Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Young Dutch Bunny #2 of 30

This bunny is the second in my 2012 collection of ’30 Bunnies for Spring’
Bunny #2 is a young Dutch Bunny – Inspired by my childhood pet (See Bunny photo below)

Dutch rabbits are common pets in the US and worldwide. They are recognized by their ‘formal’ getup of black suit and white shirt. They weigh approximately 5 lb. and measure over a foot in length
My Dutch Rabbit is a 1:3 scale sculpture, where every foot of ‘live’ rabbit is sculpted at 3 inches

Planning My Bunny

Dutch rabbits are easily recognized by their black and white color pattern. I started with a simple sketch of a resting alert rabbit.

The Rabbit Armature

Since this rabbit will be resting on all fours close to the ground I did not require wire for his armature. I did however try a ‘new’ foil technique. Till now I have sculpted an animal’s face independent of the body, then worked hard to attach it. Rabbits, with their little neck prove challenging in this respect, so for this rabbit I created a full body foil armature with the head already positioned
I wrapped the foil in very thin layers of scrap clay ensuring proper adhesion and removal of air bubbles

Sculpting a Black Rabbit

Since I plan to give my Dutch Bunny finely painted details, I chose to sculpt him on solid black clay. This makes it easier for the sculpting as I don’t have to worry about color placement.
This 3 inch rabbit used about 1 2-oz package of Premo Sculpey Polymer Clay
I covered the facial area in black clay, and marked basic facial details. I baked one round eyeball and let it cool as I covered the body in clay too.

I added balls of clay for each cheek, whisker batch, and forehead. I sliced the eyeball in half an inserted on the sides of the face. I added thin ropes of gray clay (black and white mixed) to outline the eye socket and create a wide-eyed young rabbit look.

Black Rabbit – Body and Legs

I added clay ‘pancakes’ to the bunny’s rump, belly, and sides to give him a nice rounded appearance. Since his face/body is turned in one direction I left that side slightly thinner to make him look like’s he’s leaning forward to see something interesting
Small pancakes formed the hind legs/thighs, and small tapered ‘logs’ formed the front and hind paws
A round ball formed his tufty tail

Detailing the rabbit

After a small blade marked his toes, my bunny was finally ready for his ears. As the most fragile feature, I add these last.
Each ear was formed from an elongated clay log, hollowed out in the center, and tapered at the top. I textured side and back with needle tool, then added deep veins inside the ears. These details are added prior to attaching the ears as the ‘rough handling’ is likely to break the ears from the head.
The ears were attached behind the bunny’s eyes with minimal loss of detail

Then came the fun part, I ‘went to town’ on the bunny using a thicker needle tool (tapestry needle) and careful patterned strokes to follow the natural rabbit hair growth direction


The rabbit was baked for approximately 1 hour. Baking time depends on the thickness of the clay. Using foil as the bulk of his core allowed all the clay to be cured in just an hour. A solid clay rabbit of this size would require 2-3 hours of baking and lots of prayers. (Finer details like ears can burn/crack)

Turning a Black Bunny into a Dutch Rabbit

This bunny was painted using Liquid Polymer Clay mixed with Genesis Heat-Set Oil Paints and baked after each painted layer

The Base Coat

Even black-furred animals have a light sheen from the short ‘under-fur’ and the reflection of light. This was accomplished using a nearly dry paintbrush to partially coat the dark areas.
A dilute layer of white paint was added to the white-fur areas to ensure the paint seeped into the texture grooves.
I also added a thin layer of white inside the ears to ensure the next layer (red) shows up on the black
Into the oven he went for 5 minutes to ‘set’ this layer

The Second Coat

The second coat is the first color coat. I added a thick (concentrated) layer of white paint to the white-fur areas. This starts to create a 3-D fur effect and hide the black clay beneath. The black areas were painted with dilute black tinted TLS allowing it to seep in between the white.
I painted the inner ear with a dilute layer of TLS tinted red allowing it to seep into the vein grooves carved on the inner ear. (The red shows up well given the white layer beneath)
Back to the oven for 5 minutes to set the paint

The Third Coat

The third coat is about strengthening the colors. I repeated the white and black coats as in coat #2
I also added a thin layer of black to the inner ear to dull the red around the veins
Back to the oven for 5 minutes

The Final Coat

The third coat should have been the final coat, however, the black clay under the white fur was difficult to conceal, so I gave it yet another layer.
For the final layer I added another thick layer of white, and then added half strokes to the area between black and white to mimic the natural transition between fur colors.
The inner ears received another thin layer of black for a dull-red effect with deep red veins.
I added additional glaze with a hint of white paint to put 'life' in his eyes
I got a bit carried away with the mouth-nose area. I added a faint layer of pink at the base of the nose, and then slowly feathered the color out to mimic the natural pink to white transition.
A few read brush-strokes for the tongue, and my Dutch Bunny was ready for his final bake

10 minutes later and he is complete!!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

30 Bunnies of Spring – Bunny #1

Inspired by the little brown bunny in my backyard, I have undertaken a personal sculpting project

30 Bunnies of Spring

Over the next few months I will be sculpting a total of 30 bunnies. These little critters will range from Complex realistic scale OOAK (one of a kind) sculptures, to cute whimsical color miniatures

Bunny #1 of 30

Starting this great adventure is Bunny #1 – A young curious chubby creature. He is not based on any one breed, but rather a ‘cute’ image composed of all the cute rabbits out there

‘cute’ creatures come to life on their own, so this little guy began without a proper ‘plan’.
Or rather, he began with a ‘plan’ to come to life of his own accord
The basics for sculpting any furry creature is quite similar so I will skip the nitty-gritty details.
You can read about them HERE in my Bodewell the Yorkie Post

The Head:

The head began as a blob of brown clay over a foil core. I added bulk to the top of his head, and the side of his cheeks. I added, blended and added some more till he looked ‘rabbit-like’

Rabbits are not Dogs

Feature placement is very important in animal sculptures. One of my earliest rabbit sculptures actually turned into a dog due to a few minor ‘misplaced’ features. He has since been dubbed ‘bunnogie’ from Bunny-Doggy and proudly sits on my shelf, unique and bizarre, a happy reminder of attention to detail.

He has taught me the following
- Rabbit eyes are placed more to the side of the head, dog eyes are more forward
- Rabbits have a rounded facial profile, dogs have a rather protruding snout
- Dog ears are placed to the side of the head, rabbit ears are towards the back, just behind the eyes
- The rabbit nose does not protrude that much from the profile
I gave the bunny a large set of wide curious eyes with distinct eyelids

Rabbit Body and Legs

The body began as a foil core covered in a layer of polymer clay. I added a few extra ‘pancakes’ of clay to the chest and rump

Since this bunny will be seated, his front paws are ‘decorative’ rather than supportive, so they were each formed from a simple log of clay

The hind legs which will be the only source of support were sculpted with bent wires for stability
I chose a thick-gauge wire over an inch long and bent each at a 90 degree angle. This will allow the bottom of the wire to run the length of the legs while the upper portion will be inserted into the foil body core.
Each hind leg was given a basic ‘shoe’ shape and the wires measured against them. I bent the heels back slightly and forced the wires in towards the tip of the toes. The heels and front toes were marked and shaped.

Using a long needle I poked 2 holes into the foil core of the bunny and inserted the feet. 2 large pancakes formed the hind legs/thighs
With the major ‘abuse’ complete (picking up, poking, squeezing, shaking, turning), it was safe to add the final fragile details like the ears and tail


The rabbit fur was creating by stroking the clay with a tapestry needle following the natural hair-line
Fur can be a little tricky since the slightest pressure will flatten or undo the texturing.
To avoid having to redo any area I chose the easiest the upper thighs as the holding spot and textured everything else first. Once satisfied with his fur I placed him on the baking tray and textured the thighs.
This ensured that I would not have to lift or touch him to move to the oven


Dark bunnies have dark eyes, not white. I added a thin layer of brown oven-safe paint (see below) and settled him in for the long bake. I set the timer, positioned my 2 oven thermometers (OCD/burn fear) and waited. An anguished hour later and my bunny looked ok.
I let him sit in the oven overnight to cool slowly and evenly for added durability

Adding Color

In the past I have used acrylic paint to add color detail to my sculptures with less than satisfactory results. Having recently acquired ‘Genesis Heat Set’ Oil paints I set about to experiment
Genesis oil paints require high temperatures to set (250 degrees F) which is a good thing if you don’t want the paint to dry, but it can be a problem for large or fire-hazard projects
Another ‘concern’ is that the genesis paint is very thick, whereas fur-texturing requires a runny consistency

My Newest Brainstorm

Many artists use tinted liquid Polymer Clay to add transparent color to their projects. However, TLS (liquid clay) is very runny and too transparent
And so…. I decided to mix the TLS with my genesis paints
(Warning: this isn’t necessarily advisable – I was simply ‘experimenting’)

The First Coat

Ever wonder how bunny’s stay warm in the winter? They wear underwear under their coats of course :)
Kidding aside, even dark colored bunnies have a short light layer of fur in white/gray.
This first ‘coat’ was achieved using a thick mixture of white paint with a little bit of TLS. My goal was to paint the tips of his fur rather than the in-betweens created by texturing. This layer will layer ‘show through’ the dark clay for a realistic under-fur appearance.
I added a heavier layer of white to nose, cheeks, and chest

Another layer of brown was added to his eyes
Back to the oven he went. TLS requires 15 minutes however, knowing that he’d be back a few more times I baked him for just 5-10 minutes to ensure the color ‘sets’ without scorching

The Second Coat

The goal of the second coat was to give the bunny back his brown coat, while still allowing the white base-coat to show through.
This was achieved by using a high TLS to low paint ratio giving a nearly transparent brown color. My little bunny was given a generous layer of this brown ‘wash’ letting dark pools settle in between his needle-stroke texture lines. A dry brush was used to remove excess paint from the lighter areas by the cheeks, chest, tail, paws, and toes
Another layer of brown paint was added to his eyes, and a thin white layer for his eyelids

Back to the oven he went for another 5-10 minutes

The final Coat

The final coat was mixed as the second coat with heavy TLS to low brown paint followed by a thin white wash to the lighter areas (chest…)
Details were perfected with a very thin brush such as the whites around the eyes, the faint pink in his nose, and the tips of his ears
A small amount of tinted gloss was added to his eyes, to be followed by the final bake
15 minutes of baking marked the completion of Bunny #1 of 30

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