Crick (Raksa) figure from Hinges

We love Meredith McClaren! Not only is she a great friend, but also an amazing artist and wonderful PhxCC booth buddy(AA28 for 2013). Last year we asked Meredith do a Wasp design that would be the base for Jackies costume. This year we wanted to do something more focused on Meredith’s work, so we decided on making a figure from her comic Hinges. She has ton of interesting characters to chose from, but Crick (raksa) really caught my eye.
From a design standpoint, I liked the idea of taking an essentially 2D character and representing him in a 3D space.  Meredith had done such a great job of portraying that concept in the comic that I felt it would be a great first piece to do.

Lucky for us, Meredith had drawn him from several angles, so we had quite a bit to base our templates on

After Jackie came up with the templates I decided to use 1/4 inch plywood for the master copy. Raksa reminds me of those wooden dinosaurs that you built as a kid, plus the the grain of the wood and the way it chips would add an extra level of detail to the finished piece.
I used some fancy washers that I found at Ace hardware for his shoulder joints. I backfilled them with resin to add surface area for gluing. Jackie also used these to keep everything in proportion. Remember that when you use off the shelf parts in a build you need to scale everything else to that part.

To save on time, I decided to cast Crick in a simple open back box mold, which meant he would be assembled out of  seven  pieces. You might notice that after I traced all of the pieces on the board I drilled a ton of holes in it. Those are to make cutting it out easier. I tried to put a hole where ever there would be a tight turn with my coping saw. It helped save some time and avoid broken saw blades.

                                                                       Always label your “don’t cut” areas! It will save you from hours self inflicted frustration.

 Cutting, sanding, filing and shaping. This took an entire sunday afternoon, but it was going to make or break the figure. I ended up using a blade shaped mini file to shape out the mouth area, stripes and to get it symmetrical. It was very slow going but necessary.

The plywood that I got split and chipped everywhere. There were a lot of splinters, too many if you ask me.

Once all the sanding was finished it was time to get the pieces primed and ready for molding.
When I do an open back mold, I like to glue styrene to the back of my master pieces. That way when I am casting there is a spill shelf built right into the mold.
I also like to use scrap styrene and a low temp glue gun to build my mold boxes. I was pretty proud of my layout for these molds.
I got a bag of colored hot glue for free, but I love how it shows up in pics. I wonder how much more it is to buy than regular glue?

Smooth-On Mold Star 15 Slow has now become my silicone of choice. Its easy to mix, has a nice balance of flexibility and strength, Arizona Art Supply carries it, and it’s the same color as our logo. What’s not to love?

The molds came out beautifully, no air bubbles on the surface or major leakage! I was counting on the silicone to pick up every little detail of the wood. It will make the painting and weathering I do later much easier.

I didn’t take any pictures of the sanding process, but to get Raksa’s head to look like the comic I used my belt sander to file the middle part to a wedge, and then super glued the two outer pieces on. I also used the sander to give the smooth backside a grainy texture.

The first casting looked…ok. The tint I used in the resin worked great, but he was lacking something. Then I remembered that Jackie wanted to carve some extra face detail before I molded it. So after getting yelled at for rushing ahead, I got to redo the head mold. I had used up all my Mold Star 15, but I had some leftover Rebound 25 brush on silicone.

Not really the kind of mold Rebound 25 is designed for, but I made it work.

We also noticed that Crick was having a hard time staying on all fours. Any bumps to the table or gusts of air would knock him down. He also looked a little too 2D. For the second casting I glued styrene spacers between the legs and the body, and bent the body and tail a bit. To do the bending I removed body section from the mold before it had cured all the way and just flexed and held it. The end result was a piece that could stand on its own and had that 2.5D pop that was missing from the first casting. I used Rub’n’Buff for his joints, Krylon Matt topcoat, and several layers of watered down black acrylic paint to finish him off. This will be the way we assemble him from now on. Everyone we do will be slightly different, but I look at that as a bonus.

Over all I am really proud of the piece we were able to create. Hopefully we will have some for sale at con this year, so make sure to stop by. And if you are reading this close to the time it was published, you can help Meredith print the first run of Hinges by supporting her Kickstarter!

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