From Concept to Completion

You may have already seen this over at Opportunity LOL but I'd like to have a copy of it here as well.  This is the process I used when customizing the JAWS commission I did last fall.

Here's the initial concept proposed to the client. At this point I've no idea what to do with the shark helmet. To be honest, I think the shark is dumb. It's enormous and over powers the noop sculpt. The client has faith when I say I'll think of something.
No pussy-footing around, time to chop off the foot!
As you can see there's a plastic peg within the leg and it's filled with a soft powdery resin.  I removed the resin but leave the sole slightly on.
Here I'm carving away the shorts to accommodate the new design.  Here you can see lots of the old resin.  I'll leave most of it there and just cover up with the new harder Magic Sculpt resin.
Now that I've carved away everything I need for the moment it's time to fix the fit.  I fill in the empty sneaks with my magic sculpt and use the sneaks as molds.  Essentially I'm creating feet with the negative space.
With the shoe filled with Magic sculpt I place it back on the peg and wait for the resin to harden.
Once enough time has passed I cut away the sneaker top exposing the new resin.  I leave the sneaker sole.  This will eventually become the sandal of the character.
Here the new foot has been revealed.  In this stage it is just blocked out but it's now a more appropriate size in relation to the sneaker.  It's the size the coarse noop's foot would be if he took off his sneaker.
Here I've removed more vinyl and sculpted the new pants on one side.
Filling the other sneak with resin
Both sneakers blocked out and new pants sculpted.
And here I've sculpted the socks, sandals and begun the shin guard on one side.
At this point I've completed both feet and suneate (shin guards) and I'm adding the straps.
Here I'm starting to add the right side haidate(thigh guard). I suppose it not entirely necessary to make the complete guard and the pants beneath as it will be mostly covered up in the end but I like to as it helps me visualize the character and make sure that in the end all angles have been accouted for. In other words, it's a big waste of time and another reason why I'm slower than molasses in completing a piece.
I've now got the legs done with completed feet, hakama (pants) and thigh guard. Now I begin making the kusazuri (tassets). I want these to be rigid and stand off the body as much as possible so I use some vinyl card I had and glue them in place to the sculpt. You can also see that I have cut away the arm wrap and the hips to level out the vinyl.
Here I've finished sculpting the first of 7 tassets.
I now add the leather base of the kote (sleeve armor) along with straps to the left arm. I'm just adding enough clay to create the edge and then blending it in to the arm.
Above the leather layer I now add the chain mail armor. I use the end of an old sculpting tool and press a repeat oval pattern into the clay as it hardens. I've also added just a touch of clay to represent the hitatare(robe) sleeve under the leather.
Here I have added the do (cuirass). I've sculpted a gouge in the armor to represent somewhat where the old noop bandage used to be. You can see the plug right above my chest plate. I've also sculpted the watagami (shoulder straps).
I've now added the back of the cuirass.
Adding straps that will attached the front of the cuirass to the shoulder straps.
And metal rings to complete the straps.
Now the back straps.
Here I've added the colar of the robe. You can see I've also completed both forearms and added the upper arm guards. 
Here I'm adding the back of the cloth belt.
I now add the vinyl card to represent what will be the sode (shoulder armor).
Here is the left shoulder arm completed and in the back you can see what was suppose to be a katana blade.
Beginning to add clay to the right shoulder. There's that katana again.I decided to removed the katana for two reasons. One it was too fragile on the back. I feared it would not survive shipping and two, Fplus has done a similar sword on the back and it just didn't feel right doing the same.
Right shoulder completed.
Here's the front of the cloth belt and I've inserted what will be the wakisashi (side arm).
Here's the front of the cloth belt and I've inserted what will be the wakisashi (side arm).
Adding the hilt, cloth wrap on the grip, and a scabbard.
Roughing out the head band.
On to the shark head??? At this point I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do. Might as well sleep on it.
Slept on it and have vague idea. Time to work it out. Ok, nose has got to go. What's this?? Interesting. Hot glue and steal ball bearing balancing the shark helmet out.
Cutting about an inch off the nose at least. Plus I didn't like his smile so I knocked a few teeth out.
I still didn't know exactly what I was going to do or if it was going to work, just sort of winging it but here the vision starts to come to me with the big ole dragon nose. Once the nose is there I start adding japanese style dragon hair. And you can see I've repositioned two of the old teeth.
Here I've furthered the hair on the snout and eyebrows and blocked in the two large front teeth. I've also added armature for two large horns. And last but not least, I've nervously cut away most of the back fin to create what will hopefully be a more dragon-ish tail. Just sorta winging this.
Finished the hair and sanded down the two front teeth. Also took the steal ball bearing from the nose and attached it to the top.
Filled in the hollow tail and added a segmented reptilian underside.
Beginning to block in the horns.
Jumping ahead a bit I've begun to cover the entire head with a thin layer and divided it up into armored plates. I've also made very uneven poorly planned markers for the rivets I'll place in. I'm just now drilling holes for the first plate and plugged 4 of them with glass beads.
Here you'll see all I did was place a small amount of magic sculpt in the hole and then pushed the bead into the hole. I then scrapped the extra resin away.
More drilling and more beads.
Adding two more teeth underneath using the old vinyl teeth and wire.
Here's a cool shot of the helmet looking like some cartoon swiss cheese. I've just added a bunch of resin that I've need to smooth down and make into armored plates.
Sculpt is all done and I've moved on to the paint job. I start with what will be the bottom most layer. I block in the flesh of the face.
Next add the base coat of the robe.
Now I've added a pattern in a lighter tint of the blue.
Next I paint the leather.
And then the armor.
Here I've already added the sandles, belt and have just finished the armor.
Base coat of the helmet.
All done.





That's it. I hope you enjoyed an inside look at what goes into making one of my customs.