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March 11th, 2010 #1
The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added
After a year of blood, sweat, tears, and bizarre skin conditions, my bust of President Barack Obama is finally complete and ready for prime time.
In this thread, Iím going to walk you through my learning-curve, if you will, as an untrained amateur sculptor just ďfiguring shit outĒ as I go along. Though this isnít my first attempt at sculpting, it was a first for a lot of things and I learned a hell of a lot along my journey.
NOTE: I was going to post the ďmaking ofĒ photos of all my sculptures in order of their creation-- but frankenswine requested to see the process of this one first, and I donít want to keep someone named frankenswine waiting. So here we goÖ
(A little back story, skip if you donít care): In the summer of 2008, I had just come off of working on an independent feature length vampire movie directed by two friends of mine, who employed me to not only act in the film but supervise and execute itís special effects and prop-making. Long-story-short, the movie fell through and I had a bunch of useless wooden stake weapons, unfinished miniature sets, and Plasticine clay lying around, Iíll post photos if anyoneís interested, but for now, never mind-- So come November 4th, 2008, unemployed and pessimistic, Iím drinking beer in a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn when it happens- CNN commentators project that Barack Obama has won the election. I jumped for joy. The next day I decided to create a bust of "The Prez". A year later, I finished. Why a year? Another long story. Okay, I'm bored already, moving on to the process.)
Okay, first off, I screwed up from the beginning. Having cannibalized the sculpts of my miniature set walls (refer to back story) I began inadvertently to mix various clays of different hardness, and poorly at that. You can see it clearly in this enhanced image from the finished piece:
What this meant was that for the remainder of my time sculpting this piece, I could never achieve a smooth surface anywhere (which if you look close is obvious). Not being mixed nearly well enough, each patch of clay would respond to my tools according to its respective hardness, making my life a living hell.
But for the most part, I was happy with the way it started out. I thought it looked like Obama already and I was really excited. However, the piece had no internal support and, just being a pile of clay sitting on a piece of masonite-- it fell over, flattening one side of his face. (No picture available).
What I should have been doing was working out the large shapes, profile, proportions, etc, using photo references - before implementing any detail work in the first place. But as I was and still am quite new to proper sculpting techniques, and principles of art in general, I was too eager and just wanted to render out all the detail right away!
Stay tuned for Stage 2 - AND BEYOND!!!
Last edited by Christopher Genovese; April 25th, 2010 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Trying to move pictures to the right spot.
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March 12th, 2010 #2
i totaly feel for you with the swirly mixed clay that sounds like exactly the kinda stupid thing i always seem to end up doing....that said the sculpt came out great i have nothing but respect for any one that can creat a real likeness.
March 12th, 2010 #3
From this picture it looks like a bronze bust with a patina finish. Still a great job... I can't wait for more.
March 13th, 2010 #4
Howdy yaíll. Iím back.
Thanks to whoever's following this thread. For anyone out there just passing through to glance at a finished product (and maybe not interested in the comedy of errors I went through to make this) here's some new photos of a Hydrocal cast I just made (and sold!). I gave it a glossy-black paint job as Iíd initially imagined the bust having.
Iím thinking about making 50 casts of this piece, each with a unique paint job. Right now, Iím making a faux aged bronze version. ~Speaking of bronze, I just want to give a shout out to that sick Innsmouth creature bust posted by dark_wraith, if you havenít check it out immediately! Itís amazing what he was able to do with a little cheap paint from Walmart: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=178396
So without further ado:
This was around February í09, the first time I declared the piece done (seriously, what was I thinking?). I went out of town for a week and when I came back, it just didn't look right to me. When I went in to change a few details, it seemed I would notice something else that was off. This touched off a process of having to re-sculpt the same features again and again. The man seemed to have different facial geometry depending on which photo I was referring to, I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. I hadn't taken into account photographic distortion.
Here's what I mean:
I didn't realized anytime you sculpt something based on a series of photographs, it's important to realize that the three dimensionality of the object will be distorted according the the camera's focal length and distance from the subject. If you care about accuracy as I do but don't take this into account, you'll be pulling your hair out trying to depict features that seem to have no permanent shape. I should have thought of this, I went to film school after all. FAIL.
Stay tuned for Stage 3.
March 13th, 2010 #5Registered User
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- Jan 2006
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Mate I know exactely what you mean with these distortion, real pain in the ass, every time i work from fotographs(taken with my camera) its always very tricky...
anyway, for your bust of Obama, the end result is great, and that thread is just awsome.
March 15th, 2010 #6
Sorry for the delay. Internet went down this weekend. Continuing the thread soon!
March 16th, 2010 #7
Stage 3! Things get weird.
Hey folks, thanks for sticking with me here on this thread, I appreciate your interest and please feel free to school me if you have any advice, I'll take all I can get.
Right now though, I'm sorry but I have to get weird on you. Yes, the thread's still SFW. The thing is, I've had some some strange skin reactions to the clay I've been working with since moving from Sculpey to Plastacine and I'm guessing no one here's a doctor, but you are all sculptors, so I'm hoping someone else has encountered this problem.
I honestly cannot remember what brand I used, the packaging has long since been thrown out, but if you know PLEASE tell me what is happening to my hands when i get them wet:
wet for 5 min:
wet for 10 min:
wet for 20 min:
Okay, so I know everyone's finger's prune when they get wet for long enough, but my entire hand prunes-- to the point of being painful, like having a thousand microscopic pliers tearing my cells apart.
This used to happen only when I was working with the clay, and a month or so after stopping use (and scraping my hands with a pumice stone) it would go away. Now it's like this all the time every time my hands get wet. I haven't touched this cursed clay for months and although it's slightly better, it hasn't gone away.
So please, can anyone help a guy out? I want my hands back, getting them wet is an essential part of my quality of life they were always silky smooth when wet, but now they feel like an under-ripe cantaloupe rind. Besides being really uncomfortable it also keeps me from working with any water-based clays.
Anyway, enough of that. Trust me, there's weirder things about myself I could've disclosed. If you're still with me here, I commend you. As your reward, I'll continue on with the thread:
This was in April '09. I came back from a week out of town and decided the bust needed some hair, retinas, and of course- a mole. Trouble is the more detail I added, the more I realized it just didn't look like Obama.
This might have to do with a phenomenon called the "The Uncanny Valley". (if you're not privy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley) It's a term used in robotics, but here "The Uncanny Valley" refers to the way in which the closer an artist gets to accurately representing a subject such as a person, the differences between the subject and the representation become increasingly obvious (and creepy) the closer one gets to realism -until the object reaches the threshold of acceptable realism. A graph:
So until I added these features, I had noticed only the similarities of my work with the subject, once I added the final touches, the shortcomings became obvious and I was on my way to another 7 months of adjustments (I was also looking for a job at the same time, as well as finishing other projects).
But just like smellybug said way back when, it's patience that makes a true master, and that's a lesson I've had to learn again and again.
Next post I'll be discussing the molding process, a first for me.
P.S. What the heck's going on with my hands!
Last edited by Christopher Genovese; March 16th, 2010 at 07:13 PM. Reason: typos
March 19th, 2010 #8
Well, I'm a hell of a long way from America and to me it looks just like your President. Consider also that you have created a wonderful piece that portrays a Man's thoughts, feelings and desires at a very specific point in time. That point in time is in a fraction of a second. It's done, time to move on to the next project.
Sorry Dude I have no idea what is happening to your hands. Certainly some of the woods I use as part of my job as a knifesmith creates a reaction like that which is why I no longer use them! Think you need to see a Medico, Mate..........
March 19th, 2010 #9
March 19th, 2010 #10
iven: Thanks! I believe it a little more every time someone says so!
Waipunga: Thanks for the kind words. And I agree, it's definitely time to move on. Can't wait get to the next project.
March 23rd, 2010 #11Registered User
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- Vancouver, B.C. Canada
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Christopher. You look like you may have some sort of dermatitis, brought on initially by some chemical in the clay or the clay it's self. You weren't clear, is it now happen when just immersed in water alone? Hairdressers and engineering trades are also highly susceptible to get dermatitis, working with chemicals and unfortunately have to wear rubber gloves from there on. I'm one those people and have been living it for the last 10 years, so I know what it's like to deal with. Get yourself to a doctor.
The only other thing I can suggest is Barrier cream or gloves. Search and see if there is a barrier cream that doesn't wash of in water. Gloves: for what you do, probably not any use, but I think there is ultra thin ones similar to tattooists use, that still have some senstivity while wearing them. Made of latex or nitrile.
March 23rd, 2010 #12
Good advice. I'll probably will get to a dermatologist if it turns out I'm the only sculptor on this forum that has encountered this problem. I've done a few searches online and I've discovered other people describe the same phenomenon. I suspect it might have to do with damage done from over-using the pumice stone, I experimented with using it only on one hand and it seems to accomplish nothing in the long-term. Could be I need to toughen these mitts again with some new callouses. Thanks again.
Thoughts, any one else?
March 23rd, 2010 #13
Very interesting thread so far. I learned quite a bit from reading it. The Uncanny Valley article was quite interesting. I hope that stuff with your hands is nothing serious. Oh and the sculpture looks very impressive too!