I have found for me the hardest thing for me with trying to make the bears look more real has been making the head so much smaller than the body. With every bear the body gets longer and longer. You can't see it in the pictures, but for the next post I will show you the pattern you can see.
Desert Mountain Bear / Joanne just wrote this in her post about her newest offering; it's so true and almost unrealized until one does go into designing realistic bears. I've thought about this for at least a decade but never found the opening to mention it out-of-context before. Not the teddy bears that are intended to have the larger-than-normal heads but sometimes I think that artists just don't realize that over time their template proportions are creeping up ever so much larger, especially on the head. I notice this mostly in miniatures, especially as a miniaturist myself. This *may* be intentional, as creating a child-like or baby effect, but I think not in all cases as the teddy isn't presented as a young one.
For myself, it often takes a photograph to pinpoint where the problem lays. I often work from images found on greeting cards‚ as here‚ which my DH masterfully bonds to the lids of custom made boxes for my work.
I'm behind in blog-posting but one of the upcoming posts is in the Off With His Head series. There was something waaay off with this polar's head but I couldn't exactly see what would be most expeditious to fixing it until I saw the photo images. That lead to a few judicious cuts in the right places and you can see immediately that, even though it's barely past framing out the skeleton stage, its neck/head now has a polar shape. It was too short and big before, just as Joanne said.
The base head has only just been attached and both neck and head neck need to be built out but you can see from the relative size & placement (I did set it back in the photos just a bit farther than it really was on the body, though) what was wrong with the first one. Funny, it just didn't look THAT bad to the eye...
Wow - it's truly an honor to have you weigh in on this Kelly - Thx!
I consider your work museum-quality! (and Joanne's should start getting Gallery invites, too!)
Joanne, I forgot to add this on my post on your blog/site: I somehow got listed to fill out a survey to the No American Bear Center. It was a computer-recognized link so it wouldn't have done any good to share it, nor my prezzie at the end—a great head pic of Faith.
I wanted to tell you that your little Alpine reminds me so much of the wonderful signed-by-Lynn-image I rec'd of Faith for filling out the online survey. Great job there too.
I'm in awe of all of you artists who design and create full-sized realistic work!!!
Yep, Kelly's been known for his fab 'trash' for a number of years—his studio exclusive!!!!
So funny Boobie I started reading this post and thinking the words seemed so familiar. I love the pics you have shown here it is especially true of polar bears with their tiny heads and big long bodies.
And Kelly is so right about the paws, that is another place I have been making not only smaller but flatter.
I took this picture last week of my daughter standing next to the second largest polar bear ever shot. I know it is sad, but he was killed back in the 60's. But you can really see the small head and enormous body of this bear. And his feet were so small.
LOL - I think they look comical when they stand up - Ole Droopy Drawers!!
Their skin folds are so loose that it literally drops to their knees when they stand on their hind legs.
This doesn't happen in the other species—brown, black (and especially panda who already have such short, weak hind legs) partly due to their skeletal frames and in part to the places they put on their fat reserves.
In a miniature it's not very attractive as they look too out-of-proportion, as if I cannot get the scale correct so I've made very few standing straight up on hind legs; moving - yes, but not just standing still.
Where is this display?
Did you know that they cannot collar adult males because their necks are as wide as the head and the collars would be slipped right off? Only females get collared. So when you view images now you'll be able to tell right off what gender they are!
OK - Pop Quiz - which are males and which females?
doncha just LV the black tongue????
Have you seen 'Bear: The Ultimate Artist's Reference' by Doug Lindstrand? there are fabulous photos and line drawings, brilliant for designers to help you get an understanding of real bears.
This book is my "bible" it is the book I take almost all my reference from because there are both pictures and drawings. I can see better the body shapes with the detailed drawings.
I too have had the Lindstrand book since it first appeared in 03. I wish it had been available when I began designing in fabric in the mid & late 90s. I needed too many seams to accomplish what I wanted to do and was too limited in miniatures so fibers were the only medium that freed up the flow and natural lines for me.
This is the face-forward image of the bear above -
No, that was his 'Before' pic, when I knew something (by my eye) was wrong but couldn't figure it out until I saw the photo images from all angles.
"Photoshop is Your Friend!"
The camera doesn't lie: flipping images upside-down is the first thing I always do to the image of a face.
Drawing 2 lines on them is the next thing, like a large *plus* sign: one at the base of the eyes and the other down the center of the face.
Those 2 should be perfectly in line (eyes balanced at the bottom of the first and equally distant from the center line and for the second line, both sides of both the nose and mouth lines balanced and even with each other.)
Then a series of about a dozen other lines are drawn vertically and horizontally, checking the placements of ears, cheeks, shading, chin, outer sides of profile, etc - - and this is still done while upside-down, from the full face forward as well as the side facing and rear facing.
I find it impossible to do while right-side-up, because then I'm seeing what our minds have always been trained by life experience to EXPECT—a *face* smiling back at you—human-like features: two eyes, a nose, a mouth and all in a particular relativity to each other with minor differences for individuals.
There's a vast difference between imbalance for character's sake and that of lack of skill. I think you all know what I mean - where a sad clown expression has eyes downwardly tilted at the corners for expressing emotion or cheeks that practically deform the eye sockets upward because the grins are so huge and yet the same expressions that can be painful to look at when they're the result of poor workmanship, shown in a creation made by one who just doesn't quite have a good grasp on technique.
I thought back to the period of time that I had worked on this bear and realized that he'd had a period of about 6 months between start and finish. Several other species came in-between, 2 of which were pandas, probably the most no-necked bears there are! Mentally I wasn't preparing my mind for polar....
The second step in my realistic bear construction is where I place three bands/rings of fiber onto the spine, which become the jawbones, shoulder & hip bones (like a human has) because you cannot just attach the limbs to a spine. The front band placement is different for each of the species—panda/grizzly/black/polar and it sets the tone for each (besides the slightly different shape spine.) Somehow I either grabbed the wrong body starter or got distracted.....
If I can ever get a free day, this information is the next entry on my blog....
Oh no Katy! And I thought everyone did something like this - the upside-down viewing & line drawings!! LOL!!!!!!!
I very often do this to teddy images which I see that have perceived or obvious flaws..... you know how we were discussing a while ago, the critique sheets that Australian show judges will give each bear at a fair on a point system, to both applaud its fine points and direct attention and help to those areas which could use some improvement?
In my own mind I use this system to say "If this bear were mine I would have done .... X and xxxx.. to those areas."
I've just found it to be the most efficient teaching tool.
Now if you're meaning the 3 bands of fiber for hip, shoulder and jaw bones, all will become clear after I post the next blog entry. My avatar polar was one of my very earliest polars in this size—a bit less than 3" long—(early because he doesn't have metal claws) and he too has too short a neck, but his head is the right scale.
However I also have a kit line which details how to create realism (at least my version of this process) so I won't go into the entire explanation in the blog!! Intuitive creators will get a jumping off point though.
The males are Nos. 3, 5 & 6, Joanne. The trick to figuring them out is to look directly behind the ears: does the skin fall away (disappear) or continue to widen toward the shoulders?
Now that you know which are which, you can see the differences and see why the males would slip those collars right off - - that is if the researchers could ever get the collars tightened enough to not choke the bears to begin with.
I've enjoyed reading Joanne's blog post on this topic as well as Bobbie's insights.
I'm also chuckling because I can illustrate the point well, I think. Here you see a very rough sketch I made before I designed my first semi-realistic bear for the current TT challenge. In the sketch - tiny head (looks realistic). In my actual design - giant head (looks cute to me, but not very realistic).
I wrote a response here, went to PM a note to you Becky and came back here to find my original note gone so I'll start over. (If you've already read my email/PM you may be scratching your head wondering what I was writing about!!??)
This realistic head is great! you knocked this one out-of-the park!!
And the body is very good too, but I see it more as a teddy style. If you were to double its length and widen the part out a bit below the armpits toward his 'bottom' half, like in your drawing, I think you'd have a pretty good representation of your original sketch.
And your neck joint is very good too; often a set of disks that are too small are used and the fabric divots in along that joining line; yours flows smoothly over it and if the body had been larger with perhaps even a hump back there, he'd've been just about perfect. You definitely have the 'vision'!
His lower body does appear to be more of a teddy style tho... and the hind legs. a bit fatter at the hunch.. and longer.. but no thicker at the paws..
This is just my musings in someone else's design..
Forgot myself for a minute there..
not that you were asking...
Seriously - if you were to separate this bear and put the head on a longer realistic body as per your sketch and add a different head—like your classic Teddy-style—onto the body, you'd have 2 different teds with no wasted effort: 2 entirely different styles of bears to show for your efforts; no loss and tons of experience gained!
I wrote a response here, went to PM a note to you Becky and came back here to find my original note gone so I'll start over.
I've seen posts disappear a couple of times now, so maybe the site has a bug. Anyway, I'm happy to get the critique. (It's not easy to do with teddy people being so darn nice! :D)
I'm delighted that you like the head, and it's my favorite part as well - even has the hint of a real bear's powerful jaw muscles, I think. I actually wanted this bear to have a teddy-bear body rather than being an "all fours" type of realistic bear (the paw pads and neck joint were my challenge to myself), but I see what you mean about using this head design with a different body. I have one more large-ish piece of faux fur, so that might be just what happens!
I have Joanne to thank for the neck joint. Between studying her blog posts and sending her about five emails, I finally figured out the details. (Non-gathered neck joints are not covered very well in any of my books.) I decided that I didn't really need two joints, but I sewed the neck as if it did have two, and that might help the shape and fur direction look more natural.
Bear hugs, :hug:
Gathered only works for certain (softer) fabrics in minis. Even most of our fabrics look better with the disk being covered with a disk-of-fabric on both sides of the joint too, though it's awfully fiddly work in a rather limited area!!
Someone was asking about noses in another thread the other day and I was trying to point them toward Joanne's tuts but couldn't find them on her site or blog so I gave up.
Are you listening, J?? Yours are the best online!! As Becky just said, yours tell what others don't, in the simplest most understandable fashion: YOU SHOULD BE WRITING A BOOK!!! And beyond that you should be teaching!
We should all donate one hour of or time to you because the returns would be so worthwhile!!
And I know that's the most precious commodity and it's the one thing that you're lacking in fulfilling some of your goals right now!!!! Sorry about all of the exclamation points - I know that they become mundane and repetitious after a point but how else to express one's enthusiasm?
Yes, I was a little amazed - - no dumb-struck when I heard all that you did, at that early dinner last year with our other 2 dinner mates. It was barely past the time I'd actually ever heard of you and our only meeting-in-person.
At the time I thought "Works all day and is also a full-time bear artist? How can she do that?"
And now I see your tuts and FB & other social networking.
You don't eat or SLEEP!
Am I right!!???
I've since come to 'know' you and your boundless energy, thirst for knowledge, need to share and pass on that knowledge and just be an all-around great gal! There have been some in this bear community who feel very much in a higher echelon, who (JMHO!!) don't know half what you do but do not associate with many of the rest of us bear artists, to say nothing of the collectors at bear functions. Fortunately (or at least I don't see them since I've been off the large show circuit for the past 6 years...) I don't run into them any more, or they are a dying breed and the younger 'kids' aren't as prone to that type of personality. (And if I'm remembering you were never on the show circuit—you've always been part of the Internet-sales-generation? You'd be a dynamite workshop teacher.)
But that told me much about the bear world when I began traveling a few years into this, in the mid-90s, and not to toot my own horn, because I think that deep down inside most of us we feel like outsiders who are quite shy, but I feel much more comfortable with collectors and will always pick a table of collectors to sit and chat with than one of 'names' if given the opportunity. Not to ignore the other artists, but the collectors are even shyer than we are, and they certainly don't feel as if they can barge up to a table of clustered artists and plunk themselves down!
And so how do artists expect to engender Good Will with collectors if it's only on the sales floor? That always made it look (to me) that the collectors were only there for one thing (OK, 2..) - their money and to give laud to the artist.
Oh no, Bobbie, don't hijack this thread!
Tuck that soapbox right outa' sight and tell Joanne - "Onya!" as the Ozzies/Aussies say!!!
Bobbie, think about coming to the 3 day convention in Philadelphia this year. I don't know if because it wasn't just a show, or because it was days of just dolls and bears, but I have never met a nicer more friendly bunch of people. And they were all there, the well known bear makers that have been around since the beginning.
It will be May 3-5, Thursday through Saturday. Three days of food, drink, workshops, demonstrations, a show, and a competition. I submitted my application yesterday. It was so good I don't want to miss it this year.
I rarely have two bears in the studio at the same time, but I've got a layaway here, so I thought this would be a great way to show an example of what changes when I enlarge or reduce the head and paw size. both of these bears are about 18" - and essentially the same pattern, although morphed in all directions. . i.e. Gordy, on the left, has wider gussets, fatter, shorter legs, and Gavin, on the right, has a longer neck, much small feet and paws, a longer nose. .
I also enlarge or reduce the accessories to enhance the supposed size of the bear. Gordy is supposed to be smaller & younger, so he has a larger trash can & bigger cans in his trash. to emphisize Grovers bulk, he has lots of tiny little cans and bottles.
lol. . . thanks, Bobbie! this is actually a new studio space. I closed my shop this past april & moved both home and studio into a loft space in the same building. I used all the shelves, counters and fittings from my shop, but I have 4x the space, including 2 8" workbenchs that I can walk complelely around and a terrific bank of windows looking out over the Delaware River. the studio space is situtated between the living area and the sleeping area, so there's no way to avoid work anymore!
and fortunately - or unfortunately - I rent, so the property taxes aren't my problem ;-)
Oh Oh OH! My... I LOVED your old studio.
You won't be able to decorate the front window/door any more? or the 'alley' (what a common, trashy sound that has for what you exhibited in the off-season..)
But I LOVE this new space even more - the ambience! the VIEW - and the S P A C E !!!
What an interesting beam in the center of your room. Your muses are working overtime! HA!
Has TLM seen this pic?