Saturday, 25 October 2014

Putting the finishing touches on the zombie face

So far I've made the zombie's mouth, nose, and eyes.  Obviously, the next job is ears.

I quite like making ears, because they're interesting.  Ears have all sorts of curves and bends, which makes them quite entertaining from a sculptor's point of view.  Especially when the subject is a zombie and it doesn't matter if the ears come out looking a bit wonky.

This one's not too wonky though.

In fact, my ears start with a simple twist of paper held in place with masking tape.  This gives me the outer curve of the ear more or less, and acts as a platform for me to build the rest of the ear on top.

This is the basis for the ear.  I simply glue it onto the head and go from there.

Doing the ears took ages though, because every so often I had to stop and dry out the ear before I did any more.  Unfortunately, this meant I didn't get as much done on the zombie tonight as I'd planned.  I'd hoped to make a start on the neck.  As it was, I only got a paper tube stuck on there to make the armature for the neck.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Not quite a scowling zombie, but he doesn't look happy either

Yesterday I wasn't very pleased with the way my zombie face looked.  So after work I did a few alterations on the brow line, and the result looks much better.

I haven't actually changed the face very much.  All I've done is given it a slight frown, but it gives the face some expression which wasn't there before.

I've also started playing around with skin textures on the right side of the face.  Again, the changes are subtle, but you can see that the skin is becoming slightly wrinkled.  Ideally I want it sagging off the head a bit. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

More zombie eyelids

Last night I made a start on the tissue around the zombie's eyes and forehead.  Because it's a severed head I wanted to give it a blank, slack jawed expression rather than a vengeful scowl.  Here's what I've got so far:

The eyes look abnormally large at this stage, but that's because only part of the eyelids have been painted.  Once the whole thing is painted the eyes will be back to their proper size. 

I didn't do any more on it last night because, honestly, I'm not sure about it.  It's not bad exactly, but there's something not quite right with that face.  Maybe it does need a bit of a scowl.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Moving further up the zombie's face, it's now time to install the eyes.  Like the mouth, I like to do these from the inside out.  The inside of the eyelid is brown paper with a line of eyelashes made from hairbrush bristles.  Hairbrush bristles are ideal for making eyelashes.

Unfortunately, these are the only photos of this step that came out properly.  It seems the camera eye has trouble seeing what's going on with the eyelids at this stage.  It's probably operator error, since I belong to the "point, click, and hope" school of photography.  However, the pictures do show how I positioned each eye in its socket and built the shape of the eyelid over top of it.  As in real life, each eye has a top lid and a lower lid.  I glue the lower lids in place first, then curve the upper lid over top.

Doing the top and bottom lids separately is important, because they curve in different ways and it really is a lot easier to get the bottom lids glued in position and dried so they won't move about, and then move on to the top lids.  Trying to concentrate on both at once is a nuisance.

The next step will be to build up the outer skin around the eyelids.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's amazing what a difference the nose makes

The zombie looks much better with a nose.  It makes the whole thing look like a face in a way that it really didn't before.

The nose turned out kind of beaky, because I was thinking of Rameses II at the time.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Zombie eyes

Cloudy white eyes are a zombie theme that really appeals to me for some reason, so that's what I'm going for here.  I don't know if dead eyes are actually cloudy white, but it looks cool.  On the right here we have the original test eye, and on the left is the final eye, which I think is a better version.  The colours are blended better in the eye on the left.

They're made from resin cabochons that went a bit wrong and are full of bubbles, making them unsuitable for the taxidermy-type eyes I normally make.  They're fine for white zombie eyes though.  

The first step in making these eyes is to stick a thin layer of tissue to the cabochon with polyurethane.  If you want to make your own, be aware you have to be careful as the tissue will tear easily.  It's exactly the same principle as the translucent membranes I made for the dragon project.

The bubbly cabochons.  Quite a lot of bubbles, as you see.  Resin and I don't always get on very well.

Cabochon with a layer of tissue over it.

So far so good, but it's not finished yet.  Once the polyurethane dried I painted an iris on the eye in thin blue-grey paint.  It's exactly the same colours of paint I used for the skin so far: ultramarine, burnt umber, and burnt sienna.  There's a lot more blue in this mix though.  Using the same paint colours helps the eye to blend in with the rest of the face.  The iris is darkest in the center, then gradually fades out into the white paper that covers the eye.

The finished test eye.

I finished up by adding a couple more layers of paper and polyurethane around the iris, but not over the cornea.  This makes a contrast between the cornea and the rest of the eye.  The whole eye is clouded over, but it gives an impression of the different parts of the eye underneath whatever made it cloudy.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Zombie muscle tissue

I'm always fascinated by anatomy, but I haven't really looked at muscle tissue before.  One of the fun things about a zombie project is that zombies are often shown with damaged skin, and muscle showing underneath, so this is a great opportunity to look at what's underneath the skin of a person's face.

For reference, here's a diagram of the human facial muscles:

Image helpfully provided by Wikipedia.

See how the muscle tissue is ridged?  We can replicate that really easily with paper mache.  All I've done is tear a piece of tissue into strips and twist the strips into little paper cords.  Glue a bundle of these cords onto some paper, and you have a strip of muscle tissue.

This is then stuck into place on the draugr's face.  A bit of connecting tissue, some ripped skin over top, and the job is done.

After applying the muscle, but before applying the skin.

After applying some skin.