Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spiked Zombie Head Mace!

It's finally done and I'm pretty damned happy with how it turned out.

I will at some point very soon be selling just one on ebay as part of the fundraiser. And I will be selling a limited number, probably 10, later in the summer on the website. Although if you're reading this and you just can't wait, feel free to email me about it. The price will be $150.00 CAD.

It takes a long time to create each piece, there's 10 in total. 8 spikes, the head and the staff. Right now I only have one mould for the spikes, so that's what makes it take a little long - I'll be creating about 3 moulds in for the future ones.

Each spike is embedded in a whole cut in the head, with a small amount of the foam removed, and where each part joins, it's given a coat with latex. That bonds them together really well - however I'm sure if you really want to destroy it you could - why you'd try, I don't really know.

It's about 45 inches long. The staff is 30 inches - and could be shortened for anyone who wants one, but wants a shorter staff.

A fibreglass rod is placed into the latex skinned mould as the polyfoam is expanding, so it's bonded with the staff really well. Enough of the rod is left extending from the staff and them the head is impaled in it, giving the whole piece some stability.

This specific finished piece only had one rod, so it's a little wobbly - however for the movie I think it just adds another level of campiness, so I'm happy with it. For any sold I'll use 2-3 rods to improve stability. Unless people like wobbly.

Painting took place over 2 days, about 3-4 hours in total I'd guess. I wasn't really keeping tracking. I  just used Monster Makers Latex Paint Base and some acrylic paints, works perfectly.

Also, I think for any retail versions, I'll allow for some customization, colours, spike placement, any damage to the head, blood splatter. I kept this one clean and free of damage since it's part of the movie and it will be getting bloody on it's own.

UPDATE: I'm selling one of these on ebay right now: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/111084065279?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Latex Zombie Finger Puppet

Just turned the first one out and painted it up. Came out not too bad. It's just barely over 2 inches tall, made of latex rubber as the title would suggest, so if you have latex allergies I don't recommend it.

It's being added as part of the fundraiser for Moonshine of the Damned. For $10 you'll get this guy (shipping is $5 to Canada and the US), a thanks in the credits and a chance to win some props from the movie. Limited quantity of 10 being made, so don't wait too long.

The fit is actually customizable as well, but it can be done only once - it's not permanently adjustable, I just add more latex to the rim to thicken it to make it fit more snug on a smaller finger. So if you want one and you're buying it for someone specifically, like someone with smaller hands, I suggest if you want it to fit well (so it's not flopping around or falling off), you can measure the circumference of the largest finger on the hand, around the last joint (too small and your choices are limited of which finger it'll fit) and I'll do my best to fit it to that size.

To order, just send an email to:brains@themonkeyrodeo.com. Include your preferred payment method (Canada: Paypal or Email Interact. US: Paypal) and your address. They ship out as soon as they're made, which I'm doing right now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cthulhu Chess Set Concepts

This is one of those ideas I'm on the fence about, should I or shouldn't I? I want to do a Cthulhu themed chess set. Yes, it's been done before so I know I'm not being totally original here - but that's kind of beside the point I think.

I'm trying to suss out if it's worth the effort or has it been done to death? I'm looking at a limited 5 set edition cast in (most likely) Aqua-Resin, it gives a nice, almost unusual fake stone feel. Estimated price will be $350 and will include a fully sculpted and appropriately themed board as well.

I'm debating on the style. Realistic and slightly abstract have been done, both to very good results. I'm not looking to one up anyone, I just wanted to attempt more functional pieces. I'm not into chess, but I know plenty who are. So my thoughts immediately turned to "what would be the best style for this?" Are people looking for such an item more interested in a semi-realistic approach or would a cartoonish, somewhat Mike Mignola-esque take on Cthulhu be interesting enough?

My concepts are rough, I think the Cartoon version will have somewhat more detail and will also be fully painted with colour variations to represent each side, whereas the Realistic will just be simple light and dark variations with some minor antiquing to bring out the details.

I might, over the next couple weeks, actually sculpt both pieces and look at this again to see what opinions might be.

For those who think $350 is too expensive for something like this, I can't help but point out the sheer amount of work involved and expense of the materials. I won't be getting rich off this. I'm aiming for somewhere below the line of the serious collection (for which this would be easily affordable) and the higher end of the casual collector (those that might not be rich, but appreciate the work that goes into something like this). If I were to do just one set, I would charge way more, but I feel that a limited edition of 5 sets is more than reasonable.

I might also make a couple sets available cast in resin, without the board, to appeal to those with are really interested but feel the price is too out of reach. Don't know for sure, I'm open to opinions on this as well.

Basically, should I do or not? Is there already enough of this kind of thing out there? Is Realistic the way to go or perhaps some want to see a different, more Cartoon approach to it? After collecting a few opinions on pricing, I feel $350 is a very fair price for this - anyone else feel different? Just thinking out loud on this for the moment, it's very possible it won't even happen if I get enough negative feedback on the idea, I don't want to do something that there's no interest in - especially something that will require this much work.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Moonshine of the Damned, Production Journal #5

Today I did something I've never done before on a project. For Moonshine of the Damned, one of the "bimbos", Jobeth, is supposed to be something of a gun nut, or survivalist even, however the actor playing her, Ancelene, has never had any experience with guns. Last year when we shot I felt the whole experience might've been overwhelming, trying to act, remember lines and feel comfortable holding a gun - for someone who has never acted at all before at least.

So this time around, I wanted to change that. I had a friend of mine, Jeff Gillis, who works with the RCMP dealing with restricted weapons, take Ancelene out to a gun range and give her a very basic crash course in how to handle a gun, some proper shooting stances and allow her to actually feel what shooting a gun is like - to understand the recoil, rather than faking it without any knowledge.

Turns out she's a pretty good shot, her first shot would've dropped a live target, her second shot was pretty much a bulls-eye and she even made a couple long distance shots that surprised Jeff.

I kept trying to get a shot in motion shot, this was as close as I got.

This is what her target look liked after several rounds.
Most of the shots in the lighter blue area were hers.

In the end I think it was well worth the effort. My thinking was that even though we have one of the rednecks, John MacDonald, wielding a shotgun with a rather campy recoil reaction, that's something no one would really complain about, however I just had a nagging feeling that should Ancelene have done the same thing - it would've been the focus on many a negative comment. She's not certified trained now, not by any means, but she has a much better understanding and was actually interested in getting a firearms license after all this.

Next weeks update: severed body parts, progress on the Zombie Gator and a finished Spiked Zombie Head Mace.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Concept: Cthulhu Chessboard

This has been done a few times already, some are just the pieces from what I've seen, some a really good and some are just decent, so I doubt I'll be setting the world on fire with this idea but I'm looking to create a very limited edition Cthulhu themed Chess set along with a board.

Right now it's in the very, very early concept stage - there's nothing even on paper yet. I do know full well if I'm going to do it, it HAS to be awesome to hold up against the work already circulating out there. My basic idea is to do all the pieces, much like the others that have been done and to do a fully sculpted chessboard as well - I've spent more time concerned about the board than the pieces themselves at the moment.

So far I haven't seen anyone who has done a full board as well - but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I just haven't seen it myself in all the searches that I've been done. I saw something that looked like a custom board, but it didn't really scream Cthulhu when I saw it, so it might have been totally unrelated and just used to show off the pieces.

It will be a non-traditional looking board, at least I'm hoping that'll be the case. The pieces will all be as uniquely styled as I can manage, using various Lovecraft creatures and my take on them - trying to keep them as close to any current ideas of how they should look as well.

I'm going to make 5 of them, cast in aqua-resin. I like the stone type feel of aqua-resin, it's feels more expensive than regular resin and actually is more expensive I believe. And if I can figure out the process, I've seen it done, 1 set in pewter - but it would be tinted pewter to make telling the side apart easier. The pewter set might not happen if I can't figure out some method of tinting, although I've seen other do it a quick search turned up nothing but a few images of it having been done. Nor do I really understand anything about the quality of tinted pewter, other than it does look nice.

The price would be expensive as well, based on the time spent, cost of materials and overall uniqueness of the final pieces and board as a sculptural piece of art, however I'm also trying to avoid overpricing. I did some looking around as well on what some others were charging, some I think were way too high considering the materials used were incredibly inexpensive, and some were very reasonable priced for the exact opposite reasons.

I'm looking for any feedback on the idea if possible. Has it already been done to death? how much is too much to charge? Is 5 sets a reasonable number for a limited edition? Concepts to avoid and ones to focus on that might not have been done yet by other artists? Anything would be appreciated at this point and I'll keep things updated as I work on the idea over the summer - I'm hoping to have them ready in the early fall.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Moonshine of the Damned, Production Journal #4

Lots of pictures this time around.

Things are progressing well on Moonshine of the Damned, we start shooting in a month, June 1st is the first shooting day - well, evening actually. There's been yet another massive round of changes, I think even from the last update. I've settled on a final incarnation of the script, one that had to incorporate certain difficult scheduling issues. All those issues have pretty much been resolved and now I've got a finished script, 37 pages down from 71.

Scheduling will start this week - that'll be fun. I've already got a rough schedule worked out, now it's just time to see what else goes wrong and if another rewrite or recasting session has to happen. It's been a troublesome project already, but I always feel like if pre-production is difficult than the shoot usually goes well. Something always has to go wrong and I'd rather it happen now when it's fixable than when it's too late and we're halfway through shooting.

Location scouting, while partially done, will start soon as well. I'm trying to simplify our locations so we're not running all over the Island. Luckily we don't need anything too crazy, we're just shooting in wooded locales and those a pretty plentiful around here.

So the biggest thing left to tackle are the special effects. While the fundraiser is still going for another couple weeks, I've managed to really narrow down the FX needs of the project without sacrificing my overall goal for them. Some single use pieces have been altered and for convenience (and safety) some will be CG - I wanted to stay away from CG as much as possible, but time and money was a concerned. A $100+ prop for a single shot use didn't seem reasonable.

The first big round of supplies cam in this morning from Sculpture Supply. Some various stuff from Smooth-On and Monster Makers - they pretty much make everything I use on a regular basis, I highly recommend their stuff, I've been using it for years now with very few problems or issues.

The Zombie Gator. I've been looking forward to this prop for so long now. It's the biggest thing I've every sculpted and attempted for something like this. It won't be ultra-realistic looking by any means, but that's not what I'm going for. I like my movies with a healthy side order of cheese, coated with melted cheese on a plate made of cheese...I think you get the point.

This here is the upside-down mould, secured together while the latex skin cures in the sun. Normally you'd use latex in an UltraCal 30 mould, however my intention was to originally do this as a urethane skinned prop - I've since made a lot of discoveries through experimenting and found latex was a much more reasonable solution. It's a little more work, but that's not an issue for me.

The latex should be pretty much cured by now, I'm writing this while it's sitting outside right now. I spent yesterday painting several layers on each mould part, assembled the mould and painted another layer of latex along the seams to make sure it's all one decently solid skin before I dump in the expanding foam. I'm really hoping I can get to this today.

A hand. Pretty simple. This was made from an alginate mould from my girlfriend Kim's hand. It'll be used as a stunt hand in the opening sequence, but I've since written a shot or two requiring some random body parts. If time and money permits, I may do couple more body parts.

Foam weapons. Same stuff as last year, I've just updated the method by which I'm finishing them. I have to make a new axe set since I sent the others off to another actor for him to do his shots. There'll be another sledgehammer made for a specific gory FX shot I'm looking forward to.
Here's a closeup of the sledgehammer head. I'm really happy with how it turned out. Last years sledgehammer was given a silver coating, I realized that was just a poor move as I wanted it to look old and used, this will just be given a quick fake rust treatment and it'll be all good to go for whacking zombies.

Finally, I thought I'd show off a couple more shots of this bad boy. I've still got a long way to go in understanding silicone masks. This one here had some really thin spots I tried to patch up as best as possible, but unfortunately this type of silicone, Eco-Flex 20, doesn't adhere to itself very well so patching and seaming was near impossible. Not that it really matters, it's just being used as a background zombie now and does make a decent prop to just have sitting around the workshop. Overall it was a good learning experience in sculpting, moulding and painting.

Up next on the FX list is to start the moulds for the few body parts I have planned and to get into sculpting the new round of zombie prosthetics I'll be making. There'll be a lot more unique, single use makeups this year, I don't want the zombies to look lazy and sloppy, that's not the point of why I'm doing this. I'm doing this to really showcase some of my FX abilities so nothing will be half-assed. The schedule has taken all this into account so I won't feel rushed to get zombie groups done in order to get things done quicker.

That's it for now, it's already been a busy morning getting things worked out and settled and now I need to take a quick break before getting back at it again.