I continue on my quest to make a handpaw pattern using Matrices' tutorial, in which a small clay model is made, a pattern is taken from the model, and the pattern is enlarged to the proper size with an overhead projector. I have fantasies of selling said pattern as a download, and maybe any actual handpaws too. Above, my fifth and final attempt to sculpt said model. Now, to take a pattern from the model and enlarge it.
Here we have the paw partially taped up, using white Duck tape over a layer of plastic wrap. I've sketched in lines where I think the seams will be, and registration marks (those little hash mark things) to help line the pattern up again once it's disassembled. I forgot to take pics before I started cutting the pattern off, so there's pieces missing between the middle toes here.
Here, the underside of the foot, again showing potential seam lines and registration marks.
The pattern cut off the foot, lots of little pieces everywhere, don't sneeze! Then laid out and taped down on a piece of construction paper, to help keep them from slipping and sliding all over the place under the projector lid.
And my very high tech projector setup in the basement, a piece of paper taped onto the washing machine for tracing out the enlarged pattern. (My daughter says the projector is the most analog thing she's ever seen in her life.) I rolled the projector back and forth on its little wheely cart until I got the pattern to what looked like a good size, comparing it other patterns such as Matrices' and Freakhound's to get it in the ballpark.
The enlarged pattern, cut out and ready to go.
And, a first paw mockup using the pattern and cheap material. It does kinda sorta look like a paw, but I'm not happy with it. Next, revisions!
I have two goals in mind here. One to make my own handpaw pattern. The second is to use this really cool technique furry how-to goddess Matrices describes in this tutorial, in which a small clay model is made, a pattern is taken from the model, and the pattern is enlarged to the proper size with an overhead projector. I have fantasies of selling said pattern as a download, and maybe any actual handpaws I make with it too. I have been told that the furry world could use another good feral handpaw pattern and that there's probably untapped market demand there. Charge!
Attempt Number One
For this first attempt I tried making a rough paw shaped chunk of clay and carving toebeans out of the bottom and knuckles and toes out of the top. This sculpt has a lot of problems but the worst in my mind is that the toebeans and palmar pad all wound up on the same plane, parallel to the wrist, making the paw look stiff and unnatural.
Attempt Number Two
For this second attempt, I tried to make the angles of the toe bottoms more natural. Closer, but not there yet. The top of the foot also leaves a lot to be desired, looking like a featureless cube of clay, especially when viewed from the top.
Attempt Number Three
Attempt number three, when viewed from the side, has a little more of that oval shape we're going for. The top of this foot also looks more shaped and natural than those in the previous two. However it also looks a little squished and disproportionate. When viewed from the top, the toes look too long and the back of the paw too short.
Attempt Number Four
Attempt number four features... an armature! What a concept! Underneath the clay the armature looks like a little wire tree, with the trunk for the wrist and palm and four branches for the toes. The armature helps to hold the parts of the foot in place, keep them from getting squished out of shape, and maintain the correct proportions. The wire also makes it easier to bend the toes into the proper position without breaking them off. I'm happier with this foot, but I can't help but think the back of the paw looks a little swollen, like it was stung by a bee.
This group of photos shows a slightly earlier version of the last paw undergoing some last minute edits. The first photo shows the foot being checked against a favorite reference pic, and the second photo shows a tracing of this earlier version being checked against a superimposed tracing of the reference pic. (I especially love this tracing as it really shows how the two outer toes on a dog's foot are different sizes, with the "pointer" toe being larger than the "pinky" toe.) The third pic shows the finished foot, after all the edits have ben made.
Above, a turnaround of this last paw, looking a little worse for wear from the pattern making process. (More on that later!) This paw is also built on an armature, similar to that in attempt number four. Perhaps more improvements can be made on this foot but at this point I was thoroughly sick of clay feet and wanted to get on with it. Charge!
And, the palmar pad moves in ways that hurt my brain.
I'm weirdly into dog feet. I love their sculpted knuckles and long elegant toes. I’ve used the free Freakhound canine paw pattern found here for my past three partials and really do like the pattern, but I think a bigger paw would look better with the size heads I’d been making. So now I have a lot of clay sketches and an excuse to try to make a canine handpaw pattern of my own! Stay tuned!
(Don't fart Sadie....)
I love both Silas and Artemis, don't get me wrong! But I'm also really entertained by the difference between these two, especially considering that they're built on identical resin bases, with identical resin and silicone parts.
Here we get a little peek under the skin, as it were. For Artemis (and her brother Garm) I extended the top of the head back and made ruffs out of foam, made the ears out of Varaform and felt instead of Foamies, and used the ear vents as bases/supports for the ears instead of sewing the vents in afterwards. The ears are glued onto and supported by the foam instead of the resin base, which allows more flexibility with their size and shape. I got this idea from Stuffed Panda Studios, and the designs of the ears and ruffs are adapted from her designs. Credit where credit is due!
Process pics. Ears freshly assembled, being inspected by the Feline Assistance and Cat Hair Distribution Department.
Foam added to the top of the head, ears partially glued on. Does this dude look weird or what?
Cheek fluffs added, and approved by the Feline Assistance Department. The triangular part under the chin helps with patterning the neck later on, and is cut off afterwards.
Brother and sister with ears and foam added, ready for patterning!
That was quite the summer project! I especially had fun making this video. I suspect my faithful and ever suffering husband (aka the man in the mask) probably had a good time too.
Above, trying to fit a silicone cast of this straight lip on my mask. You can see how it gaps underneath, between the lower edge of the lip and the jaw. No good.
Above, trying to glue the new lip on. I think that pile of clamps might be trying to tell me something....
Making a pattern for a more fitted lip. The green thing above is Frog Tape stuck to aluminum foil. I pressed a piece around the lower jaw, sketched the shape of the lip on it, and cut it out. I then made it symmetrical by folding it in half in the middle and trimming it so the two sides would match. Then I tried out the new shape back on the head (above), trimming and fiddling until I was happy with it.
Here I've built the lip up in Monster Clay. It's built right on top of the pattern thingy, stuck on around the edges with a little more Monster Clay, so I can fairly easily remove and reapply the lip to the mask or adjustments as needed.
Above, the two clay lips next to each other for comparison. The new lip is on the bottom. Very different shapes.
Gluing silicone casts of the new lip in place. Not so many clamps needed this time! (The rubber bands here are actually serving as clamps here too.) I tried using Weldbond instead of hot glue, as Weldbond is theoretically stronger and doesn't leave those lumpy ridges when it dries. Weldbond takes about 24 hours to fully cure, hence the clamps. It did a good job, but I'm not sure it does enough of a better job to justify the long wait time.
And, the new lips freshly installed. Wheee!!
Above, two straps made by cutting webbing (not elastic, we don't want these guys to stretch!) to about 12” lengths, feeding them through the two front clips, folding them in half and gluing the halves to one another. No glue on the clips, they need to be able to rotate on the straps. The suspension will be (well) suspended from these straps inside the head, allowing it to move and conform to the wearer's head.
Now, to make the "slots". The short story is, these two new straps will be glued between two layers of foam inside the head. I imagine the straps could also be riveted inside, or perhaps just glued to the bare resin, but foam sticks really hard to the scored-up inside of a head with hot glue, and the straps stick really hard to the foam so… Plus the foam provides a much larger gluing surface and therefore more security, in my mind anyway.
Above, the first layer of foam, visible underneath the browband, has been glued into the head. Then, the the correct placement for the suspension is found, with the browband going across the forehead just above the eyes. The clamps are only temporarily holding the suspension in the correct place, the browband will not actually be fixed to the mask like this but will be able to move inside the head somewhat.
Next, the two new straps are glued on the foam directly underneath the two preexisting straps with which they share clips. I glue the straps all the way from the front of the mask to the back, where I trim off any extra. The more gluing surface the better. Again, no glue on the clips!
I start working the top layer of foam before the suspension is glued in, and finish it afterwards. Above, making a pattern for this part using standard duck tape patterning procedures. I often use aluminum foil under the duck tape in place of the more standard plastic wrap as it is easier to handle, especially in a concave shape like this.
Next, cutting the slots for the clips into the pattern. Cut a little bit, try sliding the pattern over the clips, cut a little more, slowly but surely. Worse comes to worst the slots can be taped over and started over again.
Above, the finished pattern for the top layer of foam.
Above, the second foam piece has been cut out, laid into the head over the freshly glued pair of straps, and held in place with Wonder Clips. Working from one end to the other I'll unclip one Wonder Clip, smear hot glue around underneath the foam, and press it down until it cools. I work my way systematically across the head, unclipping each Wonder Clip in turn, putting glue under the foam, and moving on. The Wonder Clips keep the foam in the exact correct position while it's being glued. I'll cover the entire underside of the foam with glue, paying special attention to the openings for the clips. Lots and lots of glue, but again, none on the clips!!
Trying it out. I'm pleased with how it works.
Above, the suspension in the finished head. From these pictures you can get an idea of how it "floats" inside the head. It also makes the mask nice to take off and on, as once the back strap is adjusted to the wearer it's a lot like putting on a baseball cap. No straps to fasten and unfasten.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask! Thanks for looking!
Photographing my first partial "Silas" for sale presented new challenges. I have an indoor tabletop setup to take pictures of smaller things, such as masks, eBay sales items and (not so) occasionally model horses. Unfortunately, the basement where I have my setup is too small with too low of a ceiling to be able to photograph an entire figure. My first thought was the great outdoors, but the lighting can be hit or miss, especially with a dark object like Silas.
The advantage of an indoor setup is that you can play with the floodlights until you get the lighting exactly the way you want it, and you don't need to put on the mask until you are happy with how the lighting looks. (Plus you don't even need to get dressed to go outside!) The backdrop material is fairly thin, and in these practice photos above and below you can see a square of light from a window shining through. We waited until dark for the official photoshoot, though as it turned out it wasn't difficult to edit the square out either.
Above, my daughter mugging it up, and the first attempt to remove the green screen with GIMP. The urban backdrop on the right is one we cut and pasted from online to give this all a whirl.
And, TA DAAAAH! The original greenscreen photographs with the finished pictures on the new backgrounds.
All I can say for learning GIMP is, GIMP Workshop baby!!! These videos were very easy to follow and the guy's voice was very calm and soothing, which helped keep me from freaking out and throwing my computer out the window on more than one occasion. Especially helpful were these videos- this one on how to remove an object from its background and this one on how to remove a furry object from its background. This one, in addition to being about removing an object from its background also had info about how to make simple shadows and remove colored reflections (like the green on Silas' fur and jacket).
Below, images made with this second background photo. And more GIMP workshop videos that were helpful: These three on the Path Tool, a basic operation on GIMP, video one, video two and video three. And a video about how to make shadows, though this one turned out to be more elaborate and complicated than I really needed. The shadows underneath Silas in these finished photos were all created with GIMP.
I decided I wanted to do a collage of all my photos for Silas' auction. The photo below was meant to be the background for the collage. In it I learned to do a cool new thing called the Orton effect, a somewhat blurry, dreamy, and light-filled affair.
And TA DAAAAHHHH!!!! Finished GIMP photos. I'm very happy to say that Silas' auction was successful and he has since gone on to a new home.
Geez, I had no idea it's been so long since I've updated my blog! But I have been working steadily and hope to have a new mask to auction soon. Part of the holdup was having a place to paint.
Above, the top for the booth. (Check out how dirty the filter got after only a few uses!) I made the top out of 1/4" plexiglass, not the insulation as in the Fine Woodworking article, as I wanted to be able to get as much light as possible in the booth. Portland Glass cut a piece to my specifications for around $30. I made a "lip" out of the insulation and hot glued it to the plexi to help keep it in place.
And, ready to rock and roll! Let's get this party started!
My first pair of practice handpaws, made out of my "cheap" white fur. The toebeans are appliqued vinyl, the claws are resin. The cuffs have a bias tape edging and no lining, since early on in my online explorations I had read that linings were a luxury, good only for retaining sweat. However I found the resin claws made the tips of the fingers floppy and stuffing was helpful in stiffening them. And a liner is useful in separating the stuffing from the hands. Which brings me to...
My second pair of practice handpaws. These do have a lining as well as the bias tape edging. The toebeans are felt "pillows" sewn into the white fabric, a method Kloofsuits describes in her tutorials above. This method needs less skill than applique to yield a very nice result, though it takes much more time and patience. (This is what podcasts are for!) Even though these were just practice handpaws I wish I had used fabric other than felt, as it pilled all to hell in about two seconds and looks awful. At this point I'm also feeling frustrated by the claws. They look crooked and haphazard in both sets of paws, pointing in whichever direction they feel like when I glue them in, no matter how careful I try to be.
And the a third set of paws, this time made of "good" fabric, with faux suede sewn-in "pillow" toe beans and the new resin claws. I'm pretty happy with how these look.
And, giving the handpaws a try!