As promised, it's time to show you guys how we made Figment!
John and I started working on Figment in early July, and finished him roughly 7 weeks later, just before Dragon Con. Most of that time was spent waiting on things to dry, though, since Figment is made almost entirely of paper maché, plaster, and paper clay.
Here's a photo guide to how we did it:
First, a center-slice outline cut from cardboard.
(We kept the head separate to make it easier to work on.)
Crumpled newspaper and masking tape padding out one half.
Then repeat for the other side.
A cross-section of cardboard to form the mouth/jaw.
Padded out with more paper and masking tape.
Forming the toes and feet.
Testing out the size.
At this point Figment is only paper and tape. Next we joined the head to the body and I applied about half a dozen layers of paper maché.
When he had a strong enough outer layer of paper maché, we cut his head off again. :)
Here's what his neck stump looks like. Neat, huh?
Forming the arms:
I was delighted by how quick this process is: just crumple up paper, wrap with masking tape, add more paper, more tape, etc, until:
A comparison of our first set of arms (top) and the final pair (bottom.) Practice pays off!
I was tempted to paint Portals on our dining room table for this shot:
Next, a custom mix of light-weight spackle and Elastomeric (a kind of flexible plaster) to smooth out the body:
Followed by a heavy sanding.
The head and arms got several sprayed coats of a buildable primer, with sanding in-between.
For the eyes, John sliced off sections of clear plastic Christmas ornaments:
I glued them in place with superglue, and then started adding paper clay to the face:
The cheeks got three separate build-ups of clay. He has big, BIG cheeks.
The fingers and toes were still rolls of paper at this point, so I filled in the tips with paper clay:
The horns were tricky. Eventually we used wire inserted through thin dowels, which were in turn inserted into holes John drilled in the back of Figment's head:
(With requisite cats, of course.)
I then covered the wire/dowels with more paper clay.
We also used wire for the end of the tail, which is forked. John drilled a small hole in the tip of the tail, inserted heavy wire, and bent it down to form a V:
Then I covered the wire with more clay.
Chalking out the belly scales:
For these I applied thin lines of clay and smoothed the top edges upward.
More coats of primer & sanding later:
Meanwhile, also happening on the table:
I had to keep picking cat hair out of the clay, but c'mon... lookit that face.
While I did all the sculpting, John worked on the sweater. We found a near perfect yellow sweater on Ebay for $4, then picked up another red one from the thrift shop. John put the two together, and...
That night I hand-embroidered the "Figment." Still wish I'd had time to send it out to be done professionally on a machine, but it's Ok from a distance.
(Sorry - didn't have a process photo on that!)
We bought an airbrush just for this project, then fumbled around figuring out how to use it. I airbrushed Figment almost completely, then decided to start over - which is what you see here. It's a nice comparison of the base coat (head) and the airbrushed skin texture, which adds SO much dimension - and hides a lot of flaws!
We couldn't figure out how to get fine enough detail lines with the airbrush, so I first brushed on these darker bits, then airbrushed over the whole thing to soften them.
Next I airbrushed pink accents on the cheeks, lips, knees, and knuckles, and added some subtle highlights on the darker pink belly scales.
We painted the horns purple first, taped off circles, then applied 4 or 5 coats of orange. Peeled off the tape, sanded lightly, and then airbrushed the horns with a light mist of purple.
The final step was the eyes. I used these templates (those are paper cut-outs) to get the placement right, traced them, then filled in with paint.
I have to admit, once I stepped back at this point, I was suddenly hit with a wave of emotion. Until the eyes, this was just a long, tedious painting project. (I did all the painting in a single day - which lasted into the early morning hours.) But once those pupils were in it was like, oh wow, Figment's here! Ha!
The last step was a sprayed clear coat, which helped give our Figment that latex-like sheen of the original puppets.
We used heavy Velcro to attach the arms, both to make it easier to get the sweater on him and because the added flexibility helps if Figment gets bumped around a bit.
I sculpted Figment's hands so they could fit together, one on top of the other, but once we put the arms on we decided they looked fine apart. So for that one eagle-eyed reader who asked why Figment is missing a thumb, that's why. ;)
Figment survived Dragon Con beautifully, and is on display now in John's man cave. At some point I'd like to spruce up his display stand; paint it brass, add some velvet foot rests - but that's for a later date.
Hope you guys enjoyed the photo tour!
In my haste to post this I missed a few things, so thanks for asking questions in the comments, guys!
First up, yes, we *did* finish the wings in time for Dragon Con - but the great irony is you can only see them from the side:
These were all John; he cut the layers from craft foam, sandwiched them together with contact cement, and gave them a quick paint job.
We used more Velcro to attach the wings directly to Figment's back, bending the foam bases like paper tabs. We cut tiny slits in his sweater for the tabs to fit through, so the connection appears pretty seamless:
The back spines are simple discs I cut from paper clay, and then smoothed into his back with more clay on the sides and edges. It was tricky to do, but surprisingly strong once dry:
I'll try to keep answering any more questions you guys have in the comments; just wanted to give these two visual aids!
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Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!