Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Demon" Prep Work

** Please remember that you are welcome to sculpt along but please alter your sculture so we are all making something unique. Thank you!

Lets look at scale, proportion, and the armature layout today.
 I want to use an eight year old child for this sculpture. the best way to find proportions for any age is to use an actual model. I have taken a photo of an eight year old child, and measured the lengths of the body parts then adjusted to a simple proportion chart which I can use for my own sculptures.
Using the head as my measurement, the torso is three heads high from crown to crotch. (1 head to chin, 2 heads to bottom of sternum, 3 heads to front of crotch - backside is slightly lower) The knee is one head down from the crotch however, keep in mind that the length of the upper leg is actually from the hip joint (see + sign) to the knee which is about 1.25 head height. The lower leg is also 1.25 head height from knee to ankle. Please note that this is a guide line I have established for myself from actual people. You may like a different set of proportions so go for it!

 Now that I have a proportion chart for the child, I need to decide what size he will be. I draw a few different sized figures and come up with the one on the left as my choice. He or she will be about 6" tall. Smaller = cute. This sketch is the actual size of my finished piece.
I will start this sculpt with a face so first I need a skull. The skull on the left is my standard adult skull. The one on the right has been altered for a child's head. The upper part of the skull is made slightly larger so the eyes sit about halfway down the face.The sides and bottom of the jaw are cut down so the lower jaw is smaller. The eyes are the same size bead so they will look bigger in the small face. Big eyes =cute.
The changes to the adult skull from the side. Note the larger cranium and smaller jaw as you compare the two skulls.
For details on creating a skull, please see my earlier post on sculpting the skull.

Here I have drawn my demon to the relative size I want for my finished piece. I want him larger than my child but not too over-powering. Also keep in mind the weight of the finished demon needs to be supported by one thin rod.

Once I have the final size of the demon, I can make his skull as well.
 His skull is simply a variation of the basic adult skull which I use for most of my sculptures. I have added more clay to the eyebrow, the cheeks, and the jaw.
 The lower jaw has clay added to the front to create an under-bite. It also has two sockets created so his fangs will fit into the jaw when done.
 The skull sized to the demon.

I use a very rough sketch to layout the load-bearing parts of the sculpture. This lets me simplify the sculpture into just the basics needed to support the weight of the demon and transfer the stress into the base.

 Now I can transfer my rough armature ideas into an actual armature layout on my sketch.
The body of the figure will be supported by my simple 14gauge wire armature (blue). The body will separate at the waist with the Octopus part of the figure staying attached to the support rod (red) to make shipping easier. The tentacles will be made of flexible clay over 18 gauge aluminum wires which will be attached to the rod.
This rod will insert into a brass tubing socket in the child's armature and into a brass tubing socket in the waist of the figure.
The child will be built in a similar manner: the body is supported by a simple 14G wire armature (blue), the lower leg and spine will have a solid rod running from the shoulder to the base (red), and the shoulder will have a socket connected to the lower rod into which the demon's support rod will insert.

I hope I have explained the design well so far. Next time we will start making the armature. Please feel free to email me with photos and questions if you need help ( I will post again on Monday so you have time to design and layout your armatures before we continue. If you need more time, let me know and we will attempt to adjust to the majority of those following along.
Have a great day!


  1. THIS SO awsome Mark....can't wait to try my hand at this one....I already envisioned a tweaked version of it....hopefully will be able to share pics with you so you can help me further....
    Many many thanks for your generosity,
    carla goncalves

  2. Hello Mark :) I am working on ideas too to start my sculpt. I read through your post today, thanks for explaining the armature. The tip about child's and monster's skulls is especially helpful. The way you compare it with the adult skull makes it very clear and easy to understand and it also explains how a basic known module can be modified to suit our needs according to the piece we are working on. Big thanks :)

  3. Hi Mark! Since we're looking at armatures and load-bearing right now can I as a question about that? Namely, is there a technique or method you use to make sure your sculpts weight the least possible? I tend to find I will sometimes build a sculpt up and it seems inordinately heavy, even with as much tinfoil as possible in the thickest areas and being sparing and careful with the clay too. It seems desireable to reduce weight in most cases... I wonder if there is a certain thickness of clay that you try to stick to when making the sculpts or do you just tend to rely on the strength of armature over the amount of clay you end up using?


  4. This is so exciting. I too am interested in what Alex asked. I have great concern over stress cracking where two figures connect (are they actually separate and connect by the tubing?) Where do you get the wire and tubing? Thank you for sharing your talent.

  5. I've prepared my design version and am still looking for tubing like thewickedwoods. I have some from a model railway hobby shop but they are 1/8ths(only 1 tube approx 9inches) and 3/32 size. Any chance that they would work, if not, I will wait for the hobby shop to open on Wednesday (live in a small town).

    I am new to all this and want to say thank you very much Mark for sharing your knowledge. You are very generous. Darlene

  6. Alex et all, Any sized tubing will work, you may need to adjust the scale of the figures up or down depending on what you use. We will talk about some of you concerns in the future armature part of this piece; just so you don't think I am ignoring your questions.