Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Not painted yet, but you can see where I'm going with this



Now this thing is starting to come together.  Most of the assembly is done, and fish number two is inside fish number one.  This, of course, is the reason fish number two had to be painted first.  With its mix of painted and unpainted bits, fish number one looks like a piece of cow hide.

Monday, 25 August 2014

The second fish in detail

This weekend I finally got a chance to work on the second fish, and I got it done.  Result! 










This photo should give you a better look at the gill pouches, which became less obvious once the fish was painted.





Jawless fish like lampreys don't have complex gill arches like other fish; instead they have little gill pouches supported by cartilage.  For the same reason, its fins are a lot simpler than the ones I did for the first fish.  Lampreys and hagfish don't have fin rays, so I left out the fin rays on this fish.  These fins are just little folds of paper.  I've also given it little feelers around its mouth like a hagfish has, because why not?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Starting on the second fish

I debated making my second fish the same type as the first, but I get bored easily and I didn't want to make another fish skull.  Instead, I thought a cyclostome would be interesting.  Cyclostome means "circular mouth", and they're a kind of primitive fish that have teeth but no jaw bones.  The lamprey is a cyclostome, as is the hagfish.


The paintwork needs a lot of revision.  The teeth need to be more yellowy and the flesh needs to be less yellowy.

What you're seeing there is the mouth of the second fish.  I haven't yet shaped the head or any of the body.  It's easier to get the mouth done before I start on the outside of the head because once it's tucked away inside the animal it becomes hard to reach.  There isn't really much detail inside the mouth.  It's a primitive sort of animal, so its anatomy really doesn't need to be too complex.


Looking straight into the mouth.  You can see I haven't put much detail inside it.

I quite like this last photo.  For some reason my fingers are in focus but the mouth is slightly blurred, so it looks as if it was moving when I photographed it.





Thursday, 14 August 2014

Paper mache fish fins

A couple of fish fins, before they're painted.


Different artists have different ways of doing fish fins.  Dan Baines uses baking paper and paint, whereas I use bog paper and glue; it's one of those situations where the right method is whatever one works for you.  Today, I'm going to talk about how I make fins.

I like to start with the fin rays.  These are bone or cartilage spines that support the fins. I make them by tearing off strips of tissue about a centimeter wide and twisting each strip into a little cord.  Next, I put a piece of tissue on top of some clingfilm and cover it with glue, and I arrange the fin rays on top.  I add another piece of tissue so the fin rays are sandwiched between two pieces of tissue, and I fold up the clingfilm so I can give my fin sandwich a good squeeze.



Fin rays glued to a piece of tissue.


The cling film is important.  It stops the glue from going everywhere.  It also keeps the fin in one piece.  Tissue paper is fragile, especially when covered with glue, and the fin will disintegrate if you try to touch it before it dries.  Once it has dried you can peel off the clingfilm, shape the edge of the fin, and attach it wherever you want it to go.  Ideally, you want to shape the fin when the glue holding it together is almost but not quite dry.  You get nice curves that way, and you can arrange the fins folded up against the fish's body like this:




Or spread out like this:




Monday, 11 August 2014

Some more fish, finally

Yeah, I know.  I like to update this blog more frequently, but I just haven't been in the right headspace lately.  But yesterday I did take a look at the fish skull, and started giving it a body.




I had to paint the skull first because the mummified skin will partially cover it.  You can see I've started to apply some skin to the fish and added a faint suggestion of ribs underneath the skin.  This is done in layers.  The ribs are applied to the side of the fish, then skin is applied over top of them.




Skin texture is one of my favourite things to sculpt.  I like to use layers of tissue moulded to shape with a brush dipped in thin glue.  It's a little like painting in 3D.

Next time I'll probably take a look at fins, which are lots of fun to make, but I've also reached the stage where I need to think about what the fish has swallowed.  Although I want to sculpt this fish in the act of eating another one, I haven't yet decided what the other fish should look like.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The fish skull, now that I've finished sculpting it



Last time I showed you the fish skull, it needed to have the mandible and gill covers attached.  Now it has the gill covers and is all finished, apart from painting.



It's that colour because I put it on top of the fire to dry and left it there a bit too long.


I did refer to pictures of fish skulls when I was making the skull, but I haven't copied any particular type of fish.  I more or less made the skull up as I went along.  It's not quite as symmetrical as I would like, but I'll solve that problem by mounting it with only one side visible, and I still think it's pretty metal.

Now all I need is the rest of the fish.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Making a fish skull

This weekend I started making a fish skull.  Why?  Because I can.  It's not yet finished, but hopefully you can get an idea of what it will look like once it is.






Why does it have a little opening on top of the skull?  Well, that would be eye socket number three.  It's not actually that unusual for fish and other animals to have three eyes.

The secret to making delicate paper mache shapes like this is regular, garden variety tinfoil.  A piece of tinfoil makes an ideal support for the paper mache, and can be folded or crumpled into any shape.