After all, the longest of journeys start with a single step, so having some steps in mind will help you start if you are not sure where to begin making.
One thing to say is that you don’t have to go through all of the processes to begin with. Just sculpting is at least getting you involved in the act of making, without the added cost or time of making moulds, casts and applying. You can of course do those too if your means permit, but the point is that if you haven’t got all that, you can still start making things in some capacity.
Make Small Things Well
We’d recommend making small things well, and then expand sophistication and scale once you gain confidence. Wounds and casualty effects are a good way to begin, because if you do make pieces to stick on, and things go a little wrong, you can smother a bit of blood or bruising over the offending edge or error. Then, as you get better, try to step away gradually from gore and try to hide your efforts less behind the red stuff.
Noses are great things to do, and if you can do a flawless nose which looks great, then scale up to noses and eyebags. Then cheeks, chin and a neck. If the nose isn’t right, then figure that out first. Nobody worth their salt is impressed with huge full body appliances painted badly or with terrible edges if it doesn’t display a high level of skill. So get that skill by not spreading yourself too thin on big makeup jobs.
Todd’s nose appliance, showing clearly where the edges finish.
Ideally you’d take a lifecast of someone you know who you can work on. If not, getting something head like to work on is the next best thing – try the David Mosher sculpting cores or Monster Makers head armatures.
In the podcast I got a little mixed up with Moshers, so the Michael Mosher bald cap DVD we mentioned is here.
I recall seeing some lightweight face cores made from vacuform plastic from The Compleat Sculptor (their spelling!). I couldn’t see it on the site but maybe give them a call as they may know what they would be listed under or if they don’t not stock them now .
Know Your Mess From Your Mozart
As to getting better at sculpting, it makes sense to know what good sculpture is in terms of both creatures and effects as well as classical sculpture. After all, if you sincerely wanted to pursue anything to a decent level, you would likely have heroes and influences. If you want to be successful at something, it really helps to know what success looks like.
Looking at the work of the current masters of the trade is a great way to be inspired (and sometimes a little upset by how good the work can be) and then being able to place yourself more accurately on a continuum – where do you sit on the scale? It’s well worth checking these artists out if you haven’t yet seen any of their stuff. This is by no means a complete list – no doubt I will be blasted for the glaring omissions but it serves to start you off.
If you want to sculpt something and then see how it would look painted, you can literally paint your sculpt. If you simply apply either a cap plastic or latex barrier on the surface first, then whatever you paint on there will peel off easily enough.
To see a video of me doing just that, check out the video here. Zip to 11:00 mins in if you only want to see the painting part.
Cap plastic (not ‘cat plastic’ as some have misheard) is a flexible plastic usually supplied as a concentrated thick liquid, and thinned down with solvents for use either by conventional brushing or with an airbrush. Naturally, for airbrushing it needs to be thinned considerably to avoid blocking the fine nozzle. Clean the airbrush out after with the appropriate solvent.
Traditionally, bald cap plastic was acetone based and used to pretty much just make bald caps (although latex can also be used very successfully for bald caps), and the edges could be melted with acetone.
As silicone appliances began to use bald cap plastic as an encapsulant, so it was that more cap plastic was being used on the face instead of just as bald caps. The notion of a bald cap material which could be thinned with alcohol came about as a much less aggressive solvent to use on the skin.
Both work well for appliances, and like Canon/Nikon, Pepsi/Coke and McDonalds/Burger King, there are happy advocates for both. Typically the alcohol cap plastics happen to be a bit softer and more flexible currently, but some prefer the durability of using alcohol activated colours such as Skin Illustrator on a cap plastic which will only melt with acetone.
Cap plastic is applied to a mould and core surface before adding the silicone gel. The resulting appliance therefore comes out with a cap plastic surface which is better at bonding to adhesives and makeup whilst retaining the flexible, soft benefits of the translucent silicone gel inside it.
Todd mentioned those handy Preval sprayers he uses for cap plastic which are a great substitute for airbrushing, which requires an airbrush and an airs source like a compressor. Google it to find a nearby supplier – usually airgun and paint spray specialists will stock them.
If you want to see this being done, check this video I did of running some silicone appliances in open moulds which features cap plastic being brushed in and sprayed.
The Pro-Bond Primer we mentioned is featured here in this video and is available from Todd’s site as well as many professional makeup supply stockists. (AVAILABLE FOR GROUND SHIPPING ONLY IN THE US CURRENTLY. SORRY!)
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-Stuart & Todd.