The colour scheme for the ronin was pretty straight foreward. I once again took my inspiration from Frank Miller's Ronin and decided to stick to what was represented in the graphic novel. I added my own twists here and there.
the robot parts had too look as dead as the skin looked alive. therefore I chose an oveall green palette for the limbs as an opposition to the red palette of the skin and clothes. The pattern on the sash draws atttention to the sculpture as a whole. It is a focus point for the eye.
As the concept sketches were already done, I had the pleasure of not being able to cut corners when it came to the finished pieces. In other words I'd have to shape up and fly straight, if the project was to be approved by my employer.
Contrary to what I'd initially feared, I enjoyed working under these conditions as I was forced to solve problems rather than ignore them. It added some spice to my work ethics.
I was given the concept sketches with the correct measurements and then I set to work. As the limbs on Luca were quite slim and his head quite large, it was decided that the head would have to be skulpted around a base of cork. Cork is good for filling out large shapes in a Sculpy model as it is lightweight and keeps its shape and size when heated. This prevents the sculpy from cracking up.
I decided, as the limbs on Luca were so slim, I would not cover the metal skeleton in a layer of sculpy, but simply paint it over once Luca was finished.
I did Brolly's head in three stages:
Firstly I created a mould for the head in sculpy to get the shape and size correct. When I had baked it, I carved and sanded it into a shape I was happy with.
I then proceeded to skulpt half the head i.e. the face onto the mould, then bake it for 5 minutes. Just enough to make the surface hard.
Then I sculpted the back of the head onto the mould and the face and gave that the same treatment. This way I could shape the joint for the back of the head to fit with the face part. I baked both pieces for an additional ten minutes and then connected them with glue and greens stuff. phew
All the planning and positioning was done prior to sculpting.
Here we see how I planned the skeleton to be positioned inside Luca and Brolly. Notice that Brolly and Luca are connected in one piece of wire. I saw no reason to do them seperately. Luca's head I had to do seperately though, as it was too cumbersome to do when attached to the body. Brolly's umbrella head would also have to be detachable from the main piece for the same reason.
In this way it would be immensly easier too transport them.
The hands and feet were done in green stuff after the sculpy body had been baked.
I was hired to do some marquettes (sculptures) a couple of months back for a nice woman named Sara Barbas. She was among six people chosen to pitch an idea at Annecy in France. She pitched the idea for an animated series by the name of Oddsockshire.
Annecy is the biggest annual european animating film festival in Europe.
Being a former sculptor at Aardmann in Bristol UK, she wanted to make some marquettes for her presentation, but didn't have time to do them herself. Luckily I was available to do them, so under her close scrutiny I set about recreating the designs she'd had made. She wanted me to do three marquettes:
A boy and his umbrella named Luca and Brolly (they would count for two marquettes)
After having settled on a pose both dynamic, powerful and cool my approach was simple: Big pieces first. Details later.
This was the pose I was most happy with:
Even though there is a lot of movement in the sketch, I still thought it was too stiff. That happens a lot when I sit and sketch. Then I usually correct it in the sculpting phase.
Photos by: Fruzsi Gaal
This time I learned just how much facial expressions affect muscles in the neck. I made a small study of neck veins using a mirror and my "angry face" I'll say it again; Human anatomy is a facinating thing!
To truly make the robotic parts seem so alien on the ronin, I decided to give him a very traditional japanese hairdo. So it would not only be a clash of flesh and technology, but also a clash between progress and tradition.
I did the sculpy parts first, then the hand and sword in green stuff. The wires were discarded guitarstrings given a second chance at life.
Once I get some paint on it, it will hopefully be a bit more clear what I'm trying to achieve:)
Now I wanted to do something a bit kick ass. I'd had a brief taste of feudal japanese culture (In other words a Shogun marathon on tv) So i wanted to do something a bit japanese. My main criterias were that - A: It needed to be kick ass. B: have a crazy pose. C: Be a bit robotic/cyborg- ish for variety and fianlly D: It needed to be kick ass.
The robot arms and legs would still have look very organic, which pleased me as I've always found human anatomy to be the most interesting thing to draw and sculpt. Next up I had to choose the pose...
That turned out to be quite a challenge as there were too many tempting ideas to explore!!
To illustrate, here's just a few of the ones I really liked...
To make it clear he was half robot, I decided he'd have one of his arms cut off. This would also make the sculpture easier to give a dynamic pose, as there'd only be one arm to consider when posing. The arm not holding the sword could easily get in the way and spoil the finished result. As an added bonus, I wouldn't have to spend so much time copying the design of the first arm and make the mechanics in the arm work.
Its amazing how individual arm muscles react to the slightest position changes in the arm. I'd definately want to dodge that bullet, as I weren't going to copy the arm muscles directly from reality. That would have made an organic arm pointless to begin with.
Next up I had t do the dancer on the "pogo-stick". I made him wear a deer mask. This I choose to make the headgear more subtle as the main area of interest would be the stick and the pose. Now was also the time I wanted to use ankle blades for my dancer.
He'd be dancing without using his legs, that's the general idea at least. This would help to illustrate the discipline, time and effort it takes to become a member of the troup. Help to enhance the uniqueness of the "appointment" to ceremonial dancer/warrior.
photos by: Fruzsi Gaal
I'm very happy with the finished piece. It gives you a sense of speed and purpose: To kill and maim with style.