Tuesday, 12 April 2011


OreusOreus (or Oreios) is one of my favourite creatures from Greek mythology purely because of his background story.

Oreus's background story

Oreus’s mother was a Goddess by the name of Polyphonte. She scorned Aphrodite so as punishment, Aphrodite put a curse on her making her fall in love with a bear. She then had two children with the bear, Agrius and Oreus.

OreusBoth brothers were powerful, ferocious, half man, half bear giants who killed anything that crossed their path. This upset Zeus and so he ordered a curse to be placed upon them. The curse turned them into birds. Agrius became a vulture and Oreus became the Eagle Owl.

The thought Process

OreusI chose to do Oreus rather than Agrius because Oreus becomes the beautiful Eagle Owl. I love the gold and black patterns of the Eagle Owl’s feathers. I decided that I wanted to do a sculpture of Oreus in the process of his change. Therefore he will be part man, part bear part Eagle owl.

For the ‘part man’ I wanted to portray this in a slightly different way to the norm like seen in Centaurs where there’s a distinct difference between man and horse parts. Therefore I decided to adjust the anatomy instead. I decided to use the bear size but change the usual fat and cuddly torso into a firm muscle man torso however it will be under the bear fur so it will be subtle but noticeable. His back however still resembles a bear and the arch of the spine that the bear has.  

Another detail that relates to the human part is on his head I decided to make his hair longer so it ties up.

For the Eagle Owl part I have given him wings and feathers that start growing between his fur. I have also changed his one paw into an Eagle Owl claw. I however kept it the same size as his bear paw so that it wouldn’t be a huge and odd looking contrast. When you first look at him you don’t notice it until you realize that he has one less toe and his fourth toe has moved to the bottom of the paw forming the claw shape.

The rest of him looks like a bear.

I decided to make the one wing torn up and gave him a few scratches. I decided this because I considered how enraged the bear would feel if he started growing feathers and wings so I made him begin ripping them out.

I made one wing torn and the other beautiful and full of healthy feathers. I did this to show how he is trying to stop the process (the torn wing) however it overpowers him (the full wing).

I decided do have his torso show fewer feathers, this is because he can reach this area easily and therefore he pulls those feathers out. His back is going to have a lot of feathers because he obviously can’t reach his back as easily.

Research on Oreus

Researching Oreus was pretty fun actually since I had to find the anatomy of man, bird and bear and figure out how to adjust the anatomy in order to make them all blend with each other to look like one creature.

Surprisingly enough it was easier than I thought because most creatures’ skeletons are really similar. The wings were easiest because they come from the top of the shoulder blade so adjusting them was simple.

For the bear and human mix I built the bear skeleton and muscle for the entire bear except the torso. Here I used the human muscle structure but made it bigger so it would match the bear proportions.

I also had to look at the layout of the feathers on the wings and decide on the texture of the fur that I wanted to use.

Time to put research to sculpture.

Sculpting Oreus

Apparently your eyes are very important and if you stab them out, it’ll make it hard to see what you’re sculpting, go figure.

As with every sculpture I started with the wire structure. Be careful here. When the wire gets longer, like it did in the wings, it gets dangerous. I just about stabbed my eye out. Literally the wire actually collided with my eye. Luckily all it took was some eye drops and I was fine but it made me very aware of my safety. I was actually rather afraid for my sight but my mom informed her hysterical child that it is ok to go to sleep tonight because I in fact WILL NOT wake up blind the next morning.

Also consider your tools. I have a few double sided tools. My most lethal one has a hook on one end and a thick needle on the other. I’ve started putting a blob of clay on the needle end when I use it because you get so close to it when you sculpt your detail that you don’t even see the silver needle.

I learnt another useful tip when building the wire armature. Unfortunately you only learn these things by doing the wrong thing but hey it helps for the next one. I discovered that with the longer pieces comes more movement so when your armature is covered in clay it still wiggles under the clay which cracks your detail off. So I’ve decided that next time ill put a little two part putty on the joints of these areas to prevent movement.

Once again I started building up the bones and then the muscles over them. This goes faster and faster the more you do it. It only took me a couple of hours to get the whole thing up and standing on its own.

I had a bit of trouble with the pose again mostly with the arms because I needed them to show that he has been pulling the feathers out in rage. At first I thought of showing him grabbing hold of his wings but that would mean his arm would cover the detail of his torso which I wanted to show so instead I decided to make it look as if he had just grabbed a handful of feathers. Placing the arm at the correct height changes it from a casual mood to an enraged one. It’s rather interesting.

His other arm, the one I turned into the Eagle Owl claw, was even harder to place because I needed to show his emotion that he feels helpless that he is very quickly being taken over by the curse. I wanted him to look like he was almost in pain. It is really amazing how just a slight tweak of the angle can change everything.

His legs were interesting to place due to the arch of his spine mixed with the straight up man torso. At first I fixed his legs to the wooden board in a way that looked correct until I turned him to the side and realized that it looks as if he is falling forward. I had to dig him up again and reposition the legs so that it looked correct from every angle. This is why it is important to keep looking at your sculpture from all angles.

I had a similar problem with his ears. They looked right until I looked at him from above and realized they were majorly off. The trick is to check all these components before you start the detail.

I once again decided to work from top to bottom. This wasn’t however because pieces fell off, this time it was because I was working with thin, flimsy wings so I had to consider where I could hold him while I worked on the wings. If I had left the wings till last I would have squashed all the fur detail on his body.

And so I began sculpting his feathers. And so I had to start again…. And again. It was annoyingly close to the beginning that I began yelling at my sculpture. Since I have decided to go high detail, I chose to sculpt each individual feather and attach it to the wing. This gives the awesome overlapping appearance of the feathers that looks really impressive when complete however getting it complete was another story… a sad story.

It took me about 3 hours to cover a width of 3 centimeters. This was mostly because of the feathers at the base of the wing because they sitting right on the edge. They decided to fall off during and after sculpting them. It was infuriating because I’d just complete the perfect feather and then get started on the next one when the first one would decide to take flight. The feathers are also double sided so when I had completed the detail on the one side of the feather, I’d have to hold it so that I could add detail to the other side so not only where the feathers falling off, they were falling apart and having their fresh detail destroyed by me holding them.

Finally I had 3 more feathers left to add. Just 3, I was ready to celebrate. TIP: DON’T START PLANNING YOUR CELEBRATION UNTIL THOSE FINAL 3 FEATHERS ARE COMPLETE! Life decided to play a nasty joke on me. The joke was not funny at all. As I was about to add my final 3 feathers, Oreus decided to take a nose dive. Yes this resulted in me having much more than just 3 feathers left to fix. Not to mention a nose job. I cursed at life.

This drove me mental however once I managed to complete the wing it was all so worth the end result. I felt proud… until I realized that I had only completed one wing. I thought very seriously about crying hysterically before attempting the other wing. 

OreusHis other wing was the torn damaged one so on the plus side it went a lot faster because there are less feathers however sculpting damaged feathers was even more difficult than the full feathers because there is even less clay to hold onto the wing.  

I actually enjoyed the second wing more because it had more character than the first wing. There is even a section where Oreus has torn this wing to the bone. I have to admit that this part looks pretty cool. Even though the same feather fell off every few minutes… it even falls off now that I’m done with the wings.

OreusSoon I was finished with the wings. This was a major relief… even though that same dreaded feather likes to torment me from time to time.

I then moved onto his mouth. I am super proud of his little mouth because this also took me 3 hours. I did all his tiny teeth and his tongue detail and everything. His canines behaved much like his feathers. They were also really difficult to get them looking similar enough to each other. The main problem is there just isn’t much space in that mouth when you’re working on such small scale. His head is about the size of a ping pong ball so you can imagine how small his mouth is. The first tooth is easy enough but by the time you get to the last one it becomes so difficult not to damage the others when you have a mouth full of teeth and a sculpting tool all crammed in one tiny space. However I managed.

I then added his eyes. This part made me laugh out loud. As much as the wrong body position can give off the incorrect mood of the sculpture, the facial expression is crucial. When I first sculpted his eyes, Oreus looked like he was hysterically laughing at me. His once vicious looking mouth was now spewing laughter to the point where it looked like he was going to cry from it. This was enhanced by the position of his arms. The one looked like he was trying to stop the pain of laughing in his stomach and the other looked like some kind of gesture of uncontrollable excitement. I called my mom over to come witness Oreus’s hysterics and she agreed that something had to be done.

I simply just changed the angle of his brow and he was back to being angry. Usually I would vote for laughter but hey Oreus needed to stay in character.

I then started sculpting the fur on Oreus’s head and worked my way down to his arms. Instead of just scratching a hair texture into my sculpture I decided to do it in small sections to give it a more layered and mottled appearance rather than looking like a freshly combed bear because lets face it, no one is going to go and groom a ferocious man eating giant half bear half man creature. It’s a guy thing. They don’t like it when we groom them.

Yesterday I completed his arms. I added a few feathers between Oreus’s claws to represent the handful of feathers that he had ripped out of his wing. I am really happy with how his claw turned out.

I took another look at him last night and realized that his one bicep is larger than the other, this wont do so I am going to go back to it now, scrape off the fur and add some more muscle, reminding myself again to check him out from different angles before I continue with the detail.

Goal for today: fix the arm issue and sculpt the detail on his back. Can’t wait to get to his cute tail!

So I met my goal for the day. I fixed up Oreus’s arm so he no longer resembles that tennis player, who although being extensively easy on the eyes, has a noticeable difference in the size of his arms. At one stage I got a little carried away and Oreus began to resemble the Hulk, just ever so slightly less green. Eventually I got it right.

His back is looking pretty good now, however his front is looking a little odd. It looks like Oreus has shaved his torso and has grown some torso stubble. Not so attractive. I shall make him more fuzzy tomorrow.

Goal for tomorrow: make Oreus’s front more fuzzy, add fur to his bottom and give him a tail and complete the front of his legs. Big day tomorrow however I should be completely finished by Thursday.

Woo hoo  Today I completed Oreus! Major excitement. Now to send him to my friend Chad Waller for moulding.


Mondo said...

I really like how much detail you put into these sculptures! It really shows how much work you put into them.

You always stop adding stuff at a prefect place, where its not cluttered with stuff and the detail is awesome!

The Figurine Sculpting Fairy said...

Thank you very much for the comment. I especially like the part about it not being too cluttered, I never even considered this before, I guess it just kind of happened that way. There was one point where I was looking at it thinking "I wonder if it's too plain?" But someone once told me that if you ever get to the point where you're wondering if you should add more, then stop"

Mondo said...

Hehe, yeah, those are good words of wisdom ;) Listen to them ^^

But your sculptures are still very "clean" and very detailed, without making me look closer to find out how detailed it is. In other words, theres no chaos in the detail ^^

The Figurine Sculpting Fairy said...

Thank you I appreciate your comment:)

Mondo said...

Youre welcome! :)