Skin: The Fabric Of Our Lives

All three partners on the skin artistry team are tailors/dressmakers by trade. So, when tasked with the assignment of putting flesh on a velociraptor, our team decided to stick to what we know and approach this project as a sort of giant draping project. Draping a skin suit on a dinosaur should be simple, right?

First things first, who knows how to make skin? …Anyone? …Bueller? Ok maybe it is not so simple. To drape dinosaur skin, we must have it available, and skin is not easily purchased at your neighborhood fabric store.  Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to share the process of how our team made skin ‘fabric’ from scratch and how we are planning to cover our velociraptors with it. Essentially, we are making sheets of skin that can be patched together to make one giant blanket of flesh.

Step One: Sculpt That Skin

We started with sculpting a general dinosaur skin texture that had very organic curves and lines. These lines were used to hide the seams when multiple squares of skin were patched together.

Step Two: Hydrostone Template

Now that we had a general design of our skin, we made a hard copy of it that could be used to make repeat copies. We did this by making a Hydrostone slab that would serve as our template for most of the body.

Step Three: Latex and Mesh layers

First, we sprayed our stone template with mold release. Then we painted two layers of RD407 mask latex, and before the latex dried, we embedded a top layer of stretch mesh fabric. The mesh layer dried into the latex and gave us a porous fabric layer that will make attaching the latex to the actual velociraptor frame much easier later on. It will also help remove strain from the latex layers and make it less likely to rip apart.

Step Four: Painting the Latex

Using an airbrush and thinned out acrylic paint, we experimented with spraying the skin a generic lizard skin tone.

Step Five: Seaming the Skin Squares

Now that we had successfully made one 15”x15” layer of latex skin, our next step was to repeat the process and see how well two pieces of skin could be patched together. During this phase, we also draped a pattern on the velociraptor prototype out of muslin to give us a general idea of how much skin we would need.

This process can be repeated if necessary for creating varying textures for different parts of the velociraptor. Our method demonstrated here is primarily being used to cover parts of the dinosaur that have large surface areas with general dinosaur skin texture We are still in the problem-solving phase of how to make skin for very detailed parts of the dinosaur (face, feet, and hands). Stayed tuned for part two…

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