Intro: Doctor Who 'Weeping Angel' Halloween Decoration
This is a full-sized weeping angel I made for last year's Halloween party. Given that the geek quotient is fairly high among our friends, we knew people would get a kick out of it (and unnerved all the neighbourhood kids at the same time! Mwahahahahha)
The original idea was to make it posable (at least articulate the arms) but unfortunately other events prevailed, and I ended up going with a mud prop. Still good enough to scare the bejeezus out of anyone who walked into it :D
Step 1: Making the Head
I don't have the preliminary photos, but the head was made thusly:
Blow up a balloon to the approximate size of your wanted head (I used my own) This was then thinly papier-mache'd over to give it some stability, then attached to a cardboard cylinder at an angle with strips of electrical tape (The cylinder in question was actually the interior of a helpdesk toilet roll! ) Then mache over again to hold it, and to make the face, I attached a $2 plastic mask.
As the angel has blank eyes, the mask eyeholes were filled in with pieces cut from a plastic coke bottle, with gaffa tape to hold them in place. To give the head more stability, I also stuffed the void behind the mask full of foam packing peanuts and a LOT of PVA glue (mostly stuffed up its nostrils) Once that was dry, a few more layers of mache were added to smooth the transition.
From this point, it was time to get hairy. For the hair, I'm using Brown felt wool - got it off ebay at 99c /metre :D I chose this because it's thick, matty and soaks up glue like crazy.
First thing to do - and I Cannot stress this enough - KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I started sketching rough hair lines, then began winding the hair along a centre part. From one side, around the curve of the skull, then up to meet the other side. Then cut, and do it again. And again. And again.
It's ok to leave some gaps - remember, this is supposed to be a sculpted stone look. And you will use a LOT of glue. In my case I mixed about three parts 'teachers's choice' white school glue to one part hobby PVA. They're different consistencies and worked well together. It's ok if it you splash over onto the felt and it gets claggy and hard - this is supposed to be stone, remember?
(And yes, I am aware of the irony of watching Angel while making one :P)
To complete the look, I curved up the back of the hair. Yes, it looks like a hat at this point, but the central spiral will be covered by the "knot" of hair when it's applied, so I'm not overly fussed.
Once that was completed, curls were added about the face for detailing and to hide the seams of the mask.
Step 2: Making the Wings
Ok, even if you don't have a pantograph, the thing to remember is: GRAPHS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND. As is The Age 'cos it has freaking huge pages. As you can see, I took a smaller image, crossed it over with a 1cm graph, then expanded the design accordingly.
Once I was happy with the design, I cut it out and transferred it to the board!
For the wings I used foamcore board - 800x400 sheets. Cost me $14 a sheet at Riot, but I have plenty left over for other ideas and detailing. This was cut out with an artists scalpel by the age-old method of plonking the paper down and cutting around it :P This stuff is nice and thick (5mm) and the foam interior means it can flex without breaking, but won't warp in the slightest.
Once the main wings were cut, I then moved on to doing the detailing along the backs of the wings - I took the paper template and modified it to the back arches. By creating this as separate foam, it adds a nice three-dimensionality to the wings. Unfortunately I didn't cut the foam enough for a single part each, but the two halves will fit together nicely.
Once we're all cut, some feather details were sketched in, and then etched into the foam with..a. broken metal nail file. It works perfectly for getting the grooves engraved without slicing the board to shreds. The pics didn't come out too well, but you get the idea (Once painted, I'll run a thick grease pencil through them to bring out the detail) The base of the feathers are quite literally traced around various tape rolls (electrical, the inside of a masking tape roll, and in one case, a small salt shaker) and then curved by hand to a feather-ish look.
The next thing to do is to put a honking great arch on them. The first stage was the template - this was done by creating a curve that stood out ~ 7cm from the edge of the existing newspaper template, and then cutting it out of corrugated cardboard. This was glued on with spray-on adhesive.
Once the cardboard was dried and adhered fast, I taped rolled up newspaper around the edge to produce the "arch" of the wing, and then papier-mache'd it
Step 3: Building the Skeleton
The frame was constructed out of 28mm PVC piping - it's fairly cheap and easy to use :D
Since the angel was modelled on me, I measured my shoulder width, upper arms and forearms, cut them from a 6m length then connected the pipes together with a 3 way T joint and two 90 degree angle pipes. The forearms were not connected with piping, as the angle was too narrow. Ideally, I would have used a 4-way pipe to attach the head, but bunnings had none every time I went there, so I had to get creative....
The base was a single piece of plywood with a 28mm hole drilled through the centre to hold the pipe. To raise it off the ground, two pieces of pine decking were screwed to two opposing sides, with some extra pieces attached around the hole to attach the interior supports
I'd read on some forums that Monster Mud had a nasty tendency to add a weight that made the PVC piping lean. To prevent this, I attached a support frame from pine decking that extended halfway up the piping. Good and solid, and means this won't shift.
Since there were no four-way joints, I ended up drilling out 28mm semi-circles on the neck of the headpiece to get it to sit on the shoulder poles. This was later attached with a screw straight through to stop it shifting.
Step 4: Building the Body (And Hands!)
The upper body was made from a duct tape double of myself. I've never suffered from claustrophobia, but let me tell you this - being wrapped in duct tape will trigger this! If I ever decide to do this again, I'll also grab some blunt-nosed scissors so my partner doesn't poke me in the back again cutting the damned thing off :P
The hands were lifecasts purchased on ebay. I had no means at the time to cast my own hands, so I gypped out and bought them :D They were attached to the forearm pieces by the simple process of filling them with expanding foam and jamming the pipes deeply into the hands.
We'd made two duct-tape doubles - one of the chest, and one of just my arms - you can see in the images that the arm pieces came out more smoothly and with more definition than the chest piece did. The shirt used to make the arm pieces was threaded under and through the chest piece
Once that was done, I wrapped the base of both shirts around the pole tightly with duct tape, and cut a huge chunk out of the back to allow me to attach the wings to the PVC piping
In the images, you can see how I just jammed the wings in there and screwed them with 8g screws directly onto the pole. Since I was using thick foamboard as the base of the wings, I had no concerns about it ripping under the screws - although once both wings were added, the entire thing did nearly take flight at one point under the wind gusts of the day!
Once that was done a few more strips of duct tape secured the back of the double back down and around the wings for added security. (And to stop the peanuts escaping)
The rest of the body frame was made out of chickenwire. Since the base is hidden by the folds of the skirt, I used a staple gun to secure the bottom of the skirt to the base. With this step, make sure you get good quality chickenwire - you can shape it (and will need to do so quite severely) with creases for where you want your model to "drape" and secure it to the poles with standard zip (cable) ties.
Once that was done, I stuck the head on temporarily to position the hands. At this point we had a few people show up here and there, and the main question of the day was "WTF are you doing?"
Since the angle of a bent elbow is too sharp for PVC piping, they don't make fitting pieces that match it. So I had to get creative with some packing straps, some coathangers, and a metric ton of duct tape to make sure it wouldn't shift once I had worked out and positioned everything relative to the head. Once that was done, it was just a matter of attaching them to the shoulder pieces and holding them in place with 8g screws again. I also stuffed the breastpiece full of packing peanuts and bubblewrap to keep it in shape.
Once all that was done, the head was permanently attached, and bubblewrap and duct tape were used to pad the figure out
Step 5: Mud Mud Mud
Once all THAT was done, it was time for the mudding. a 5:1 ratio of gyprock (joint compound) to paint was used. You dip fabric in it, work it through and smooth it over the frame. Think Papier Mache, but for men. Originally I had planned to use calico for the upper body "skin" areas and hessan for the dress to provide a nice contrast in textures, butI had severe issues with Hessan as it produced far too rough a surface, and eventually went entirely with calico.
PUT DOWN DROP SHEETS AND WEAR OLD CLOTHES. This gets everywhere and sets like concrete.
When the gyprock dried, I noticed a problem - the mix had shrunk more than I had expected it do, exposing forearms that were far too small and malformed. The left shoulder had also popped out of its socket, despite being screwed into place, which gave the angel a rather lopsided look. So the next day it was back to work, wrapping more duct tape and bubblewrap around the arms to pad them out, correcting the shoulder slump and giving it another coat of monster mud and fabric to seal it all in. I also took the opportunity to hand-smooth over a thicker layer of mud sans fabric to give it an overall smoother texture.
Step 6: Painting
Once that had dried, the whole lot got a good going over with Plastik Coat Projekt Paints. Took me three spray cans, and I also did some lowlight work with a darker White Knight grey paint.
And finally, when the base coat had dried I went over the lowlights and highlights with a dry foam brush. Darker grey was applied to the "recesses" of the material, while white was dry brushed over the peaks to contrast the two.
Not too bad for a first attempt at using mud, but there are definite ways I'd improve in future - chiefly with the structure and posing.