I'm excited to sew up a felt version of this foot, stay tuned!!
Really and truly. Here I am mugging with the new foam paw I made, all taped up and ready for patternmaking.
I get so excited about whichever phase of my paw I'm working on that I can't wait to make some more and then I think, you know what would make it *really* great?? And off I go again. I was so pleased I got a reasonable interpretation of tendons with the previous draft, and then I thought, the paw would be even better if the fingers lay closer together, tamping down a little more firmly on that inclination they have to spread out and morph into bird's or lizard's toes or something.
Here is this newest foam paw, prior to taping.
Here we have the previous foam paw compared to this newest paw. One big difference between them was my focus on getting the big, overall shapes of the new foot correct and worrying less about smaller details, such as carefully rounding all the edges and making sure the angles between the first and second joints of the toes were correct. Another big difference is the basic shape of the fingers. The fingers of the new foot are more or less elongated rectangles made from foam, rather like boxes, so they can lay fairly flush up against each other. Fingers from previous drafts were tubes, sheets of foam rolled up and the edges glued together. The curve of the tubes tended to push the fingers away from each other and make them spread out more.
I'm excited to sew up a felt version of this foot, stay tuned!!
Getting Out of Hand
Above, photos comparing draft #5 (left side, with the red toebeans, featured in this previous blog post) and this newest draft (right side, pink toebeans.)
(It took me a bit to get photos of the paws, I got interrupted a lot...)
Backing up a bit. To make this new draft I needed to make a pattern for the tendons and devise support for them inside the paw, so they would hold their shape.
Here, making new pattern pieces by retaping the foam model (shown here in this earlier blog post) to include the tendons that I had left out previous drafts. The photo on the countertop shows the tape from the back of the hand before it was cut apart, as well as reworked patterns for the adjacent finger joints. The picture on the cutting board shows the tape after being cut apart and flattened, thus becoming the official pattern for the tendons that can be traced onto fabric and cut out.
Here, building up the tendons in the inside of the freshly sewn paw, along with structure for toebeans, knuckles and the first joints of the fingers. I also wanted to improve upon draft #5 by making it a little, well, less lumpy and I thought foam cut to fit the paw might do this better than the simple polyfil stuffing I'd been using. I derived these foam parts by pulling apart the foam hand from which I'd made this pattern (shown in this blog post,) tracing and cutting out the appropriate pieces from foam and gluing them into the inside of the new hand. I could have probably just pulled the original hand apart and glued that in there instead, but I wanted to keep it for future reference. You can see this poor disassembled hand in these photos, in little plastic baggies labelled with which parts they were.
Shown here is the support for the palm and back of the hand, which wraps around the middle of the paw. The cut end you see in this photo will ultimately be glued to the other end (not visible in this picture) to make something of a tube, which will fit around the wearer's hand.
I built up the parts of the paw in layers, working from the outer to the inner. The tendons, knuckles and palmar pad are under this big foam support now, but will be on top of it when the paw is turned right side out. I turned this paw inside out *a lot* which is one reason why it looks so pilled and tatty in these photos. That and because it is made of cheap felt. As you have seen I make a lot of these drafts, so no point in using good fabric just yet!
And here's Ezzy, watching the whole process and providing moral support. As well as modelling a very fine pair of paws. During my long day job induced absence from blogging, I've taken lots of cat pictures. Brace yourself...
Pause for Paws
It's been a while since I checked in about my paw project! My last update was in March, when I finished building my most recent Foam Foot from which to make a pattern. Since then I've sewn up Prototypes #4 (with pink beans) and #5 (with red beans) and hopefully have made some progress. As I've mentioned before, I have fantasies of selling this pattern as a download, and maybe actual finished handpaws 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.
Above, Prototype #4 (I think?? I'm losing count.) My big problem here is the overly long toes and overly short palm/back of hand, most visible in the second picture from the right. Looks more like a lizard hand than anything canine.
Above, Prototype #5. I still think the toes are too long, but I'm pleased with their overall shapes and that of the hand in general.
Side by side comparison of the changes between #4 and #5. I've lengthened the palm in #5 and smoothed out the juncture between that and the bottom of the toes. IMHO this curving, regular line is much more aesthetically pleasing than the previous version. I hadn't actually shortened the toes between the two versions, thinking lengthening the palm would be enough, but I can see that still needs tweaking.
Another side by side comparison of #4 and #5. The seam going straight across the knuckles on #4 seems to flatten out and lumpify the paw. The scalloped seam on #5 in my mind is a great improvement.
There are lots of other differences between the tops of these paws. I made an attempt at tendons in #4 (those vertical seams on the back of the hand) and a more detailed attempt at knuckles in #5. The jury is still out on where I'll go from here. One question is, how much does this add to the aesthetics vs how much work does it add to the project? Also, it remains to be seen if I can actually make tendons/knuckles **work** in this context. IMHO neither #4 or #5 is there yet.
Onward! At least I have plenty of moral (and adorable!!) support!!
Feat of Foam, Part II
It all started with these pictures, my favorite reference pics out of stacks and stacks of pics for dog feet. The pic of the tan dog foot is especially useful as it's relatively easy to see the bony structure underneath the skin.
Using my handy dandy Artograph projector, I enlarged tracings of these two pictures, one for the bottom of the paw and one for the top, to the size I wanted my finished handpaw to be. These would be my "master patterns" and I would use them to trace out smaller parts of the pattern....
....like so Here are patterns for individual toes and pads, traced from the "master patterns" using the light table and cut out.
I had actually started using these patterns before I started the clay feet I blogged about earlier, but I then I hit a snag and at the time couldn't figure out how to get around it.
Yuck. This looks more like a hoof than a paw. There's the question, what to do with the space between the fingers? How to make this work as a glove? The fingers here are all separate pieces but they're all attached to a one piece underside. How would the fingers move? (I could figure this out now, but this doesn't change the fact this paw is just plain old ugly.)
That's when I switched over to making and taking patterns from the clay feet, coming up with this "tubular" style of toes in the process. Here we have our friend the foam foot from my previous post, made from the enlarged and refined clay foot pattern, along with a selection of unattached toes and toebeans, showing off their tubular style.
But then, as it so often happens, just as I was ready to tweak the sizing a little bit and then call it done, I got very excited about how cool the palmar pad for this foot looked, carefully carved and patterned the way it was. Then I got the itch to do the fingers that way too. I could carve knuckles! And tendons! How cool would that be??
Here, the foam foot with the original tubular toes torn off and replaced with carved toes. The potential is clear, but at least for me, carving each toe out of a single piece of foam made it easy for proportions and proper placement of various parts to get out of whack.
I decided to try out a combination of carving, using the "tubular toes", and tracing and cutting out parts from my original patterns, thus coming up with this most recent foam foot. Here's a little demonstration of my method, making a random toe.
First, using the patterns pictured at the beginning of this post and a sheet of 1/2" thick foam, I traced and cut out out two finger pieces and one knuckle piece and glued them into a stack. I inserted a claw shaped piece of cosplay foam in the end of the finger to mark the placement of the nail. I then used a pattern piece from my previous foam foot attempt and glued it underneath my finger/knuckle stack for the "tube", leaving an opening for the toebean. I then started to give the whole thing a little shape with scissors and an Exacto knife.
Next, toebeans. Using my patterns again, I traced and cut out toebeans from the cosplay foam and some 1" thick sheet foam. I glued the cosplay foam into the end of the "tube", being careful to check my reference pics to get it aligned correctly and at the proper angle inside the toe. (Be sure to line up the tip of the toebean wth the claw!) I then glued the 1" foam toeabean in, using the cosplay foam toebean as a base. Using a Sharpie, I sketched out the side of the toebean on the 1" foam and gave it some shape with my scissors and Exacto knife.
Now, to give the top of the toe a little bit more of a curve. Again I used my patterns to trace out just the half of the knuckle nearest the claw, and just the part of the finger underneath the knuckle. I tapered both pieces with the Exacto knife so they would be thickest around the knuckle and thinnest towards either end of the finger, and glued them into the appropriate spots on the "stack". Then I shaped them a little with my scissors and Exacto knife.
Using the patterns like this takes a lot of the guesswork out of the placement of the different parts, such as knuckles and toebeans.
The outline of the knuckle was getting a little lost with all the layering and trimming, so I made the outline clearer by curving a thin piece of foam around it, gluing the foam down, and trimming the top a little to blend it in.
Now to give the underside of the toe a little bit more of a curve. (I'm sorry but that first picture looks really rude!) With a Sharpie, I marked where I wanted the curve to be, cut a slit along that line, pulled one edge of the slit under the other and glued it down. A curve, tada!
And here, our finished demonstration toe. I continued to refine the toes on the handpaw adding little pieces of foam and carving them down to get them just right, but this toe does get the basic process across.
Now to start taping this foam foot and making the pattern for a fabric foot! So excited!
Feet of Foam
As you recall from our last thrilling and chilling adventure! (Trixie can't stand the suspense.) I made a pattern from a clay paw I sculpted, enlarged the pattern with the aid of a projector and sewed together a draft of a handpaw, using the method furry how-to goddess Matrices describes in this tutorial. I promptly discovered that little irregularities become very big and nasty irregularities when they're enlarged like this and wound up with a rather lumpy and misshapen handpaw. In this episode, how to fix?
One thing I did was play with the pattern on a lightbox, tracing and retracing the pieces to make them more even and symmetrical, and test the revised pattern out by building a foam handpaw. The advantages being that (other than that I could go down a rabbit hole trying something I hadn't done before) if parts didn't work I could rip them off and try different parts, I could be sure all the revised parts would fit together, and I could also retape the foam handpaw for new patterns if necessary.
Left, one of my earlier attempts at a foam foot. You can see the toes are all different lengths, which was actually intentional. Real dog toes are like this. The two outside toes, the ones corresponding to our pointers and pinkies (the pointer being the one next to the thumb/dewclaw), are usually depicted as being the same length, but the "pointer" is actually a little bit longer. Ditto the two inside toes, with "middle" toe being the longer of the pair. There's not a big difference though, and for the sake of simplicity I decided I'd make the two inner and two outer toes the same length. Right, the foam pattern with the revised toes.
In addition to playing with the pattern on the lightbox, I also did some revising by building some new parts directly on the foam handpaw. Above, the underside of the paw, with foam "toebeans" added, from which to make fresh, even, symmetrical toebean patterns. Carving the toebeans out of foam and pinning them into the ends of the toes was simpler than trying to revise the enlarger toebean patterns with all their accompanying darts.
Next, taping the toebeans to make the revised toebean patterns. I only taped one inner toebean and one outer toebean, and then flipped the resulting patterns for the other two toebeans. Kitty provides close supervision.
Similarly, I revised the palmar pad by building it directly on the foam handpaw. Above, sketching out the shape of this pad on top of the pattern for the palm.
Taping up the palmar pad. I wound up cutting the tape pattern apart and re-taping it together a couple times to to get a pattern with seams I like.
Some finished patterns. Toebeans, left, and plantar pad, right.
Above, a draft sewn out of felt for this new revised pattern, in contrasting colors to make it easier to see how the beans and palmar pad work. I'm still not 100% sure I'm satisfied with the palmar pad and will probably re-tape the pattern and cut it apart again to get different seam lines.
Another view of this draft. The tops of the middle two fingers did not align with the back of the hand properly and left gaps (shown above as green lines.) I hadn't been careful enough to make hashmarks to show how the pattern pieces would line up together after they were cut apart. A total noob mistake.
Back to the drawing board. I retaped and repatterned the foam foot, this time being more careful with the hash marks. (You'll notice that the foam foot is getting more and more yellow. Fun fact! That's not the lighting, the foam will change color like this if it's exposed to light.)
Above, the foot with the gaps on the left, and the foot made from the corrected pattern on the right. Getting there. The foot seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each iteration, probably from adding a pencil line's width every time I retrace a pattern. Next issue to address, shrinking down the pattern a little, which will hopefully just involve scanning it into the computer and reducing it a little in GIMP. After that, adding dew claws, carpal pads, and claws. Fingers crossed!!
Onto Bigger Things
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!
Feat of Clay
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!
Sadie Rae Shortpants
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....)
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!