Ever want to proudly display your slain fantastical adversary? But don't have the skill in taxidermy or magical preservation to accomplish it? Look no further!
Here I'm gonna go over my build of a Titan from Elder Scrolls Online, it's kinda like a dragon-type thing but with a demonic twist and I love it. I decided that I wanted to build its' head and mount it on my wall because why not? Here's the relatively cheap materials that you're gonna need to make this sucker.
4'x8'x1" sheet XPS Foam (pink insulation foam) $25
PVA Glue (white school glue) along with a chip brush, cup, and source of water
4 Blue LEDs (optional) +wire/soldering kit
120v AC to 12v DC Inverter (optional w/ LEDs)
1/2" Scrap Plywood
Wood Stain (any shade, I'm using a Semi-Gloss Ebony)
1.5" Screws (for screwing things... yeah)
Scrap Wire (for hanging the whole thing)
Pen/Paper (for planning!)
Hot Glue/Gun (lots of it...)
Cutting implements (razors, coping Saw, etc...)
Rasp (for shaving off lots of foam at once)
Reference material (if you need it, this creature isn't of my original design, so I can't just wing it!)
Note: I had most of these materials to start with, but if you're buying all new materials this project shouldn't cost more than $70 tops!
Step 1: Before You Start Building!
Alrighty, so before I build a prop type thing I like to sketch it out. It just kinda allows me to get my thoughts in order for the build, and also serves as a reference of sorts for shapes to cut.
So, I start off with a drawing of the side and front views, this gives me a gist of what I'm going for when it comes to form. Using the reference material that I've collected I can approximate the views, it's not perfect but hunting one of these suckers down in game for perfect screenshots can be a task on its' own! So, I just went with what I could find online.
Next, I figured out "okay what's my process" and from here I divided the build into smaller chunks to work on. Say I'll start with the upper/lower jaw, and build upwards! Now if whatever you're building has parts that aren't in the "main form" of the build, it's time to plan how you're gonna do those as well. In my case this was the horns, but I knew that if I carved out curved shapes and layered them a bit I'd be alright.
Here in blue I marked out zones 1, 2, and 3. From here I can determine the basic shapes that I'll need to initially cut out and glue together. Four rhombus-kinda shapes, 2 large teardrops (to layer for thickness), plus a couple of triangles to fill in the hollow space where the bottom of the jaw/roof of the mouth should be!
When building, keep in mind you want to start with basic forms and work outward with more and more detail... Let me show you a bit of that...
Step 2: Blocking Out Your Main Forms
As with any build you want to start with your main forms. In this specific case I start by fabricating the shapes of the snout, upper/lower jaw, and the rest of the head using hot glue and foam. At this point I'm just worried about giving myself enough material to work with as a lot of this is gonna get hacked away in just a bit. On my last creature build, my Werewolf "looked like a duck" for a solid week, so be patient with this, you'll have time to make it big and scary in a bit! This is where you establish the foundation for your anatomy, which is just as important as painting this thing, so make sure that it's where you want it before you progress!
Once you get the bulk form where you want it, you move onto the rest of the main anatomical structures. The first pass is usually pretty rough, I'll typically go at it with my razor and carve down any rough bits, cut out holes for eyes, teeth, horn sockets, cheekbones etc... Then, I'll hit the whole thing with a rasp to really smooth those forms over and make the shape homogenous. After using a rasp to knock down some of the larger imperfections, use a coarse/medium grit sandpaper to further the smoothing process. If you have any gaps that you need filled, don't be afraid to smash some foam in there and glue the heck out of it! Also, be sure to add foam for any other structures that you may have missed in the first pass, I knew that I needed to build up the snout a bit so I just glued on some more chunks.
Step 3: Nitty Gritty Bits
Now you've got a monster-looking lump of foam, at this point you dive in with thedetail work. Carving in eyeholes, cheekbones, etc... Once you get to this point, you're going to want to add in your additional details, for me that's my horns, ping pong ball eyes, and my LED work.
For my LEDs it's a super simple circuit, wired up 4 Blue LEDs (2 in the mouth, 1 for each eye), all wired in series to a 12v inverter. Before you move into finishing the build just make sure that your wiring is solid! Definitely beats having to tear apart your creation later just to re-solder something. Now, to install them all I did was carve a channel in the back of the Titan's head and hot glue all of the LEDs in their respective places! I'm not going to go into depth on the wiring in this Instructable, one could talk for hours about that alone so I'll leave that for another tutorial!
As I mentioned before, the horns are really simple form wise, but time consuming as I had to sand in each individual groove *wipes sweat* it was a chore! Those guys just got glued into place after I was done.
Step 4: Mounting
Mounting, now this can get tricky depending upon the sizing of your creature, but in my baseboard I screwed in a segment of 2"x4" that would support the bulk of my head.
Prior to attaching the head, I just cut my board into the shape that I wanted, sanded it a bit, and hit it with a couple of layers of wood stain to give it the coloration that I wanted.
Once all is said and done you can just screw the whole thing into your wall or devise some sort of wire hanger system like one would use on a canvas (to keep your parents/landlord happy). But hey, it's up to you!
To affix my creation to the board I just hot glued the sucker on! I found that mounting at the perfect angle doesn't come easily, resulting in gaps between the piece and board. To fix this, I just hot glued in some spare foam to fill the bulk of the space.
Step 5: Sealing (pre-painting)
Before painting on any kind of foam you want to seal it, reason being that paint doesn't stick incredibly well to foam on its' own and likes to flake off. So, if you're happy with the way your creature looks now, just brush on 4-7 watered-down layers of PVA glue and jump right to painting! I tend to use a 1:1 ratio of PVA to water.
Now, I decided to give my Titan another layer of skin texture just for the sake of having that extra bit of complexity. Using PVA glue and some crinkled newspaper I was able to create a pretty cool leathery/scaly texture for my monster. Soaking squares of newspaper, soaking them in watered-down PVA, and slapping them on! After working with it I just threw on some extra layers of PVA and it was ready to go! In this step I was able to fill in any itty bitty holes in the foam, I was also able to add in eyelids and work a bit around the teeth to give them a more organic feel.
Step 6: Painting!
Painting for most artists is the most rewarding part of the build process, you get to finally breathe some life into your creation. In this same breath, I'm going to say that a good paint-job isn't easy, but here's a couple techniques that you're gonna want to learn before going into it.
Dry brushing: literally paint with a mostly-dry brush in very light passes, this emphasises high points on your creature and gives it overtones/highlights.
Washing: painting on watered-down colors and wiping most of them away allows you to get dark colors into the crevices of the piece.
With these two techniques you can achieve an impeccable paint-job in no time!
Here's the steps that I took to paint my Titan....
1. Base out the main colors, here I applied a general "skintone" to my beast (grey-blue) black for the horns, and off white for the teeth.
2. Mottling, using a few variations of that grey-blue I stippled in variation in the skin to break up the even coloration.
3. Bulk shading, here I mixed up some more slightly darker grey-blue color and stippled the main undercuts in the piece (eyes, jaw, cheekbones, etc...) I also went in with some black very sparingly on the deepest points.
4. Washing, here I hit the whole thing with a wash of a very dark grey-blue color to emphasise the creases in that skin texture that I made, sometimes you'll have to hit one area more than once to get the desired effect.
5. Dry brushing, dry brushing is my favorite part of the process as the light colors contrast heavily with the dark tones that I started with, here I just mixed up a lighter grey-blue to hit my high spots with.
6. Finishing, in order to make sure that all of your hard work stays the way it is, wait 24 hours for everything to dry and hit the whole thing with some clearcoat spraypaint. Note: if you have anyexposed pink insulation foam it will be melted by the spraypaint!!! Make sure that every inch of your creature is covered with PVA glue prior to spraying.
Step 7: Finished
I hope that you enjoyed this build, I know that I definitely had some fun with it. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!
If you're interested in more builds like this, be sure to follow me here on Instructables. You can also find me on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram as DaggerElk