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 Post subject: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 11:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:46 pm
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Location: San Jose, CA
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I haven't posted any progress pics for a while. Life happened. I've had to focus on some health and job issues. Not to worry - nothing life threatening, but enough for me to have to focus on what felt like both a physical and emotional handicap for a time.

I made a promise to Diana a.k.a. VaderNut that I would make her a reduced-sized Darth Vader helmet. For those of you who may not know, she is a very petite woman who has been fighting through challenges of her own. Her dream is to have a Darth Vader costume her size, inspired by a fan called Vaderkinde who measured 5'2".

After seeing all the politics, competition, recasting and crap in the hobby, I was disillusioned with the community for some time. But charity projects like this remind me that if you make a difference in just one person's life, it's worth it.

Some of you may recall that Diana's helmet was a Don Post Standard - a vintage $15-20 child sized novelty mask. I began a modification on it that grew into a total resculpt. I then sent it to my buddy, T-VIRUS, to sculpt the dome. Unfortunately, life happened with him, and I don't know when he will be up for air, but I hope we'll come back to us soon. At least I know what size-proportions to go for. A DPS works great with 5'1" - 5'2", so if I make something along those lines, I should be fine.

Brian Muir had suggested to me on more than one occasion to switched to clay, instead of all this use of epoxy clays that take up to 24 hours to cure, and whatever shaping you failed to do before the clay set, you'd have to sand... and sand... and sand. Although I suppose I was reasonably good with those methods, it was very time consuming, and projects would take a year or two (or even more) where the progress would fade over time.

I had previously tried clay and failed miserably. My skills were too oriented with epoxy clays and wasn't used to this medium. But this past Sunday, I decided to give it another go, and slapped some oil based Klean Klay onto a mannequin head and started sculpting.

I had the proportions off the first two times. The third time was the charm and an ANH look started really emerging.

I can take some liberties with the design and execution, the heart of these efforts being giving Diana the best movie look of Star Wars: A New Hope (ANH) that I can achieve. For example, I actually have to make this custom tailored for her. Eventually we will have to decide on neck length.

I have no idea how to mold this, let alone cast this, but I'm looking into it. The process of fitting this to her may require trial and error, as we're working with photos of her posture and we're in two geographical locations.

Sometimes dreams are worth keeping alive - if not your own then those of others. So let the journey begin....


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 11:51 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA
As I shared before, this is a third attempt on the same mannequin head. I did not do a complete restart. The first time, I felt the eyes were too high. The second time I felt the mouth was too long. The third time, the height proportions looked okay, and then I worked on depth there. I kept a 20th Century helmet to the side, and an ESB promo poster of an ANH Vader on the wall. I didn't use calipers or anything. I wanted this to be a custom tailored thing for Diana, rather than something that was, say, exactly 2/3 scale (I honestly don't know what the scale is here).

I also have a Hasbro Voice Changer helmet which, as you know, is a revamped Don Post Standard, and I mainly used that as size reference.

Image

The basic shape was sculpted using a teaspoon handle and my hands. I started at around breakfast, and I managed to pretty much get the bulk of this done by lunch. The rest of the day was spent getting the subtleties right such as aesthetic flow, eye shape, mouth shape, etc. The tusks are placeholders just to give you a sense of how it looks (I can't put placeholder teeth in there as he'd look bucktoothed!)

Since this is an original sculpt, I decided to go wide with this face to give that screen look.


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 11:56 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA
At certain points of sculpting, the sculpt would fall forward because of the weight of the clay, so I added some clay at the rear of the head to counter-balance this.

This mannequin head is very light. It's made of some waxy white material like nylon - not fiberglass. I do NOT recommend this unless you have a way of filling it with sand and sealing the bottom.

Image

With a sculpt like this, I could go various ways. I have to bear in mind that this has to be easy to wear and to set up. Most of us non-costuming prop people can spend a long time setting up a dome so that it's properly angled and oriented to capture screen accurate dome positioning. I use pieces of foam or bubble wrap, and then I leave my displays alone. A costumer is going to need more help.

With a head sculpt like this, I could do a Celtic Touch style treatment, although I have to be aware of how heavy these helmets can get. I know I can't wear a Don Post Deluxe original for long as the weight of the thick fiberglass will weigh on my neck vertebrae and cause a great deal of neck strain.

I do like the Don Post Classic Action's "T" style mounting system. Whatever I decide on, it would ideally be easy for her to put the dome on, and the position would be correct from the start.


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 11:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:46 pm
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Location: San Jose, CA
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As mentioned before, I used a spoon handle. The surface was slightly curved, so I use that to carve out the inside edge of the eyes. The rest was with my fingers.

I'm not sure how I'd refine this further. I may have to cast this first and sand it down to refine the surfaces, and have that serve as the mold master.

I haven't decided yet, but I may do the tubes later in epoxy clay.


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 12:00 am 
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Here's one final look for the day.

Image

Wish me luck! :thumbsup


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 1:50 am 
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All I can say is WOW..........

That still amazes me on how you guys do that!!! :toothy :ac10 :thumbsup

I will keep checking in to see how this comes out as this is fascinating on how you do this sculpting thing...I could never do that in school because of my hands....I can sew, do painting, weaving and yarn spinning but sculpting was not my forte'... :conf

If you see T-Virus tell him I say hello!!!!

Darthvadernut72


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 4:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:56 pm
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Location: Colorado/USA
Very interesting, Mac. I love the idea of a scaled down version, and you are capturing many of the key details and lines of a full sized faceplate.

Keep up the great work. I may even want a copy of this for myself one day. :cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 7:05 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA
Darthvadernut72 wrote:
All I can say is WOW..........

That still amazes me on how you guys do that!!! :toothy :ac10 :thumbsup

I will keep checking in to see how this comes out as this is fascinating on how you do this sculpting thing...I could never do that in school because of my hands....I can sew, do painting, weaving and yarn spinning but sculpting was not my forte'... :conf

If you see T-Virus tell him I say hello!!!!

Darthvadernut72


Nut,

Do you have a sewing machine?


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 9:44 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA
Darth Stone wrote:
Very interesting, Mac. I love the idea of a scaled down version, and you are capturing many of the key details and lines of a full sized faceplate.

Keep up the great work. I may even want a copy of this for myself one day. :cheers



Thanks, Kent! My hope is for this to also be a tabletop display. A 1:1 scale is too large in some cases. This could sit on the corner of my office cubicle desk. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 9:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:26 am
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Looks great Mac, it really does. Hell, a scaled down accurate version of a vader helmet like that would sell like hotcakes for the kids during Halloween. Like DS, I'd probably pick one up also. It really does have a nice accurate shape to it already. Keep it going! :thumbsup


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:51 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA
Thanks for the kind words, guys!

Now comes detail work. As I was refining this, I came to realize how much I used to rely on sanding cured epoxy clay, and had to really break that habit.

Using an oil-based clay is a different mentality that took me some time to adjust. I'd have to work it as closely to what I want as much as possible before making a mold. At each point I had to resist the temptation of leaving "good enough" alone for sanding later - and, as a result, I started getting the hang of it.

Image

Details like the bridge of the nose are particularly hard to do with my old methods. With oil based clay, I could focus on working in more subtleties.


Last edited by CSMacLaren on Thu May 13, 2010 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:52 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA
So as you can see, a lot of refinement to the face has taken place since the last time you saw the ClayNH.

Image

It's looking a lot better. The tusk tubes were placeholders.

Working with oil-based clay allowed me to focus on the subtleties more easily than ever before. Some areas are just hard to sand, though not impossible. But the fact that a "rough cut" of this was hammered out in half a day is worth transitioning to oil-based clay.


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:53 am 
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I've decided for this particular stage to do the teeth bars and the tubes for later. My goal will be to successfully mold this to create a first stage "master" and then add the teeth bars later.


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:53 am 
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As excited as I am about how this is turning out, I am also just as scared that if I don't do the mold right, the stakes are high, as mold removal will deform the clay. But hopefully enough of the clay will survive if I ever plan on a reduced-sized ROTS!


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 Post subject: Re: Mac's ClayNH - Oil-based Clay ANH Sculpt, reduced size
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:54 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA
And, finally, here is a comparison:

Image

So what do you guys think? I realize it's hard to see the potential in the one on the left of the image; it may take a trained eye, so I marvel at the fact that Karo and DS liked it from the start! Everyone else was probably thinking, "Bleechhh!" :toothy

Hopefully it's come far along enough now for everyone to enjoy this stage of the progress!


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