Tag Archives: sculpting

Completing the Rider

So after casting my first halfsy-rider, I had to add back the missing parts and get her ready to go. First step was to build up her back with foil.

building rider - foil back

Next I covered that in epoxy.

Left: halfsy-rider, right: original sculpt

Left: halfsy-rider, right: original sculpt

And with several epoxy-adding sessions, she looked like a person again and was ready for paint.

building rider - drying paint

I actually decided at the last minute that her head needed to be separate so that she could look in different directions for events like jumping and trail. Now I can just plug her head into a hold drilled in the body, and it swivels.

building rider - body done

And so, after all that, I had a rider for Nightfox. And she was part of my champ winning performance run at Rose City Live.

finished rider

I’m working on several more figures right now, using the same half-cast method. I’m getting faster at the re-sculpting part, especially on those wee hands.

Right now I’m working on three figures, two riders and a walking person for showmanship and such. It’s nice to be doing a whole batch since I can work on one while epoxy dries on others.

new riders

The key here is not to lose those itty bitty heads. I’m making good use of some new little tupperwares.

Too Many Legs

Remember that episode of Coupling where Jeff cries “I’ve got the keys to Paradise, but I’ve got too many legs!” ? Yeah, that was hilarious. My problem is mostly unrelated. Anyway…

I resculpted by Pebbles Saddlebred’s legs not once, not twice, but three times- with progressively more work but better results. There wasn’t much detail in them originally, which bugged me. And at this scale, it’s even more obvious when detail is missing.

Chrys 2.0 7-23-13

This third–and last–resculpt was partly inspired by Sarah Rose’s thread on Blab which follows her sculpting process for her new mini Marwari resin (my apologies to those of you without a Blab membership who won’t be able to view that thread). Her model had such gorgeous delineated detail on the legs, and I decided I would never be happy if I didn’t give it one more try on the Saddlebred.

Horse anatomy by Herman Dittrich – front legs

Horse’s lower legs are complicated and confusing. There are no muscles below the knee, but there are a bunch of tendons and ligaments going too and fro and creating all kinds of interesting lines under the skin. I found it extremely necessary to both photo references and consult my Herman Dittrich horse anatomy pictures. They’re posted on my Reference Photos page and also published in W. Ellenberger’s great Animal Anatomy.

My other invaluable resource was Kimberly Smith’s wonderful, big reference pictures. Every week Kimberly posts a bunch of big, high-res pictures on her site for model horse people to use. It’s great to have someone take photos with customizing in mind, because you get super useful stuff like this:

lower leg ref

Thank you Kimberly for letting me repost this picture

I’m really glad I took the time to redo the cannon bones, and do the research necessary, for two reasons. For one, of course, my Saddlebred looks much better and is much more correct for her refined, thin skinned breed. Also, it was great to practice and learn sculpting lower legs at this (relatively) large size. Because I’ve got a number of horses in line who need help in that department!

My poor Akhal Teke has no leg detailing, Alpo has a club foot, and my trotting TB has been sorely neglected...

My poor Akhal Teke has no leg detailing, Alpo has a club foot, and my trotting TB has been sorely neglected…

Yowza! I’ve got my work cut out for me on those guys. But I do feel a little more confident about legs now, so that’s something. Now back to sanding…

A Short Tale of a Long Tail

With the MEPSA donation horses done and shipped, I’ve turned my attention to preparations for a live show in early September. Of course, by “preparations” I mean all the new stuff I want to have done, not actually preparing for the show…

One of my main goals is to have my Saddlebred mare done. When I last posted about her she was getting close to done but still lacked a tail. Since then I’ve done hours of sanding and refining, resculpted her lower legs for the 3rd time (sigh) and added a tail.

The first thing I did was cover the rest of her in plastic. I have a bad habit of getting epoxy all over my fingers and then all over the otherwise-smooth model, which means more sanding later. I’m trying to avoid that here, using plenty of blue tape and a cut up plastic bag.

Chrys 2.0 tail 01

Next I built up the wire tail with tin foil, secured and stiffened with super glue & baking soda. Once I had the basic shape built, I started to block in the shape with chunks of epoxy.

Chrys 2.0 tail 02

The tail took quite a bit of epoxy. I could maybe have done more with the foil to avoid this, but oh well. It’s funny working in this larger scale- normally I wouldn’t go through that much epoxy in an entire drastic custom!

Chrys 2.0 tail 03

Once the tail was blocked in with the epoxy, and it had dried a bit, I started to add the hair detail. I’m not great at this, but with a lot of shaping and brushing and shaping I got something I was sort of happy with. I use denatured alcohol to smooth all my epoxy including manes and tails. I think I learned that from Jen Buxton who learned it from Tiffany Purdy.

Chrys 2.0 tail 04

After more sanding, primer, and little changes, Chryselephantine 2.0 has a tail!

Chrys 2.0 7-23-13

I’m still working on smoothing and sanding, but she’s getting so close! I’m excited to start adding color.

American Saddle-blarg

So, early in my model horse renaissance I did a custom of a fancy ASB mare in palomino. Her creation was inspired by the word Chryselephantine, which means  “made of gold and ivory.” I heard it in my classical art history class and thought it was the coolest word ever.

Chryselephantine

“Chrys” was a new challenge at the time, as I redid her long mane and tail, did my first facial re-sculpting (that mold has some serious asymmetry), and attempted a palomino. She has her merits, but I quickly progressed in skill and she’s looking a bit shabby next to my newer horses. Since I imagined her as a fancy show mare, I’ve been a little disappointed that she’s nice enough to live show. And since I really like the Pebbles ASB mold, I decided to make another mare. She’ll have the same name, potentially spelled with a k. That part is undecided yet.

I acquired my Pebbles ASB body last fall and she’s been waiting for some attention ever since. Of course, being me, I can’t just paint her- I want to slighty turn her head, fix her uneven cannons, trim her hooves to a more natural length, and give her a natural, non-cut tail. But I still want her to be a bit of a flirty show off.

First step, after a lot of sharpie-drawing, was to dremel. And dremel, and dremel. My first session was to chop her 2 uneven legs and her head. I re-attached those, and then went back to dremel off the mane and tail. I had quite an impressive pile of plastic shavings by the time I was done.

saddlebred dremelling

I hadn’t thought of this as a drastic custom, but it sure is adding up to be a decent amount of work. I have a lot to resculpt where her mane and tail was, not to mention for the fixing of her throatlatch and legs. And I have a feeling I’m going to end up giving her new ears, as her OF ones are rather… unshapely.

After the dremeling, I went to work with foil, baking soda, and super glue to fill in the holes in her next and haunches.

WIP saddlebred 5-16-13

One nice cheat on this project is that because she’s standing square, I can use her other, non-mangled side to guide me as a resculpt her shoulder, neck, and haunches.

WIP saddlebred 5-16-13 2

a quick horizontal flip and I’ll have a lovely reference

The next day I got a chance to start adding epoxy. I’m used to making too much epoxy at once, since I’m often doing wee things like a Stablemate’s cheek. But for this Pebbles scale gal and all her holes, I did not have that problem.

WIP saddlebred 5-17-13

She’s got a long way to go, but I’m excited.

A Splitting Headache

Har har har! I’m so punny.

In the last post I left my poor Citation ornament both headless and hopeless. It seemed like the Chips Thoroughbred head I’d gotten for him would be too small.

racehorse 06

I revisited the project and realized that the head isn’t entirely too small- it’s mostly that it’s too narrow.

racehorse 07

What he really needed was a slightly wider head, and maybe some slight enlarging on the cheeks and muzzle. As I mentioned before, I don’t feel ready to sculpt a head from scratch, but I am confident that I can add to an existing head. It helps to have the guidelines that provides, even if you are adding a lot on top.

First step was to cut the head in half lengthwise. This is easier said than done, especially at Stablemate scale! (You can also split a head to narrow it down, as mentioned by Jennifer Buxton).

splitting the tb head

It took a lot of patience with the cutting blade, but finally I got there.

split head

It was even harder (and more patience-requiring) to get the head pieces onto the horse. I tried connecting them with wire and then attaching them to the neck, but the face was too wide and it was all wonky. So I broke them back apart and went one at a time.

racehorse face

With half his face on

This method made it easier for me to get the sides of the head properly on the neck, and to better gauge the additional face space that was needed. Finally, after a lot of work, a lot of super glue, and some choice cursing, his head was attached!

racehorse face 4-3-13

I’ve been putting off any heavy work on the face until I get his hooves figured out- if you look at some of the earlier photos you can see how pointy and weird they are. Plus he has no pasterns and intermittent fetlocks. So I’ve been working hard on those. I moved a few of his legs slightly as well. He’ll likely lose the mane and tail, but for now I’m leaving them so I can see how he balances aesthetically.

Here’s my guy as of today, with his legs and head still very much in progress. But what a huge improvement!

racehorse 4-3-13

It’s really exciting to see the change in him. He’s super fun to work on. Plus he looks just like the kind of horse I like to ride. I’ll likely paint him a deep bay with minimal whites- something like his original color, only better :)

Destruction of a Racehorse Ornament

A while ago I got my hands on the Breyer Citation ornament, and I’ve been excitedly working to turn him into a floaty-trot horse. It’s been quite the process- and I’ve been quite remiss in blogging about it.

racehorse 01

The victim

The most immediate issue was that pesky jockey. The Breyer ornaments are made of a hard, somewhat brittle plastic, but the dremel did relatively quick work.

racehorse 03

The other big issue, which became very apparent when I took a decent look at this horse, is that his head- or at least, his eyes- are terrifyingly anatomically incorrect. It’s like they’ve been rotated 45 degrees to face forward… in a really creepy way. That combined with the molded on bridle meant off with his head!

Poor guy...

Poor guy…

So then I had a headless horse with a big hole in his back. I filled the hole with styrofoam, wire, foil, super glue & baking soda, and finally, a layer of epoxy. You can see above where I also crammed some scrap paper to fill in his neck. Whatever works, right?

racehorse 05

Building up his new back

I’m not confident enough yet to sculpt a new head from scratch, so I acquired one from a Peter Stone Chips Thoroughbred that might do the trick.

racehorse 06

With his new back roughed in

What you may notice from the above picture is that alas, even the Chips head is a bit small. It seems the Breyer ornaments aren’t quite Stablemate scale. But have no fear… I have a plan to recapitate this long-suffering model!

Quick Tip: Faster Epoxy Drying

All too often, epoxy tries too fast when I’m trying to work with it. But other times, I want the epoxy I’ve applied to hurry up and dry so that I can sand it, paint it, or otherwise mess with it. One handy way to speed up the drying it to put your pony under a lamp. The extra heat speeds up the drying and soon enough you’ll be back to work!

Ponies drying under a desk lamp, under the watchful eye of my doggy paintbrush holder