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So here are the hands, or at least their internal structure. Mostly toothpicks (except for cardboard claws). Holes were drilled using a fine bit in a pin vise. I was surprised how quickly these went together; just a few hours. In some of the photos the various bits are temporarily pinned together with bits of wire. Final assembly will use wooden pins carved from toothpicks. I'm hoping that the greater friction using wooden pins will keep the fingers from flopping around if the joints are too smooth.
Next step for the fingers is to go through bone by bone, removing or adding material as needed to arrive at the final shape of each. I'm going to leave the long bits of excess toothpick on the end of each bone for as long as possible so that they can serve as handles during the shaping process. I've made photocopies of the parts at 1/4 scale (to match the scale of reference diagrams I have) so I can figure out the subtraction/addition a bit easier (and with less eyestrain!). I'll probably have to do a bit of gentle bending or breaking as well, because of the joint morphology of some of the phalanges. Not all of the joints move along the same plane;as the fingers are flexed the claws move in toward each other. This will be easier to show than describe (thousand words a picture and all that).
One of the photos has a bit of crude photoshoppery to give a bit better idea of what a finished hand will look like. So far so good.
Next episode, Dinosaur Manicure!
Good Lord. The complexity of this project boggles my mind.
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
I've thought that on occasion myself. I try to focus on the part I'm currently working on. Breaking things up into smaller "bite size" bits helps keep by brain from choking on the whole. The fact that different parts use different techniques helps keep things fresh, too. I'm glad this critter has no more vertebrae than it does (did?)! I'm really looking forward to doing the final filling in, surfacing and painting of ol' 'rex here. I'm very pleased with how it's turning out. I hope I can do the rest of it justice and still be as pleased with it once it's complete. Not that I anticipate trouble, but one never knows.
A few things I'm still working on in my head are the articulation of the hip joints, how to build up the finished shell around the internal structure of the legs (the skeleton of the skeleton?) and casting the parts for the skull. I won't see how my ideas work until I actually build them; then we'll see.
Posting my progress online has been a great motivation for me. Too often in the past I would "build" things in my head, solving problems, working out details mentally without actually building anything "for real." Doing things in public on-line forces me to get off my ass (and out of my head) and actually cut and glue. It's been fun; I'll probably do it again in the future.
Here's a quick update on the hands. Still just pinned together, but I've got wooden pins cut down from toothpicks ready to go. With any of the wooden pins I have left over I can go hunting for teeny tiny vampires....
Some of the phalanges still need a little bit of bulking out and the paint I've used is a bit glossier than I'd like, but apart from that I'm very pleased with the hands. So far these bits are the closest to the finished form of any part of my skeleton.
The third metacarpal,which isn't much more than a sliver of bone buried in the flesh of the living animal's palm, will be made and added once I join the hand to the forearm.
Just today I received some very helpful images from the Black Hills Institute which will allow me to proceed with the feet in the same manner.
BHI can be found here:
Their book section has copies of the (sadly defunct) Japanese publication Dino Press for sale. The Dino Press volumes include an English translation for the major articles in each issue.Also to be had is the companion book (also in Japanese) from a mid 1990's traveling T.rex exhibit put together by BHI. All the above are profusely illustrated in colour.
Tyrannosaurus Rex; The Tyrant King is the publication which resulted from the 2005 BHI 100 Years of T.rex symposium. This where I got a lot of my data for the hands and arms.
You my friend, have a lot of patience and knowledge on this subject. It is really amazing to see it's coming together. Keep it up!
I should be posting some photos of toe stuff soon. I've been working on the hinges for the toe joints; those bits don't look very much like a dinosaur at all! For hinges in the larger toe phalanges I'm using wooden coffee stir sticks. The approach is similar to the hinges for the fingers (see above), but bigger. This work included some drilling with an actual POWER TOOL! This will probably be as high-tech as I will get on this project. I used an old (probably older than me!) Dremel-like hand-held rotary tool to make holes through the stir sticks. I bundled them in groups of three, trying to keep them aligned while drilling. At some points it became a bit of a wood-burning project as tiny wisps of smoke curled out of the holes as I drilled! No flames though. Each set of three drilled pieces (plus one spacer) will make up one hinge. I've marked these pieces so that should they become split up I can find each hinge-set. My drilling wasn't perfect so keeping them together (and using marks to identify them) means I don't have to go back and match up what works together over and over again.
The hinges for the smaller toe bones I'm making out of cardboard. I use water-thinned Weldbond as a sealant to help stiffen the cardboard up. The sealed cardboard can be sanded, almost like wood. The sealant also helps keep the small cardboard bits from delaminating from the repeated handling as they are drilled (pilot hole made with a spiky metal thing, hole widened by turning an Exacto knife blade in it) and shaped. Without the glue treatment the edges start to fray a bit.
When I've been building up the toe bones themselves I've been working on one given phalanx at a time (well two really, right and left of each) to avoid having too many parts to keep track of. Some of the bits are kinda small and hard to label; keeping the bits in play to a minimum means I'm less likely to accidentally grab the wrong one. I'm building up the toe bones in such a way that the hinge units can glued into slots after most of the bulking out to final volume has been completed. In that way I don't have to worry about gluing the joints into unwanted immobility. I'm also hoping that this will allow a tighter fit between the toe bones.
So here are the photos. The hinge pins for the larger toe bones with wooden hinge plates will be bamboo skewers; for the smaller phalanges the pins will be round toothpicks. Sometimes making these bits that don't look much like a dinosaur is kinda boring. Each foot has fourteen toe joints; each toe joint needs a hinge; each hinge needs five parts. That's...a lot of parts! Just six more toes to go.....yikes! At least vertebrae have some variety.
Actually, because the first toe on each foot is relatively small and does not usually contact the ground, I might just wire it together. It wouldn't be reposed that much. That would save me making four hinge units. Or I might just go ahead and do it the same as the other toes. We'll see if I'm a masochist or not.
Hinges and Toes..... part?
I think I see light at the end of the tunnel! I'm nearly done with the toe hinge construction. Then I'll just have to do hinges for attachment to the metatarsals; there are only six of them.
One of the more specialized tools I used for this part of the project was a hole punch. I used it to cut the circular shape into the cardboard spacers used between the hinge plates. Like the "Dremel-esque" tool I used for drilling the coffee stir-stick hinge plates, this is probably older than I am (b. 1962). I found it in my late father's collection of tools. It looked "interesting" enough to add to my own tool collection. I figured I'd use it "someday" for "something", and wouldn't you know it someday and something came to pass!
Larger toe bones will use wooden hinges, smaller ones, cardboard. It turns out that I needed to make a few extra larger ones (must practice counting) so I made these out of cardboard. I probably could have done all of them from cardboard, but then I would have missed out on using A POWER TOOL! Oh well. Live and learn. And learn. And....
So I've got a crapload of hinge units. This bit has seemed a lot more industrial than artistic. I'm glade it's almost over. Some of the hinges were a bit looser or floppier than I wanted, due to my having been a little too efficient with some of the drilling and filing. I used a fine bead of glue along the inside of the hole on the centre hinge plates in question. That did the trick. I will trim and file the excess bits from the hinge plates and pins as I need to fit them into the slots in the bones.
So the toe bone structures for toes II through IV are complete! YAAAYYYY! I'm quite happy with how they've turned out. I'm trying to decide whether to cover and fill them out to their final volume now, or come back to do that later. I'll let you know in my next update!
This is Insane! You must have the IQ of Professor X
I don't know about the IQ part but I think you've got the insane part pretty close!
Well, I haven't filled in the toes yet. I've decided to work on more internal structural stuff; I'll be posting pix next week. I've got a start on the metatarsals, the bones of the sole of the feet. Since T.rex actually walks on its toes they kinda look like its ankle, but they're not.
I've decided that I'm going to cast the femura and tibiae using strip papier mache in a manner similar to how I did the scapulocoracoids and ilia, by building masters in plasticine over cardboard and making plaster molds from which to cast my parts. Each of the four bones will be in two parts. I'm taking this approach so that the leg bones will be hollow, thereby saving weight and leaving space for mechanisms for the joints (the exact nature of which I have yet to determine!) Doing it this way allows me to add the joints later rather than building the legs around the joints. Either way would work but this way allows me to postpone my joint design decision.
Now that's a wicked project.
Keep up the great work.
Here are the photos as promised.
The femur and tibia start out as cardboard profiles at approximate right angles to each other. It might be hard to tell from the images but neither of the profiles used in each bone is flat; each exhibit some degree of curvature.
Putting a bunch of stuff together to so how things are coming along lets you see that things actually are coming along. Seeing larger sub-assemblies start to form lets you get away from the narrow-angle view of smaller bits (like toes!) and allows you to see that when put together these things actually do look kinda like what you're aiming for.
The femora and tibiae are beginning to be filled in with plasticine. the edges of the profiles can still be seen; this keeps me from loading too much filler resulting in bones that are too thick. Also, one set of these edges will end up being the parting lines of the two-piece mold I will be making from these plasticine masters. The casts will be made with the molds "open" similar to the casting of the ilia and scapulocoracoids. The mold halves will not be reassembled for casting. The shape of the tibiae at the knee joints is going to be tricky. I will probably have to simplify the shape of the masters to prevent undercuts in the mold which would trap the casts. The cast parts will then be corrected after the fact. With flexible molds this would probably not be necessary, but my use of plaster molds requires this work-around.
Making the two piece molds for the leg bones will be good practice for making the molds for the skull which will need at least a three part mold for the exterior, plus additional molds for the inside surfaces of the skull.
This has to be one of the craziest projects I've seen on this site, absolutely inspirational, I'll be sure to check back on this... I was a huge dinosaur fan back in the day, I could have ended up doing this kind of stuff myself, haha =)
Well, after last night's plaster session, I can see why so many people are questioning the sanity of this project (and/or the person doing it).
Some important lessons learned:
Use nice, thick plasticine walls when building retaining walls for the mold. Thin ones can and will stretch and deform with the weight of wet plaster. (Duh.)
Make sure that all joints and edges of said retaining wall are properly sealed so that plaster does not leak out,(double Duh) otherwise you have to start spooning and ladling wet plaster back into the mold to get sufficient mold thickness before the plaster dries too hard to spoon and ladle. Assuming of course that you had your mold in a receptacle that would retain said plaster (so as to enable spooning and ladling) and not let it run all over the floor (I was smart enough for this one).
It's a good thing I'm not working with fire.
But, despite all the self inflicted difficulties, I actually ended up with two pairs of molds which ( I hope) will let me cast the femora and tibiae. Just as well, since the masters probably wouldn't have been up for another plaster bath, at least not without a fair amount of work. Despite the use of the Weldbond to waterproof the cardboard profiles used as the basis for each of the bones, the molding process soaked them pretty thoroughly. So, no points for style, but I still have my molds.
The toothpicks stuck into the masters let me handle them without messing up the finished surface. Another lesson: pointy things are sharp and can cause injury when pressed against flesh.
Before the plasticine mold boxes were built I stuck the masters in the 'fridge for a while to harden them up for the handling that would be required to prepare them for mold-making. They survived the handling but the plasticine I used to define the parting line for the molds didn't stick as well as I would have liked. This is probably one of the reasons that I had the leak problem (see above).The second half of each mold worked out without any problems since the parting line was now defined by the first pour (and spoon and ladle) of plaster (and from having learned my lessons with part the first).
P.S. I might tell you about my blunders and accidents, but I'm under no obligation to photograph them! Besides, I wouldn't have wanted to risk getting my camera plastered. After the whole process was over I almost felt like getting plastered myself.....
No new photos today. I should have some in soon, though. Right now I've got paper strip-style papier mache in the molds for the leg bones. Pretty much the same as what I did for the scaps and ilia. I will be adding a bit of cross bracing to increase the strength of the parts. It will make it much easier to assemble the halves of each bone if they aren't distorted; I'm hoping the cross braces will do the trick.
While laying up the various paper layers in the molds I noticed that some of them had a bit more undercutting than I would have liked, so de-molding could be very interesting.....
I may have found a solution to the hip joints. I've been trying to figure something out for these; I don't think the hinges I've been making ad nausium would really do the trick. But in looking over sites detailing stop-motion animation armature construction I found something cheap and easy that might very well work. Have a look here (scroll down the page a bit):
This looks like a really neat project! (I think this is much more insane and crazy than my humble little pile o' bones!)This method of armature construction looks like it will be very doable for my project. The builder notes that these joints don't move as smoothly as he'd like them to and that they do not support the puppet's weight. That won't be a problem for me because a) I'm not animating my skeleton and b) it won't be supporting its own weight but instead will be mounted on some sort of metal rod arrangement.
So the casts came out quite well. There was enough give in the casts to handle the slight undercuts I had been wondering about. I'll have to do a bit of assembly and repair work, but when I hold the halves of each bone together they seem to fit nicely and they look, well, rather bone-like.
I was looking at wooden beads today and will have to figure out what size of mechanism the hip bones and femora will accommodate for the hip joints.
The casts with cross braces added look like some kind of crazy Cretaceous canoes. I'll bet that no one else in the entire history of the Earth has ever written this sentence before. But I'm hoping "crazy Cretaceous canoe" will become the hot catch phrase of the year. If it does, you heard it here first. Now, how to collect royalties....?
Something I will have to fix (and try to avoid on any future cast parts) is the slight rubberiness of some of the deeper recesses of the parts which received too much glue and not enough paper. Welbond on its own stays flexible once it dries, more flexible than I would like my parts to be. What I will do with the areas in question is to cast small, thin hard shells to go over them. I will probably use an old fashioned home-made flour based glue and wrapping tissue for this. It will kinda be like capping teeth. Without the pain. I hope.
But wait, that's not all! Here's an optical illusion for your enjoyment. The first photo is actually of the insides of the casts; even though these look convex, what you are seeing is concave.
You haven't just an excellent anatomical skill, but also an unbelievable artistic one.
I'm stunned by your way in making moulds and part prototypes.
I usually work with silicone and resin, but your way to make parts is so new and interesting to me.
Bones will be very light I guess.
Great work on nails.
I've never worked with silicone and resin myself. I've chosen these materials for this project (or maybe they have chosen me!) because they are cheap, safe, easy to acquire and use and need very little special tools or much space to work with. Certainly cheap and safe are most important since I don't have a lot of money to spare and I share my home with other beings who need a safe environment. Necessity is the mother of invention and I am making a virtue of necessity!
Some of my techniques I have developed because I am hesitant to just dive in and start sculpting by eye alone. I would probably be more likely to "dive" if I were sculpting something from my imagination rather than an actual animal (or skeleton of one). I need to be sure that what I'm making will match the specimens I'm working from as closely as possible. So I plan, plot and map stuff out.
Here's another stop-motion animator whose armature designs will probably be very helpful in my own work:
That certainly looks to be within my budget and abilities.
omg, you're putting a lot of effort on this project, respect!
It's looking really good!
Here we usually say something like:
"necessity is mother of all inventions"
When I started to scratchbuild parts I didn't know anything except knife (not cutter), sandpaper and superglue.
I passed some years to heat knives cutting plastic covers CDs, sanding parts and glueing one onto the other to create volumes. And then sanding again.
That was stupid but was an important experience to me.
The important thing is that you join your goal, it doesn't matter how to.
Your way isn't stupid at all, reveals a great skill and parts are strong, light and posable! Not good applied to my subjects, but perfect for yours...so...
much respect man!
I'll follow next steps with entouxiasm
My grats to this too.
Absolutely amazing work.
I am a dino fan since my childhood and now I am trying to get a start with dinosaur-illustrations. though I havent really started with it ^^
And I always wished to have some dino models in my room. Maybe I can build something much more simple ^^
why does it feel like I'm watching them paint the Sistine Chapel?
My SketchBook http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=139784
http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=192127"Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."-John Huston, Director
Here's where I found the links I posted above for the armature joints developed by several stop-motion animators:
The forum archives have lots of great information on all sorts of materials and techniques for sculpting which are often useful outside of animation too. And, of course, lots of valuable help and information on the art and craft of stop-motion animation. Check it out; you'll be glad you did.
I might not have do the "tooth-capping" thing after all. The areas I thought were a bit on the soft side have toughened up considerably. Turns out I just had to let them dry out more. That's a relief; one less make-work thing to do. YAAAAAY!
Today, a little bit of refinement on previously done bits, some repair work on some of said bits and a lesson learned.
I've started to bulk out the bones of the forelimb using small rolled strips of facial tissue soaked in water-thinned white glue. I've decided that the wrist joint will be done using twisted wire. There's not really a lot of room for anything else. I've decided to use the same technique for the shoulder joint as well. At one point I thought I would make it a tiny little ball and socket joint but problems with finger joints made me rethink this particular think.
As you can see in the photo with finger bits in my palm the centre hinge bit thingy with the hole drilled in it broke through the hole. This was just a bit too delicate for what I was asking of it. It was partly the result of painting after assembly and trying to move the joint after the paint had dried, thereby breaking it. The other finger joints survived the same treatment; they seem to be OK for now. I'm replacing the failed joints with twisted wire; one of these joints had been somewhat loose and floppy anyhow, so this is definitely an improvement. Should other finger joints break in the future I will replace them in the same way, clipping off the broken bits, drilling the ends of the joints, rejoining with wire. Unless and until they do break though, I will leave them be. It would be too much work to redo them all.
I covered the sections of twisted wire that will be exposed with a 3:2 (approx.) mixture of Weldbond and Tamiya acrylic model paint. The wires for the wrist joint have been treated in the same way. With any luck this glue/paint mixture will remain flexible enough to resist flaking off with the bending of the joint. I'm hoping to use the same technique on the twisted wire that will be running through the vertebrae of the neck and tail.
The lesson learned? Don't be too clever. I probably should have used wire in the first place; it would have been much easier but not as "cool". Next time. "easy" will win out. Thus my decision for wire joints at the shoulders instead of ball and socket joints. I doubt I'll need to use a similar fix on the toes since those mechanisms are much more robust than the fingers ever were. But we'll see. Live and learn.