Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Using Neodymium Magnets...

Merry Christmas Everyone! Hope all is having a wonderful holiday season - not long before we put 2010 behind us!

Tonight wanted to post a short tutorial on using Neodymium micro magnets in your action figure sculpting - Neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets known - so strong that only a few grams can lift a thousand times its own were talking heavy duty here. Imagine replacable limbs, interchangable heads, attachable weapons WITHOUT PEGS!? about removable/interchangeable armor? Hmmmmm...

I'm currently working on a Darth Stryfe sculpt - Darth Stryfe is a Sith Lord from the Dark Horse comic series Legacy. One of the comic issues show Stryfe shirtless...revealing his awesome Sith tattoo work across his chest and I have been thinking how I could make a feature of removable armor that could clip or fasten in place without harming the body sculpt and paint application of the tattoo work. Epoxy can be limited unless you incorporate existing straps or clips from factory made packs and accessories.

The magnet idea popped in my head after doing a bit of "spring cleaning" in my office when I came accorss some very small, round silver magnetic disks that were very difficult to seperate. I then visited and placed an order for a 50 pack of 4mm Micro Neodymium Magnets...

Then, taking my newly sculpted work in progress sculpt of Darth Stryfe...

Take a dremel tool and carve two shallow holes in two points located on the chest. Remember to go just deep enough so the surface of the magnets that will be placed are flush to the surrounding surface.

Using super glue, take two magnets and glue to the drilled surface. Try to get as flush to the surface as possible, then allow to dry. ***NOTE*** be sure the magnets you have glued have the identical poles facing outward so to attract the opposite poles that will be attached to the sculpted armor. If not, the magnets may fight one another and make it impossible for the armor to attached properly.

Once the magnets have set up and are dry, sculpt lightly over them, reconstructing the chest

Below are images of the sculpted armor "shell" - no details have been added yet, but the magnets have...the shell is created an hour before the epoxy cures to a rock hard consistency...just enough to be pliable, yet not sticky and in no way a danger in adhering to the surface underneath.

As you can see - same process as the chest, with the exception of having to sculpt over to hide the magnets.

Added a bit more detail to the chest armor below...

The magnets work like a charm! Very strong, snug but not strong enough to make it difficult to quickly remove the armor or stress the sculpted piece.


I will begin sculpting the back piece of armor and make them flush to one another to appear seamless.

So I hope this gives you an idea or two about your next project. I'm sure you will be seeing me use this process more and more. Awesome!

Visit my Flickr photostream for all the udated images, as well as my Facebook page, sith_fire30 creations. Still on the road to appraching 200 fans...fantastic! If you haven't become a fan, please take a moment and click the like button.:)

Again, Merry Christmas! I'll be posting a final update before the end of the year -


A reconstruction...Cybernetic that is...

Happy Holidays to all!

I usually post updates on all the work that I have currently going on...wether it be a finished piece or several works in progress...and we all know I have plenty of them! This time around though I thought it would be cool to focus on a singular work in progress - and a very challenging one at that. The Cybernectic Reconstruction of Starkiller - a skin that was introduced as bonus downloadable content for the Lucasarts video game, The Force Unleashed. If you've played the game, you know that chosing the dark ending has the emperor crashing Starkiller's ship, the Rogue Shadow, down on top of him. Suffice to say that would make a mess of any man...enter the cybernetic reconstruction. I belive (and I can be wrong) this is the early stage where Starkiller is being rebuilt by the Emperor to be his all his ghastly form :)

The photo above is reversed - My apologies. Not many image referrences online to my renders, no concept art...most of my images I had to get in screen captures from playing the game and on youtube.

First question - Where to start? Arms, legs - not a problem. Other than a few modifications, the sculpting shouldn't be anything to write home about. The Head, Neck and Torso however, is a different story. The first priority I have is to find a torso with enough depth in the chest as well as high ball joints in the arms so I can hollow out most of the interior while still being able to keep the framework stable and intact. Enter the vintage 2010 General Grevious figure.

He's got a long, deep torso, as well as smaller ball joints set higher so to avoid damaging them when hollowing out the cavity...Awesome! Easier than I thought! Now I just have to make it work! LOL! :) Below is an image of a somewhat completed skeleton I created using various parts which includes Grevious body, upper arms and shoulders, medical frigate Luke Skywalker's pelvis for extreme posability, concept C-3P0 upper legs, vintage Han's knee joints and some other droids lower legs and feet - Sorry, I can't recall the name of the figure.

When I sculpt a figure - I usually begin with the head, neck and helps me with scale/perspective. It's just a personal preferrence, always do what works for you :) So below you see the beginnings of the sculpt work. I took a faulty cast and smoothed out the surface, triming off the jaw and part of the skull, creating a blank slate. Then, I begin working the layers inside out...sculpting the cybernetic shell and components first. As for the neck and shoulders - I keep in mind the tubing that will be applied later, as well as making sure that articluation remains once the sculpting material cures.

Patience is the key - working a small area at a time with small amounts of epoxy. Another layer has been applied to the photos below, and the upper arms and neck are completed. The grafted skin shown draping over parts of the cybernetic skull, the areas of the face showing human expression - pain perhaps - alongside the cold, robotic glare. Let's face it...walking around in this condition, a couple Advil ain't gonna cut it :) Like Vader, the power of the Dark Side keeps what's left of Starkiller intact and a threat to be reckoned with.

The above image shows a great profile of the mostly cybernetic side of the some of the referrence images, a small "vocoder" is seen toward the back of the maxilla which I will add later down the road. First priority will be to finish the flesh graft YUK! Sounds morbid but that's exactly what I have to do with this particular sculpt LOL! And at this's a fun challenge...I must admit, I'm having fun with this one :)

Many adjustments must be made before the head will be considered completed - as of this blog posting, what you see in these images is what is sitting on my workbench - I have not added anything for about a week now. The teeth will be reduce just a hair, that's for sure, with more flesh draping over them. Looking forward to the weekend to see how things work out. Till then I have made molds of each stage incase I am to make a mistake and need to backtrack. If you are seriously considering working with epoxy or any other medium at this scale and are adding a high amount of detail to very small areas, it's good that you know how to mold and cast your sculpt in several steps..will save you a ton of time if you have to rework something several layers back. This in my case mainly goes for head sculpts...I know many artisits that cast other body parts but I never found that to be neccessary.

So that's where I stand with the Cybernetic Reconstruction of Starkiller - I will be posting an update soon on my other works in progress and status on pieces nearing completion. By the way, I ask for your forgivness...I was bitten by the sculpting bug and put the paint brushes aside for the past several weeks while I "scratched the itch" so to speak...returning to the paints this weekend into the Christmas holiday.

Funny side note - My little nephew who is about 16 months old has been told by the rest of the family that I work for Santa Clause, making toys for little kids around the world LOL! And by his reaction when I let him in my studio, I think (as young as he is) he believes it! Hey - I don't mind the title of "Santa's Toy Maker"..not at all LOL! Maybe I was an elf in another life huh? LOL! And if I can get him into art and being creative at a young age, so be it - by the way, he already knows who Darth Vader is :)

So I hope to get another update in before Christmas - If not, everyone have a Merry One! I will be reviewing my work over the past several weeks in greater detail .

If you can't wait, visit my Flickr photostream for all the udated images, as well as my Facebook page, sith_fire30 creations. I'm appraching 200 fans slowly but surely...if you haven't become a fan, please take a moment and click the like button. You will have my eternal gratitute :)

Just a little stocking stuffer to tide you over :)