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dinsdag 22 november 2016

Gruesome severed heads

A while ago, I got two styrofoam heads from a friend. He didn't need them, and he was sure I could find a good use for them. He was right! I turned these two boring heads into gruesome mutilated severed heads.

  • Styrofoam heads
  • Air drying clay
  • Wood glue
  • Acrylic paint and gesso
  • Acrylic caulk 
  • Matte varnish
  • Super glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Steel wire
  • Screws and hooks
  • Chains
  • Hobby knife
  • Cheap synthetic sponges
  • Wood burning tool
Getting started
The first thing I did was cut the heads up a bit. On one head, I made large holes where the eyes are (empty eye sockets), removed the lower jaw and reattached it with the mouth open. I cut away a lot of foam, put it back on the head with a few toothpicks and then filled all the gaps with acrylic caulk. Very important, use acrylic caulk and not silicone! Silicone can't be painted. For the other head, I just cut away the lower jaw; it will hang below the head on chains.

Next, I sculpted lips, ears, a nose and lots and lots of cuts. For the first head, I made a few large holes that look like they have been ripped open (I used a wood burning tool for that), and sculpted smooth edges around them with air drying clay. I wanted to make it look like the mouth had been ripped open and then sewn shut with steel wire, so I made holes and grooves in the clay where the wires were going to be.
On the second head, I put clay all over the eyes and made a few long gashes that went over the eye sockets, so it looks like the eyes have been removed and the holes sewn shut.


The next step took a long time. I had to find a way to hide the styrofoam texture, and to make sure all the clay would stay on. For this, I primed the heads with wood glue. About five layers, I think. I mixed a bit of acrylic paint in the glue so I could see if I missed a spot. And on the neck, where the head would have been cut off, I put on a thick layer of caulk and gave it an irregular, organic texture. When I was satisfied, I first painted a layer of wood glue mixed with acrylic gesso over it, followed by a layer of pure gesso. After that, I was ready for painting!


Painting these heads basically came down to putting down a lot of layers. I started with a base coat of raw sienna from a spray can. It's the same color I used for my bloody torso, and makes a perfect basic flesh tone.
After the base coat, I applied a wash of burnt umber. If this is your first visit here, a wash means you paint the entire surface with a very diluted paint mixture, and then wipe most of it away again, so the paint only stays in ridges and crevaces.

I also painted the lips, and some shading around the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I used various shades of flesh tone, ochre and brown to break up the monotonous base color. This is for the most part a trial and error process, you just have to see for yourself how it turns out.

And, of course, blood. Lots and lots of blood. For this, I use carmine with a little bit of burnt umber. This results in a dark, brownish red, resembling dried up blood. I painted the eye sockets, mouth and all the wounds with this.
The most elaborate painting, however, was the bruising around the wounds. Like the shading, this is a trial and error process. I put some dark blue, purple, ochre and black on my palette and lightly dabbed thing layers of paint around all the wounds. This is a slow process, you don't want to use too much paint at once here or you'll ruin it.
At this time, I applied a clearcoat of matte varnish. I wanted the "skin" to look dull; more blood will be applied over the matte clearcoat, and because of the more glossy look of acrylic paint, it will look more like fresh blood.

Metal and more blood
I'm going to add lots and lots more blood later, but first, all the steel wire, screws and hooks are added. I carefully drilled through the outer shell of wood glue and stuck the wires and screws through. I dripped a bit of super glue on each hole, to keep the wires in place, and then fixed the cracks in the shell with a bit of acrylic caulk. No matter how careful I was, I managed to damage it in a few places, but nothing that couldn't be fixed.


And finally, you guessed it, the blood! I simply dripped diluted paint on the wounds and let gravity do its job, letting the blood drip down the face. And to finish, some blood splatters! This was done by dipping a stiff paintbrush in the paint, and then flicking the paint onto the head; this is a common technique to create splatter effects.

After the paint had dried, I attached some thin chains to the hooks I put in the heads. One head is just hanging from the chains, the other one has the detached jaw hanging below it. My wife already said I'm a sick, twisted person. Well... she knew what she was getting into when she married me! Too bad I didn't manage to finish these in time for Halloween this year.