been happily re-reading all the Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden books and my inner Korvel seems to have emerged…
The teachers of the incredible creature sculpture class – Andrew Cawrse and Mike Murnane, approached sculpture from the viewpoint of creating characters for movies – they emphasized correct anatomy, personality/character, and story.
I came away with a list of things to do to improve my sculpts.
1. Learn anatomy. working with what they showed us – I discovered some really obvious truths that i’d somehow ignored till now. If you get the skeleton right – if the bones are more or less the right shape, and the right sizes and in the right places, you can put the figure into the pose you want, and lay on the muscles (the right muscles, the right size, going the right places) and the figure is far more convincing than when you just wing it.
2. use calipers – make sure that all the parts of the figure are the same size as their counterparts – upper arms are each the same length, etc etc… unless you intentionally MEAN them to be different
3. sculpt every day. even if its only a 5 minute maquette, or working on an armature. draw every day -sculpting is like drawing – similar fine motor controls of your hands
4. create a plan. Andrew said that part of one class with Richard MacDonald included writing your obituary, including everything that you hope to have achieved before you die. Be specific —- don’t say “wrote a book” say first book of photographs published december 2011. Then figure out the plan you need to put into place to achieve those goals. then stick to it!
5. Think about the figure you are sculpting. what does it eat? what eats it? how does it reproduce? how big is it?
6. work on a good armature, work standing up (keeps the energy going)
there was lots more – but i’ll be happy if i can internalize these for now.
I’ve been making maquettes, though not one a day. I keep drawing the same 2 muscle shapes over and over. sigh. drawing is definitely a challenge for me. I’ve been working on creating armatures – interesting, i always thought the wires should follow the bones of the skeleton – but in the class, they said no, the wires might happen to follow the bones, but mostly they have to be inside the sculpt – you can build the bones in place as long as they are supported by the wire.
I ended up doing a few maquettes of cats. (In large part because the cat who adopted us over Christmas kept sitting on my books when I tried to look up animals, chewing on my keyboard when i tried to look up animals on google…. it just was easier to sculpt the blamed cat) which reminded me how much i love the look of Sphynx cats.
so i’ve started a cat. not sure if it will stay all cat – i played with giving it a fish tail (catfish — yeah i know, my humor never matured either) and actually its a kitten – large head, smaller body, larger paws…
at the class – they said one of the first things to do is block in the larger masses. the skull, the pelvis, the ribcage. so that is what I did first.
I discovered that when i sculpted a careful cat skull first – the head almost sculpted itself (couldn’t resist, laid in some rough ears, eyelids, nose and lips). i tried to guess where the ribcage should be – then tried to fiddle with the legs. Discovered that i had used too small of aluminum wire for the legs – and that my guess on the ribcage was too far back. Finally ripped the cat apart, redid the armature with stronger legs, and invested in some books on cat anatomy.
Now i’m reading about scapulas, humerus and clavicle and preparing to lay in the sternomastoid, levator scapulae ventralis and clavotrapezius – and amazing myself that the words are starting to have meaning for me.
Its going to be interesting to see where this goes.
by the way – this creature is a small predator who eats insects, small rodents and tunaflakes. the sculpt is roughly life sized, it is a juvenile, curious and intelligent – it is hunted by larger creatures such as bobcats, coyotes and its still trying to decide if the peacock in the back yard is food or danger. It may have grasping hands and prehensile tail – not sure yet – it lives above ground, preferring trees, computer tables and tops of display cases.