Sculpting the head

Once I had the life mask of Rob finished, I was ready to start the sculpture. My first step was to do a full size drawing of the bear to make certain that I had the proportions correct.

IMG 5887Hringur bearGummi Þor had already done a sculpture to demonstrate how the proportions would have to change from the drawing in order to accomodate a human. Using the sculpture as a reference point, I created the large drawing. (I took a picture of this, but the pencil lines didn’t show up. Sorry.)

With that information in hand, I started sculpting. My challenge here is to make it look as much like the drawing as possible while meeting the requirements of fitting on a human head. I started by placing the bear’s eyes, two semi-spheres which I put over the life cast’s eyes. Using these and the life cast’s mouth as my guidepoints I started sculpting. I sculpted the Polar Bear’s head out of clay. In this case I used waterbased clay. Everyone has perferences on clay but I personally like the feel of water-based better. It’s a textural thing.

polar bear3As I sculpted I kept the drawing of the character open along with several pictures of polar bears. This one, in particular, was my reference. I like the expression on his face. My clients want the bear to be young, curious, and trustworthy.

Isbjorn sideI deviated from the drawing by making the nose a little shorter and the distance from the nose to the bottom of the chin smaller. Both of these are indicators of youth. On a more practical note, because my mouth/eye distance was locked in, there was a limit to how thick I could make the nose. Which meant that if I extended the nose out from the face as far as in the drawing it would taper to a needle-like point. I didn’t think this really expressed the huggability we are going for. So, shorter and broader.

IsbjornHere is the finished sculpture. My next step is to cut the chin off and do some detail work on the inside of the lips. I’ll cast the chin and face in fiberglass separately. I’ll also remove the nose itself and replace it with one made of foam covered with leather so that it will feel right if a child touches it. The ears will also be be made of foam and fur so they are soft to the touch. The final head will look larger than this because of the fur, which will add about two inches to the apparent size of the head.

Oh, and if you are curious about the spoon in the lower right corner of the picture, I use it to smooth the clay. By rubbing it in circles across the surface of clay you can burnish the clay and make a smooth surface. It doesn’t actually matter what the surface is like for this one, because the whole head will be covered in fur, but I find it easier to tell if I’ve made the head lopsided if the bumpy bits are distracting me.

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