Tutorial: Sculpting a Wing, Part 1

Some people have asked how I sculpt the wings. The first time I made the wing, it was to get a feel for how to do it. Since I wanted to redo the wings to make them not only consistent but also more dynamic, I figured I’d take a few photographs along the way. I’m open for suggestions on how to do this better, so please comment.

Keying up the wings

1. Keying up the wings

1. First, I drilled a hole into the back of Illidan. The wing is going to be heavy, so I wanted there to be enough mass of the wing that gets inserted into the back of Illidan to support the weight. I filled the holes with Magic Sculpt (I found Magic Sculpt to be a lot cheaper than aves, but they are very similar products). I then inserted a brass rod, and then inserted wire I twisted into that brass rod. I let that sit overnight to harden. The red dots you see are where all the elbows and joints of the wing “fingers” will be.

2. Adding rest of wing joints and "fingers"

2. Adding rest of wing joints and "fingers"

2. Here you see I added the rest of the wing “fingers”, all pre-measured for both wings. They are connected by quick curing plumbers epoxy, to speed up time. I then wrapped floral wire around each finger for the wire mesh and clay to stick to later. Repeat for second wing.

3. Adding bendable mesh to wings

3. Adding bendable mesh to wings

3. Because the wings are so massive, I decided to add mesh as the base of the membranes. I think smaller pieces would be fine with thin layer of Magic Sculpt, but the size of the wings would have caused the sheet of Magic Sculpt to droop. I highlighted in red holes I made where each elbow of the finger would be. I think threaded the wire through those holes to help keep the mesh more secure.

4. Adding glue and "pinching" the mesh

4. Adding glue and "pinching" the mesh

4. After I threaded. I “pinch” the mesh around the wire fingers, so that the mesh sort of falls in the half-way point of the finger. This is so that when I add Magic Sculpt, the membrane will look more realistic, like the membrane is really attached to the middle bone like a bat. I also run a little superglue along the finger, kick it with some Zip Kicker to cure instantly, to hold the mesh in place for the next step.

5. Adding Magic Sculpt to the mesh

5. Adding Magic Sculpt to the mesh

5. The last part of preparing the wing for clay/sculpey/wax is to further strengthen the membrane. Here I have pressed bits of Magic Sculpt into the wire, as thin as possible, to create the membrane foundation. I used disposable vinyl gloves for this, and dip my fingers in water, sometimes dipping the chunks of Magic Sculpt into the water directly. This softens it, almost like a slurry, and helps spread it out a bit more easily.

I will let this all harden overnight, and begin adding super sculpey or wax (I still don’t know what I’ll use, I have to see if I have enough wax left to do this.

I’ll add more pics in the next week of the detailing process.




World of Warcraft sculpture: Illidan


My first major sculpt that I have been working on is Illidan (above), a character from World of Warcraft. In fact, this is only the second thing I have sculpted and it’s a doozy. I have only recently started to sculpt (around the beginning of 2008) and I wonder if I’m crazy taking on such an ambitious project so soon. If I had thought it through, I would of done something very very simple.

But I didn’t.

Take my advice, when you are just starting out, sculpt simple things to learn the material, then work on balance, anatomy, etc.

About the project

I started this project using ProClay. I heard about it on a forum and was drawn to it because of its high-wax content, and hardness. I want a lot of detail in the project, and Sculpey didn’t click with me at first (although, I did use it on the wings and will start using it more in the future). The ProClay wasn’t hard enough for my liking, and I decided to switch to wax. I built my own wax pen (that’s another post) and read about FUSE, an amazing wax from Willow Products. I bought a bunch and that’s what I am using for the upper half of the body. I am trying Gary’s Zen wax next (his latest and hardest wax).

Last weekend, I took the sculpt I had roughed in with ProClay and started to make wastemolds with OOMO30 and alginate. I poured the wax and started to key the arms and now I am working on adding details (more posts to come. It has been a long road, but I’m less than halfway done, all things considered. I have re-sculpted every part of Illidan at least twice. I sculpt, figure out what is wrong with the pose, form, anatomy etc, and then basically start from scratch.

Here are some pics on the construction of the wings:

I use apoxie sculpt to make the “arms” of the wings. I used wire to make the “fingers” of the wings and put them in the apoxie before it hardened. I then took thin wire mesh and threaded the mesh through the wire fingers, and cut it to shape the membrane. (I don’t have a pic of this process, so I will take a pic when I do the other one.) I cut the mesh to fit, and then pushed a thin layer of apoxie sculpt into the mesh to form the membrane.

After that hardened, I put a layer of Firm Super Sculpey over that so that I could add detail. I know of some sculptors that actually do the detail in the apoxie as it hardens, but my skills aren’t up to that level yet.

After I had most of the details done, I baked the wing, and then took a dremel tool with a cutting bit and drilled into the wing to form ragged holes. I also used the dremel tool to make the edges of the wings look more tattered as well.

Now that it is baked, I’m going back with mores sculpey to add spikes, fix some cracks and add more detail. I use a heatgun to bake the new sculpey.

Now I have another issue. Do I go through the hassle (and money) of making a mold of the wing, pouring in wax, let it harden, and then warm the wax under hot water and try to reshape the wing to bend the other way? Or make the right wing from scratch, as I did the first.