How to Make Theater Props : A Fake Severed Head (Part 2)

Foam Head from Two Part Mold

Foam Head from Two Part Mold

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And, it worked!  The head was a bit smallish, but it looked right, and I cover it with Smooth-On Dragon Skin platinum cure silicone rubber
for a “skin”.  Then painted it with regular acrylic paint.

NOTE: All of this was more or less done trial-and-error style.  Lots of mistakes were made throughout (for example, you never paint acrylics on top of silicon–they just won’t adhere for long–you need to add pigment to silicon and “paint” it on top of the other silicon–this creates an encapsulated bond for the pigment to stay put).  But, you don’t give up when things don’t go your way–the show must go on!

Adding Silicone Skin to Head Severed Heads are Creepy

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How to Make Theater Props : Fake Severed Head (Part 1)

A few months back, my friends at Tightrope Theatre in Portland asked if I could help them do a couple of things for their show, “The Happy Family”–build some stairs for the stage, and make a prop head to represent one of the live characters at some point in their, um, life.

The Prop Head Sculpt in Clay

The Prop Head Sculpt in Clay

Well, from my days as a scenic carpenter, I could build the 3 stair units (perhaps I’ll do a Make It post on that someday) no prob, but I have to admit to never having made a severed head before.  Plus, it needed to be kept in a pot with stage blood, and be dropped onto the set every night (with the thud sound appropriate to a head–yuck!)

Two Part Plaster of Paris Mold

Two Part Plaster of Paris Mold

So, I began pondering this with my props partner, and “Happy Family” director, James Peck, and we opted to sculpt a head, cover it with Plaster of Paris on both sides to make a two-part plaster mold, then I was going to use some of my handy-dandy Smooth-on Flexi-Foam to fill each side, then sandwich the two part mold together and “glue” it all together with more flexifoam.

First Half of Smooth On Foam Head for Theatre Prop

First Half of Smooth On Foam Head for Theatre Proplexi-foam.

Continued on Part 2 =>

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How to Paint a Cat in Acrylics (part 2 of 2)

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Cat Painting of Buster in Acrylic Paints.

Cat Painting of Buster in Acrylic Paints.

After sketching Buster (which I admit was fairly heavy-handed), and laid in a watercolor-style “wet on wet” wash.  This consists of wetting the paint board (which I had instead of a canvas), and then you start dropping in color and letting them run together–up and down left and right.  Lifting the board and moving it to achieve a crazy look.  You’ll see in the original source photos that the deck doesn’t actually look exactly like that, but I wanted to accentuate the sun dappled effect to its maximum (remember to give your painting a “painterly” look).

For this painting, as with my bird painting in another post, I bought some cheap Liquitex acrylic paints.  These are great because they are affordable, and you’ll be less likely to worry about messing up because you haven’t invested so much money.

Buster the Cat and his painting

Buster the Cat and his painting

> Related Post: How to Paint a Pelican Bird in Acrylics

After I do the background, I laid in the heavier colors of details and started on the cat.  I layered color on color–you want him to have some softness on his furry self.

For the final detail of Buster, I made the mistake of only using two brushes the whole way through, and the smallest brush I could find for detail wasn’t nearly fine enough for the final detail on his face, and I think I kind of messed that up, but I had it finished in approximately 50 minutes from start to finish, and surprising my girlfriend’s stepmom was worth the brisk pace and some lack of detail.

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How to Paint a Cat in Acrylics (Part 1 of 2)

While I was visiting Los Angeles in February, I had the opportunity to visit some cool places, and to do some painting on my girlfriend’s parents’ beautiful backyard patio.

how to draw animals

As a way to thank them for their wonderful hospitality, I wanted to paint them a picture of their cat, Buster–who is getting a bit long in the tooth.Buster the Cat Reference Photo for Painting

Luckily, he sat for several photos, but I couldn’t get it quite right, so I “photoshopped” two of them together (with a free photo editing program called ‘Gimp‘), and printed it out to use as a reference photo.  I like to do this when I’m a bit crunched for time, and I can’t get the perfect pose at the perfect spot.

Sketch of cat for painting

Sketch of cat for painting

I woke up early in the morning–well, as early as a late night of drinking Jameson and playing Euchre would permit, and wanted to get it finished before my hosts got back from Pilates, so I had a solid one hour to get it started and finished to surprise them. I’m not saying this is how you should work, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to do painting “sprints” occasionally — it forces you to work “fast and loose” with your sketching and painting brush strokes.

Continued in Part 2 =>

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