Tag Archives: repositioning

Chop Chop part two

I found some more pictures from the lengthening of the HA Fritz resin’s back. He’s currently in primer stage, but he’s getting close to paint-ready and I’ve picked out color references for him.

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I’m really glad I decided to go ahead and do this- he looks great now. Between my upcoming busyness and my complex color choice, I’m sure he’ll be a work in progress for a long time… but it sure will be fun!

My main color reference

My main color reference

Chop Chop

One of the pony projects I’m really excited about right now is my beautiful HA Fritz resin, a gift from Caryn. He is so cool and dynamic, and even though the casting was sold as raw he was really quite easy to prep.

HA Fritz - before

But of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I was researching breeds for him and kept seeing that his back was just a bit short for any of the mixes I had in mind. Furthermore, if I ever wanted to show him in performance, saddle fit would be tough. So with the blessings of both Caryn and Horsing Around, I set out to lengthen his back.

The first thing I did was take the above photo into a photo editing program and add length digitally, as a way of testing things out.

HA Fritz - digital back lengthening

I liked how that looked, so I set to work. First I went back and reviewed Jennifer Buxton’s post on halfsy horses. Not all of her tips were applicable for this much smaller scale, but I did make a point of drawing lines across Fritz’s barrel so I could match him up again, like Jennifer did with her Boreas.

Then I did a whole lot of dremeling. The resin turned out to be totally solid, and with those trotting legs it wasn’t always easy to get the dremel blade where it needed to go. I did my best to cut as straight as possible, and to not cut away any more material than I had to.

ha fritz - chopping

After that, I pegged the two pieces together with three big wires, filled the gap with aluminum foil covered in super glue and baking soda, and then epoxied over that to get a nice smooth barrel.

ha fritz - mid scultping

And here he is, several hours of sanding and priming later, nearly ready to go:

ha fritz - after

I’m thinking a mulberry grey or bay going grey for him, but I’m open to suggestions. He’s already so pretty just in his naked white, I can’t wait to see him painted.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

I love to rave about my dremel tool, but there is another tool that I always use before I start drilling into a new horse: a sharpie marker.

Using the dremel is fun, but it’s easy to get over excited and do too much cutting, which only results in more work in the long term. The opposite is true too: I’ll get out the supplies to make a few cuts, put everything away, and realize that the horse needs even more dremel work before I can move on.

After doing one of the above far too many times, I’ve finally settled down to the sharpie routine. Especially for a drastic custom, this can be a crucial step.

So that this:

Can become this:

And now I’m at it again, with a not quite so complex customization. The new guy, all marked up:

So hopefully this weekend he’ll have an after picture too. Or at least, a fun frankenhorse look.

Repositioning Do’s and Dont’s

DO be safe
Dremels and heat guns make repositioning easier, but it also makes it more dangerous (especially for a clutz like myself). Handily, it doesn’t take too much of an investment (just some creativity) to protect yourself.

Always safety first!

No matter how careful you are, cutting plastic results in flying bits and nasty dust. Protect your eyes from harm with a pair of goggles, often available second hand for cheap- check garage sales and thrift stores. Keep the plastic dust out of your lungs with a dust mask. Sure, you can buy those little white face masks, but I prefer the bandit look for economy and style.

When using a heat gun, plastic pony parts can get really hot, but you need to maintain dexterity in your fingers to accurately manipulate the heated plastic. That’s why I opted for a thick pair of socks on my hands to protect myself from burns.

Bottom line: I look totally ridiculous when I’m customizing.

DON’T bend without reheating

Sometimes I’m tempted to rebend a body part when it’s only a little warm. But the plastic that was totally malleable a few moments ago is now brittle, and the same little bending motion will snap it. Trust me. (See also: How to Fix a Broken Leg and the upcoming How to Fix a Broken Leg at the Joint)

This is not a helpful reference picture.

DO heat the big areas first

When using heat to bend plastic, you always want to make the biggest changes first. Big chunks of plastic need more heat to become soft and bendy. If you heat and shape a small area, like an ear, and then move on to a nearby large area, like the model’s neck, your perfectly formed ear will become a blobby mess while you struggle to heat the neck. Even if the ear gets a little limp, you won’t be ruining previous work.

Avoid frustration by moving from largest to smallest

DON’T loose the little pieces

It’s easy to get caught up in the hacking and bending and chopping and loose a little piece, especially when you’re working on a small scale. Keep track of all the bits in a container of some kind. It’s a simple enough idea- and certainly simpler than resculpting a lost leg from scratch.

If you have pets, I recommend using a container with a lid.

DO consult your references

I’m so busy gathering my heat gun and safety gear and pliers and dremel and bits and superglue that sometimes I forget to grab my reference. But a reference is crucial when you’re making big sweeping changes like hacking off a head or moving legs. You always want to keep your main reference handy so that with each cut or bend you progress towards your final goal, and avoid incorrect angles or unnecessary work.

Amid the chaos

And most importantly… DO try your hand at repositioning! It’s a jolly good time.

Enthusiastic Dismemberment!

Since coming back from the show I’ve been full of inspiration and enthusiasm for more customizing. This poor pony has been in this uncomfortable state since early 2000.

Unfortunately for him, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

But roughly 24 hours later…

He’s only barely horse shaped, but at least he has all his limbs reattached!

Neck and Neck

Now that I’m finding a bit of time here and there to be working on models again, I have to remember where I was when I left off! I am lucky to have Laura Skillern’s excellent three part tutorial on necks (Necking, Off With His Head, and Recapitation) because I suddenly find myself in progress on a bunch of tricksy necks.

Her explanation of the movement of neck bones was particularly helpful, because it showed me-before I got any further-how incorrectly short my head down mare’s neck is:

I knew something looked funky…

Laura’s tutorial helped me to see that really it should sort of look “too long” because the neck vertebrae are all stretched out in that position, creating length. I did this quick mock up of the necessary changes:

If only moving parts was this easy in epoxy!

I realized that the correct neck design also requires that the withers come forward a bit. And while I’m dremeling her to pieces, I’ll be bringing her supporting hind legs quite a bit more under the body to support her weight realistically. Sigh. This poor mare…

I’ll be tackling her when I have ample time to give. Meanwhile, I’m sanding and smoothing and fixing little nit picks on my next crop who are waiting patiently in their primer for the beginning of color.

Necking with Laura

Apologies to Laura Skillern, but she started it with her post title and I could not resist. Her post is a great introduction to sculpting horse necks, and all the things that can affect shape and size. And she says there’s more on the way!

I’m particularly excited about these neck tutorials because (prior to packing up the studio) I was working on a major neck resculpt for a stablemate whose in-progress title is “Head Down Mare.” Her front half is the G2 ASB and her back half is the G1 Morgan mare. She is on her way to being a snoozing mare.

This picture is rather outdated (for one, her topline is now level) but it shows the basic idea.

I’ve had to totally redo her neck, which is a first for me. Here are my two main reference pictures:

Image by © Gunter Marx Photography/CORBIS

I’m eager to get back to work on this sleepy gal, once I have established my new studio space… and gleaned more sage wisdom from Laura!