Monday, June 21, 2010

Realism in Fantasy

I'm often asked how I get my felts to look so "real". Considering I do fantasy creatures, that puts a smile on my face. But really most, if not all, are derivative of actual real live things. One of the things I do, and have always done is to use images as a point of reference.

In the good old days before the internet, I used books. My father had a massive library of art books and other neat books that I could use for inspiration or reference. I still do that to this day, but Google is my best friend.

When creating Frosty, my first felt, I used Google images for everything on this little guy. From the shape of his nose to the placement of the eyes and type of claws I still wanted him to have true polar bear qualities.

I did the same thing with my squishy panda. After watching the Panda Cam of the San Diego zoo pandas, I just had to make one! I used heaps of images to get the face just right!

And really, what is a dragon? A giant lizard. I kept iguanas as pets for many years and loved their form, shape and mannerisms. I can still see a little bit of my iguanas, Renfield and Squee, in my dragons.

I don't really use photos as point of reference for them, because I spent so much time around lizards, and I think that is apparent :)

As far as unicorns go, it's really a white horse with a horn glued (or stapled!) on. It reminds me of the movie "Scrooged" when the prop man is trying to glue antlers onto a mouse. Tried to find a screen grab of this, but couldn't find one!

I use photos of horses to get the body shape right, and sculpt a horn from paperclay. It's quite tricky getting the shape right, but with the right amount of practice, you can create anything. I highly recommend using wire armatures as well. It's great to have the basic body structure there in front of you, and then you just build on that. I hope to put an armature tutorial on here one of these days, I just have to get around to taking photos while I am making one.

So there is my tip for any aspiring fantasy or animal artists. Always use photos for reference. Try to get different angles and poses. I keep multiple windows open while sculpting.

Felt really is an amazing medium. I used to make classic plush dolls, but I find felting a much more forgiving medium and I feel (sometimes) that I can get much more creative with it.

For anyone looking to start out felting and don't know where to begin, I highly recommend Living Felt. I started out with the bear kit and have never looked back! There are really great step by step instructions to get the basics down and it is really easy and FUN! I can't say enough about this shop and how great the supplies are, and the owner Marie is really lovely and helpful.

If you have any questions you would like answered, or are looking for tips and tricks, email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can, or will post regarding your subject of interest.

There are no limits to the imagination!



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