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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Genestealer Build Update 14: Chest Parts, Hand Parts, Leg Parts, Foot Parts, and So Many Parts.

It's been a while since the last update.  I was under the weather for a few days and had to scramble like mad to complete a few unrelated projects right before that, but otherwise, I can assure you that the Genestealer build has been screaming right along.

As of our last update we'd printed the sculpting base for the waist, hips, and tail.  Since then, I've done a bit of work smoothing the whole thing out:
Waist Master Smoothing

Waist master Smoothing

It'll get a few more minutes of prep work, then I'll layer on a couple coats of epoxy to make it shiny and smooth prior to sculpting out the texture for the skin.

In the last update, we'd also lifecast some copies of my hands and my friend Ian's hands so we'd have a starting point to sculpt the creature's hands.  I decided to start by making claws for the five-fingered hands which will eventually be integrated into the silicone skin once we get to casting those.  I started by smoothing out the hand casts and giving them a coat of Epsilon Pro epoxy:5 Fingered Hands in Epoxy

The three-fingered hands still need a bit more smoothing, so at this point they're not mounted on bases or coated in epoxy yet.

Once the epoxy had cured, I covered the fingertips with plastic wrap and masking tape, then used Magic Sculpt epoxy putty to sculpt out some finger extensions and claws:
Rough Claw Sculpts

Once the Magic Sculpt had cured, I popped the claws off of the lifecast fingers and tried them on:

Pretty schnazzy:
Rough Claw Sculpts Cured

Then I spent some quality time sanding and shaping and polishing up each individual fingertip before giving them all a coat of glossy lightish red paint:
Smoothed and Shiny Claw Sculpts

The next day, after the paint dried, my friend Rachel went ahead and made molds of them.  When the molds were cured and ready to go, she cast a set of the claws in urethane resin which I glued back onto the lifecast hands:
5-Fingered Hands Ready to Sculpt Skin

Now they're ready for me to sculpt out the shape of the skin for the hands.  The final claws will be cast in urethane rubber to make them safe for whoever the character might bump into.

Meanwhile, the three-fingered hands got a bit of sanding and smoothing and a couple coats of epoxy:
3=Fingered Hands Epoxy Coated

Geri the shop husky helped in his not-so-helpful way:
Shop Dog is an Idiot

From the last update, we'd just stared adding the cardboard edges to the chest piece:
Upper Chest Ready for Clay Margins

Once the cardboard was glued on, I layered over it with oil-based clay to give us mold margins.  Then the whole thing was coated with PVA:
Upper Chest Ready to Mold

After the PVA dried, the whole assembly was coated with orange tooling gelcoat:
Upper Chest Gelcoated

Then I built up a few layers of fiberglass on top of the whole thing:
Chest Master Wrapped in Fiberglass

"But wait!" you exclaim, "with all of those overhangs and undercuts, you've now locked the master into the mold!  There's no way you'll ever get it out."

You'd be right, of course.  I'll have to cut the mold apart.  But first, I'll have to add flanges so I can put it back together afterwards.  I start by marking the places where I'll separate the mold with a Sharpie:
Parting Lines Marked Out

Then I bust out this nifty little air saw because it has a very skinny blade and cuts a very small kerf:
Ye Olde Aire Sawwe

I cut along each line stopping just short of each intersection.  This leaves the tiniest little tab connecting the pieces together so the whole thing doesn't just fall apart:
Cutting the Parting Lines

With all of the cutting done, the chest looked like so:
Parting Lines Cut

Then, to create the flanges, I inserted sections of aluminum flashing into the cuts:
Flashing Inserted into Cuts

Then I used aluminum ducting tape to connect all of the parts and make them as smooth as I can:
Flashing Taped

Then I go back and layer up fiberglass over all of the sheet metal shims to create the mold flanges:
Chest With Flanges Glassed Over

The next day, Rachel drilled bolt holes into the flanges and pried the parts of the mold apart:
Rachel Demolding Chest Master

It ended up being a lot of parts:
Chest Mold Sections

Fortunately, I had her in the shop to wet sand and polish all of these parts in preparation for casting:
Chest Mold Parts Angle

After the mold sections were wet sanded and waxed, they were coated with a liberal amount of PVA release and bolted back together:
Chest Mold Ready for Layup

Jeff mixed up a batch of gelcoat and we got started laying up the fiberglass:
Jeff Pouring Gelcoat

I didn't take photos of myself laying up the glass for the chest, but once it was out of the mold, I did a quick and dirty test fitting:
Upper Chest Section in Place

The chest and back mate up perfectly.  So next time I'm doing any fiberglassing, I'll bond them together permanently.

Now I just need to finalize the shape of the last piece of the chest.  Then I can mold it and glass it and that'll be that:
Lower Chest Section

The only other fiberglass piece to be done is the inner skull that will be built into the head.  I started with a 3D printed skull that was given a quick bit of prep before filling in the eye and nose holes:
Skull Master Smoove

The jaw will be made separately.

Once the skull was smoothed out, it was coated in epoxy:
Epoxy Coat to Smoove Skull Master

Shiny Skull Master

Here's a shot of Jeff trying it on after the epoxy coat had set up:
Jeff Trying on Skull Master

Silly Jeff.

Prior to molding, I used a hacksaw to cut a seam down the centerline:
Prepping Skull Master for Molding

Jeff built up the cardboard and clay margins around the bottom edge of the skull.  Then I inserted the flashing for the parting wall and gave both sides a heavy layer of PVA:
Skull Master with Parting Wall and PVA Coat

Then gelcoat:
Skull Master in Gelcoat

After laying up the fiberglass, the mold cured and I popped the halves apart:
Skull Master Demolding

Then the edges were trimmed, the molds were wet sanded, and then waxed.  Here's the two halves being force dried in front of the fan between layers of wax:
Skull Molds Drying

Tomorrow I'll lay up the first fiberglass underskull.

On a completely separate note, I finished carving out the forming bucks for the thighs.  Here's the inner thigh forms all stacked up and assembled:
Inner Thigh Forming Bucks

And here's the inner thighs with the outer right thigh in the middle of smoothing out the seams:
Thigh Forms Assembled

I still need to assemble the outer left thigh:
Last Thigh Form Carved

Once that's done, I can hurry up and vacform the shells for the thighs.  While I'm doing that, Jeff is fine-tuning the models for the lower leg shells and then we'll have all of the hard parts done in pretty short order.

Speaking of Jeff, we've done the fiberglass work on his pair of stilts:
Jeff's Stilts

And we've got the earliest beginnings of the foot parts coming together.  This little benchtop sketch is the beginning of where we're going with those:
Foots Ball Joint Sketch

Stay tuned.  Things are about to speed up.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Genestealer Build Update 13: Prepping the Chest for Molding and a Few Other Bits and Bobs

First off, let me apologize for the lack of updates.  We got pretty swamped for a couple of weeks with one quick project I'll be posting about soon and another big project I may never get to post about at all.  These things happen.

On the plus side, I've suddenly been given a major incentive to focus on the genestealer build, so this thing should start showing a lot of progress in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, our friend Gene did a fine job of keeping the dust off of this little patch of work bench where he was waiting:Benchtop Dust Collector

Realizing that clutter had become the enemy of progress in a big way, we cleared off the bench he was sitting on:
Empty Bench for a Minute
This always helps me feel like I'm about to get some stuff done.

Despite all of the other priorities, I was able to add another thick coat of epoxy to the newly reshaped chest:
Final Epoxy Coating Curing

A few days later my friend Ian stopped by looking to stave off some boredom and do some tinkering, so I set him to work adding cardboard margins to the edges of the part:
Ian Adding Cardboard Margins

This is the first step on the way to making the eventual fiberglass mold for this piece.  Unfortunately, we didn't get around to adding the clay that goes on next:
Upper Chest Ready for Clay Margins
We'll get to that this week.

We ran out of time that day because Ian had to get home, but first we needed to lifecast some hands which we'll use as sculpting bases for the four hands the creature needs.  Ian's hands are slightly bigger than mine, so we molded his in the "live long and prosper" pose to be used as the three-fingered upper hands, while mine were molded fully-splayed for use as the five-fingered lower hands.

The end result was a pretty handsy critter:
Handsy Genestealer

Since I'm really wanting to see this beasty start walking around, I figured I should get a jump on this piece:Shorts Render 1

So I started printing up the pieces.  The first recognizable part that came out was the tail:
Tail Parts Printed

And now I'm just about done assembling the whole thing.  It's not small:
Assembling Sculpting Armature for Rubber Midsection

So now I'm going to have to start rushing through some skin sculpting and molding so I can start pulling rubber parts.

Stay tuned...