I am a full time artists that sculpts primarily imaginary, mythical, fantasy creatures. There are occasions when I try my hand at busts of people or animals but usually I like to sculpt dragons, gryphons, and epic fantasy heroes. In this video I will be sculpting Magnifico, the Dragon, a creature character from the novels of Kevin Gerard. Kevin commissioned me to make this sculpture for him to illustrate his books. Kevin’s books are available on-line from Amazon or from his.
We began by agreeing upon a price and then signing a contract outlining the scope of the work and time frame for delivery of the work. Kevin also provide me with a sketch another artist had rendered for him sometime ago. This allowed me to jump right into sculpting.
The Sculpting Phase
I usually begin by making a skeleton of wire for the basic armature and then fleshing the wire out with aluminum foil. Once I have a general shape and pose that I like with the wire and aluminum foil I will begin to cover the armature with Aves Apoxy Clay.
This Apoxy Clay comes in two clay/putty like parts. You mix equal parts thoroughly and then begin to add as a “skin” over your armature. Once the Apoxy Clay is mixed you have about 2 to 3 hours to shape and add texture to your sculpture. The clay self hardens to a rock like strength. Once hardened you can sand, drill or cut to your specifications.
I work on small sections of the sculpt at a time. I may let a section completely harden before moving onto the next section or stage of the sculpt. This insures that what I have already worked on will remain undamaged by my fingers as I work on another section. So I may sculpt the head, let that harden and then sculpt the feet of the creature.
Sometimes when I am working for an individual or company all they want is the completed original sculpt. If all my patron wants is just the original sculpt I will deliver that to them and bill them for my time involved in sculpting that original.
The Painting Phase
Sometimes my patron will want me to paint the original. I usually do this with acrylic paints and various painting techniques that I have developed over the years. Painting may include air brushing, dry brush or washes to achieve the final look. Many coats of paint are usually involved. If my client wants to replicate the original I will postpone painting until I have made a mold and cast the final product. Kevin wanted replicates.
The Replication Phase
Many clients want to replicate the sculpture. I will make a mold of the original out of silicone rubber. I usually get all of my silicone from Smooth-On.com. It comes in two liquid parts. It is usually very thick liquid and therefore will trap air bubbles in the mixture. This is undesirable. Removing air bubbles can be accomplished in 2 ways: by exposing the mix to a vacuum chamber or by exposing the mix to a pressure chamber, I do the later.
I begin the mold making process by placing my original on some never curing, sulphur free clay. I will make indentations in the clay to create a key. I will build a box of foam board around my original and the clay. I then mix the 2 part silicone and pour it over my original in the box that I have created. I have a metal enclosed pressure chamber in which I place the box. Pressure is turned up to 70 psi and the box filled with silicone is left in the chamber for approximately 5 hours. I usually make 2 part molds, which is to say that there are two halves to the mold, each poured separately. After removing the clay and applying a release agent to the cured silicone, the second half of the mold is poured.
After all the silicone is cured it is time to remove my original from the mold and place the 2 halves together with rubber bands. I then mix up a guesstimated amount of resin. The resin that I am using is Smooth-On.com’s smoothcast 325. It comes in liquid and is mixed with equal parts A and B. I pour the resin into the mold and place it once again in the pressure chamber for about 2 hours at 70psi.
Time to de-mold, assemble and paint. Enjoy the video.