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Author Topic: How do I make insects for other worlds like the Weta Workshop now does?  (Read 3429 times)
maduncle
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« on: December 21, 2009, 03:12:29 am »

People,

I am inspired yet again by the works of Weta and their latest offerings in the xenobiology range.

I would love to create small insectile creatures from other worlds but I have never tried, can anyone recommend materials or techniques?

I am thinking of wire frames covered in some sort of hard setting putty that can then be carved and painted, and then have hair of feathers attached - am I on the right track?

Many thanks in anticipation.

maduncle
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2009, 03:47:26 am »

Ever heard of Sculpey or FIMO? I made about 100 models with that stuff nearly 10 years ago! You cook it in the oven on a low temperature (136oC I think) then it sets and has a plastic-like end result, you can shape it and charve it and paint it afterwards and if you use a wire frame it is rather solid indeed Smiley
Oh and if I remember rightly you can add bits on and re-cook it after it has been baked once already!
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Lady Corsair
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2009, 03:53:52 am »

I am unsure what Weta is making, but polymer clay (Sculpey is a brand of polymer) can be used quite well.  The clay is pretty soft, so it can pick up finger prints, but they're easy to wipe off.

Here are some examples of polymer bugs (I think they're polymer, anyway): http://community.livejournal.com/steamfashion/2236217.html

I dunno about re-baking...I accidentally overcooked the bug I tried to make...

 
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2009, 03:55:45 am »

I dunno about re-baking...I accidentally overcooked the bug I tried to make...
Entirely possible, it's all in the timing and the cooling, I have a big book all about FIMO (which is a polymer clay too) so I will look up re-baking in that ... if I can find it Undecided
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groomporter
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2009, 04:00:56 am »

You could start with real insects like this guy

http://www.ubyka.com/ubykaarmy1.htm

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2009, 04:03:54 am »

Paper mache. Easier is not possible. Wanna put it in a jar on preserving liquid without dissolving the paper? Use waterproof paint!
Some newspapers, toilet paper and wallpaper glue. I made a baby kraken within a few hours with the stuff, and you can save the glue for later. The glue is standing here for months and it's still perfectly usable.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 04:07:07 am by Joozey » Logged

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Lady Corsair
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2009, 04:07:34 am »

Could have been a heat thing (i used foil, which may have heated it up higher than intended).

Here it is w/ a gear pin I made that I did not burn (yes, a gear pin; it does NOTHING but look like a gear!).  There is also a little heart that burned as well. 
Spoiler (click to show/hide)


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maduncle
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2009, 04:15:56 am »

Thanks for all the quick feedback folks.

Here is what Weta are up to...

http://www.wetanz.com/pillock/from/latest

I will see what modelling clay I can hunt down that sets hard for carving, or can be oven cured.

Using real dead insects as part of the work may be challenging, as most of the Antipodean ones are a little boring looking, or protected, or deadly.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2009, 04:58:24 am »


FIMO could definately do that (with wire supports) You can get transluscent fimo too which gives a good effect after being painted with some non-opaque paint, it looks quite organic and insectile Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2009, 02:44:26 pm »

A blue sacked pillock? -_^






Sounds not dissimilar to what I'd be were I to carry out my strange urge to go swimming in the sea now...
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2009, 03:56:43 pm »

I'd second sculpey. I used to use fimo years back as a kid, and my experiences with it were enough to put me off using anything similar until a couple of years ago. Fimo I found was very hard, and hard to work with.

Sculpey on the other hand I find a lot softer and easier to work with, I also think it's a fair bit cheaper?

I've often wondered about re-firing sculpey, as sometimes I've thought about doing something that would work better in stages, but always figured it'd burn?
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2009, 04:15:16 pm »

Id use Epoxy putty, no cooking and related disasters!, built up on a fine wire armature. One can get very nice coloured wires, and metal foils for wings etc.. And it occurs to me that Fishing fly tying uses nice threads and wires and colourful feathers etc...
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2009, 04:38:27 pm »

The best way to do this is sculpt your form in an oil based clay over a wire armature, make a mold from it and then cast in resin.

Something like an insect would probably haev to be done in parts and pinned and glued together.
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2009, 05:49:08 pm »

As I understand it, polymer clay is soft because of softeners incorporated into the substance. When it is heated, the softeners evaporate leaving the material hard. Adding more soft polymer clay to an already-baked item should not cause any problems.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2009, 07:11:18 pm »

I'd second sculpey. I used to use fimo years back as a kid, and my experiences with it were enough to put me off using anything similar until a couple of years ago. Fimo I found was very hard, and hard to work with.
This can be adavantagous, if you mash fimo about a bit it gets softer, then if you leave it (say in the shape of a mythical insect) handling it again after a moment won't cause any damage or unwanted alteration. Ultimately the harder quality about it simply allows for greater handling before it is baked.

As I understand it, polymer clay is soft because of softeners incorporated into the substance. When it is heated, the softeners evaporate leaving the material hard. Adding more soft polymer clay to an already-baked item should not cause any problems.
Okay now I'm certain one can re-bake them Smiley Just make sure to do so at the right temperature, too hot and they melt.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2009, 07:25:44 pm »

I'm going to have to give rebaking a go on a small bit. I'm guessing the singed edges you sometimes get is due to it being at temperature too long, so if you bake, let it cool, and then put it in again it won't burn?

My current exploit with some sculpey, resin, and one of the many test tubes I have lying around...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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maduncle
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2009, 11:15:29 pm »

Well I am sold on Sculpey after seeing the last pic, I have found a local supplier in Melbourne and I will get myself a block of the stuff and some tools after Christmas.

Right now I am drawing alien insects based on a tripod layout - one big spring loaded leg at the rear for hopping around on and two thin gripping claws at the front. Eyes on retractable fleshy stalks that can withdraw under the body.

As for colour, probably a reddish base with yellow blobby patterns, and maybe striped legs.

(I think Avatar got in my brain).
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2009, 02:01:40 am »

I'm going to have to give rebaking a go on a small bit. I'm guessing the singed edges you sometimes get is due to it being at temperature too long, so if you bake, let it cool, and then put it in again it won't burn?
There is only one way to find out!
From my experience it's only temperature that causes burns not baking time- that just causes melting Roll Eyes
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2009, 10:47:12 am »

Interesting. It is a fan oven so I do tend to have to whack the temp down to 120-125 from 130 degrees. Our oven does seem to vary some days from needing to be at the right temp to scorching anything in it. And our freezer sometimes over freezes things, leading to meals that are still frozen in the middle after the guideline hour cooking, and taking twice as long to cook!
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rovingjack
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2009, 07:09:46 pm »

sculpy is one of those things that model makes and hollywood concept artist use almost everywhere. It can be made thin or thick and picks up textures and impressions well. shapes like a soft wax and cooks to a hard plastic. You can work it for hours or even days and it's not set until you bake it.

some tips:
work it soft and then set it aside to let it firm up (the heat from hands and working it soften it up) by sitting for a bit or popping in the fridge for a short stay.

Build a wire armature, bulk out with aluminum foil, layer a bit of sculpy and then build your detail layer, sculpy has a preferred thickness of 1/2 inch to an inch before problems occur with some parts setting and some not.

It can be rebaked. The method I was taught was to decrease initial bake teperatures by 5-10 and decrease time in half. the outside of the peice will be mostly hardened and so allow you to work with the surface as if it's done. add any new peices and then rebake. repeat up to three bakings. Then for the final few moments of the process bring it up to the proper temp and watch it like a hawk to make sure there are no color or textural indicators of over bake.

Keep in mind as well, that a good texture set in before bake, good painting after bake and glazing or varnishing can make all the differance in the product. Heck the same could be said of papermache. I've made paper objects that with the right paint nobody believes they are not plastic or plaster, and even leather in some cases.

But sculpy picks up textures better, allows for translucency and better control over setting and hardening.
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2010, 06:22:14 pm »

A quick note on sculpy and other polymer clays. After you bake it once adding new material is a pain because it won't stick to itself. That is uncured sculpy won't stick to cured sculpy.

Get a jar of liquid sculpy to use as a glue between the baked surface and the new material. I love the stuff.

It's also a great color transfer medium. Makes awesome wings and membranes. But you'll definitely want to use it if your adding fresh clay to a pre-baked piece.

I have baked items 5 or 6 times at 150 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes at a shot to harden specific ares. Makes working on complicated pieces really easy.
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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2010, 12:44:03 am »

Sculpty is awsome. It is used widely for assemblage art. I consider it the step below resin casting. It's less expensive than resin and you can pretty much do the same things with it. I often use metalic powders to achieve some good effects.
http://goblinhill.deviantart.com/art/Aether-Imp-100934931
http://goblinhill.deviantart.com/art/Aetherstone-100935198
http://goblinhill.deviantart.com/art/Air-Admiral-130801106
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« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2010, 05:20:29 am »

I never had an issue with unbaked sculpy sticking to baked sculpy alot of what I do takes a build-up I just would rough the surface of the baked sculpy before adding any more. I have a dragonhead that has a cow skull for a base all together it was baked about 5 times including burning one layer to give it a look I felt fit.

but I do like the liquid sculpy, I have used it to help fix issues on a piece
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« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2010, 12:57:51 pm »

i have hot hands so i find most sculpey and fimo get far too soft for me.
I prefer to use the superfirm grey sculpey myself.

I highly reccommend liquid polymer clay for wings and also for glazing items to make them supershiny and to use as a glue.
Translucent fimo mixed with a teeny amount of coloured makes fantastic effects especially if you might want to see any innards...or even make innards out of it.

polymer clay can be rebaked several times. Always keep an eye on temperature and burning. if in doubt cover with foil.
Another interesting tip is to use polyester quilt batting to support fragile items. It doesn't catch fire or melt at the low temps that polymer clay is cured at.
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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2010, 07:41:05 am »

Hey guys - Its Dean here from UBYKA STUDIO and I created the cyborg insects mentioned on this thread. Yes, I use real museum grade insects in my creations and I'd be glad to answer any questions if you have any.

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