Monday, August 27, 2012

While working on this, I decided to try a couple different angles for the jetpack this new angle, a visitor said "OH! He's flying!!" I knew I had it in the right spot at that point and left it.  I find that as I start dialing it in toward being done, I make a few this case I plan to create a couple gear shapes that will go behind the two "dial indicators" near the bottom on either side.  I had planned to add some flexible wiring sheeth on the sides, but I'm not sure it would work...this is getting pretty close to done.  That's the challenge for me...not getting started, but deciding when to be done.  I think I may also try some different lighting for final's hard to capture what signs like this look like in never quite seem to do it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paint frenzy

I love the painting process...and it often goes quickly..this is an area where I get to look at the piece coming together while I'm building it, and by the time I'm ready to do some painting, I have a fairly firm plan in mind. This one is no exception.  I still have plenty of paint work to do on the jetpack flyer, and lots of fun 'steampunky' things to add....wires, gauges and such.

The beer glass will get a coat of clear epoxy to give it a nice gloss...and those vacuum tubes still need to be hooked up....but it's getting there.

Drill baby drill...

I managed to get the jetpack flyer mostly finished and primed today....

Next up, I worked out that I wanted some vacuum tubes mounted on the top of the shield of the sign.  Here's the challenge:Looking at the photo, you can see the top has lots of scroll like scallops...
If I just try to drill into that edge, the bit is going to have some real trouble....but thanks to some woodworking tricks, I know just what to do: First, I find the waste piece from when I had the cnc cut out this shape...i'm looking for the section that is the "reverse" of this scallop.  I'll cut out a small part of it and keep the back end flat and parallel to the scallop. It's no problem to drill a nice hole through the back part that is flat. I've drawn a straight line to help me guide the drill bit.
 Now I can clamp this single "scallop" to the edge of one of the scallops.
Now I'll use this clamped on piece to keep the drill bit in the right location and drilling the right way...I only drill just enough to create the beginning of the hole, then remove the guide.
Now I can drill the the proper depth without the guide since the hole is already begun...
In a very short amount of time, I've drilled all 10 holes on the top of the edge that will be needed to hold the vacuum tubes I'll be attaching....
Next up we'll begin painting this background piece with some wonderful rust!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Steam Punk Ale Flyer

I increased the size of the jetpack beer guy until I thought the scale looked good...

The next part is where the fun really kicks in....  I found a piece of scrap HDU (high density urethane foam) and traced the rough sketch on the surface.  Next I used an air powered die grinder to begin some of the rough shaping.  Once the dust settled, it was time to mix up a batch of Magic Sculpt and in very short order, I'd roughed in some of the shapes.

I'll continue to add a few more magic sculpt refinements and then prime it...after that I'll still be adding some bits and pieces for detail (some wires and cables for the jetpack...these little details will really bring him to life).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That's about the size of it

I seem to design in one of two ways....sometimes the total picture of what a project is going to look like comes in a burst.  I know all the major pieces and what they'll look like before I've even put a sketch down. Details may change a bit as it develops, but the bones are there from the beginning. Other times, I enjoy doing a kind of 'freeform' design.  I begin to put pieces together and see what fits and what doesn't.  I enjoy both methods, but it's the 'freeform' style that really seems to yield some of the most fun for me.  I let the design develop as I work...and let it go where my imagination takes me and I add and subtract elements until I know it's right...then I assemble it permanently once I have it mocked up.  It's not nearly as efficient as the other method, but I sometimes surprise myself and enjoy the sense of 'finding' the piece as I work.  I've been asked if I'm ever worried I won't like the result or get lost in options.  I approach it like a puzzle.  A piece only belongs in a certain location.  Some pieces have less importance, but eventually it will become clear where or IF the piece belongs.  As for results...I'm often pleased, but never satisfied.  The hunger for improvement makes satisfaction only temporary at best, but I'm ok with that.

So with that in mind, I began to play around with some ideas for this sample 'beer sign'.  I've looked at work by Joe Diaz (just look up 'Steampunk Stella' and be amazed) and others and just let it settle for a few days.  I've decided I want a guy in a bowler hat flying his jet pack and holding a brew.  My god, man...what good's flying if you can't enjoy a beverage while you do it? The beer is a nod to my friend Mike Meyer and his amazing beer painting practice from a couple weeks ago.

This time I decided to do some doodle sketching of the guy and play with the scale. I have to decide how 'dimensional' he'll be and how big.  I want the flames from the jet pack to come off the edge of the sign, I know that.  So I sketch up my fellow...(Thank you Stan Lee for your book on how to draw super heroes the Marvel Way)....print him out at a couple sizes and try him on for size...

I've decided I want him even larger.  Also, he'll come off the sign even more...the beauty about mocking it up this way is that I still have the freedom to experiment and try whatever comes to mind.  Nothing's written in stone at this point.  I'm also starting to think this sign would be great as a hanging sign...and wouldn't it be cool if the bracket holding it was a steam powered airship?

Full head of steam

Contrary to popular belief, I didn't get zapped into oblivion with one of my own ray guns. I have been knee deep in traveling and projects.  I must admit I allowed myself to get a bit overloaded on projects and had to spend some time getting caught up.  Paint work (murals) have been great and I certainly enjoy them, but I've been hungry to get some carving done!  The Shopbot has been calling to me for weeks and I just couldn't take it any more...
I thought it might be a fun project to make a "beer" sign with some steampunk funk.  I began with a base illustration/border from David Butler and am building up my own details and additions.  I'm still astonished at how quickly things carve.

Here is the background carved...about 30" square and 1" thick

Next up is some fun detail carved in 1/8" pvc.  It's not glued down yet..just placed to show it.  It will be pre-painted before assembly.

Next up is some of the lettering for the "Steam Punk Ale".  There is a plaque below that will say "Rise Above It All".  Below that will be a semi-3-Dimensional Person in a steampunk jetpack holding a brew while he flies....this will be sculpted.

I'll work on the sculpt...then begin adding greeblies and fun little narnies...A jetpack tank on either side of the sign, some dials and tubes...maybe some wiring and lighting.  It's going to be fun!  I can't wait to get some rivets and rust on this one.  It's a much needed warm up....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Go Outside and DO something...

My mother and stepfather used to say this a great deal when I was younger: "Go outside and DO spend too much time reading and doing Star Trek stuff".  I suppose it was understandable.  My friends and I were into this up and coming thing called home computers and if we weren't playing on a TRS 80 or Commodore Vic 20 (my brother Mr. Fancypants had a Commodore 64) we were digging through Dungeons and Dragons books trying to figure out how we were going to make it through the next game.  We did go out the arcade.  Video games back then were in a cabinet, not a console and quarters were in high demand.  It was the Geek Dark Ages. 
One of my friends and I decided that Dungeons and Dragons was cool, but making a sci-fi movie would be more fun.  Soon we were carting home weird junk and piecing together a "bridge".  Most of the credit belongs to a guy named Mark Smart (fortunately he is really really smart or the name might have been a burden).  We spent hours either in his basement or eventually in my upstairs spare room risking fire from the many many christmas lights and light bulbs lighting up our bridge and heating up the room.

Most of you probably won't recognize it, but those top panels are 4 pieces from an abandoned "LEGS" pantyhose display.  There were also lots of fake buttons you could buy in bulk from Radio Shack back in the day (when Radio Shack was something other than phones and overpriced junk).

I helped mostly with the navigation and helm console: It had everything from light bright pegs (some of you are thinking 'what is a light bright peg?') to milk carton caps.  Duct Tape brought it all together.

If you're going to do a sci-fi film, you gotta have a spaceship, right?
This construction paper and toothpick shapeship was pretty awesome, really.  It's a shame the film never really came together.  We did have some fun, though!
Why we didn't date more, I'll never understand...sci-fi, computers, model ships...we were HOT. No-seriously, those lights brought the temperature up by 20-30 degrees. We were really hot.

So jumping forward from the 80's to the late 90's, I'd finally grown up.  What was I doing at night?  Working on a model of the bridge, of course.  It was scaled to go with some 9" action figures...ok ok ok..they were dolls. I had hoped to do a stop action film and the bridge was going to be the first set.  I did, in fact, do a small film for a sales meeting at work, but it is long gone.

The bridge model was about 6' in diameter and eventually had to be taken apart and it was ruined in storage (much like the earlier bridge set).

So, now it's 2012 and things are VERY different.  I work with a computer most days, and build crazy fun sci-fi and steampunk creations whenever possible.  This week I'm prepping for a large sign mural..almost 36 feet long.  After that, I have a stop motion idea that I've been toying around with for a long, long time...