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The Making of Toothless


The Making of Toothless

1. Toothless was sculpted in a 50/50 blend of Super Sculpey and Sculpey Firm.  The armature is aluminum wire and foil.  It’s not seen here, but I also applied wire mesh for the wing membranes.  Probably the trickiest part about this pose was the back legs.  Although Toothless is very cat-like, his anatomy is very reptilian.  I kept wanting to make the legs bend like a cat’s, but it just didn’t look right.  I did lots of tweaking on this before it looked right.

2. Here is a close up of the glass eyes I hand painted using acrylic paint.  I mixed a little gold in for that “rim” effect in the iris.  The eyes are 15mm across so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for fine detail.  With glass eyes, you also have to paint in “reverse” and it’s very tricky to get the colors to be opaque.  If the eye had been clay, I could have gotten some extra detail.  But my client and I both thought the glass eyes added a nice touch to this piece.  They don’t always work this well, in my opinion.  The “follow you” effect is neat, but not always appropriate for that particular sculpture.  Check out VanDyke’s and Tohickon for some awesome glass eyes!

3. Normally I would paint the eyes before even starting the sculpture as removing them from a piece is destructive.  However, my client and I weren’t sure if glass eyes were the best route.  So I did a rough sculpt around the eyes as seen in step 1, popped them out to paint them, put them back in, and did full detail around the eyes as seen here.

You can also see how “puffy” and raised the scales are in the beginning stage.  I worked just on getting the shape and placement right here.  Sanding will get them flat and closer to the skin.

4. Detailed Toothless!   I only sculpted in the larger scales, with fine details to be added later in the paint.  Though Toothless is fully scaled, that much detail is not perceived unless it’s an extreme closeup.  Selective texturing is a very important skill to have; it will add a lot of realism to your pieces.

5.  A few facial modifications were made here.  Something had been bugging me about his face and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  My client suggested opening the eyes a bit more and modifying the shape of the nose.  PRESTO!  Sometimes after you have been looking at a project for a long time, it’s good to get outside perspective from a new pair of eyes.  

Toothless is also sanded and primed here.  You can really see a difference in the level of the scales.  Some of them were almost sanded away completely so the scales didn’t end abruptly when moving to the smooth skin.  I used 3M sanding pads at 220 grit to slowly remove bulk on the scales, as to not completely remove them.

6. As usual, I painted with Delta Ceramcoat acrylics.  Toothless is not a pure black, but instead a dark grey with some blue and brown mixed in.  Using straight black leads to a plasticy look.  Even the shadows, though darker, are not pure black.

I did some trickery with varnish on this piece.  I don’t usually use spray varnish on black sculptures as it can leave a mottled pattern.  However, in this case, it added the perfect texture!  It broke up the black to give the wings a leathery look and even has the appearance of small scales in some areas.

The larger scales on the face were varnished with brush on gloss.  I both glossed the scales that were sculpted as well as added some smaller varnish scales on the smooth areas.  What a great effect when the light hits the sculpture!

I use Krylon matte spray varnish and Delta Ceramcoat gloss brush-on varnish.


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