- Lesson details
Experience the entire workflow of Hollywood creature designer Jordu Schell as he sculpts a monster maquette from imagination. In this lesson, the second part of the series, he refines the major forms of the sculpture with a wire brush, adds details like muscle striations, veins, and texture. By the end of this lesson, he’s ready to add final touches and paint the maquette!
- Round Wooden Base
- 3/8″, 1/8″ and 1/16″ Aluminum Armature Wire
- Sharpie Marker
- Electric Drill
- Paper Towels
- Loctite Epoxy One Minute Instant Mix
- Oatley Epoxy Putty
- Lazy Susan
- Chavant NSP Medium Clay
- Small Wood Sculpting Tools
- Homemade Rake Tool
- 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
- Horsehair Bristle Acid Brush
- Synthetic Sable Brush
- Small Kitchen Blowtorch
- Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits
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a monster maquette from imagination.
In this second part of the series, he refines the major parts of the sculpture with a wire
brush, adds details like muscle striations, veins, and wrinkles,
and prepares for painting in part 3.
It’s good that all my forms are all blocked in.
I kind of know what I’ve got.
Now it’s a matter of just refining everything so that
I can really bring this thing to realistic life.
Right now it’s very blocked in.
It’s very rough, and it’s going to be time now to refine it.
I’m going to start with the arms and the torso.
Let’s just get—well, you know, I know I’m being really crazy and indecisive here.
I’m going to start with the legs and the feet and move upwards.
The first thing I’m going to do is use a little loop rake that I made
from a bandsaw blade.
You can see that there are little tiny teeth in there that I’ve sanded down a bit so
that it doesn’t make a really sharp cut.
This is just the first stage to going about
getting a sculpture cleaned up, getting it cleaner.
It’s good that all my forms are already blocked in.
I kind of know what I’ve got.
Now it’s a matter of just going in and refining everything so that I can really ring this
thing to a realistic life.
You can see I’m just kind of—in a way it’s kind of, what a rake does is it
takes down the high points and it fills in the low points so what you get ultimately
is a smoother surface.
Now, what a lot of people think that what I’m doing at this stage is adding texture
because it leaves behind lines in the sculpture, but that’s not at all what this is about.
All I’m doing right now is refining the from.
Making the form sharper and tighter and cleaner.
I’m even using it to cut in subtle little anatomical hints.
Generally speaking, when I sculpt a character I don’t want to make every muscle super
defined and ripped like it spends all its time at Gold’s Gym.
The idea to me is to make a convincing looking animal, you know, even though it’s a monster
and a fantasy thing, I still want to feel like it’s an animal, like it’s something
that grew and could exist and does exist.
My goal is always to make it convincing.
Ultra-defined musculoskeletal is pretty rare in nature.
You can see it in some animals.
Even then there are fat deposits and all kinds of other things that keep it from being a
big anatomical study.
Even on a horse which has very short hair and is very muscular, it doesn’t look like
it’s been skinned.
It still has a kind of under the skin feel, and that’s kind of what we want to go for here.
Where there are holes I know the rake can’t get to, I kind of just fill it in with a little
bit of Chavant clay there.
Just a little it of material to kind of…
For instance, let me throw in just a little bit of a tendon here.
Just use a regular loop tool.
No rake on it.
Just a little loop tool to kind of integrate that into the clay.
Rake over it a little to make it subtler.
I feel like the tail is a little asymmetrically placed.
I think I’m going to have to take it off for a second and make sure that my back is
symmetrical first, and then from there add the tail.
I may have added the tail a little prematurely, and it’s just not symmetrical on there.
I’ve got to make sure everything is nice and symmetrical here.
I’m just trying to define this crease here in the leg.
Sometimes getting around all angles of the sculpture can be difficult.
Sometimes you just want to completely change position.
I’ve got my hat on backwards because it’s blocking the camera time.
Let’s set this down here like this.
Let’s get the feet in shape. Looking good.
I’ve got most of the legs pretty much dialed in and quite a bit of the back and lower torso.
Now let’s concentrate on the very lowest portion here.
You’ll see that I take great care to keep checking the other side of the sculptures,
but everything is close to symmetrical as possible. It’s probably not going to ever be perfect,
but it’s close—closer if I double-check everything.
I laid in very rough stuff here, but as I go in I try to kind of refine it so that it feels a little more accurate
and a little more volumetric. It has more volume and feels more sculptural and convincing.
I cut in the striations of the muscle, and then I just rake right over it. It gives me a subtle definition in there.
Got to work it a little bit.
so I can get into some of these tight spots a little more easily without damaging them.
I’m going to put those aside. That makes it a lot easier.
Rib cage a little more volumetric.
Let’s get a little more volume in there.
If you look at it from head-on you’ll see it looks a little flat to me here, and I want to make it
a little rounder, a little more volumetric.
We’re just going to concentrate on this side right now so I can get to some detail quicker for you.
I’m using a cut-down acid brush to knock down all those rake marks.
See now nicely the acid brush takes down all the rake marks so we end up with a smooth piece.
Because my armature is wobbling, if you can look closely here, you’ll see that—let’s get close in here.
You can see that there is a bit of cracking going on here. I can rectify that later.
For right now we’re just going to have to accept that. We will deal with that later.
That’s one of the reasons it’s important to have an extremely solid armature.
Even still, I might see little things I want to change as I’m working, some definition I want to punch up.
It takes a while, but it’s worth it because you get a nice clean finish that you can then start detailing.
Now I’m going to take a slightly softer brush and just kind of brush over everything.
Help to get some of the clay crumbs off.
Okay, so now that we’ve gotten it smooth, we can actually start going in and adding
some details in some areas. I think what I’m going to do first, though,
is take this little heat gun. I’m going to go over it and soften the clay, melt it in a little bit.
Kind of give a final smoothness to this.
It takes away any brush strokes. It just helps to really soften the form down nicely.
Once that cools down I can start going in and detailing it. It’s got a nice slick finish to it.
It’ll take a little bit of time for that to cool down, but once it does we’ll start detailing.
Detail is more than just a bunch of tiny little lines and wrinkles. It’s actually secondary form.
All of this is our primary form. Let’s take a look at this knee here, for instance.
I'm going to add some fine little wrinkles here.
And now I can read into that with the tool.
I am going to try to get these feet off the board so they are not cracking away.
We can actually use the heater to reattach.
I roll out some very thin little worms, and I put them on like this.
Press them in real well.
Let’s roll another one.
I want to go back over it with the alcohol and terpenoid.
Get some subtle little veins in there.
You’ll see when I do a wrinkle I kind of wriggle my finger a little bit. I don’t just do it straight, usually.
I kind of do this.
I can see it just very slightly as I kind of wiggle the tool
to kind of give the wrinkle a little more of an organic flow.
I’m going to take some alcohol and wash down the detail.
I’m going to add a little bit of Gamsol, which is a little like terpenoid to the alcohol,
which helps to blend the clay down even more.
Whoops, a little toe fell off. I’ll put that back on later. It’ll be fine. Melt it on.
I can use this to soften the detail even more.
Get this toe on here.
So actually, the heat can soften it down, as you can see, very nice and quickly as well.
So, we’ve gotten pretty far today.
We’ve gotten most of the sculpture pretty much cleaned up, and we’ve got one whole side pretty much detailed.
To conserve time—mine and yours—we’re going to complete the other side of the sculpture to this level.
You’ve seen what I’ve done on this side.
I’m basically going to mirror that on this side, on the opposite side, on the left,
and when we come back we’ll be ready to start doing some final finishing on it. So, here we go.
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40m 34s2. Refining the Lower Body and Removing the Tail
26m 25s3. Refining the Feet
36m 6s4. Refining the Upper Body
20m 16s5. Removing the Hands, Detailing the Rib Cage, Refining the Neck
38m 29s6. Detailing the Neck and Head, Adjusting the Trapezius
32m 17s7. Smoothing the Surface with Acid Brush, Applying Heat with Butane Torch
55m 21s8. Adding Secondary Forms: Veins and Wrinkles