Sculpting Animals

Oh hello there! It’s been a month. Do you remember me and my little project?

Last time, you saw the beginning of my first test of a new sculpting technique. Shortly after that update, I paused on Percy and proceeded to apply this same technique to the three lemurs that will be handing our pup the cake. The lemurs got a partial coat of my first attempt at making Jonni’s paper clay, which was promising but turned out not so great. Meanwhile, I left the earlier sculpture alone for too long, and because I only connected all those strips with masking tape, Percy ended up completely unraveling. Whoops.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, I built two smaller figures (the bear and sloth in the back of the bakery). One of these is coated in a carefully-measured batch of the clay, which was a joy to use and is rock-hard. The measurements Jonni gives were enough to cover the front of the bear and a bit of the sloth, as seen here:

Bear and sloth, partially complete
These two are about 18" tall

Concurrently, I was thinking about other ways to improve this armature technique. It’s good, but still taking more time than I felt I could justify given the level of detail (i.e. not much). I made some changes to my process and refined things a bit, which lead to Percy looking like this:

Percy armature, mostly wrapped
Percy stands about 4' tall in this scenes

I continued experimenting with changes to the process while building the heads for the lemurs. Here’s one of them, with its head sitting roughly in the right place, beside Percy for scale:

A lemur
The lemurs will be hunched but they're about 3' long when they stretch out

After more thinking and walking and talking to myself, I’ve refined this technique even further, to a point where the process should not only be faster, but also more sophisticated with regard to detail. Here’s the latest progress on the Bobby figure in scene 1; note the three planes of the head, and the disconnected limbs and torso which will be connected just before the paper wrap:

Bobby, incomplete
This particular Bobby is roughly 2' tall

I’m about 90 minutes into this Bobby sculpt, and it’s the first one I’m actually timing. All this schedule slipping is difficult to quantify since I have no idea how long any of this takes, so I am trying to introduce some discipline, which will lead to a proper estimate on production time.

Also, none of these characters have hands or feet yet? I have some experience making hands from Graveyard Swing, and I think that technique worked really well, so I’ll be finishing off all these limbs further down the line when I can better judge their scale. Also, I haven’t decided whether these characters’ feet should be slanted to match the steep floors or flat to lessen the weirdness of that pitch; this is something I’ll want to experiment with. Faces, as well, come a bit later, with clay layered on over the dried mud.

After building a few more characters in this way, I’m hoping to shoot a simple series on the process for YouTube. I’ve picked up almost all of the techniques I’ve learned from watching folks make things on YouTube, and I’d like to give back to that community (and claim some space within it).

In other news, the ticket website is a little farther along! I added payment processing, which is boring but important. The whole thing is not ready to be seen yet, but there’s no point in showing it to the public yet anyway, so that’s fine!

There’s a lot in this update but considering that we’re tracking four weeks of progress here, it’s not nearly enough. I’ve decided to move this show back to the summer—Bobby’s Birthday is now slated for June/July. I think I’d rather spend more time making one good show than two rushed shows.

I’ve also already started thinking about Graveyard Swing 2: Spooky Bugaboo, which will follow the same story and setting as the original but otherwise be an entirely new production. It’s a full-scale reboot that actually includes those dang juggling skeletons. It’s going to be so, so good.