Saturday, 22 December 2012

1/20 Albertosaurus, sculpted by Charlie McGrady

Charlie McGrady´s 1/20th scale Albertosaurus was my first "big" kit and taught me a lot about puttying, re-sculpting detail and how to join heavier resin parts. Leg and tail pieces were pinned with brass screws and glued with 24-hour epoxy for the strongest possible joins. A challenging 10-piece kit, well worth all the effort it took. The knees were re-sculpted to lean the animal farther forward and downward than the original pose.....

Hot-glue strands and some epoxy made some slobber, Komodo-Dragon style.

Why is Albertosaurus leaning down and drooling like this?....
.... could be it has scented this juvenile nodosaurid doing it´s utmost to hide in that fallen hollow tree-trunk?
(I sculpted the 2.5cm nodosaurid myself from some left-over putty).

Finished 04.07.2004.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Epidendrosaurus, sculpted by Michael Lovejoy.

Mike Lovejoy´s life-size sculpt depicting a juvenile of tiny Epidendrosaurus is only a few centimetres long and was produced as a one-piece casting. These small animals may have had arboreal tendencies and Mike sculpted his clinging to a the bark of a tree-trunk. I ground this away and then painted the little Dinosaur in hues that would blend in with the forest-floor subsequently modelled around it. Caught out in the open, the little Epidendrosaurus hunkers down into leaf-litter, intent on not being noticed by a passing predator.

Finished in May 2004.

1/35 Lambeosaurus lambei, sculpted by Greg Wenzel.

Greg Wenzel´s sculpting style hits the mark with me almost every time I see his work. His 1/35th scale Lambeosaurus lambei is amongst the favourites in my collection. Nothing to do with the fact that I dropped my one-piece casting onto a stone floor, shattering it into a dozen pieces and the consequent success at re-assembling it like a kit, hiding joins and re-sculpting mysteriously missing bits. Not at all....

 I honestly find this sculpt simply charming. Lambeosaurus seems to be prancing as if spooked by our approach. The slightly opened mouth revealing the animals tongue is expertly crafted. That heavily wrinkled hide matches fossilised skin-impressions. Even a raised casting blob running down the left flank painted up really well to look like healed scar-tissue from a failed predator attack. The piece is packed with interesting details. I painted mine with disruptive camouflage-patterning suited to the dappled light of the flood-plain forests it inhabited during the Campanian in what is now Canada. 

Finished in April 2004.

1/6 Velociraptor, sculpted by Bruce Bowman.

This 1/6th sculpt depicting Velociraptor mongoliensis was available as a 7-part kit sometime around the turn of the millenium. That Bruce chose not to portray Velociraptor running at full pelt with it´s mouth agape like some dromeosaurian Basking Shark trawling the air for sustenance, combined with this being perhaps the first model to portray a theropod with feather-like integument, made this a kit I very much wanted to own. Instead of sufficing with a single "mascot" model of Gorgosaurus, I was now on my way to becoming a collector of scale-model Dinosaurs.

The kit needed minimal clean-up and all the pieces fit very well. Joins were thoughtfully placed, easy to hide by simply sculpting feathery detail over them making sure this matched the surrounding original sculpt. The long and filamentous plumage, like that of a Cassowary or Rhea, made this a relatively simple task.

I originally planned on painting Velociraptor to look somewhat like the European Red Kite (Milvus milvus). In order to emphasise that patch of naked skin on the throat I ended up adding some bolder blacks and off-whites to the head and neck.

The finished model was mounted on a raised stone, a sentinel-post - this Velociraptor looks like an animal that has just noticed something in the near distance, be it a potential prey-item or an approaching rival or mate. Trails of droppings were placed on the stone to indicate its habitual use as a look-out spot. Surrounding groundwork was made from crushed cat-litter and small pieces of natural vegetation found in the countryside around where I live. Under a crevice in the stone there is a small fragment of real bone,a tiny fractured bird femur from an owl pellet.

Finished February 2004.
(There is now a scientific concensus that long feathers over the hands would very likely have concealed the manual digits of Velociraptor. These will have to be sculpted at some point.)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

1/18 Kritosaurus sculpted by Jorge Blanco.

Jorge Blanco´s 1/18th scale Kritosaurus is expertly sculpted and cast in a single piece of solid resin. It really stands out amongst all the "roaring-running" Dinosaur kits and I applaud Jorge´s depicting a behaviour more typical of much of the lives of most animals - his beast is simply at rest and seems all the more real for it.

Kritosaurus came cast lying on a plinth depicting a rocky outcrop. To make the animal more comfortable, softer contours were carved and then covered with a blend of powdered tea and small dried-herb leaves. This female Kritosaurus has scraped some of this bed of warm rotting vegetation over her clutch of recently-laid eggs - behaviour seen among crocodylians and even some birds in order to facilitate incubation of their young.

Jorge did a great job capturing the impressive, noble profile of this animal with it´s characteristic snout shaped like a "roman nose".

The model was mounted on a solid slice of granite. Very heavy, but looks good.

Finished in October 2003.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

1/35 Corythosaurus, sculpted by Max Salas

More old photos of my earliest dinosaur models...

No alterations were made to this one-piece resin casting, just the usual "clean-up" - traces of moulding seams were carefully scraped off, de-gassing holes were filled with putty, the casting was washed in warm, soapy water to remove any remaining mould-release. Then it was sprayed with a base-coat of grey primer to prepare it for painting before mounting it on a stone (which co-incidentally had the shape of a tridactyl ornithopod foot-print).

The simple black colouring ... is due to a  more complex "giraffe" pattern not working out satisfactorily. After my tribulations with the paint-varnish chemical reactions on the previous Salas 1/35th Iguanodon, I found myself  too fed-up to persist with anything complicated again. So, an understated "melanistic" look with a simple face pattern and spinal stripe was the final option. Colouration like this may have facilitated "warming up" in more northerly latitudes. [Here in Denmark, Black Adders are more common than further south, and our snakes are generally darker than their European relatives]. During painting a little brown, flesh or blue was mixed into the base-colouring to prevent the monotone black from looking overly flat. Some tones lightened with grey or buff were then randomly dry-brushed on. The very rough dirtying up was applied with both paint and chalks after seeing some extremely muddy rhino´s at a wild-life park. Corythosaurus is often depicted with a colourfully patterned cranial crest. I went the opposite way and chose to make it look like the plain keratin-covered structure of a Cassowary, applying semi-gloss blacks with some grey-buff streaks to represent flaking. Blue throat wattles also have something of the Cassowary about them. Those yellow "tail-flashes" were added to liven things up a bit as well as implying that Corythosaurus may have used it´s tail in intra- and inter-specific communication. Not only could it proclaim "I´m a Corythosaurus female", but it might be something for youngsters to follow after under a shadowy forest-canopy, or provide a highly visible warning signal when taking flight.

Finished July 2003.

1/35 Iguanodon, sculpted by Max Salas.

More of my earliest Dinosaur model-making.....

This 1/35th Iguanodon, sculpted by Max Salas, is now long out of production.  The one-piece casting depicted a beast ambling along in a quadrupedal gait seemingly bellowing, perhaps to other members of it´s flock or maybe at an approaching threat. Casting seams were removed with needle-files, de-gassing bubble-holes were filled with putty and a wash in warm soapy water made the piece ready for paint.

 I had plans for bold colouring on the belly of mine, so decided to portray the animal rearing, instead of walking on all fours, to show this off. The right foot was sawn through at the ankle, re-positioned and the joint re-modelled with putty. My first attempt at something like this. Now I realised that the tail had to be bent upwards to prevent it touching the ground. Warming it very carefully with a heat-gun and easing it upwards did the trick. I should have tried this on the ankle joint before going to so much bother!

A hole was drilled up into the supporting leg of Iguanodon and another into a stone, chosen to exaggerate the rearing pose, then some epoxy-glue and a screw joined these permanently together.

The patterning was heavily influenced by a Gregory Paul illustration and Bombina bombina. I found myself unable or unwilling to resist the cultural conditioning that seems to result in so many representations of Iguanodon being pre-dominantly (British racing-)green. As if in punishment, all the black patterning reacted with the final coat of matt-varnish, giving off a frosty white encrustation. Patience and application sorted the problem out - stippling with a VERY stiff brush removed the encrustation and all the blacks were re-painted.  The next coat of matt-varnish was sprayed with no little trepidation, but this time there was no chemical-reaction. Maybe the black paint was not thoroughly dry when varnished. I now wait 24 hours before applying any finishing coat of matt-varnish to any of my finished models.

This male Iguanodon is deliberately displaying those bold belly-markings - either to impress a potential mate or to impress and impose upon a rival. You can´t see it in these images, but I drilled the mouth out for a more convincing appearance of bellowing and sculpted a tongue in the floor of the mouth.

Finished in April 2003.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gorgosaurus libratus, sculpted by Greg Wenzel.

I bought this in December 2002, a Yule-gift to myself. It was my first ever resin scale-model Dinosaur purchase and I can still remember sweating with trepidation at paying the exorbitant price of $85 plus shipping via the Internet to someone I didn´t know. How times change!

After some trial and error, this is how my very first foray into the world of making and painting model dinosaurs ended up...

... simply mounted on a real stone, with an unsophisticated colour scheme. I only wanted a simple maquette for my writing-desk, but something made me decide not to paint it as a faux-bronze and instead opt for a predominantly green colour scheme. I was inexperienced and didn´t exactly achieve the look I had envisioned, finding the painting process fraught with frustration in trying to make things look as realistic as possible. Yet this model still remains a kind of mascot for me. I find the simplicity appealing, allowing me to imagine this animal in various settings - emerging from a forest; striding purposefully down mud-flats to something interestingly smelly and very dead at a river´s edge; patrolling an often-trod path through dense undergrowth.....  The dirtying with dusty chalks was an effort to make it look less like an idealised toy and more like a living animal with scars, scrapes and imperfections. I cannot imagine Dinosaurs as monsters, seeing them rather as animals and  natural elements within their environments. As a consequence I began photographing my Dinosaur models in outdoor settings. Finding and getting the setting to match the model is quite challenging and fun in itself.

Finished in July 2002.

Postscript) I now spend a good deal of time researching, constructing and painting such models for myself and a select few others. What started out as a single mascot has become a Mesozoic Menagerie and I have a collection of dozens of scale-models depicting the wonderful variety of Dinosaurian evolution. Greg Wenzel´s sculpture still holds a special interest for me. In fact, I´ve acquired and begun painting a second copy of this 1/35th scale model ... I cut the arms off and tucked them up to the chest.

And as if that wasn´t enough, Greg Wenzel also produced a massive 80cm long 1/10th version of the same sculpt which I couldn´t resist buying a casting of either...
I´m playing with the idea of tucking the arms up against its chest, too.
More to follow in later blogs...