Sunday, March 20, 2011

Help! My Doll Looks Alien.

Having trouble with the canon for the head (that is, can’t make a HUMAN head and face)? The canon refers to the placement of landmarks on the human head and are, for our purpose, universal. Although all our sculpted heads are basically similar, it is the differences in size and shape of the facial features that produce an infinite variety of appearances.

There is a set of ‘rules’ about where landmarks fall on a human skull, regardless of whether or not you are trying to sculpt a pretty face or a character face. In order for your doll to be believable (i.e. not alien) these rules apply no matter what type of doll you are sculpting. For our purposes we are using a proportion of 8 heads for our 1:12 scale figures. For a doll that is 6 inches tall you will form a head that is ¾ inch from bottom of the chin to the top of the head and ¾ inch from the front to the back of the skull.

First, make a ¾ inch ball of clay and press the sides to narrow them to 2/3 the height of the head, or ½ inch. Check the clay against your proportion chart and cut off the excess. Then, identify and mark the shape of the head from the side. You can make horizontal and vertical grid lines and identify various points to assist you, and then connect the points that shape the head. Following the lines you created cut off the excess clay. Check it against your proportion chart. You will end up with a basic skull shape. To see that shape, follow this link to a tutorial for a head under-sculpt by Mark Dennis:

The face grid is also made of both vertical and horizontal lines. First, identify and calculate the horizontal lines (eye line, the bottom of the nose, the mouth, and the chin, etc) and the vertical lines (the width of the eye, the sides of the nose and mouth) and put them on your grid. There are many tutorials available that will instruct you about this (see May and July 2010 posts about the canon of the human head for links to some tutorials) and check out Kathryn Dewey’s Landmarks of the Head for lots of detail:

Only when you have formed the basic shape of the head and identified the placement of the features, do you sculpt the individual size and shape of the features; ensuring that you are sculpting a doll that looks human.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Armature

Instructions for a simple but strong armature for a miniature doll can be found on Mark Dennis’ Blog. This armature can be made with both 14 and 17 gauge aluminum wire or 18 gauge galvanized steel wire and will be strong enough for our small scale dolls (and will work for dolls up to 14 inches). You will find it at: