1/10 T.rex skeleton
Well I survived my first post, so I thought I would start a thread of my first (digitally) documented project. I do have WIP photos of some of my older stuff but it's all on film and I don't have a scanner. You can watch over my shoulder as I work on my 'rex. My aim is to make an accurate, poseable Tyrannosaurus skeleton out of cheap, safe and simple materials (cardboard, wire, wood, papier mache) using simple tools and techniques. We'll see how this goes. If you have any questions, feel free to ask; I have no secrets.
Apart from having always liked Tyrannosaurus rex, I've got several other inspirations for this project. One of them is this:
This 1/6 animatronic T.rex skeleton was created by Hall Train Studios for the American Museum of Natural History and is now part of a travelling dinosaur exhibit. I've only ever seen it on video, never in the flesh (or bone, as the case may be). I just think this is soooo cool.
Another spur to action has been the work of this man, who does amazing wood carvings of dinosaur skulls and skeletons in 1/10 scale;
I'm using FMNH PR2081, the specimen known as "Sue", which is part of the collection of Chicago's Field Museum of Natual History, as my prototype. I'm going to be using Sue's dimensions and proportions to size up my rex. The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology's Memoir on T.rex osteology by Christopher Brochu is my main source of information.
I have begun with the tail. The photos below show the steps in making the tail vertebrae. The larger ones consist of four parts, centre-line, centrum ends and transverse processes. This results in a cardboard "sketch" of each vertebra. When I have completed the rest of the vertebrae done to this level I will go back and fill in the spaces and bulk them out to the full volume of the bones
Last edited by Thagomizer; September 22nd, 2010 at 03:05 PM.
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Love your approach. This is going to be educational and fun to watch.
Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by Bil; March 3rd, 2009 at 03:44 PM.
1/10 T.rex skeleton continued.
Moving forward from the tail.
Different parts of the skeleton, different bone forms, call for different approaches. The vertebrae, fiddly little shapes that they are, will have to be more or less individually sculpted by hand over the basic cardboard forms I built in the previous installment. The pelvic and pectoral girdles include large plate-like bones with some curvature, the ilia and the scapulocoracoids. For these structures I've decided to make masters in cardboard and plasticine, then make simple,one-piece open plaster molds of these masters from which to cast papier mache parts.
Starting with a side view of the scapulocoracoid and a front view of the articulated pelvic girdle, I map out the edge of the bone by finding key landmarks in each view and measuring how far each of these points around the edge lies from the sagital plane of the body, the front to back centre line of the body. This results in a wavy line graphing the contour of the bone edge's movement away from and towards the body centre line. Bilateral symmetry means that I only have to do this excercise once; the opposite side is just a mirror image of the first. The wavy line graph is going to be used as the wall of an oddly shaped box, the floor of which is the side view of the bone. The side view is glued to thick cardboard; the wavy graph bit is printed or glued onto thin card, folded and bent around the edge of the side view piece. The resulting box is then filled with plasticine or clay. The bone itself is then sculpted on top of the box full o' plasticine. Because I am using plaster for my mold material, I avoid any undercuts so that I will be able to remove my papier mache parts without their breaking. A similar procedure of measurement, box construction and filling is used to produce forms for the ilia.
I took no photos of the plastering bit, so the next pictures will be of the finished plaster molds for the ilia and scapulocoracoids. (Kinda like those cooking shows where they break for commercial and they come back on with the dish cooked and ready to eat.)
I have to say this is very interesting I'm looking forward to seeing it take shape. Looks like some seriously painstaiking work.
I know this isn't strictly speaking related it's still quite interesting. After looking at the animatronic skeleton I found this on youtube and it's just the coolest thing ever.
Life size dinosaur puppets live on stage how cool is that?
Someday I wanna be as good as Andy Bergholtz.
WOW!! I also 'dig' your approach on this - looks very interesting.
Are these sculpts for your own expression, work related, commissioned, etc? Just curious about motivation.
Look forward to the updates - Thanks!!
This little project is just for myself. It's sort of a challenge to myself. I've never done a skeleton as a finished product before, only as a first step to a fleshed out animal. The whole moveable joints, poseable thing is because I'm too much of a wuss to decide on one pose and have done with it. Or, tom put it in a more positive light, I want the abilty to change my mind about what pose to display it in. Yeah, that sounds better.....
I'm figuring things out as I go along, so if I come across anything that stumps me, I'll be asking you good people for advice. There's more than one way to build a dinosaur, so if anyone else out there sees a better/easier way of doing any of these things I'm trying, chime in, I'd love to hear! I'm hoping this will be as much (if not more) of a learning experience for myself as it is for anyone out there watching the show at home.
To see some more of my stuff, have a look at my Flickr page here:
I hope to post more photos today. Please note that I'm not actually working as quickly as the frequency and density of my posts might suggest. I've been doing bits and pieces here and there (mostly on weekends) for about a month and a half. I'm just catching up to everything I've done so far. After that, things might slow down a bit. We'll see.
Okay, here they are, "fresh out of the oven". Okay, not so fresh; I did the plaster bit a couple of weeks ago. My plaster technique isn't quite as good as it should be; there were a number of bubbles in the molds which needed filling. If you look closely you can see some in the areas of the molds outside the areas to be used for casting parts. Nothing disastrous though. They should suit my purpose.
nice proyect dude!!! really liked that youtube video u posted!
which material r u gonna use for the final pieces???
I'm planning on using the plaster molds to cast papier mache parts, probably paper strip rather than paper pulp. Because I'm using cheap materials, I can always try both with basically no expense except time, choosing the best result for the finished part of my skeleton.
Here's the first stage of the rib cage and another look at the tail verts.
To make the basic rib forms, I enlarged the rib photo in Brochu's monograph to the appropriate size, glued the resulting photocopy to some corrugated cardboard and cut them out.. The actual fossil ribs show much evidence of breakage and some distortion. I used tracing paper to draw the ribs lined up and overlapping each other in order to gauge their degree of curvature and sort them into those which seem to work together to make a (relatively) even body form and those which are too badly broken or deformed to play well with others. On the table beside the cut out rib parts you should be able to make out this drawing (It looks rather like a black and red spider). Right now the ribs are flat, planar pieces. I will be coming back to them to refine their shape and give them a bit of curvature when viewed from the side, as opposed to face on. Ribs don't get a lot of coverage in technical papers and book illustrations. Skulls, hands and feet are all "sexier", or have better publicists.
Back to the back, a tale of the tail.
Here are the tail vertebrae all lined up in a row, together with the haemal arches or chevrons, along the ventral side. Six inch and twelve inch rulers give you some idea of the scale. When I got these all together like this for the first time, my fist thought was "Holy crap, this thing's gonna be BIG!" It has remained my thought since then....
Thagomizer, do you have a paleontology background? You seem pretty versed in the anatomy to be just a weekend dabbler.
I assume you connect all these parts with wire? Won't the ribs be pretty flimsy? Or are you going to build a wire cage to support the rib cage? I know, I know.. have patience...
That tail is a beautiful thing... almost be a shame to cover it.
Yes, this stuff is going to be strung together with a variety of things. The "spinal cord" will be some sort of wire. Once the ribs are finished they will be srtong and light. Papier mache (paper strip style) is quite robust once it's dry. Because it's light, it shouldn't be too difficult to affix to the vertebrae, either with glue, or glue with a bit of wire reinforcement inside the joint. I'll use what works. I hope.
The tail won't be covered by much and, if all goes well, it will be more beautiful still. I hope.
I have no formal training in paleontology, but enough reading of the dinosaur scientific literature to walk my way through a lot of the anatomy. I have a degree in history, I've done volunteer work at the local Children's Museum, I do kid's dinosaur programs through the local Public Library (in fact I've got three sessions next week for March Break) , and my day job is at a camera store.
Resources for budding dino-philes
Here are some websites that contain a lot of useful research material for dinosaur sculpting or painting.
First of all, I can recommend joining the Dinosaur Mailing List a great starting place for the latest news and research findings sent right to your inbox. Here's a link to its introductory page. Joining is easy and free. Just follow the simple rules.
Here's a link to the online Publications Library of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. More than just dinosaurs of course. But for me, dinosaurs most of all.
Here's a site dedicated to papers pertaining to theropod dinosaurs, like our friend Tyrannosaurus rex and other carnivorous types (some omnivores too), the Theropod Archive. There active links to PDF files of many of the papers listed.
Lawrence Witmer's lab at the University of Ohio does lots of cool, cutting edge anatomical studies, much of which is relavent to dinosaur enthusiasts and artists. CT scans galore give great 3D views of dinosaur innards (and outards too). Have look, watch some movies. You'll be glad you did.
Looks like an amazingly ambitious undertaking. I look forward to seeing it progress. Thanks for the tutorial.
Looks like a lot of work! Looks like fun though. I can't wait to see it complete.
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