Sunday, March 10, 2013

Making a Severed Zombie Head

For the upcoming Moonshine of the Damned, I need to make several zombie heads - so the easiest, cheapest way was to sculpt one. Rather than starting from scratch I use an already made silicone mould from the first attempt at the series, this here was the final product from that mould, a foam backed Vytaflex head. It didn't look the way I wanted it to, so resculpting was necessary.
 I filled the silicone mould with melted clay and resculpted it. I was using Monster Makers clay, that stuff is awesome.
Since it'll have to be a 2-sided mould, so next a dividing wall was built up. I also sculpted in where the pour hole will be - you can kind of see it at the base of the neck here.
First layer of Ultracal 30, first it was brushed on and then anount coat dripped over that.
And then some layers of burlap.
And another thickened coat of Ultracal 30 to give it a better finish, this picture was before I smoothed it all out.
With the first half all done, I started work on the 2nd by cleaning off all the clay.
I added several little chunks of clay to create holes to assist in prying the two halves apart afterwards. I also applied a coating of vaseline to the Ultrcal to make sure the two halves didn't just fuse together.
A mould wall for the 2nd half is built, as well as the 2nd half of the pour hole - it's a little more obvious here.
First thin brushed on coating of UltraCal 30.
Drip coating.
And I missed taking a picture - not that it matters though, it just looks like a huge chunk of gypsum. After a long while of very carefully prying the two halves apart, this is what it looked like. I use wooden stir sticks hammered in around the seam to slowly pry it apart. It worked pretty well as using hard, metal tools can just break the Ultracal sometimes and ruin the whole thing.
Luckily I was actually somewhat smart about it. Because I only had so much clay and not enough to totally fill the original silicone mould, I added in a bunch of old small silicone moulds to add some bulk - this made it easier to remove it from the mould as well since it wasn't a solid chunk of clay.
After a very long cleaning process, the mould was ready for it's first casting.
The intention is to make several cheap, light, easy to paint zombie heads. The best method I could think of was a polyfoam head with a latex skin. Since I was using latex I went with the Ultracal 30 mould - which was awesome since I already have a decent amount onhand anyway.

If you're not familiar with how Ultrcal (or really any gypsum material) and latex work together, the Ultracal actually sucks the water out of the latex, enabling you to create a thin skin. The longer you leave the latex dwelling in the mould the thicker this skin will be. I my case I  need just a thin enough skin to protect the Ultracal from the polyfoam, normally you'd want enough latex to totally fill the mould to create something thicker.

I only have a little onhand so I just did a quick brush on coating to ensure it was evenly coating the deeper recesses on the front of the face, joined the halves together and sloshed around more latex, probably about 500 ml at this point. The latex was drained and I usually paint on more around the opening of the pour hole (again to prevent the expanding polyfoam from biting into the outside of the mould).

The polyfoam will normally adhere and lock into the Ultracal and it's a bugger to paint as well, hence the whole latex skin. I was using a very quick expanding and curing polyfoam (from Monster Makers) so I had to be quick about it, I made the pourhole larger than normal to make sure I could pour the foam in fast enough. It worked perfectly.

And here's the result, fresh from the mould.
I cut off the excess latex/foam from the pourhole and here's the pretty much final piece ready to be cleaned up and painted.
Normally latex can be a bugger to paint, you need to make a toxic concoction to make sure the paint adheres to the latex surface, however Monster Makers has a Latex Paint Base which works beautifully, you can even just mix it with regular acrylic paint to tint it. I've done a small amount of airbrushing with it, but need to experiment further - which I'll probably do with these since they don't have to look perfect, they are just rotting heads after all.

Also, since it has a very thin surface of latex, which keeps it really flexible and tough, and the expanding polyfoam is really low density, these heads are incredibly light and pretty squishy as well, so you can throw them at people without hurting them - if you ever feel the need to throw a severed zombie at someone.

So that's pretty much it. I can make several dozen heads from this, possibly more if I'm careful with the mould so the polyfoam doesn't ruin the moulding surface.

While only about a dozen are needed for a couple scenes in the series and this mould should last for awhile, I'm planning on making these available through the Funding Campaign for about $40, I'll only be making 10 of these for the campaign - more on that later.

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