Betsy Bauer asks…
What is your process like? Do you begin your sculpture with a wireframe/tinfoil and gradually build everything up all at once, or do you tend to work in "pieces?" How long does it normally take you to complete one sculpture?
I normally start with an aluminum wire armature to set the pose and hold the sculpture upright. I then gradually build up everything at the same time to keep the whole thing cohesive so nothing gets left behind. Also, sometimes I build things in pieces like for stop-motion puppets. Usually, depending on how refined/detailed a sculpture is, it can take a matter of days to weeks. It just depends on what the sculpture is for.
What kind of deadlines do you have? Do you work directly with a character designer? And if so, after you get the designs, model sheets and stuff what's usually the deadline time you've got to accomplish your work? I don't understand too much about sculpture for the entertainment industry so it'd be nice to know a little more.
Deadlines vary. Sometimes I have to finish something in a few days, other times I may have a few weeks. Again, it depends on the sculpt and what it is for. A quick take on a character or a sketch can take a few days and if we really want to nail the design in the sculpture and have a solid detailed maquette it can take several weeks, so it depends. Yes, I work directly with many other talented and gifted designers and on a lucky occasion I am the only person on a character's design especially if it is for a stop-motion project since it is the puppet sculpt that is the final rendition of the design that everyone will see.
How did you learn Maquette sculpting? do you always need specific design instructions or are you able to just design a character as your making it? what are stop motion puppets actually made out of?
I learned Maquette sculpting by working with clay since I was very young. I also took some workshops or classes and was exposed to other artists and asked them how they approached what they did. I learned alot that way and by trying things on my own.
No, I don't always need specific design instructions but a character description helps. Sometimes I just have that, other times I have just one drawing, and then there are times when there are dozens. It really doesn't matter to me if I have almost no direction or if I have very specific drawings that I must follow. I just try and work with what has been asked of me and with what I been given. I like having less information at times since I can explore design options and have things be more spontaneous. It's fun that way. Stop-motion puppets can be made of a variety of materials from plastics, rubbers, metal, fabric, clay, wood, really whatever works since it is dictated by what the character is and how you want it to look.
Fabián Fucci asks…
Does remakes (maquettes that have to be done again) happen for sculptors in the way they happen to animators? If so, how do you handle changes or modifications in your sculptures?
Making changes is part of the process of sculpting. As I am working, we may notice that things need to be altered like if the arms are too short, or the head is too small or too big, but if the changes are too extreme or if it has gone all over the place I will usually just start a new sculpture and work it out from there. But yes, I have started sculptures over many times. It can be a great opportunity to get a fresh start on something that has not been working or if you want to try a slightly different version of a design.
Cannibalistic Cacti asks…
I've noticed most of your sculptures have some rather delicate details. Is there a certain technique you use to get it right, or is it a lot of trial and error?
Steady hands and sharp eyes are my best allies when it comes to detail. Also, small dental tools can help when my hands can't get into a small area. So, in a way, it is alot of trial and error to see what works for me.
Garry Mike David asks…
Once you finished a sculpture, do you let go of the sculpt or do you still supervise in later stages of the desgin-pipeline?
Once I have finished a sculpture I sometimes do just let it go but I have also supervised the designs in later stages of the design pipeline to ensure that the design stays on model and that it doesn't change too much if we need to make compromises for whatever reasons.
Silent Cookie asks…
Will you be selling any of the maquettes you've created for Dreamworks?
No, I do not sell any of the sculptures I have done since the sculpts and designs are owned and copyrighted by whatever studio I have done the work for. It is referred to as “work for hire" and you basically have no rights whatsoever to any of the images that you create unless it is stated otherwise in your contract or something.
Do you use any digital sculpting software (i.e Zbrush, Mudbox) before starting on the actual maquette sculpt? How long have you been working as a sculptor?
No, at this point I do not use any digital sculpting software in my work. Currently, I am looking into incorporating that process into my workflow but I need to become more familiar with the software. I have been working as a professional sculptor for about 20 years now.
Hey Mr. Bard!
What are your inspirations? And what’s your favorite part of your job?
My main inspirations are movies, art, science, astronomy....things that cover broad ideas with creative solutions. The favorite thing about my career is that it is my career and I get to do what I love to do. It sounds a little corny, but it's a dream come true.
CMAC asks… What are some of the more difficult issues that arise while translating a 2D design into a sculpture? In general how many passes does it take you to arrive to the final end design? What does it depend on?
One of the more difficult things in translating a 2D design into a 3D design is if there are too many drawings. They can sometimes contradict one another and you have to make choices and decisions that work best for the sculpture and the design. On how many passes it takes, sometimes I can nail a final design on the first or second try but other times it can be dozens of passes before it gets there. It just depends on the vision of the director and/or how many changes are requested.
Thanks for all your questions everyone, I enjoyed answering them.
Thank you so much Damon for taking the time to answer all of these great questions. We will have to do this more frequently. And thank you to all who asked those fantastic questions.
To see more incredible sculptures from Monsters vs. Aliens as well as sculptures from several other animated films go to his website at http://www.bardsculpturestudio.com/