Harvey the Hussar

A bit of a new (or old) departure this one, I'm making a Napoleonic Hussar puppet for a friend who is a serious Napoleonic buff. It's been a while since I've made a puppet or anything other the Steampunk in style so this will be a fun challenge.
The aim this weekend was to make a head to get a feel for the figure, both look and scale. Ben (the puppet's recipient) wanted something that had the feel of Harvey Kietel in The Duellists.

Below is the head construction from start to finsih
The head will need to be hooked to the body to allow movement so I start with a simple armature with lots of spare wire to insert into the body.

Over this I build a simple skull shape from sculpey and cook it so I have a solid surface to build on.

The basic face is built over this and beads added for eyes.

When I'd added eyelids I realised the beads were too big so I removed them and added smaller ones. I want a much more realistic look for this figure than normal so the face must be in proportion.

The smaller beads allow for deeper set eyes. At this stage I'm just making the face from sculpey, once it's cooked and firm I'll build up the back and hat.

I'd originally intended to use plastiroc (which is air drying)  for the next bit so painted the face with washes of brown, red and black acrylic to give a weatherbeaten and swarthy complexion.
I started to build the hat but wasn't happy with the fimo/sculpey join so went back to sculpey. the lump you can see below is to create a shape around which the hat will be secured. The forehead is sloping so the peak of the hat can be stuck to it.
I was worried how the acrylic wash would react to another cooking but it was fine.
The brim of the hat, made from double layered thick paper reinforced with wire is glued to the head, it goes all the way into the head so once the hat is built it will be secure.

 The hat is  plastiroc smooothed to shape and wrapped in thick parcel paper. There was a dent in the shape which I've smoothed over with more plastiroc
The finshed head has a piece of wire through it. This is inside a brass tube, the wire will eventually be removed and thread inserted to allow the head to hang and move. The brass tube means no unsightly hooks and also stops the thread damaging the head when it moves.
All he needs now is detailing on the hat and some hair. Oh and a body!

Another technomage

I was really pleased with my last figure The Technomage. I liked all the pipes and tubing and the bits growing from his back, as well as the result of using sculpey for the head. The next figure was an attempt to develop my sculpey sculpting skills with a mor realistic head.

He's a bit rough around the edges in places, but I like the look. The head is sculpey (white I think) stained with red and burnt umber acrylic which ahs given a pleasing flesh effect. The sculpey is slightly transparent so looks like real flesh, as long as you don't overdo the painting. Lots of staining with watered down acrylic, lightly rubbed back with a tissue and built up over time.

Because I wanted this figure to have his workings showing and he has no legs I built him around a hollow card shape.

This is the very basic shape over which I'll add the clothing. The head is on a brass rod which goes through the body and will make up part of his mechanical workings.

The front of the figure, much like the earlier figure is made of segmented body armour (a bit like a wood louse) The sections are made from thin couragated card, edged with thin wire to allow it to keep it's shape. The pieces are then covered in masking tape and a few coats of pva (this strengthens the shapes and also covers the tape joins. This is then painted/stained  with black  brown acrylic. Very little is used and is worked into the surface with a stiff brush giving a lovley finish. I've found that a good coat of glue is needed as the edges of the tape easily pick up an extra bit of paint, spoiling the effect. You can make out the corrugation of the card where the paint has picked up the subtle changes in surface texture. You can also see a larger section which will become the coat. This is made in the same way but using thick parcel paper. It's strong and flexible.

The armour segments are hot glued in place. A last piece is added over the shoulders to make up the edge of the hole in the back.

A section of tube filled with fairy liquid becomes a hose. Thick wire is pushed into the end and this is slotted into a hole in the body.

The coat/robe is made to fit over the body shape. This normally takes a few goes from newspaper before I'm happy with the fit and shape. The collar is especially tricky as you can't lie it flat. As before the shape is edged with wire, covered in tape and layers of glue before staining.

Once I'm happy this is attached to the body with hot glue.

The basic figure is now taking shape, all it needs is arms and the mechanics.

The Technomage

A few weeks ago I experimented using sculpey to model some heads, with no real idea of an outcome. Here is what the head became.

These photos are from a shoot I did using a smoke machine. I've had limited success with this as the smoke is so hard to control, it's really designed for stage work. I set up a box with holes below the sculpture and let hte smoke rise, taking loads of  shots on a rapid setting. I've done a bit of manipualtion on them but I like the result.

The Technomage (named after a set of characters from Babylon 5) was partly inspired by David Warner's Evil Being character in Time Bandits. He was a tall thin character in red robes with lots of bone like bits (see below) and an ongoing love, if that is the right word, with the wonderful Skeksis created by Brian Froud. I always thought the bug like segmented armour they wore was so cool.