Special FX Focus: The Eye of an Artist - Stencil Patterns
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      This time may seem like me pimping and promoting my favorite art store, but I seriously want
to show you all that I see and can think of to use and how.  Many pics this time.  The particular
store I'm in is huge, so I'm going to just focus on the things that I know I can find in the other art
retail chain stores, as well.  Let's get to it:
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      2) Foam heads!  These foam heads are
perfectly fine for loose fitting masks like what I
make for scarecrows using burlap.  Head
armatures are usually actual size for thin mask
making unlike these foam heads that are
undersized, but if you are building clay up big
time for a whole head mask, well, your mask
will come out larger than anyone's normal
head size, so you do want an undersized foam
head to use.  Speaking of clay...
     Duane P. Craig is a special effects artist and screenwriter living and working in Memphis, TN.
Check out past articles in the Special FX Focus series in our
Article Archive or listen to Duane on
Unreal Radio.
      1) You guys have probably heard of carving
or shaping foam.  Well, this green foam that folks
put in baskets or vases and stuff flower stems
into...it's about the same thing.  You can get it in
various rounded or blocked sizes.  It's great for
shaping prop weapons that you later coat with
clear epoxy to harden or even just coat it in
silicone.  It's up to you.
      3) These places have it in mass.  Oil based
clays, water and air dry clays, oven bake clays,
etc.  They will have what you want and at
reasonable prices.
      4) I've discussed putting textures into clays
already and pouring silicone for skins.  Well,
these places will have these rolls of textured vinyl
for you to find.  I love this reptilian, rather alligator
texture.  Press it into clay, and I promise it works.
      5) Want even further textures for clay or
grease painting folks...check out the array of
sponges you can purchase.  Notice the new
roller sponges they have out, now.  The black
roller sponges in the pic are just like stipple
sponges with that great break up / infectious look
to them.  I bought some as soon as I saw them.
      6) Look at these stencils they are carrying,
now, too!  There's the tree branches I use as
veins.  There's the cracked metal one that I use
for infectious looks.  I had to buy the same
airbrush stencils online only and paid quite a bit
more for them, plus shipping.  Now, they are in
store!  Sorry, but I'm excited about this...haha.
      7) Look at the bags of faux moss.  This is
great.  I can adhere this stuff using clear silicone
to a sock mask over a head armature or even to
someone wearing a spandex body suit and
basically make my own ghillie suits.  They work
great in a haunted trail.
      8) Remelt gel !!!  Mold putty !!!  These items
are awesome for when you need only to mold
small parts or you just want temporary molds.  
Basically, anything about hand size that you
would use messy alginate to mold for short or just
one time use casting from it...this stuff saves you
all of that hassle and can be reused over and
over again.  It's amazing.
      9) Wax.  Oh, yeah.  The artist's other
alternative to plaster, hydrocal, ultracal or such
and again, another rigid mold making
substance.  I used to call wax the poor man's
mold maker.  You heat it up slow and low in a
pan, and then you just pour the liquid over what
you want molded.  I'll agree it's not perfect for
pouring over soft, oil based clays, but any kind of
hardened clay or such, you are going to get a
pretty solid mold from using wax.  You can cast
anything in wax, to my knowledge.  I've casted
silicone, latex, plastic resins and fiberglass
resins from wax molds without problems at all.
      I know this wasn't the usual how-to kind of stuff, but I really do like sharing the artistic mind I
have when I shop because people don't always realize what all the everyday things from
department stores that end up being used in FX.  Next up, the hardware store.