next step took half an hour of solid work.  Cleaning the casting off with a rotary tool, a mixture of a cutting disk and a grinding tool for sanding everything.  It required a surprisingly small amount of cleaning up.
It was also now that I got to see where the plastic pools in the mould and where I need to be careful next time.
Remember, protect your floors.
Painting.  This is the part I feel very confident about.
First a base coat, I airbrushed on some black and white over their respective areas, then went over all the bone area with some wonderful System 3 Acrylic paints, they're wonderfully permanent and can go on basically anything.
Then an hour with more paint, making sure the bone all looked even, giving it a nice texture, then shading with an airbrush.  Then some dry brushing to get highlights and give more of a bone effect.
After this, I added the dark colours, the metals, then highlight the metals to give it a nice metallic effect.

These finale steps included adding some semi-opaque black cloth around the eyes, cheeks and mouth because the face of the character is always in shadow and you can 'just' about make it out and this worked perfectly.
Oh, and since it's a rigid plastic mask, I put some foam pads on it and an elsatic strap!

All this equalled this:

Time to Frizz!

That, that, just, that is something I was very happy with.
I am thrilled with the outcome!

Now, I'm going to spend a few weeks making copies of this for all the Reaper Fanboys out there!

>> Check out my Etsy store to get your mask before Christmas. <<

Friday, 31 October 2014

Aygo Manga Swords

  This was a strange, last minute commission.  A call went out over Facebook for a Cosplayer, a Costume maker and if time permitted, a Prop maker to create this character and her swords for MCM London Comic Con / Expo (Never clear on what it's called).  Even stranger, it was Toyota GBs PR peoples asking, super corporate.

You can download the full comic here.
Yes, she is based on car.
 This was three weeks before the event.  I put in a quote for construction of the swords, ambitious, with a rush fee in there for good measure, and promptly forgot about it.
A week before the event, I got an e-mail saying they'd take it, get an invoice ready, they'll pay for me to hand deliver them so I can floof around Expo and please keep them up to date.  
 Eventually I also got some better reference images.
It's a lot maths, strangely, but I have a spreadsheet I've made that does it for me.

 Now, maths happens for a while, comparing the lengths of the swords to the given height of the model to the length of the weapons in the pictures.  Using a silly long rulers, tape measures, and other straight objects this was then transferred onto grease proof paper to cut out all the various sword shapes that'd then be glued together.
 All these cut out parts get glued together, around a rigid fibreglass rod.  Using Evostick Impact, lovely stuff that I live off, all sandwiched together as a large bat.
 Those familiar with LARP weapon construction will recognise this!  You know, make what you know, also it's materials I had to hand especially with the limited time.
Don't mind me boss in the background.
 This piled up bat was then brought down to my local workshop, Southampton Maker Space (SoMakeIt) for use of the belt sander.  This place is an invaluable supply of power tools, knowledge and space for doing more advanced crafting things.  But using a really nice and strong belt sander rather than knives or my hand sander is the best way to get a really nice finish on the weapons that I've found.

Fresh from Aperture Laboratories.
 Freshly sanded we come to my own workspace to get on with the painting!
Undercoated in dark metal grey ... still drying
AIRBRUSHED, Airbrushed base coat, god I love me airbrush.
 The first layer of anything was coloured latex.  Without an airbrush that'll push through latex it's sometimes hard to get a good even finish, but I feel a good result comes from hanging them up and painting unthickened latex slowly from the bottom up.
 Then once that's dried, I went over that with my airbrush, metallic black and nice pure white.  Then more colouring, differentiating edges with metallics and cursing my terrible airbrush for not giving me more than 5 seconds of straight painting without needing to be unclogged.
(I had ordered a new airbrush and it arrived a clear week late.)
Are they looking at you?  Because they're looking at me.
 The finishing touches are sealing it with aerosol plastidip and then a touch of silicone spray so they lose all their stickyness and can be wrapped up nice and safely.
And a nice final flourish, I have some lovely soft white leather that I cut strips of and wrapped the handles.
Bubblewrap provided by something I bought recently.
 This metre and a half long foam cudgel was brought through the various train networks to deliver in person to the event!
 And here they are on the model.

 The seamstress did a better job on the costume than I could ever have done, and apparently they had FOUR different fitting sessions to get the costume to sit right.
But, I thought they looked amazing together, especially for under a weeks, short notice, what I have to hand, work.

No, I didn't ask if I could just have a car as payment.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Project: Dragon Smith

This the plan, I want to make an Animatronic character, a remote controlled puppet operated by a performer to portray a character that can be interacted with in a two way manner .
Do I have a background in this?  Not really, except for making monsters.

What will this need, what's the pitch?
The armadillo lizard, totally the style of dragon I wanna design.

Essential Goals:
  • A Sculpted dragon head.
    • Larger than a normal human head to appear as a large character. (22"+)
  • Multi-part Fibreglass mould to be able to cast the character from.
    • Using this to cast a character with a soft skin, and a hard under-skull separately.
  • Animatronically controlled pieces.
    • At least the eyes lids and the mouth being electrically driven.
  • Controlled by a single operator.
    • Every functions can be controlled by a single operator behind a curtain. 
  • Vision systems for the operator.
    • A camera mounted in the mask feeding through to video goggles behind.
  • A frame to hold the face up as a neck.
    • So the head can poke out behind a curtain to be interacted with one side, and operated the other side.
Handsome fellow from is a great inspiration
Those are the essential parts, the basics of what I'm trying to achieve and what I am confident I can really make happen.  Even those are stretching what little skills I have, but. lets go a step further, we can make it bigger, better, much cooler.

Desired Goals:
  •  Silicone skin over a fiberglass, or resin cast skull.
    • Less of a skill thing, the skin is going to be latex, but if I can afford it the professionals use Silicone for the skin.
  • Fully expressive face!
    • A full eye mechanism, eyebrows, nostril flare, lip movement, ability to smile and a waggling tongue.  All controlled by arduinos.
  • Head Tracking mechamism for full immersion.
    • A 2 Axis gyroscope/accelerometer to track where you are looking and translating that to servos controlling the head position, for a full VR experince with the video goggles.
  • Jaw Tracking technology.
    • Automatic jaw tracking to lip sync the mask to the operator. (I have already mocked this up, so I may be cheating)
  • A fully decorated neck.
    • The extension of the neck frame being a fully constructed neck, likely made of foam and latex and painted up much like the head.
  • Dragon Legs!
    • Chunky legs on sticks to poke through under the curtain to make it look like a sitting dog, and maybe so it can be handed things.
  • Audio Systems.
    • A way of listening through the mask and a voice changer attached to a speaker to speak out of the mask.
  • Anything else I can think of!
    • Give me suggestions as we go.

This is ambitious.  But those who follow me on Facebook will be aware I've started and you know what, I mean to finish.
That's her tastey side.

I'm not pen and pencil artist sadly, but I've included reference images I'll be working from, animals or other artwork that are inspirations for the sculpt I want.  I have loads of other images but I don't want to bore you by showing you through them all one by one.

It's his good side.

Who fancies joining team Armoured Brownies through this ordeal?  (Digitally at least.)



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Welcome to my accountability Blog.

People asked me to start a blog, so here it is.
Welcome to everyone not in my brain.  This is where you get to see what I'm working on and make sure I keep doing it.  And even more, make sure I'm improving as I go.

It's me in a Skaven, with bonus face armour.
 My intention will be to lay out what I do, how I do it, and what I plan on doing to share my learning experience with anyone else who is interested in similar subjects.

Friends have let me do terrible things to them!
I do planet of little things, masks, prosthetics, costume pieces, but my ambition is towards big projects!
Monsters, dragons, beasties, full sized stilt monsters, quad suit character and on top of everything, Animatronics.

I have a history of dragons, large, dragons.
Once a month I will lay out what I have been doing over the last month, and keep anyone who reads this up to date with my little pieces of progress on my overly ambitious projects.

I'm going to try and make sure everything is tagged up nicely so anyone can filter out all my little updates and only see the monthly walk through / talks.  Maybe I'll even do some video stuff of my work, but that may be a threat rather than a promise.

Shall we begin?