Friday, June 25, 2010

Pop Sculpture: New Video Is Live!

In case you're interested to know exactly what topics we'll be covering in the upcoming book Pop Sculpture (due out October 19, 2010), this video breaks down the contents for you, complete with some luscious imagery courtesy of sculptor and co-author Tim Bruckner. Tim also edited the video, and Zach narrated. Music by our man Beethoven.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

THE JAILHOUSE: Behind the Scenes, Behind the Bars - PART 3

Kat Sapene is one of the finest painters I’ve known. And that’s saying something. I’m a geezer, I’ve have been around a long time and have known many painters. She is one of the best. Aside from her chops, one of the things make makes her work so good is her focus on the needs of the sculpture. She never showboats. She never does more or less than what will make sculpture the best it can be. And speaking as a sculptor, ain’t nothing better than that. Take a good look at how she handled the Jailhouse; the rust on the bars, the cast light from the lantern, the wear on the stone work. And those stripes! Those stripes! No small feat that. So, ladies and gentlemen, its my pleasure to introduce, the Princess of Paint, the Queen of Color. The one. The only. Kat Sapene! - THB

This is one of my favorite pieces. With all the little details that Tim threw in, it was a real pleasure to paint this scene.

Luckily for me, the figures and the base were left as separate pieces. Something that isn’t always the case, but with a piece as large as this, it allowed me to tackle one section at a time. As with any project, I started by collecting all the reference I could find. The client was able to supply me with a number of images he had taken in a behind the scenes tour of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. And with all the Disney pieces I have painted I have been collecting Disney movies, shorts and odd snippets on DVD for a number of years now. (Disney also has a nasty habit of throwing movies in their “Vault”, so get ‘em while they’re out or the movies won’t be available when you need them!) In one of these collections of shorts I happen to have a copy of an old TV show where Walt Disney takes you on a tour through the Pirates ride. This was perfect for capturing the mood of the ride.

With all my reference at hand I started by painting the figures. I mixed all the colors I would need to paint the figures and the dog, making sure to keep all colors fairly muted and dingy. But the biggest obstacle with these pirates was all those stripes! In small areas, like the socks and bandanas, stripes are easier since there isn’t really enough space to mess up. But with a full shirt like the blonde pirate, plan ahead! If you’re really nervous about stripes, take a pencil and lightly sketch out your stripe placement. Then make sure to seal it with some dullcote, otherwise your pencil markings will smear all over the place. Use thin layers of color so as not to build up too much paint, and breathe gently. Another thing to keep in mind is how stripes change when they wrinkle, meet an edge, or are tied in a knot. Something as simple as creating a seam by slightly offsetting where your stripes meet can give your piece a nice touch of realism

Next, I painted the base. Even though I’ve painted stone a million and one times, I never try to just duplicate what I’ve done in the past. While the basic techniques may be the same, the colors vary depending on the setting. For this base, I made sure to add some browns and raw umber to my colors to keep in line with the dirt on the figures. This helps to unify the piece as a whole instead of having a base and figures that don’t look like they are in the same world. Adding drips and stains to the walls adds to the dirtiness of the jailhouse. The final touch on the base was to add a bit of glow from the lantern to the wall. This was achieved by taking the highlight color I used on the stone and mixing in the colors of the light. Then I did a simple dry brush of these new colors on the wall where the light would hit.

Friday, June 11, 2010

THE JAILHOUSE: Behind the scenes, Behind the bars. PART 2

After the clays were approved, Tim made a series of waste molds and cast a set of wax copies to take to finish.

1: “The mutt is a breed my mom used to call Heinz 57, because he had a little bit of everything in him. The challenge with the dog was to balance the anthropomorphism. He is, after all, a Disney dog. The fur had to work in porcelain, so I went for a slightly sleeker pooch, with a wavy coat." -THB

2: “One of the great things about working on this project was, it came with a back story. All I had to do was supply details to amplify each pirate’s character. This guy had the bone, which was probably the remnants of their last meal. He’s got the worried look of a natural born pessimist. I added as many back view details as I could. The patch on his pants shows they’ve been mended at least twice, with whatever bit a scarp he could scrounge." - THB

3: “In better times, he was the cook. He’s the ‘bone pirate’s’ back up. The dog gets close enough and his job is to snare the mangy beast. He’s probably pretty good at it. His full figure testifies to his talent with a noose or a trap." - THB

4: “This guy hasn’t got all his oars in the water, so to speak. He’ll do his best to try and lure the dog within reach. Like his cell mates, he wants that key. But he hasn’t had a decent meal in a while. And he remembers hearing that dog tastes a lot like chicken.” - THB (Note: In the full body profile, you can see he has a peg leg. Its not visible from the front. Although pirates and peg legs go together like a Yo-Ho and Rum, it was decided to go with a more traditional two legged pirate for the final version.)

5: With all the figures approved, molded as cast, Tim made a mock up of the set out of foam core. The hands would have to be sculpted separately. The actual characters grip the bars in a full finger curl. These guys would need to be positioned after the set was manufactured, so their hands would need to be “C” hands to allow them to be slide onto the bars as opposed to the bars being slid through them.

6: Although not in the original design, Tim added a few props to help flesh out the story. A set of pewter plates, bowls, spoons and mugs gave the set a more lived-in look. Note how he constructed the water bucket with a separate clear resin water plug to add a little more realism. The mice just seemed like a natural addition. What’s a dungeon cell without a few mice? And we all know how fond mice are of drop or two a ale.

7/8: This is completed statue, fully assembled for a final approval. Next stop, the magic hands and talent of the Princess of Paint, The Queen of Color, the one, the only Kat Sapene!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Superglue! The Pop Sculptor's best friend! Well, maybe not a sculptor's best friend, but way up there. But it can be difficult now and then, like some best friends can be. Especially if you use a thin viscosity mercury adhesive. The thin stuff sets up quicker and can get into places the medium of thick stuff just can't. But the thin stuff has a mind of its own. You want it to go here and it wants to go anywhere but here or there. Before you know it, you've not only over glued your part but you've managed to glue yourself to the part as well. What the solution? Micro Teflon Tubing! Its available at most hobby stores and comes is a variety of gauges. And its cheap! You snip off a short piece, insert the tube into the pour spout of the glue bottle and you have the accuracy of William Tell. No more Mr. Sticky Fingers!

Friday, June 4, 2010

THE JAILHOUSE; Behind the scenes, Behind the bars - PART 1 of 3

"As the flames spread throughout the city, pirates locked in the town jail are desperate to escape before their underground dungeon turns into an inferno. The local constabulary is nowhere to be seen. Only a mangy mutt is around to witness their plight, and he holds the keys to their cells in his mouth. The pirates try to lure the dog within their reach so they can grab the keys and attempt an escape. 'Here, give us the keys, ya scrawny little beast!'" – Ruben Procopio

The Jailhouse Scene statue, based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World, is unique in many ways, among them is the distinction of being the only statue to have employed the talents of three of Pop Sculpture's contributors: Ruben Procopio, Tim Bruckner and Kat Sapene. Ruben designed the piece, Tim sculpted it and Kat painted it. A trifecta!

Ruben faced some interesting challenges in crafting a design that encapsulated the Disney ride experience, as well as creating a backview the public had never seen. "I had to maintain the focus on the characters and their interaction while giving a sense of the mass of their surroundings without overwhelming them," Ruben noted. He succeeded beautifully.

Following Ruben’s designs, and over the course of several conversations, Tim began roughing out the figures in clay. "The original figures themselves are like life-sized puppets with limited expression and movements," Tim said. "The genius of the ride is the full-on experience of lighting, sound and motion that creates, for the viewer, a sensory impression that goes well beyond its component parts. My job was to try and sculpt figures that felt like the ride, not portraits of the audio-animatronics."
Once the scale of the figures was set, Tim built sculpture stands for each figure with a set of wooden dowels as stand-ins for the prison bars. "This was one of the most technically challenging pieces I've ever done," Tim said. "Given the size of the piece and the production material (porcelain), I had to make adjustments to allow the figures to be manufactured without comprising their look. Early on, Ruben and I understood that simple things, like the way the pirates held onto the bars, would have to be modified to work with the various materials used and to anticipate the slight variables that arise from combining porcelain with other materials.”