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Mindless Pursuits

Making An Eastern Dragon! 0

Posted on April 20, 2014 by Keith

Over the last two weeks I made a, eastern dragon, and I’m very happy about it! This was my first attempt at sculpture, as well as being a much larger polymer clay project than anything I’ve ever tried before. There were plenty of lessons to be learned from it, and some of it was frustratingly slow, but I’m looking forward to making another sculpture soon!

Starting Wire Armature

Starting Wire Armature

To begin with, I created a wire armature to support the clay and to define the basic shape of the dragon. I wanted to be certain to capture a sense of motion, and so I wanted the tail to have a dynamic flow. As this dragon would also be flying (eastern dragons fly without wings), I used two small copper rods to suspend the dragon above the base. At this point, I started wrapping aluminum foil around the wire to begin defining the volume of the dragon without needing to use a lot of clay instead.

Completed Wire Armature

Completed Wire Armature

After that, I added additional thinner wire for the limbs I was planning to add. While this picture is a bit blurry, you can see here that I planned for the dragon to have slightly longer limbs, but I underestimated the problems to come. I also finished adding foil, then covered it in a layer of masking tape – a trick I learned from watching ‘Polymer Clay Artist‘ on Youtube.

First Layer of Clay

First Layer of Clay

It was while working to add the first layer of polymer clay that the problems began. I knew what polymer clay should be like when it was fully conditioned, but the FIMO soft I was using just refused to get there. It remained somewhat crumbly and would crack easily when applying. Foolishly, I wasted about 7 hours of time trying to get it to condition, but I managed to get this layer on with a lot of work, and it is bumpy as all get out! It was after all that effort that I found out from another polymer clay artist what ‘heat damaged’ clay was, which described what was going on with this clay perfectly. Still – I didn’t have any other large blocks of clay at this point, so I decided I would do a first bake on this, and when I could afford it, smooth it out with a second layer.

Second Layer of Clay

Second Layer of Clay

Luckily, thanks to a sale at Michaels, I was able to get my new clay within a couple of days, and blended Super Sculpey with Super Sculpey firm (another idea from ‘Polymer Clay Artist’). It was much easier to work with, not being heat damaged! I added my second layer of clay, and this is where I realized the second problem: I hadn’t made the armature for the limbs long enough to retain their form with this much clay. As a result, the limbs on my dragon became a bit stubby. I decided that was okay though. It just made him a little cuter. :)

Modelling A Head

Modelling A Head

Now it was time to give him a head. I had pre-baked horns and talons, but not eyes. When I was modelling the head, I just made the eyes out of FIMO Nightglow glow-in-the-dark clay and put them into sockets I had made. It worked, but the eyes started to deform as I worked with the clay around the eyelids. Next time I’ll pre-bake the eyeballs as well. After getting this head done, I decided to shorten the snout and discard the fangs, which you’ll see in the upcoming photos.

Adding Plates

Adding Plates

Having finished the head, it was time to add plates. It was a fairly quick process of cutting and layering. As I knew I was going to overlap the plates with the scales, I didn’t do a lot to keep the edges neat. Next time I might do a little more, just for the sake of texture. As you can see, I worked to keep the plates aligned with the natural flow of the dragon’s tail as he flies, so some plates end up being visible from the top, as the dragon’s tail had naturally curved that way when he flexed it.

Starting Scales

Starting Scales

It was not time for the most monotonous part of the project: adding the scales. All of the scales were individually cut and layered. It gave the dragon the good look and texture I wanted, but it took me about 10 hours to cut and place all of the individual scales. I’ve got a couple of ways I’m looking at to tackle scales for future dragons to make it easier. I’ll explore those in future posts.

Scales and 'Hair' Finished

Scales and ‘Hair’ Finished

Once the scales were complete, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I had always known I wanted the eastern dragon to have ‘hair’ running in a line down his back. I also knew I could use the hair to mask the join where the scales flowing one way down the face met the scales flowing the opposite way down the back. I mixed some emerald-green sculpey with some nightglow, just to see if I could get a glow-in-the-dark effect for the hair, but alas, it didn’t work well and is barely perceptible. I also would texture the strip running down his back differently in the future. I tried to just use a needle tool to give it quick texture, but it doesn’t look very good after baking. You can’t really see it from a couple of feet away, so it’s not a huge deal.

The biggest problem here was the mustache. I wanted to ensure that the mustache wouldn’t be easily breakable, and I wanted it to retain a lightly curved shape, so I decided to use a small piece of wire as the core of it. Unfortunately, I deformed his nose a bit when I pushed the wire through, and because I didn’t want the wire exposed, I wasn’t able to get it as smooth as I’d hoped. I hoped that some sanding after baking would solve that for me. With all of this complete, I put him in for a second bake.

Completed Dragon - Front

Completed Dragon – Front

Completed Dragon - Back

Completed Dragon – Back

Here we have the completed dragon! I wanted him to appear to be an older dragon, so I had textured his skin using a crumpled piece of foil. After the bake, I then gave his exposed flesh multiple light glazes of color to make it look aged. I also tried to sand the mustache, but started worrying about cracking the clay so stopped. Finally, I added the cat pupils using a micron pen. They don’t really look right to me, and I’m debating removing the pupils before I seal him with varnish. What do you think?

Regardless, for my first attempt at something like this, I think he turned out very well. My next project will be something more in line with my Butterfly Bay Design blog, but after that I plan to return to create a western dragon with wings. It’s going to be fun, and I’m certain I’ll have a lot more to learn. When that starts, I’ll post about it here!

Returning to the Pursuit of Mindlessness! 0

Posted on March 27, 2014 by Keith
Cute Mini-Cthulhu

Cute Mini-Cthulhu

Woah – it’s been a while! Oops. I never intended to take a half a year break from Mindless Pursuits, but maybe that was what was needed. For those who aren’t aware, in addition to Mindless Pursuits, I also own and create art for Butterfly Bay Design, along with my daughters. Between Butterfly Bay Design work, and other things going on, I more or less lost track of time. Recent creative impulses have gotten me back into the realm of the whimsical though! So – what’s been happening, and what is planned?

First – while I haven’t been cartooning in a while, I plan to get back to it. Not on a regular schedule, but as whimsy strikes me. I’ve given up on the idea of an ongoing webcomic with an internal continuity, as while I liked my character ideas, I just don’t feel I can come up with fresh material regularly for it. The idea of putting that pressure on also tends to stymie my creativity, so it’s probably better overall if I drop it and just make the occasional gag strip.

Second – the anime love still runs strong in our household, and my oldest daughter is attending Anime Detour with me at the beginning of April! It’s going to be a lot of fun, and though I won’t be cosplaying as I’d originally planned, she’ll be going as Yomiko Readman from Read or Die. It’ll be her first time going to an anime convention so hopefully she’ll have a blast!

Finally – I’m going to be getting back to creating and selling items under the Mindless Pursuits brand. I had stopped to focus on Butterfly Bay, but am finding that my goofy, fun creative side needs just as much of an outlet as my more serious art side does. As a result, I’m going to be trying to better balance putting my creative energy into projects that cover the spectrum, beginning with an attempt to make a ‘Doctor Cthulhu’ bust. It will be my first real attempt at sculpture, and I don’t know yet how successful I’ll be. I am certainly looking forward to the attempt! I’ll be blogging about it here and on the Butterfly Bay Design blog. It may or may not be a quick project. We’ll have to see how I do.

So that’s it. Hopefully this is just the start of many things to come. Thank you for hanging in here during my unanticipated hiatus, and I look forward to bringing you new stuff very soon!

‘Blood Lad’ One-Sentence Review 0

Posted on September 18, 2013 by Keith

Blood Lad

Greatly enjoyable, but there better damn well be a season 2 since we were left with nothing but cliffhangers!

Weight Loss and Webcomics 0

Posted on June 19, 2013 by Keith

The last couple of weeks have been difficult for both weight loss and for the webcomic. One of my closest, dearest friends visited, which was awesome… however, we ate like we were on vacation. Between that and a Father’s Day of rich foods at my parents, I ended up shooting back up to 417.6 pounds. Yep. I managed to erase almost all of what I had lost since I started the blog. The ‘it’s a special occasion’ excuse came heavily into play here, but I am thankful to say that I was able to focus, get some exercise, and lose 3.6 of those pounds again so far this week. I’m fairly confident I’ll lose the rest by Monday. My eldest daughter and I have found a good walking path near to our home that’s 3/4 of a mile in length, so it works well for us.

In other news, after three fresh webcomics and a filler, I actually feel confident about my ability to pull off a weekly webcomic. Having said that, I’m still putting the webcomic on hiatus for a while. This is partly because I’ve got some pressing work to attend to that eats up time I’d use for the webcomic, but it’s also because I’m having a debate about whether I want to do a weekly ‘gag strip’ or an ongoing story, and I want to get that sorted before I continue, as I know I won’t have time to do both for a while. When I do bring the webcomic back, I’m going to bring it back here instead of having it be on it’s own subdomain.

Additionally, I’m going to change the focus of my blogging. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost my focus for blogging, I always revert back to blogging about random stuff in my life. Frankly, I prefer blogging about art, anime and other entertainment, and so that’s what I’m going to get back to. The webcomic, when it returns, will become the focal point, but I’m still going to blog about art and entertainment matters relevant to my interests as a writer and artist. I will still track my weight-loss, as I believe that’s something many people can relate to, and it helps me stay focused on it, but I’m not going to meander off into other areas of my life just to have something to blog about when I’m stuck for a topic! Anyone who really wants to get a glimpse into my private life can find me through other channels. :)

Have a great week, everyone!

Alternate Universe #10243 4

Posted on May 28, 2013 by Keith


Listening to one of my favorite mix CDs during a drive, I was struck by how many band names would make great sound effects! Not just in the 80s, though that’s what I was listening to, but almost anytime in the last 30-40 years. T-Pau! Bananarama! Klymaxx! Though that last one is probably more appropriate for an adult comic….

Of course, what’s the quintessential throwback to comic book sound effect? The Batman TV show from the 60s, starring everybody’s favorites, Adam West and Dick Ward. I figure in an alternate universe there has to have been The Blue Bunny and Squirrel right? Well, maybe not, but I like to think so!

The Weekly Weight Loss Update (a.k.a. I didn’t feel like VBlogging) 0

Posted on May 27, 2013 by Keith

Just a quick and easy update today, as gray and dreary out, and I just don’t have anything fun in mind to video blog about. Despite a drastic loss in willpower last week when my oldest daughter made brownies, I still managed to lose .4 pounds this week, bringing my total lost since I started blogging about it to 4.4 pounds. Now that we seem to have finally escaped the snow and cold, I’m going to work on getting more exercise outside, be it biking or walking. I’m also going to dig out the old exercise DVDs and see if I can begin incorporating any of those into my weekly routine.

Not much else to talk about today, so I wish all of you a happy Monday! For those in the United States observing Memorial Day, let us remember all of those brave men and women who have served our country. They deserve to be memorialized.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 0

Posted on May 24, 2013 by Keith

No, this is not about spaghetti westerns, even though I admit to their being a guilty pleasure of mine. This is just a quick review of some things that happened this week, because I’ve been wrapped up in my ‘Grand Endeavor’ and haven’t done much else during the day. Consider it this blogs equivalent of a quick Twitter or Facebook Wall post, just slightly longer!

Kauju - Pencil Roughs

Kauju – Pencil Roughs

The Good: I produced another webcomic last weekend, and almost have the one completed for this weekend. Even if it’s not getting seen much, I’m having a lot of fun making it, and someone even bought a print of one through Zazzle. You can see the pencil rough for last week’s comic above. Additionally, I learned that I would be able to stay in my apartment for another year, so that gives me time to finish getting the Grand Endeavor up and running, as well as being here and stable for my daughters as they transition to new schools.

The Bad: I’ve hit a code snag with my project, and am having trouble figuring out how to resolve it, so it’s cost me some time and added some stress. I know it’ll get resolved, but any delay is bad, even with the good news above. Also, while they were very good, my oldest daughter made brownies this week and my willpower just wasn’t up to the task and I’ve gotten in less cycling. I need to kick up the exercise this weekend!

The Ugly: After staying at bay for most of the time since I received my scan results, yesterday the depression hit back hard and with it came the self-defeating questions I strive to keep at bay, such as “was it a mistake to renew my lease?” “Will I actually be able to compete with my Grand Endeavor” “Will I ever lose the weight?” “Why should I get out of bed this morning?”  You get the idea. I believe that completing this weekend’s webcomic will help me push those thoughts back, as will completing the digital painting I’ve been working on, but I wish the depression had stayed away longer.

That’s it! For those who follow the webcomic, a new update will go up sometime tomorrow night, otherwise I’ll have a new VBlog update on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Video Blog Update! 0

Posted on May 20, 2013 by Keith

Only a short update this week as I’m heads-down in code for my Grand Endeavor!

Kauju! (Cow-Ju) 2

Posted on May 19, 2013 by Keith

Kauju - Moothra vs Cowzilla

My girls and I love kaiju (giant monsters), and own every Godzilla and Gamera movie. Of course, we also love wordplay, so I was joking with them about Cow-Ju, or giant cow monsters. They thought I should go for it, and I agree! Now we need to convince Toho to make it!

Here’s a larger version that’s a bit easier to see (as the original was actually quite large)! Have a great weekend!

Of Weight and Webcomics 0

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Keith

Let’s start off with the bad news: I gained 1.4 pounds since last Monday. That’s not the reason why I’m not videoblogging today. I’m not videoblogging because I had a mild reaction to a new shaving cream I tried. I’m certain it’ll clear up and I can do the VBlog tomorrow. Anyway, in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s news about being cancer-free, I rather overindulged in sweets in celebration. Cookies at home and multiple times of going out for pie with my family (not celebratory pie – just pie). I’m actually quite amazed that I didn’t go up more, but I guess that’s the benefit of having gone cycling around the neighborhood most days!

Doctor Cthulwho - Pencil Sketch

Doctor Cthulwho – Pencil Sketch

In other news, I launched ‘Mindless Pursuits – The Comic‘ over the weekend. It’s a baby step towards my ultimate goal of publishing a graphic novel and will help me further develop my drawing and digital inking/coloring skills. It’s also a chance to let loose with some of my more absurd thoughts and whimsy! Above is the pencil sketch of the first comic. To see the completed version, go to the comic site!

That’s it for today, as I am back to working on my ‘Grand Endeavor’ full time. Have a great week!

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