Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Simplified Skull Model - Part Two

Once again, this post is going to have a lot of photos, with some words to guide you through the steps.  If you have been wondering since last time why I called it "simplified" it is because starting with a balloon gives the basic shape and it is then just a matter of adding clay or taking it away, sculpting one bit at a time.  There aren't a lot of details, it's up to you how much you want to put in - I've left the interior open entirely so I can put lights in the piece if I want to.  The balloon shape doesn't allow for an entirely accurate model (for example, the connection between the lower jaw and the skull is going to be a lot wider than on an actual skull) but it's close enough for a Halloween prop!   I hope you enjoy following along with the pics!

In addition to the materials listed in Part One, you will need:

sandpaper assortment
sanding block
measuring tape
lightweight cardboard (such as that used for cereal boxes)
white glue
medium-soft short bristled round paintbrush
acrylic paints
craft knife & files

If the skull model from part one is completely dry, pop the balloon & carefully remove it from the interior of the skull.

Hold it up to the light and check for crack or thin areas, repair as necessary by wetting the area and applying fresh clay.

Use a sanding block and coarse grit sandpaper to flatten the sides of the head behind the temples on each side.

sand the sides at the bottom also, to even them out.

Mark a line at the center on each side.  Carry the lines to the bottom of the skull and make sure they are evenly aligned.

Measure the distance between the center marks, making sure the measuring tape goes over the teeth.

Next measure the distance between the bottom of the nose opening and the bottom of the teeth.

Use those two measurements to cut a rectangle out of cardboard - place the rectangle under the teeth and, if necessary, trim so that it fits in place inside the skull and aligned with the top teeth.

Draw a line where the teeth end on the top, and extend the line about half the width of the cardboard strip.

Draw a line parallel to the center line you drew on the skull, making the second line fall just behind the eye socket/cheek area as shown.

extend those lines onto the cardboard strip as shown.

Remove the cardboard strip from under the skull, fold it in half, and cut out along the lines you just drew.  Draw a line from cut-out to cut out, and a second curved line as shown.  Fold the cardboard in half again, cut out along curve, and cut a small diamond shape from the center and into the sides of the cutouts to create what will be the lower teeth section.  When unfolded, the cardboard piece should look like this.

Cover this cardboard piece entirely with a thin white glue - both sides, and along edges.  Set aside to start drying while you roll out clay.

Roll out clay to 1/16" or less thickness.  Moisten cardboard piece and press into clay.  Roll gently over the clay and cardboard with the rolling pin.

Cut out around the piece.  Lift it out gently and flip over onto the clay and lightly press.  Cut around the piece again and gently life it out.  Press the edges together so that the cardboard is now completely sandwiched in between the clay. 

Set the covered piece back onto the clay, trace around the bottom and mark where the top line fall, as shown.

Extend the lines from the side up about 1 1/2 times as long as the bottom section of the jaw, then draw two curved shapes at the top of this piece as shown.  Cut out the section, flip over, and make another piece.  Repeat for the other side of the jaw. 

You should have four pieces, two for each side.  These will be longer that necessary, but will be adjusted during placement.

Transfer the piece to a work board and place the skull on it to see how it fits.

Roll out a piece of clay and taper the ends as shown.

Lift the skull back off the clay and set it aside.

Place the roll of clay behind the jaw piece as shown and smooth it onto the clay and slightly onto the work board to hold the jaw in place.

Place the skull top back on and, tearing bits off the bottom of the curved sections you made earlier, adjust to fit at the side as shown.  Wet both the jaw and the new section and smooth them together.  Take the second piece you made for that side and attach it along the outside, smoothing the tops together and pinching off the excess at the bottom.

Repeat for other side.

Take the top off again.

Add a second roll of clay on the outside and smooth it down to form the chin.

Check that the sides of the jaw are relatively even and adjust as necessary.

Add small rolls of clay to what will be the back teeth and smooth into place.

Put the top of the skull back into place and check alignment.  Sketch out and sculpt the bottom teeth.

Wet the sides of the skull and the back section of the jaw, put a small ball of fresh clay between the sections and press them together, joining the jaw to the skull.

 Form a "Y" shaped piece of clay as shown, with the base of the Y being thicker than the arms.

Use your brush to wet the area around the eye socket and cheek.  Curve the Y shape around the eye socket, blending the thick section at the cheek and the upper arm around the socket.

Flatten the lower end of the Y, twist once and attach only the end to the side of the skull at the half-way line you made earlier.
Smooth it out a bit, but make sure you don't get it too wet or the arch will break.

Repeat on other side.

Allow the piece to dry.

When the piece is dry enough to handle safely again, lift it carefully off the work board.  If necessary, add more clay between the jaw and skull to make sure the jaw is securely attached.  Allow to dry again if necessary.

Press out a thin piece of clay, wet the area inside the nasal opening, and attach the clay vertically to the center of the opening.  Pinch off the outer edge to set just behind the curve of the nasal opening.

Next form a thick, flattened round of clay large enough to cover an eysocket.

Press in the center of the clay, and continue pressing in the center and pinching the sides until you have a cupped cone shape as shown.

Wet the clay on the inside of the eye socket, wet the rim of the cup and spread it out a little bit.  Attach it to the inside of the socket, smoothing out the clay and pressing it firmly around the socket.  Repeat on other side.

Smooth the eye sockets from the outside with a wet paintbrush, pushing them in gently towards the center of the head.

Allow the piece to dry.

When dry, sand as needed, and make adjustments if needed as you see fit.  Decide if you want to make your skull look old and "grubby" or leave primarily white with a light wash to highlight the sculpting.  Finish with the techniques described in my tips on creating the look of teeth, etc.  I decided to make the nasal opening longer and narrower, and add a bit of clay to the top of the head.

Thanks for joining me here again!  As always, play, experiment, and have fun!

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