Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sculpting a Maquette with Tony Cipriano: Part One

I met Tony Cipriano in 1991 when we worked together on "Beauty and the Beast" at Walt Disney Feature Animation's studio in Florida. Tony had a most unusual path to WDFAF, which you can learn about in the videos below. Since then he's also earned credits on Disney's "Aladdin" , "Pocahontas" "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", Tarzan", Mulan", and "Brother Bear".

Since 1997, Tony has been a freelance sculptor for the animation industry as well as for many toy, action figure and collectible figurine companies, including McFarlane Toys, Dark Horse Comics, Funko, Enesco, Mezco Toys, Sideshow Collectibles, Bowen Designs, DC Comics, Walt Disney Classics Collection, Toy Biz, Dreamworks Animation, Comedy Central, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studio Stores, Scholastic, Matell, and Madison Square Garden.

Tony's studio is in Long Island, N.Y., where he lives with his wife, three children, and three dogs. Below are a few samples of Tony's amazing body of work, and further down we begin a tutorial of Tony's process in his own words.

Sculpting Alfred E. Newman: from nut!

This is the Chavant clay. It doesn't have sulphur in it so it won't impede the silicone when I go to mold the bust. I prefer this for personal projects as it smooths with mineral spirits. But Super Sculpey is much better for professional work because it bakes. You can sand it smooth easier, and you can ship it. This stuff is hard to ship. It never cures because it's oil based.

My favorite tools. All of my work was done using these 4 tools and very little else. They do it all. A rake, a spatula, a large loop and a tiny loop. That's all you really need.

This is the epoxy resin I use to secure my armature. It's two parts, and you mix them equally. In a few hours, it is rock hard. Or you an speed up the process with heat.

My trusty alcohol torch. Best five bucks I ever spent. It's used to smooth/heat hard wax & clay, and also to heat tools for working with wax and hard oil clays. You just fill it with denatured Alcohol, light the wick, and squeeze gently. It emits a long flame, like a tiny blow torch. By gently passing it by the surface of the clay, it smooths and melts it subtly, leaving the surface warm so you can re-work the hard clay or add texture, etc.

Below: This is an incredibly useful page from the MAD style guide, specifically used to guide 3D art of Alfred.

I pin up my reference material. The page on the board to the left is a PERFECT 3D statue of Alfred done by my pal, mentor and incredible sculptor, Kent Melton. The MAD issues from the 70's were mine when I was a kid. I rescued them from my mother's attic before the squirrels got them.

 Below: This is the armature. Talk about high tech, huh? It's a length of 1/4 inch aluminum wire secured to a board and a blob of epoxy putty on top. Takes about 2 minutes to make and you are ready for clay!!! ( after epoxy is hard, of course.) With this kind of armature, as opposed to a pipe, I can pose/tilt the head a little. after I begin to put the clay on

The clay in a baking pan, fresh out of the oven. I use low heat in the oven, even a heat lamp will do. Believe me, when this clay is cool, it will be rock hard. I work fast, trying not to burn my hands---and then I pop the tray back into the oven for a few minutes or use a heat gun to warm it up faster, scraping long shards off at a time.

I block out skull and shoulders. I can still reposition the head if I want.

No tools used yet, just my thumbs. I work fast to block out the forms, not worrying about any details at this stage.

I take a pointy tool and scribe in lines to guide me, allowing me to easily see where the details and the planes are. Head has a slight tilt to the viewer right and I twisted the neck to look to his right.

Using rake to blend clay and to define planes of head.

I scoop out eye sockets, begin to add hair, more raking. I constantly turn the bust and step back away from table.

All of the basic proportions and pertinent information are in place. Now it's noodle time!

Stay tuned for Part two: Noodling Newman!

This is part one of a short video made for HEROES,VILLAINS & ARTISTS TV telling a little more about Tony Cipriano and showing some of his sculpting process.

Part Two: