It puts the latex on its skin…

Dear Reader,

This is my first blog post since I had a livejournal account! This raptor class is keeping me hip. I’m a first year graduate costume technology student. Because I’m taking a mask making class this semester I was very enthused to join the artistry team so I could create raptor flesh! I would like to share my experience with the fabrication of foam skin.

My team consists of two other costume technicians in their second year. The three of us found two methods to create cretaceous skin. Our adviser Professor Jim Glavan created skin for the 1990’s television show DinosaursMy teammates turned to him for some expert advice. He recommended creating latex skin by creating various molds. His example is stunning but my research led me to a different route. Please take a moment to watch this video and sing along to Schubert’s Ave Maria:

Wasn’t that lovely? Perhaps it was the soothing music that inspired me to use this method. Here’s a few pro’s I wrote down:

  • Foam is lightweight
  • Foam is less expensive than latex+clay+hydrostone
  • Carving directly onto the creatures would be quicker than creating various patches of skin textures that would need to match each other where they join

So I made some prototypes!  I used a soldering iron and had a blast wearing my respirator listening to Chopin burning all of the intricate details into Miss Raptor Face. It took about two hours to create half of her face. I also coated the foam in latex. Here’s an  image of one of my prototypes:

Initially we decided to use the latex skin on the tail, and torso. But because the face, fingers, and feet have such a dramatic shift in textures and depth, we thought it would be efficient to utilize the foam in those places.

Recently my teammate used her airbrush to paint the latex skin and foam skin to see how different these materials looked together. From a distance they seemed pretty similar but upon closer observation, you can see the two mediums interpret the hues of the paint differently. Sad day.  So with misty eyes I abandoned my foam skin idea. But that’s okay. I am excited about working on the latex skin!

Last week my other teammate patterned a raptor head with EVA foam upon which we will lay the latex skin. Today we measured his pattern pieces and created wooden boxes to mold our raptor skin out of clay. We will then create an inverted mold by covering the clay in hydrostone and pour latex and mesh fabric over it to create our hyper realistic raptor skin. I will not lie to you dear reader; I am terrified about the amount of time this process will take but it will be worth it to have a beautiful product in my portfolio and create an awesome experience for our audience! Take care reader.


Joey Harrington