Creating my Creature Part 5: Crafting the Skin

Or as I like to call it – hell on earth – this has by far been the most exhausting and mentally damning part of my project. Not sure what I was thinking nor whether I was thinking at all when I first decided to do it, but after the first 9 pieces of paper stuck onto the bases, I knew that it was already a little bit too late to go back. (It really wasn’t but I felt obliged to commit to it and see through it.) And so it began.

I started out by taking my hip base and covering it in black paint. I knew that if I started covering it with paper mache, painting the fabric black would’ve been impossible to do without ruining the paper mache later on.

As I had leftover paint, I painted the shoulder piece too so that I would have a clearer path of working on it. I figured since these 2 were the most tricky to get around, it just made the most sense to use the paint on them. It worked as a sort of primer and stiffener – both incredibly useful for this process.

The next thing I did was figuring out the eyeballs that were very prevalent across the outfit in my sketches and concept art. I was very hopeful that I’d be able to come across some of those clear Christmas ornaments as ’tis was the season to be jolly. I have never felt less jolly. I could not find these clear ornaments anywhere. I ran around the entire city looking for them – nothing. I did try looking on amazon, but the only options available were bulk buys and I was not going to be having any of that. I spent a good time thinking and then an idea hit me! I could repurpose the excess acrylic sheets that I had from the Word and Image module. But how..

After a bit of thinking, I remembered a project I’d worked on a few years ago, where I made a sphere using paper modeling (otherwise known as Pepakura). I did some sketching and testing and alas!

Made my fingers hurt so bad that I could not do anymore that night. Something tells me acrylic sheets are not meant to be cut by hand using kitchen scissors.. But hey, not all of us have a functional buzzsaw at home! I was onto something. Over the next day, I made a smaller sphere that I could use for the chest piece, and the larger – for the mask!

For some time, I considered not doing any more of these as my fingers had been practically dead at that point. I definitely could not achieve the intricacy, especially not with even smaller spheres. But I couldn’t just not do it, it would take so much away from the vision. I could not afford my project taking such a massive hit – therefore, I brainstormed and realized something. Cutting these shapes out of square acrylic sheets left a lot of scrap shards.. that was my solution..

Creating a half-sphere using foam, gluing it on top of the paper mache base, covering it with black acrylic paint, sticking the shards on top and then using hot glue to fill in the gaps was working.

With this figured out, there was nothing stopping me, so I started creating the skin itself!

With the hardest part out of the way, it was time to let it dry and start thinking about the other bit that I had been missing for the longest time – shoes. Fortunately, the British heart foundation came in clutch! I was able to buy a pair of heels that were only a tiny bit small for 6 pounds – now that’s a bargain! I got back home and gave them a test drive, I had never felt so empowered before – they were exactly what I had been hoping to find. The only issue – they were a bright velvet red – so customize them I did.

I cut the front and back of the shoe, put it on and then duct taped it together to create a slightly bigger version of it, one that would fit my foot perfectly. after some messing about with fabric and more duct tape, I had the perfect heels for this look! Well, almost. The bottom part was still alaramingly red and I knew that duct tape was not going to be a good contender for coverage. I knew that this was something I would have to return to later when I was taking care of the next step of crafting the skin!

After the paper mache had dried – it was time to paint and customize it all further!

I started with the shoe as that was the easiest bit to take care of. I gave them their own little shard spheres to complete the look. Then, using black acrylic mixed with latex I coated the shoe in it to cover all the red spots as well as add extra security to the shoe.

Then I proceeded to take care of the hip piece!

I started by covering the inner bit with black latex. Then I went around the edges of the bulbs and filled in some gaps, then, with a semi dry brush, scattered some of the latex around the bulbs themselves to give them an extra texture. And lastly, using some watered down ink, added an extra tone across the clusters to give it more depth and sense of texture.

I repeated the process with all 3 parts that incorporated this technique. Until eventually..

The whole set was complete!

All that was left was just some measly editing and correcting. But it did not take long at all. And before I knew it, it was complete!

This was definitely the part of the project that I struggle to look back at without shedding a tear or two – it was this bit in particular that broke me down completely. There was blood, tears, sweat and all of it went into the piece(-s) that you see right here. Would I have done it if I knew what was awaiting? Yes. Because in the end, I think it was so worth it. Nothing else could have or would have satisfied me as much as this did!

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