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A 3D Journey Continues

The list of future movie releases continues to provide inspiration and images of the new Mary Poppins film in the media captured my imagination. Mary, a paragon or virtue, a picture of wholsomeness crying out to be given the BTB treatment. What does she have in that infamous carpet bag?
My first sketch depicted her reaction to the exposure of her bag contents. But, what where the contents to be? Something naughty, yes, but what? I left my sketch blank, intending to attempt different solutions on tracing paper, eventually arriving at a predictably naughty solution…..

Not too long ago, there had been a Bad Taste Bears figurine of Paddington Bear with his suitcase opening to reveal vast quantities of cocaine, so that ruled out bags of white powder. 
It could be that my recent experience with furniture embellishments influenced me. After all, I’d become quite familiar with sculpting dildos. So, a tumbling mass of sex toys completed the vision. Anyway – dildos are fun and easy to draw!

Taking my sketch into Photoshop, I applied a colour layer in line with my reference.

I decided that everything for ‘Beary Poppins’ was going to be freshly sculpted. Although the work I’d done so far was OK, I didn’t want any mistakes or bad habits I might’ve had early on to carry over to this, my first ever proper sculpted Bad Taste Bear.

Because the head is a focal point for many characters, I wanted it to be correct. Using a combination of my sketch and the style guide we’d previously provided to the sculptors in the Far East, I built the head using simple but slightly distorted ‘primitives’. This would also serve as a blueprint for any future figurines, so it was left expressionless for the time being. That could happen later.

With my head securely under my belt, so to speak, I set up my sketch as a backdrop to my sculpt and positioned and scaled the head to hang everything else from. ZSpheres that I mentioned earler came into play to create a basic pose. It’s easy to work over the top of a drawing showing one view, but spin the shape around through ninety degrees and things can look totally out of balance. It was important to get the shape as close to where I needed it before adding material.

With any sculpting project, the first stage is to establish the larger forms.
With Beary Poppins being less like a traditional bear shape and more like a stumpy human, I set up a base form to get the pose and would add to the shape. This is the basic laying in of virtual wax, blocking in the overall shape of the suit. I’d come back to work on this later.

For variety, and probably more out of fear of losing all of my work, I opted to build elements separately, beginning with the shoes.

After making progress on Beary’s torso, I shifted my attention to the head/hair/hat assembly.
The first addition was the hat. A very simple affair made from two differently proportioned cylinders – a shallow plate-like one for the brim and a taller, slightly conical one for the crown. Once in place, it provided the area in which the hair would function. 
I applied a mass, kind of like dropping an uncooked pizza base over a football, which would become the hair. Using large brushes, I massaged it into shape before teasing the locks into waves to approximate the style in my reference images and sketch. When working at this scale, it’s very tempting to get too involved with detail. I had to keep reminding myself that on the final piece, I’m probably dealing with approximately a centimetre ( approximately a half an inch in old money) of hair length, so getting too intimate with strands and texture would be a waste of time. 

After the hair, I approached the delicate subject of her fur texture. My friend James Ryman pointed out a couple of fur texturing tutorials on YouTube and I had the basic principle sorted in my head. It required me to create a black and white tonal ‘bump map’ in Photoshop. This was to echo the fur texture already established traditionall over more than 400 figurines, which could be applied digitally to my digital sculpt. I have a responsibility to be reasonably loyal to what has gone before, even if I wanted to employ digital processes.

After Beary had face fur, I moved to the hat band and decoration. The reference shows lengthy, curly and delicate feathers. Mass production, handling and shipping are not kind to long, delicate feathers, so compromises were arrived at. Also, I had to be mindful of the space below the feathers, which could cause difficulty in the castring process. These spaces were filled by zooming in and adding virtual wax.
The robin was simple enough. A distorted sphere with added detail – done. The hat band was made by applying a virtual mask to the sculpt and clicking the ‘Extract’ button. Magically, the drawn shape springs into being. I’ve tried the same on my bank account, but it doesn’t behave the same.
Once a shape has been extracted, it can be modelled indepedently without affecting the main piece.

Come back soon for more of my adventures.

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