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 Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla

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MiniZoo

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PostSubject: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:24 am

Hi friends, I've been inspired by some of the members of this forum who are just beginning to sculpt to put up a tutorial showing the process of making a Silverback Gorilla from start to finish. The basic principles I use can be applied to all different types of models. Hopefully following the whole thing from start to finish will be helpful to some.

The first thing to share is that I'm a bit nervous every time I start a new sculpt. I like to pick subjects that challenge me and this one is definitely going to do that. I'm sure there will be mistakes along the way, but that's all part of the process. Welcome along for the ride.

My subject is Ozoum (better known as Ozzie), a 53 year old Silverback Gorilla from the Atlanta Zoo. Click here to learn about Ozzie. Here's the picture I've chosen as my main pose and inspiration.

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:40 am

Once my main pose is decided I'll look for supporting images that I can reference to. For example the hands are blurred in the picture above so I've found another similar pose with clear hands:


... and I've also got a side profile of Ozzie's head which I can't see in the original image either.


That will do for now. I will need other pictures later.
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:08 am

Brillinat! Very Happy
This is exactly what I need, to be able to see how you do it will be interesting to watch and hopefully I will pick up techniques for my own modeling. Good luck! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:13 am

The next stage is to decide on the size of the model. I want this one to be fairly large and so I have very unscientifically grabbed a ruler and measured a rough height of 16-17cm. It's not any specific scale, just something I'm happy with.

If I was making to scale (eg 1:22) I would Google the size of Silverback Gorillas and then use a Scale Converter to give me the actual model height, length etc.

I'm going to make a wire armature to support Ozzie. This is a good idea even for small models. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just a basic structure to build around. If making to an exact scale make sure you measure the armature a little bit smaller than the actual length of the model to allow for muscles and skin/feathers etc. An example of a basic armature is this bandicoot model I made a few months ago:
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:31 am

Because this model is quite large I want to be very specific with the proportions so I've looked up a front and side view graphic of a Gorilla Skeleton. I've scaled it in a Word document to the size I need, printed it off and I'll be using this to model my armature from. You can see the cm markers on the side to give the correct printed size.
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:54 am

This armature is a bit more complicated because of the size of the model and the detail I want. Here's what I need to make the armature:
* Ruler
* Armature wire (large roll) - can get wire from a hardware store but it can be harder to bend. I've bought mine from an art supply shop.
* Wire (small) - this is florist wire from a craft shop. I use this to wrap around & tie the larger pieces together
* Wire cutters
* Long nose pliers for doing tight bends
* Black marker for marking joints in the skeleton
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:22 am

This is so enormously exiting bounce bounce cheers

Thankyou very much, for taking us along Applause flower sunny Applause

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:16 am

Amazing tutorial!!! cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:10 pm

Oh wow these things here look so cool! Shocked Cool
Thank you!

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:46 pm

Very exciting! cheers

How generous of you to commit your time and energy to make a tutorial!
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:57 am

So... What next? bounce bounce bounce

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:03 am

Now I use my armature wire to shape one half of the skeleton starting at the foot and working my way around the pelvis, up the spine and then out to the shoulder sockets and back down the arms. I also use the side view to capture the slight bend in the knees and the forward lean at the hips. I also mark the joints: ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist with the black marker. This will become really important later on. The 2nd photo shows the two sides shaped, the 3rd shows the two halves tied together with the florist wire. The 4th photo shows an extra piece for the neck and skull added and tied together.
     

There's a deliberate hole in the chest cavity. Normally you wouldn't worry about this, but being a larger heavier model it will be supported by an armature stand when I'm sculpting and that needs an attachment point. The armature is now formed but not yet posed. I think it helps to get the proportions right with a basic standing pose before bending the wire to the final pose. If you try to pose too early it's easy to end up with one leg longer than another etc. The 5th photo shows extra florist wire wrapped around the arms and legs. We'll see why soon.
       

I'm pleased that the armature stands with no support. It might not be a big deal but for me it means the balance is right.


Last edited by MiniZoo on Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:06 am

@Kikimalou wrote:
So... What next? bounce bounce bounce

Thanks for joining in! This is a real time project so I'm posting as I go. I expect it will take up to a month as time allows :)
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:13 am

@MiniZoo wrote:
....... This is a real time project so I'm posting as I go. I expect it will take up to a month as time allows :)

Super for me ! I love thick books cheers cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:21 am

So you normally begin with a skeleton? That is a good idea, hmmm  scratch would it work for a bird? I have been trying to figure out how I should best make a fantail wire skeleton.
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:30 am

Schleichgirl wrote:
So you normally begin with a skeleton? That is a good idea, hmmm  scratch would it work for a bird? I have been trying to figure out how I should best make a fantail wire skeleton.

You could use a skeleton to get the size/proportion but keep it simple. Your birds will probably be a lot smaller than my model. Here's an example I did of a golden pheasant. Hope it helps!

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:37 am

Thankyou very much, this helps a lot Very Happy cheers I will begin my wire skeleton today and follow along with you
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:20 am

Now to the clay. I use Super Sculpey. It's a polymer clay that stays workable until it is baked in the oven. It starts off quite hard and slightly brittle but it has a smooth bendy consistency once it has been worked. You can do this with your fingers, but I found a roller to be faster and saves your fingers from getting tired!

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:31 am

Easy to follow directions with supporting pics for clarification. I like. Much happiness. :)

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:16 am

@Wilorvise wrote:
 Easy to follow directions with supporting pics for clarification. I like. Much happiness. :)

Welcome along Wilorvise cheers

Schleichgirl, I think this might help you with your plan to do the fantail on your bird: thin, flat areas (like a wing) can be supported with a flyscreen material (use a metal one though not a plastic). I did the wings and tail for my eagle with this method. Cut the shape you need and then stitch it in place on your wire frame with the thin florist wire.

 
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:58 am

Many, many thanks cheers
It is the tail that I am having trouble with at the moment. Fantails are not easy to do tongue 
I made the wire skeleton yesterday, it was so small that I had to use a hot glue gun to stick them together. Then I molded the clay on for the body. It is working so far, thanks for your help Very Happy


I don't want to hijack the topic Embarassed But do you think that useing very thin peices of wire stuck in the clay at the back would do for the tail. If you can understand what I mean? And then I could mold clay around the wire in the shape of a tail.
It is great to be following along with you even if we are doing different species Razz Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:12 am

Schleichgirl wrote:
do you think that useing very thin peices of wire stuck in the clay at the back would do for the tail. If you can understand what I mean? And then I could mold clay around the wire in the shape of a tail.
It is great to be following along with you even if we are doing different species Razz Very Happy

You could try that. Sometimes it's just a matter of experimenting until something works Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Ok, back to Ozzie... I've now used the Super Sculpey to create 'bones'. Notice how I've left gaps at the joints where I marked the armature earlier on. I also modeled the skull which will help me to position the facial features later on. This is the first time I've done a skull shape at this stage - usually I just do a round ball for the cranium but I felt that a more detailed shape would be better for this model. Hope the time it took pays off!

Next step was to bake the skeleton. 15 mins at 130deg celcius (or 120 deg in our fan forced oven). When the baking is finished leave the clay for about 15 minutes before handling it as the clay stays soft until it's cool and could easily get damaged.

 
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:41 pm

Here's the skeleton baked and ready to pose. The bones are now hard so I can move him around and adjust the position even while adding the outer clay - without worrying about him losing proportion.

I don't recommend doing bones and a prebake like this for smaller models. That would be overcomplicating them. Just a wire armature is enough for most figures. Think of this as an extra step that can be adopted depending on what is being modeled.



You'll notice he hasn't got a rib cage. That's no problem - I'll just make the belly from clay.
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:56 pm

Many many thanks for the tutorials! That's helpful Applause Applause cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:02 pm

I love this tutorial! I usually don't make a skeleton which reflect real bones but I think it's great idea and I would love to try it, especially with bigger sculptures it may be very useful! cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:40 pm

This is the fun part Very Happy .. and where the 'bones' method has really come in useful. I've sized my inspiration photo onscreen to the model size and then roughly copied the pose. I can fine tune it as I go.



I've also now tested the armature on my homemade stand - works perfectly, nice and stable! I think he looks kind of cool!

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:51 pm

WOW ! FABULOLUS ! Now I understand why you left the joints bare cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:55 pm

So imprssive Shocked cheers So interesting to follow this Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:01 am

Exciting to watch bounce
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:31 pm

Thanks Ana, Suzanne, Jonesee and Emma - I'm so glad you're enjoying it cheers

The armature is now ready so we move onto the next phase - sculpting! I've laid out my gear here:



* Super Sculpey Firm - I've switched to the firm clay now for the main work. I find the 'firm' version of the clay holds detail much better when I'm turning the model over in my hands. It takes a little longer to roll and make malleable but it's worth it to me.
* Scalpel - for cutting away excess clay
* Metal tools - sharp for detailing, leaf shaped tool for smoothing
* Wooden tools - for rough working the clay, pushing into shape etc
* Wire loops - for scraping away small areas
* Metal ball ends - for smoothing & detailing small areas
* Clay brushes - these are not paint brushes. They have a very smooth firm bristle and are used to brush over and smooth the detailed clay
* Metal turntable - love this. Can sit the model on and turn it around all angles reducing the handling.

I don't use all of the tools, but will pick and choose the ones I need. I'll probably only use 7 or 8 of these as I tend to stick with my favorites. Also I want to emphasise that you can still produce really nice models with only 2 or 3 tools. If you're starting out it costs a lot to buy all of this so a simple $15 wooden clay tool set can do a great job!
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:49 pm

When I was searching for reference photos I came across this amazing image of the muscular system of a gorilla. Because these animals are so hairy this will be really helpful in shaping the arms, shoulders, chest and legs. I keep all of my reference photos on my iPad so it's easy to flick between them as I go.

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:31 pm

That's really good photo and surely helpful! I guess if someone wanna try a horse there's this kind of photos in internet. The upper photo helps me to know what I need if I try to make my own model, thank you cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:53 pm

I missed several steps here Shocked

Great that you try to keep to every natural detail. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:11 pm

I agree with everybody... Your decision, to show the process of your work,
the way how you think during the work..., how and from what you make this model...
everything is wonderful.... clever..and properly.
Great tutorial !
It reminds me of my Art school :) ..but there I was making human bodies.
Anyway..it`s the same. First we lurned about the skeleton..then muscles...
My last sculpture at the school was a creature between a human and goad :
``Satyr`` ( Faun, Pan) ..and he plays on ``Avlos``(musical instrument)
It was human size sculpture... Wink
I realy like your work..
and I realy like gorillas...
I can`t wait to see your next topic Wink


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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:16 pm

Now to add the clay!

Photo 1. Polymer clay is expensive so I've used a bit of aluminium foil rolled up into a ball to bulk out the belly area and save on some clay.



Photo 2 - simply flattened out the clay and wrapped it around the ball.



Photo 3 - attaching the belly



Photo 4 - adding the clay in small, manageable chunks, working quickly just with my fingers, not worried about details yet



Photo 5 - main areas covered but face, hands & feet to be left until later as they are the most detailed



I think working quickly is good at this stage as it's easy to get bogged down worrying about detail too soon. Just try to work to the basic shape.
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:18 pm

Welcome along Costicuba!
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:30 am

Very nice and usefull tips here, thank you for showing this Very Happy

I have no big ambitions to make my own models, but I can imagine how much work it is making one with a bottom up approach like this Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:20 am

After adding the first layer of clay I start to smooth it - mostly using my finger tips but sometimes with the wooden tools for tight areas. Again I'm working fairly quickly. Then it's a matter of gradually adding the clay / smooth / add some more - comparing with my reference photos for overall dimensions, making slight adjustments to the pose. I also pay attention to the large muscle shapes and start forming the muscles during this process. This photo is a quick smooth after the first layer of clay.


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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:47 pm

It's starting to come together! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:00 pm

More clay added and starting to define muscles. Also put some 'skin' around the face and given some shape to the top of his head. I've done a focus on the right leg with how the muscles are built up and then smoothed a bit with the largest metal ball end tool. Still all very rough but at least he's starting to look like a gorilla!

The key thing is to keep looking at it from all angles and still focusing on getting the overall dimensions right. I've noticed when looking from the side that the belly isn't protruding enough so more clay to be added there.

You'll also see I've drawn a line from the chin to the groin. I can now measure from this center line to the outer edges and ensure that both sides are built up evenly.

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:48 pm

Amazing cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:48 pm

I can see who knows what he's doing... This is just wonderful! I enjoyed :)

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:11 am

Progress from today - I'm pretty happy with the basic dimensions so now I'm starting to refine the muscles more. Also covered the face with clay but no detail added yet. Because I've got the skeleton underneath I'm able to move the forearms in & out to access the chest area.

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:30 pm

I was able to spend about 6 hrs on Ozzie yesterday which was great. Work is progressing at a much slower rate now because the detail is being added. He still doesn't have a face but I'm hoping to get onto that today Smile

I spent a lot of time working on the leg muscles. Without any background in anatomy I'm constantly looking up reference photos (leg anatomy etc) on google and doing my best to apply it. He now has a right foot, hamstrings, calves, better arms, rib definition and I've also repositioned his head slightly to give him slightly more of a neck.



This picture shows much smaller pieces of clay being added and blended now. After stepping back and looking at him from a bit further away I realised his right shoulder wasn't quite in proportion with the left shoulder. So it's now a matter of tiny little adjustments here and there. It's definitely worth taking a step back occasionally and viewing your model from a wider angle.



Please feel free to ask questions at any time.

I've also done some basic texturing on his back, using a smaller ball end tool and adding small wavy lines in the direction of the hair.

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:56 pm

WOW!
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:03 pm

looking awesome! You're giving me enthusiasm to do my own models! cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:12 am

Thanks LeeAnn & Jonas (Jonas it would be great to see you have a go at your own models!).

Well Ozzie finally has a face! It will still get further refined but most of the detail is there. I've gone further along with the texturing as it helps me get a better perspective on the areas that need more work.

First photo shows texturing with a very fine ball end tool. Second photo shows smoothing the bare skin of the chest with one of my clay brushes.

 


Last edited by MiniZoo on Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:47 am

Hello, Ozzie ! Now you can see, too cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - Silverback Gorilla   Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:22 pm

To get the leg ready for texturing I have to fill in the gaps between the muscles. The three stages can be seen here. The end result is a nice furry leg with the underlying muscle structure still visible.

   
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