Technique of the Week, or, finishing Spam the Cat (part 4)

It’s been ages since I worked on my Spam the Cat polymer clay maquette, and I’m attempting to get it finished for the comic conference at Camosun College tomorrow. So I’m going to be painting as I work on this! Right now I’m waiting for the paint to dry. I won’t quite finish it up in time to post it all tonight — all that resizing of photos in Photoshop takes a lot of time!

I realized that I hadn’t posted the first sections of this as Technique of the Week, but should have. If you follow from the first post through this one (links below), you’ll have a pretty good idea of how to build a little animal sculpture in polymer clay! And if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them, just leave me a comment below.

So: where are we up to now? If you are coming in the middle of this adventure, you may want to go back and catch up. Here’s Spam part 1, Spam part 2, and Spam part 3 — I thought that I had included the part about making him furry, but evidently not, so I’ll start with that!

Bulking up to make fur. I made thin sheets of clay and pieced them all over his body, blending them with the already-fired figure and with each other.

Bulking up to make fur. I made thin sheets of clay and pieced them all over his body, blending them with the already-fired figure and with each other.

This shows some of the rolled-out pieces of incipient fur.

This shows some of the rolled-out pieces of incipient fur.

Here I've started working on the modelling of the fur. It takes a while, but it's kind of meditative, making all the little swirls look just right. They have to go in the right direction all over his body (check a real cat for this if you ever do it — the cat will love all the stroking and never have a clue you are conducting research!). They also have to have a certain randomness about them — too many lines repeating will look unnatural.

Here I’ve started working on the modelling of the fur. It takes a while, but it’s kind of meditative, making all the little swirls look just right. They have to go in the right direction all over his body (check a real cat for this if you ever do it — the cat will love all the stroking and never have a clue you are conducting research!). They also have to have a certain randomness about them — too many lines repeating will look unnatural.

After I finished modelling all the fur, I fired him for the second time. You might have noticed his paws weren’t on yet; they are very fiddly to do and I didn’t want to squash the fur I had made, so I fired him without paws, then made the paws, then fired him again with aluminum foil all over the rest of him to protect the already baked parts from burning.  I follow the instructions on the Sculpey packet for temperature, though the time has to be estimated. Here’s how he came out.

Spammy has fur!

Spammy has fur!

Spam has such a cute round bum.

Spam has such a cute round bum.

How could anyone  resist such a handsome face! Notice that I didn't make fur marks on his face yet — I couldn't get fine enough detail with the polymer clay. Soon, soon.

How could anyone resist such a handsome face! Notice that I didn’t make fur marks on his face yet — I couldn’t get fine enough detail with the polymer clay. Soon, soon.

Time to paint! At long last! Any acrylic paint will do the job here. Sometimes they have different finishes though; some are more matte and some are more shiny. I may need an adjustment finish at the very end, but I won’t know until I get there.

Ivory coloured craft paint is the base coat for the fur. It's good to have white under the other colours because, just as in painting, it helps the colours glow more.

Ivory coloured craft paint is the base coat for the fur. It’s good to have white under the other colours because, just as in painting, it helps the colours glow more.

Spam posing as an alabaster statue.

Spam posing as an alabaster statue.

The light in this case is daylight — the next pictures are taken under incandescent light, so he looks a bit like he's reverted.

The light in this case is daylight — the next pictures are taken under incandescent light, so he looks a bit like he’s reverted to the unpainted colour.

Now that he’s painted with a base coat, it’s time for those last furry details, the short, soft hair on his face and ears.

Time for the fine details of the fur. I wasn't sure which one of these two gels I'd use — as it turned out, the moulding paste was perfect. It dries opaque, instead of clear, as the gel would have, and holds the shapes that I scribed into it very nicely.

Time for the fine details of the fur. I wasn’t sure which one of these two gels I’d use — as it turned out, the moulding paste was perfect. It dries opaque, instead of clear, as the gel would have, and holds the shapes that I scribed into it very nicely.

Applying the moulding paste with a coffee stir stick. Very technical, that.

Applying the moulding paste with a coffee stir stick. Very technical, that.

Here's Spam with his detailed fur.

Here’s Spam with his detailed fur.

Time to start painting again! These are the colours I mixed together, in different amounts. There will be multiple blending coats after this.

Time to start painting again! These are the colours I mixed together, in different amounts. There will be multiple blending coats after this.

 

And that’s all for tonight — I will be finishing up tomorrow at the conference, and will post pictures on Monday. Tomorrow I’ll give a report on how it was to hang out with a bunch of comics artists all day!

2 responses to “Technique of the Week, or, finishing Spam the Cat (part 4)

    • Thanks, Ilex! I’ll have the last update on him today or tomorrow, when I put his stripes on and finish his cute li’l face. Next I might make Renfrew the Raccoon! Or the Sasquatch lady!

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