Sculpt with confidence
Sculptors and brothers Brandon and Jarrod Shiflett unveil their process for crafting a character who’s influenced by classic fantasy art… and Dr. Seuss
Be inspired by The Shiflett Brothers.
We’re creating a character sculpture, in clay, and our goal is to open up a little window on to our sculpting process. Although we’re sculptors, we’re inspired by many old school painters and illustrators such as Frank Frazetta, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, and Moebius. Indeed, Moebius’ influence will play a big role in this piece. We don’t do any sketches or drawings beforehand. Instead, we largely make up our characters as we move along, having only a rough idea of what we’re going to create at the start of the sculpting. And our rough idea this time is a guy wearing artificial wings and a dragon costume, so that he can sneak into dragons’ nests with the goal of stealing some eggs. We suspect this job might have a high turnover rate, as dragons are known to be very fond of their eggs! We’d like to achieve a little whimsy in this piece, with maybe even a touch of a Dr. Seuss vibe.
We’re creating this sculpture in Aves Apoxie Sculpt, which is a two-part modelling compound that cures when mixed together into a very dense and high-grade sculpting material. It hardens between two and three hours after you’ve mixed it together. It can be carved, drilled and sanded, and it stays crisp.
before we begin...
For a sculpt like this, one needs an armature, because this clay won’t stand on its own. In fact, one needs a wire basically anywhere there’s a piece of clay sticking out: fingers, horns, wings and so on. The silver wire is an aluminium alloy armature wire, which can be bought in varying gauges to fit whatever size piece you’re creating. We use lots of floral wire – the tiny, white, cloth-covered wire – to bind the armature wire together.
Once our armature is built, the real work begins, blocking our character in clay, like the first broad strokes of a painting, and then getting down to the details, using smaller and smaller pieces of clay. We’ll be paying close attention to this guy’s face, because we’d like for him to come across as a sympathetic character.
In the end, we’ll apply a paint job with acrylic paints that’ll separate the organic parts from the sculpted hardware parts more succinctly. This character is going to end up being about 13 inches tall, and we’re calling the piece Dragon Division: Egg Appropriations Unit. It has a nice ring to it… The Shiflett Brothers, Brandon and Jarrod, have been sculpting comic book and fantasy characters for 25 years. www.shiflettbrothers.com