(older entries, separated by genre or date, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Red Claw Sculpture

SO, if you didn't know, my roommates Rich and Josh do a comic called The Red Claw. It's based in the world of the Fatsquad, so it's funny and has the same characters, but is more like a normal comic book, both in appearance and style. It's pretty awesome, and you should probably buy the first 2 issues and anxiously await issue 3, due in April. 

Rich loves the character, and to really step it up this Halloween, he made his own Red Claw costume. It was hilariously awesome, AND he got to wear sweatpants to a party- something I'm a huge proponent of. 

SO, in my recent sculpey revival tour, I set out to create a Red Claw sculpture for him for Christmas. Even though I had just made 1 sculpture (see last post), I wanted to make it fairly detailed and as professional looking as I could. It took FOREVER and I ended up giving it to him a full month after Christmas, but I'm very proud of it and he was pretty psyched. I took probably 100 pictures of the creation process, so I figured that would be pretty good blog material. There are a lot of pictures, so I kept most of them on the small side. 

I started by just drawing out a pretty bad drawing of him, just to familiarize myself with all the parts of his costume. 

apparently, to me, he's 7 feet tall

When I had been searching the internets for inspiration to get the sculpey train up and running, I read a few blogs describing peoples' creation processes. I saw that they all regularly did something I had never done: They created a skeleton out of wire, covered it in a base layer of sculpey, then covered it with details later. I suddenly realized how many sculpey creations exploded on me and realized a skeletal frame probably would have helped a lot. I have created some sweet things with wire before, but never this. And of course I got wire that was pretty strong. My fingers hurt a lot after this process. 

The beginning of legs:

Core strength:

Oh look, a sort of person:

I wrapped it with thinner wire to make it all easier to handle.

And then attempted a weird pose where he could look like he was in action. I originally planned on doing some sort of Maxx pose where he'd be bent over but in action, but I had no idea how to balance him and make him look cool like that. I never really planned on him having 1 knee down, but that just worked the best. I guess I could see it kind of like him being knocked over in a fight, then getting back up, ready to kick ass.

Next, I wrapped him in tin foil- something else I never knew about. This makes applying the base layer of sculpey much easier.

I bought a huge block of white sculpey which was perfect to make a basic figure. All of a sudden though, his arms were insanely long, and the pose I had planned on had changed quite a lot. 

Because of the layers of wire and tin foil, it made moving his limbs around pretty easy. A few wire bones stuck out a bit, but I was pretty psyched about how I could reconfigure him and he'd stay strong. 

This is about where I realized I messed up. I never bothered looking up if there was a difference between sculpey, sculpey 2, and sculpey 3. I kind of just assumed it was differences in colors. It turns out that with each version, they made it softer and easier to sculpt. They also made the color rub off on your hands and other colors way too easily. What I should have done is let the base white dry out a little bit THEN add the colored layers. But since I didn't know that, I just put insanely soft sculpey on top of insanely soft sculpey. This kind of sucked and at least while I was doing it, somewhat defeated the purpose of doing the base layer at all. 

But I slowly made him all red, piece by piece.

Eventually he was all red, with mutant long arms.

I chopped off what was necessary and started making some muscle structure. Things were looking more accurate. 

My plan was to made the basic guy, then add the fat later on. See, much like the other characters in the Fatsquad universe, The Red Claw is a big dude. But I couldn't imagine making the belt and some of the details with all that girth. So, for now, he was skinny. 

I made his boots and belt, while also adding little details like veins on his bulging biceps. 

Next up was the belt, which I wasn't (and still am not) particularly psyched about. He's supposed to have sharp spike-like things coming off his belt, but doing something that small with my fingers, when all the sculpey was insanely soft... it just didn't work out like I'd hoped. 

But with both boots mostly done and the belt in "good enough for now" fashion, it was time to make him fat.

This was what my desk looked like through most of this process. Tools everywhere, different colors of sculpey everywhere. Just a general mess. 

After smoothing down his fat, I started making his fur gloves. I actually mixed 2 colors for it, since the gold and yellow on their own were both too strong. I was instantly psyched about his hand. (no, that's not a mistake- true to old school cartoons and comics, characters in the Fatsquad universe only have 4 fingers on each hand.)

The other one didn't look as good, but it was a start. Then there was a whole incident where I realized he had really saggy man boobs instead of the yea-he's-fat-but-he's-still-jacked look I was going for. So I had to add a thin layer to his gut, smooth it upwards to make the gut bigger, as well as push the boobs up higher to look more like pecs. This was harder than it should have been (especially since I was giving him fat back too), but I got it to work. This pic is before I fixed it- you can see what I'm talking about.

I had made a basic cape too, so I put everything together in ghetto fashion to see how he looked.

He had too much neck to be able to do the cape correctly, so I cut out a bunch.

This instantly made him look much better. 

Other than the obnoxious time it took to smooth and even out the cape, I didn't spend a ton of time on it, and I was pretty psyched about how it came out. I had considered doing a cloth cape, but over time realized that in any comic character sculpture I had seen, nobody ever did that. So I stayed true to sculpey. 

I then spent forever on his neck fur padding stuff. This was a bitch for Rich when he made the costume, and it was for me too. Trying to figure out how big it should be in relation to his body and inexistant head was real tough. It always looked too big, or was the right size and not flat enough around his collar bone to fit a head correctly. I eventually got it to work though, and started to create his power jewel things on his arms and chest. 

This involved just making small balls of sculpey, flattening them out, and carving out a chunk of his arm to get it in there so it looked somewhat natural.

I had a huge eureka moment when I realized one of the little tools I bought in the middle of this month long process was absolutely perfect for making smooth sculpey look like fur. It was a slow process, but I loved how it looked when I was done- 

-especially on his neck.

Next up was giving him claws. I hadn't decided if this would be permanent or not, but for the time being, the ends of toothpicks worked wonderfully. 

Apparently Josh made full body sketches of him from all angles to give to artist friend Zombie Yeti to draw a pinup with for issue 2. I never consulted with Josh because I was trying to leave this as a surprise for both of them, but I should have. There are zero shots in the comic of the lower half of Red Claw's body, so I assumed his boots had black fur lining the top. Randomly looking at Rich's Halloween costume, I saw that I was wrong. SO, I got to redo those. I also thickened up his previously way-too-thin legs. 

After fixing that, it was time to make a head. My first "let's see how it looks" head was pretty solid.

But WAY too big, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the eyes. 

I had had the thought in the back of my head for awhile to use gems- like the little plastic gem stones you can buy at art stores for little kids to make jewelry out of. I decided that I really did want his eyes to glow a little bit and headed out to Michael's. 

I made an entirely new head, which looked like an alien at first. 

Of course, now that I saw how good gems looked, this meant that I had to redo his energy things on his costume. So, I had to carve those out, flatten them and prep them for cooking. I was worried about the gemstones cracking, so I'd be attempting to hot glue them on afterwards. 

The crowbar thing was to add a hole in his hand to be able to put his rope weapon thing. 

The cook went well- no cracking or bubbling and he was strong. The hot gluing took several attempts to get right. Luckily, it came off pretty well every time I screwed up.

I ended up having to put a little extra sculpey around the gem stones on his arms to make them stay on better. I didn't want to recook the whole figure, so I attempted something else I had seen on websites- covering most of his body with tin foil and using a hair dryer to dry just the part I needed. This took forever and was very hot, but worked like a charm. Next time, I may use a heat gun (that apparently Josh has). 

I cooked the head separately, with holes in his neck and toothpicks in the head for easy sticking on. I stuck it on then began adding a neck. 

In the comics, The Red Claw's neck mane thing is kind of always facing upwards. I assumed it was just that way because he was in action. With Rich's costume, it was down, but I think that was mainly just because he couldn't get it up (ha.ha.). I liked the idea of it being almost like a hood on a hooded sweatshirt, and therefore it should be going down his back. But the more I looked at the figure, something looked off. AND his head, once again, was way too big. 

So, I decided to add on more, and make some of it going up. This would make him hopefully look cooler, as well as make his head look smaller.

In the long run, this was the right choice to make. He suddenly looked not only more accurate, but more importantly, more badass. It made his back look a little weird (how much of this is there!?) but he would always be facing forward, so I wasn't too worried about it. Plus, some Lion's manes are enormous- so why couldn't this be?

And the last detail before painting- the claws. I finally showed Josh, and while we both agreed that the toothpicks worked well, it bothered him how obvious it was that it was just toothpicks. His teeth were too, but that didn't bother either of us. I started to agree with him, so I decided to see what claws would look like. 

They looked pretty bad. 

But I figured it out- shrink the claws, then add just a little more fur over them so they look more natural. 


I love how his hand came out. So badass. 

The last step was painting, which I didn't want to do. He already looked pretty awesome, and I didn't want to ruin him. I also didn't want to have to be so perfect with painting on sculpey- something I'm not very experienced in. 

I remember doing it way back though, and I remember the paint going on very smoothly. I don't know if I got really crappy paint or if baked sculpey 3 reacts with paint worse than old school sculpey, but this part SUCKED. Each coat probably only took about 10 minutes of super concentration, but it took 6 coats before I finally gave up and said "it's never gonna be perfect, this is good enough." The paint just didn't spread. And as soon as it dried, it was barely visible. It looked like I had used super watered down paint. I didn't take any pictures during the process because it always looked bad and I hated it so much. 

BUT, after all the coats, it ended up looking ok. And, after like 6 weeks, he was done. All in all, I have no idea how long this took me, but I'm guessing around 15 hours. Some processes took too long because of the sculpey I used. Some took long because I screwed up parts and had to redo them. Some weeks, I would go days without touching him. Some days, I'd get very into working on him, but I'd do it late, and Rich would come home right as I got into the groove. I didn't want him to even know I was making a sculpture (because I figured a Red Claw sculpture would be instantly obvious), so I had the options of either shutting my door and telling him not to bother me because I was working on his gift (which I did do a few times), or what I usually did, which was putting him down and waiting for another day. Sometimes I just wasn't super ambitious and didn't want to work on him, sometimes I was but the softness and stickiness of the clay ruined my plans. I can't tell you how many times I had to cover up parts where the color of the clay stuck to my fingers and I accidentally colored a part, or how many times a stray fingernail took a gash out of him. There are still a few tiny mistakes on there if you look closely. But all in all, I'm very proud of how he came out.

The only regrets I have are that I wish I had put sculpey over the metal for his rope thing, or at least painted the metal (it feels a little weird that it's obviously just wire), but that would probably have been a huge pain in the ass. The other one is something I didn't even notice until I posted this- that on his original arms, there were little bits of fur covering parts of the gem things on his arms, showing that they were really part of the gloves and the fur was interacting with them. But when I redid them, I forgot to add that effect, and now those emblems feel too much like they were placed on afterwards (which, of course, they were). BUT, other than that, I'm psyched, Rich was psyched, everyone else that saw it thought it ruled, and we'll hopefully be bringing him to Boston Comic Con for their table, where, hopefully, tons of people will see him and also think he's awesome. 

Now, I present to you... the finished RED CLAW:

of course, one of the gems did end up cracking a bit. Oh well. Battle damage!

Now, let's see if I actually make anything else. :)

currently listening to: Piebald- "We Are The Only Friends We Have"