In this section, we’ll discuss the sculpting of Chlorine’s face and head and the challenges that brings in a project of this kind.
First, it is very helpful if a licensor, who in this case is Doug Sneyd, has the ability to assess the face without the hair sculpted on. It’s always best to sculpt the face without hair first because while hair can help to see the overall effect, it can also become a crutch. The hair will make the piece “seem” more correct, but there may be problems that are being obscured by the effect of the hair. Seeing the face without hair can allow the face to be seen at more angles and each part can be assessed more thoroughly. This takes some imagination in envisioning how the hair will look around the face, but since I’m usually working directly with artists, imagination is one thing that is in great supply.
It is also much easier to work on a face not attached to the body. I usually make a simple loop armature and I bake an inner core on that armature so that the center of the head is hardened and makes a good anchor for outer material that I will be sculpting. Adding Vaseline with a paint brush to the baked Super Sculpey will help the new Sculpey adhere to the surface (a tip I learned from my friends Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett!)
Sculpting up a face, especially in the sizes I work in (1/6th scale, 1/8th scale, etc) can be difficult and good tools are key. Store bought tools are a good beginning, but I often modify tools for specific uses or I make my own tools. Good tools can be made from anything, even common household items. Here is a photo of some of the handmade tools I’ve made and most of the ones you see here I use very frequently. The heads of pins make fine tools for smoothing hard to reach areas like the inside of the bridge of the nose or a transition point from neck to jaw. I’ve made a tool I use on every piece that is made from simple paper clips. I wanted a tighter loop, but still fairly thick and a paper clip fit the bill and gave me two sizes to use.
For fine detail, you can source very thin wire at the hardware store and make tiny loop tools. Piano wire works well, too, as it is very strong and holds the shape well. A hobby shop will usually have lengths of brass tubing of varying sizes and you can shape the head of the tool, insert it in the brass tubing and crimp the end of the tube to fix the wire head in place. You can then use modeler’s putty to thicken the handle if that helps you hold the tool. I sometimes do that, but on some tools, I haven’t found it necessary.
Back to our sculpture: Doug’s girl’s faces are quite recognizable and capturing that look wasn’t going to be easy in 3-d. Doug’s girls’ expressions have an indefinable eagerness and exuberance to them that is actually conveyed in the structure of the face, not just in the body language. Doug was very helpful on this part of the process. We talked by phone and email and Doug advised and adjusted and this is the result. There were still some minor changes to come, but what you see here is generally the look we established for Chlorine.
I then attached her head to her body and prepared to work in her hair and other details. I also completed her hands and refined and finished up other areas. We’ll talk about completing the sculpture next time. Thanks for reading!