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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: slush, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 194
1. Getting a Likeness at Madame Tussauds


Madame Tussauds created this video about how they create a wax portrait figure. They had the benefit of having the subject, Benedict Cumberbatch, available for measurements and color matches. (link to video)

One of the readers of this blog is Jethro Crabb, a painter and sculptor who has worked at Madame Tussauds. I asked him a few questions prompted by the video.

James Gurney: Who sculpted the head in the video?

Jethro Crabb: "My friend John Cormican, a lovely fellow and a veteran of Jim Henson's creature shop amongst other places, sculpted the head for the Benedict Cumberbatch figure."


JG: Where is Madame Tussauds based, and what did you do there?

Jethro Crabb: "The studios are based in Acton, West London and produce wax figures for all the worldwide attractions. Each figure normally has two sculptors working on it, one to sculpt the body and one the head. I specialised in head sculpts during my time there."

JG: Do you ever use 3D scanners?

J. Crabb: "Tussauds to me is fascinating because most of the techniques involved in the production of the figures are exactly the same as they were 200 years ago. In the last couple of years 3D scanning and printing has become a part of the process, but the 3D prints are currently only used as another reference tool for sculpting in clay by hand."

JG: Do you always have a living celebrity available to pose?


J. Crabb: "In the case that the celebrity was free and willing to meet us, we would travel to them and take hundreds of photographs and measurements of them. For the head we used an eyebrow pencil to draw a matrix of dots on their faces which became points to measure from. As we built the clay head up using the photographic reference we established these points in the clay using metal pins and carefully measured between them with calipers. We would compare these measurements with our chart of measurements taken in the sitting and adjust them until correct. Two of the photographs we took were a 'front on' and a 'profile' shot in the right facial expression from 5 meters away (to minimize the distortion)."

"These were printed out 2% larger than life size and we used this to directly take measurements in a very specific way. The clay head was built 2% larger to compensate for shrinkage in the wax cast. In the case that the celebrity didn't want to be involved or was unavailable we would work from photographs alone. Each portrait would normally take 5 weeks to sculpt. All these techniques and processes were tinkered with and added to over the years and the results produced could be quite remarkable."

JG: What elements are key to getting a likeness?

J. Crabb: "One of the things I learned as an artist working at Tussauds was that in order to create a convincing likeness of someone it was crucial that all the elements were correct and had the correct relationship with each other. Humans are so expert in recognising faces, or more accurately 'heads' since the shape and silhouette of the cranium, neck and jaw play an important role in this recognition, that any minor mistake or mismatch of forms creates a disproportionately disastrous result."

"I also learned more and more that it is the big simple shapes in a sculpture which are the most important to establish correctly. There is always a tendency to be distracted by an alluring nostril shape or mouth corner, but even if this small stuff is correct it is useless unless it is laying over a correctly sculpted larger form. Perhaps a similar thing can be said of painting."

JG: When it comes to recognizing a particular face, I have always been under the impression that the great portrait painters engage in subtle caricature (see post on "Caricature and Likeness"or at least are selective about downplaying certain features or qualities that are not particularly characteristic. Am I right in understanding that there's none of that going on with Madame Tussauds sculptures? Are you going for a metrically exact mirror image with no attempt to exaggerate characteristic details?

Jethro Crabb: "This subject of 'caricature vs exact copy' that you bring up is one that absolutely fascinates me. Your question and original blog post has hit upon an issue that I have spent a lot of time thinking about and experiencing through my sculpture. Please excuse my lengthy response. It should be an easy question to answer, but it is not."

"At Madame Tussauds, the sculptors are aiming to produce an exact copy of the person. So that you could stand the celebrity next to their sculpture and it would be impossible to spot any differences in size, proportion, form or colour between the two, (By the way this aim is rarely if ever 100% achieved no matter how meticulously the wax figure is made)."

"But in order to get to that point I think it is helpful to have a caricaturist's eye. To have the ability and inclination to notice what specific characteristics are key in making someone look the way they do. This skill is particularly important when we have been unable to meet the celebrity in question and are just working from photographs without the aid of measurements taken from the subject. In this case it is useful to observe which characteristics of their head shape and features and they way they fit together are distinctive and might be exaggerated if we were to make a caricature. By noticing these characteristics we can make sure they are stated clearly enough in the sculpture. Better that they are slightly overstated than understated."

Wax portrait of Beethoven by Jethro Crabb
JG: With movie celebrities or larger-than-life historical figures, our notions of what they look like is influenced by a certain amount of myth-making via film or painting. Sometimes the screen persona of a movie actor is kind of artificial, and different from the real flesh-and-blood human being. How do you factor that in?

J. Crabb: "A good wax figure should look like how people expect that celebrity to look. This can often be subtly different to the reality. Think about having your photo taken and having a feeling that it didn't quite capture how you really look. This could easily be the case with a wax figure as well. We could create a sculpture that measures correctly and adds up with all the photographs from the sitting, but just doesn't look like how we expect Johnny Depp, for instance, to look. So sometimes we have to choose photographic reference which tallies with our expectations. On top of this some of the best portrait sculptors at Tussauds use elements of subtle exaggeration in their modelling to define the characteristics of the forms and shapes in the face. Two of the principal sculptors used to work as caricaturists for the British television political caricature programme "Spitting Image" and I think this has helped with their realistic work."

Thanks so much, Jethro!
Jethro Crabb's sculpture work 
Celebrity Tussaud images are from FanPop

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2. Caring for Heron’s Dream

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day; perfect for a touch-up on Heron’s Dream. This kinetic sculpture, a collaboration between The Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council, the town of Acton’s NARA Park, Carolyn Wirth, and myself, was installed after the pond froze last winter. The grant process, town approvals and contract negotiations meant that I could not fabricate […]

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3. fiber installation

I neglected to post a picture of this earlier, but I did think it deserves a mention:

6-9 year old class
This crazy installation is made up of yards of finger crochet from a group of girls who were first reluctant to learn and became crocheting fools once it clicked for them - fun!

0 Comments on fiber installation as of 7/25/2014 3:44:00 PM
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4. checking in from art camp

 Here's a peek at some work from camp!
 We started with a simple flat wire sculpture. I really wanted students to get the feel of working with different gauges of wire (and realize the difficulties). Some kids strung beads and sequins inside their shapes, but I love the confident simplicity of this little house.
wiresculpture, Aine age 6     
circus parts, mixed media, Nora age 8
These are a few samples from day 2. We made a wagon, talked about movable parts, and started creating our "Acts" for the show. The glue gun was a lot more popular than wire, I'm sure Calder would have  appreciated one himself!

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5. The Whistler at Sanctuary Arts

Today we installed The Whistler (painted steel, 101″ x 18″ x 18″) at the wonderful Sanctuary Arts in Eliot, Maine. Christopher Gowell is an amazing woman who has collected a vibrant community of artists who take and teach workshops and live life creatively. Josh and Lauren run a foundry there too. And every summer there […]

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6. Geneseo Bear Miniature

This is my sculpture of the 'Geneseo Bear"  9 inches high. 
He is in for repairs as he jumped off a shelf.  He is ok, just the street light is off kilter.

geneseo_bear_ mini_clay       geneseo_bear_mini2

The Bronze Bear
The Bronze Bear Fountain is on Main Street, Geneseo, New York
 
Just off campus, in the center of Main Street in Geneseo sits the famous Bronze Bear statue. "The Bear"
also plays host to any number of spontaneous decorations and pranks throughout the academic year. A
story also circulates that one of the wealthy Wadsworth daughters saw the bear fountain in a small town in
Germany, fell in love with it, bought it, and sent it back to Geneseo in the early 19th century. This story is
unverified, but an excerpt from a history of the family that settled the valley implies that this is not true,
and that the fountain was designed and built for its current location: "[Main Street] is still dominated by a
drinking fountain for horses dedicated to Mrs. Emmeline Austin Wadsworth. For some obscure reason its
designer placed a short pole in its center on top of which sits a cunning little iron bear, who is generally
known as 'Aunt Emmeline'.
Reference:
The Wadsworths of the Genesee. New York: Coward-McCann. 1959. pp. 205.

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7. "moon and stars"

... was the title of The Arts Center's entry in the local Christmas Parade this year. Every year it comes together beautifully in the end, what a lot of fun!



it rolled part of the way, and "floated" the rest. Hey, that's me...

"geodesic sphere" made entirely of recycled newspaper and masking tape

all ready to go!

decorated with tinsel and glow sticks, filled with balloons.
 Some of them popped en route and sounded like firecrackers.



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8. Looking for a unique Christmas gift? For only £285 you can take...



Looking for a unique Christmas gift? For only £285 you can take home one of these gorgeous felt beetles (measuring a huge 52cm across!) by Louise Evans (aka: Felt Mistress). Of course, you may need to buy a second one for yourself. 

(via Felt Mistress — Giant Cavalry Caped Kitchener Beetle)



0 Comments on Looking for a unique Christmas gift? For only £285 you can take... as of 12/9/2012 3:49:00 PM
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9. Rhino Sculpture


Toilet cleaner, clay, and wood.

16 Comments on Rhino Sculpture, last added: 2/9/2013
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10. Sculpting a hand


(Video link) This seven minute video shows the process for sculpting a hand in water-based clay by Philippe Faraut.

The general thought process is very similar to painting in opaque oils. You first establish the big forms, then carve them down to smaller planes and finally blend and refine the surface and the small details.

The artist's website, with more info on his materials and tools
Mr. Faraut's books:
Mastering Portraiture- Advanced Analyses of the Face Sculpted in Clay
Portrait Sculpting: Anatomy and Expressions in Clay

Via Best of YouTube

More on highlights and specularity tomorrow.

3 Comments on Sculpting a hand, last added: 3/18/2013
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11. Grandfather etc.


Two more pages from my upcoming Memoirs.
Paper53 on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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12. Wordless Wednesday

IMG_1689


4 Comments on Wordless Wednesday, last added: 6/27/2013
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13. Happy Halloween!


Painted pomegranate bottle; acrylic.

5 Comments on Happy Halloween!, last added: 11/18/2013
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14. Mr Hublot wins Oscar


The Academy Award for best animated short film last night went to "Mr Hublot," which is available free on YouTube. (Direct link to video)

Mr HUBLOT ArtBook (the art of Mr Hublot) from MrHublot on Vimeo.
The film is about "a withdrawn, idiosyncratic character with OCD, scared of change and the outside world. Robot Pet's arrival turns his life upside down: he has to share his home with this very invasive companion."


The production took three years, a lot of which was spent in planning the world that surrounds Mr Hublot's little apartment. The entire city has a mechanical, steam-driven flavor, as if it's made of old toasters and adding machines.

It was created in 3D digital, but the look was inspired by the physical sculptures of Stéphane Halleux. Filmmaker Laurent Witz says: "We had to find the balance between the coldness of the industrial world and the warmth of stone, leather, and the Haussmann architecture."
More:
See more preproduction art at Cartoon Brew
All images in this post are copyright ZEILT Productions and Stéphane Halleux


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15. The Flagellation of St.Fractalius

I ate some dodgy prawns and had a vision of St.Fractalius.
Click to enlarge.

0 Comments on The Flagellation of St.Fractalius as of 3/5/2014 4:18:00 PM
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16. Steeplechase

TOP: It's time to replace some of those old worn out religious brand identities with new religious symbols. Here are two of my ideas to get the ball rolling.
BOTTOM: While we're at it, let's think outside the box and make full use of recent technological advances in the design church steeples.
Pen and ink with wash 14cm x 9cm. Click to enlarge.

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17. A Quantum of Dandruff

I built a functioning quantum computer inside a flake of dandruff. I'm still struggling with the decoherence though.
Pen and ink with watercolour. A3 size. Click to enlarge.

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18. Over at Monster Brains, a smorgasbord of alien and monster...









Over at Monster Brains, a smorgasbord of alien and monster sculptures by Jordu Schell.









0 Comments on Over at Monster Brains, a smorgasbord of alien and monster... as of 4/28/2012 11:47:00 AM
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19. The Leek and Astrolabe, Now in 3D

You need those red/cyan glasses to view this in awesome 3D. My eternal gratitude to The Wagman for performing the conversion.
Pen and ink with watercolour and 3D conversion. Click to enlarge.

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20. Today's Effort

I think I thought this thought.
Pen and ink with digital colour. 10cm x 8cm. Click to enlarge.

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21. Solidarity in steel

Yesterday Egils and I transported my just-finished sculpture to the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit, Maine for the Invited New England Sculptors exhibit. Lindley Briggs has been curator for the show each summer for a number of years and I have been fortunate that she has the patience to include my work in the sculpture courtyard [...]

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22. The Day the Kinema Came

The day the kinema arrived in my remote village.
Ink, gouache, watercolour on sugar paper. A4 size. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on The Day the Kinema Came, last added: 6/14/2012
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23. Starbucks Cup

Also check out the one Stacy Curtis did here.

5 Comments on Starbucks Cup, last added: 7/13/2012
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24. R.I.P.

I decided to design my own tombstone.
Pencil and pen. 16cm x 16cm. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on R.I.P., last added: 7/14/2012
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25. Tiny Alien Mind Readers

Tiny alien mind reading probes as described by a Spanish child from dreams collected by Roger Omar.
Gouache A3 size. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on Tiny Alien Mind Readers, last added: 8/15/2012
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