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dinsdag 22 november 2016

Gruesome severed heads

A while ago, I got two styrofoam heads from a friend. He didn't need them, and he was sure I could find a good use for them. He was right! I turned these two boring heads into gruesome mutilated severed heads.

  • Styrofoam heads
  • Air drying clay
  • Wood glue
  • Acrylic paint and gesso
  • Acrylic caulk 
  • Matte varnish
  • Super glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Steel wire
  • Screws and hooks
  • Chains
  • Hobby knife
  • Cheap synthetic sponges
  • Wood burning tool
Getting started
The first thing I did was cut the heads up a bit. On one head, I made large holes where the eyes are (empty eye sockets), removed the lower jaw and reattached it with the mouth open. I cut away a lot of foam, put it back on the head with a few toothpicks and then filled all the gaps with acrylic caulk. Very important, use acrylic caulk and not silicone! Silicone can't be painted. For the other head, I just cut away the lower jaw; it will hang below the head on chains.

Next, I sculpted lips, ears, a nose and lots and lots of cuts. For the first head, I made a few large holes that look like they have been ripped open (I used a wood burning tool for that), and sculpted smooth edges around them with air drying clay. I wanted to make it look like the mouth had been ripped open and then sewn shut with steel wire, so I made holes and grooves in the clay where the wires were going to be.
On the second head, I put clay all over the eyes and made a few long gashes that went over the eye sockets, so it looks like the eyes have been removed and the holes sewn shut.


The next step took a long time. I had to find a way to hide the styrofoam texture, and to make sure all the clay would stay on. For this, I primed the heads with wood glue. About five layers, I think. I mixed a bit of acrylic paint in the glue so I could see if I missed a spot. And on the neck, where the head would have been cut off, I put on a thick layer of caulk and gave it an irregular, organic texture. When I was satisfied, I first painted a layer of wood glue mixed with acrylic gesso over it, followed by a layer of pure gesso. After that, I was ready for painting!


Painting these heads basically came down to putting down a lot of layers. I started with a base coat of raw sienna from a spray can. It's the same color I used for my bloody torso, and makes a perfect basic flesh tone.
After the base coat, I applied a wash of burnt umber. If this is your first visit here, a wash means you paint the entire surface with a very diluted paint mixture, and then wipe most of it away again, so the paint only stays in ridges and crevaces.

I also painted the lips, and some shading around the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I used various shades of flesh tone, ochre and brown to break up the monotonous base color. This is for the most part a trial and error process, you just have to see for yourself how it turns out.

And, of course, blood. Lots and lots of blood. For this, I use carmine with a little bit of burnt umber. This results in a dark, brownish red, resembling dried up blood. I painted the eye sockets, mouth and all the wounds with this.
The most elaborate painting, however, was the bruising around the wounds. Like the shading, this is a trial and error process. I put some dark blue, purple, ochre and black on my palette and lightly dabbed thing layers of paint around all the wounds. This is a slow process, you don't want to use too much paint at once here or you'll ruin it.
At this time, I applied a clearcoat of matte varnish. I wanted the "skin" to look dull; more blood will be applied over the matte clearcoat, and because of the more glossy look of acrylic paint, it will look more like fresh blood.

Metal and more blood
I'm going to add lots and lots more blood later, but first, all the steel wire, screws and hooks are added. I carefully drilled through the outer shell of wood glue and stuck the wires and screws through. I dripped a bit of super glue on each hole, to keep the wires in place, and then fixed the cracks in the shell with a bit of acrylic caulk. No matter how careful I was, I managed to damage it in a few places, but nothing that couldn't be fixed.


And finally, you guessed it, the blood! I simply dripped diluted paint on the wounds and let gravity do its job, letting the blood drip down the face. And to finish, some blood splatters! This was done by dipping a stiff paintbrush in the paint, and then flicking the paint onto the head; this is a common technique to create splatter effects.

After the paint had dried, I attached some thin chains to the hooks I put in the heads. One head is just hanging from the chains, the other one has the detached jaw hanging below it. My wife already said I'm a sick, twisted person. Well... she knew what she was getting into when she married me! Too bad I didn't manage to finish these in time for Halloween this year.


woensdag 26 oktober 2016

About cosplay and freaks

Last weekend, I went to Facts Convention in Gent, Belgium, with my wife. I bought some Back To The Future stuff, she bought some Nightmare Before Christmas stuff and I got to meet Sean Astin.
The next day, an article about Facts was published in De Morgen, a newspaper that's considered one of Belgium's top newspapers. It made a lot of people angry. The author described cosplayers as "freaks" and "nerds", and generally mocked and made fun of the visitors.
I usually don't go to conventions in costumes, simply because the halls are too crowded and hot. I save the costumes for outdoor conventions, where I can carry around huge props. However, I can perfectly understand the outrage this article caused.
Most outsiders consider cosplay something childish, and I have had to endure my share of stupid jokes about my hobby. When you dress up as a character from movies, comics or games, or like to participate in haunts and scare the crap out of visitors, outsiders look at you as if you're someone who refuses to grow up.
However, when you wear shirts of your favourite football team, paint your face in the team's colors, collect sports memorabilia and watch games as if your life depends on it, you're considered a "devoted fan"? I personally don't give a rats ass about football. Even when the Belgian national team would play the world championship finals, I wouldn't watch the game and I still wouldn't give a single fuck.
I don't look down on people who watch football, though. Everyone has his hobbies and interests, and it's not because I don't give a crap about something that I think less of someone who doesn't feel the same way about it.

maandag 29 augustus 2016

Skull Mask

A while ago, I made a cast of my face with the help of my wife and a friend. And here's the project I needed this cast for: my skull mask! It's inspired by Will Morgan's Necromancer mask, and will be part of my costume for this year's Elf Fantasy Fair.

  • Face cast (see this Youtube video for a making-of)
  • Fimo Air ultra light clay
  • Oil based clay
  • Sculpting tools
  • Wood glue
  • Super glue
  • Acrylic gesso
  • Acrylic paints
  • Matte varnish
  • Fabric scraps
  • Elastic bands (the type you use in clothing, not rubber bands)
I first covered the face cast with a thin layer of oil based clay. I didn't want the mask to fit too tight, especially because I wanted to cover the inside with some fabric to make it a bit more comfortable to wear. Especially around the eyes I needed enough space for my eyelids. I did mark the exact location of the eyes, to make sure I can see through them properly.

I used Fimo Air ultra light to sculpt the mask. In Will Morgan's tutorial, he first sculpts the mask in clay, then he makes a silicone mold and casts it in urethane resin. This was a bit too advanced for my skill level, so I just use the mask I sculpted. Because the clay is very light, I can easily wear the mask for an entire day without getting cramps in my neck.

There aren't much pictures of the sculpting process, because my hands were full of clay and I didn't want to get clay all over the camera. Not really much to say about it. I'm not exceptionally skilled at sculpting, but it turned out quite ok.
The clay took quite a while to dry. It was still on the face cast, so it could only dry at the front. After five days, it had dried enough to take it off the cast so it could fully dry, and after a week it was done.

Unfortunately, there were a few cracks in the clay. To fix this, I brushed a few layers of wood glue over the mask. This filled in all the cracks and made it a lot stronger. To prepare it for painting, I first painted it with a mixture of wood glue and acrylic gesso, followed by a coat of pure gesso.

I used two colors for painting. I started with several washes of yellow ochre for the base color. First a very light wash all over the mask, followed by a bit darker around the eyes, teeth and in the deeper ridges. Next, a bit of burnt umber to make the eyes and teeth pop out a bit more.


To finish it, I sprayed two coats of matte varnish over the mask.

Before glueing fabric on the inside of the mask, I first attached two loops made of elastic band to the sides, so I can loop another piece of elastic band through it to keep the mask of my face. These are glued in place using super glue.

After that, I glued two layers of fabric on the inside. First, a piece of felt. I didn't cut it to size first, I glued the entire piece on and then cut off any excess. Next, a piece of scrap fabric from an old black T-shirt. I did this because the felt gave off a lot of loose fibres, and the T-shirt fabric by itself would still feel quite hard. By combining the two, it's a lot softer but without all the loose fibres.

I have tried the mask on and it fits perfectly. To put it on, I simply loop a piece of elastic band through the two loops, around my head. To conceal the rest of my face, I will wear a black morph mask underneath it.

maandag 8 augustus 2016

Voodoo Hat

For the next Elf Fantasy Fair, my wife and me are making voodoo themed costumes. Here's a cool hat I made!