Sculpture for Prosthetics (Basic Course contd.)

It took a while to get going with the sculpting part of the course. I was intimidated, I suppose, having no previous experience but again after loads of reading and research I decided upon a Mr Hyde character that was based on a make-up of Dick’s, included in the course material and ordered the plastilene so I could get going. Before I applied the plastilene though I had to cover the cast in a couple of thin coats of Al-Cote which I had to order from Burman Industries in the US as I wasn’t sure if any British products would work the same. The Al-Cote is a sort of barrier that once dried, allows the plastilene to stick to the cast but when the sculpt is complete and the cast has been soaked it softens and allows the plastilene to slip off.

The plastilene was a bit tricky to get used to at first as I had chosen a fairly hard type so it would retain the small details. I had to warm it quite a bit until it was pliable enough to be able to start to apply it to the cast. I started by just putting very rough, thin sausage pieces onto the face in the general areas to get an idea of the contours. I started on the nose and worked down to the mouth and chin. Did the cheeks next then up round the eyes to the forehead til had the basic shape I wanted.

The next pictures are of the sculpture after I’d refined it a bit …

Once I was happy with the basic shape I had to start to add the wrinkles and skin textures that would make it more realistic but obviously in quite an exaggerated way as it was based on a character. I mainly sculpted all the wrinkles by hand but I did use other tools to get various other effects to save time. One example of this was on the nose where I used a small bundle of cocktail sticks held together with an elastic band to create the skin pores. As pores aren’t all a regular size though I used other different sized tools to make some bigger and used lighter fluid applied with a cotton bud or paint brush to soften the effect. There are other types of alcohols that work too but I found this was the most effective with this particular brand of plastilene. All alcohols are reallyflammable so had to take care obviously, especially as I can be a little accident prone :S I also made a skin template by painting layers and layers of liquid latex on an orange which once dried forms a negative which is really useful to press into the plastilene to cover larger areas. The clay I used was a little hard for this to work that well though so I found it was best to just keep sculpting by hand (though it was much more time time consuming), with lots of differents tools and refining with the lighter fluid until I was satisfied with the look.

Was really pleased with the finished sculpt but bit worried about next bit as it needed to be removed from the cast and it could potentially stick and be damaged. I soaked the whole cast in the bath overnight and the next day was very relieved to be able to remove the plastilene really easily once I’d loosened the edges a bit. This is when you have to cut the mask to get the separate pieces to make the prosthetics. So I planned the cuts as best I could to follow the deep lines and folds in the face so it’s easier to blend into each other and the skin when you apply to the face. The usual way is to separate down both sides of the nose down the naso-labial folds, then a chin and neck piece. The cheeks are separated from the forehead using some deep eye creases. Once this is done the next stage is to make the molds for the prosthetics from each piece …

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2 thoughts on “Sculpture for Prosthetics (Basic Course contd.)

  1. This just highlights how CGI hasn’t entirely helped the film industry. Although it has its place your work is a perfect example why special make-up effects and physical in-camera special-effects are so much better than CGI. You are VERY talented!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! That’s exactly why I admire the artists that keep the practical work alive so much. It is time consuming and I can see how CGI has massive benefits but love to see these techniques used whenever possible as they bring a film to life in my opinion, in a way that CGI can never do.

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