When I got home I looked for better references on the internet. It's probably no great surprise that a lot of my references come from Disney as I am a massive Disney nut. I love the elephants and hippos in Fantasia and so I started there and found loads of character references to build on. I also went to Chester Zoo this weekend with my boyfriend and got snapping! Best bit? Watching a big male peeing on a baby elephants head, and then seeing the baby drinking the wee from the floor of the enclosure. Wow, elephants are classy :P
Anyway, weeing ellies aside, today I've started the long, loooooong process of working out a pattern. I think a lot of bear makers have the skill to just see a bear in their heads and form their 2D patterns mentally, but I don't have the skill to do that: I have to sculpt and drape. What I do is get a load of tin foil (a-loooo-min-um foil for my American friends :D) and scrunch it up into a vague animal shape. I then layer plasticene over the top: using tin foil means less plasticene to struggle with! Usually I sculpt head and body seperately (sometimes on different scales too!) but this guy is all in one as you can see from the photo. Now it doesn't have to be perfect as the detail is added later with needle sculpting: all I get at this point is hollows that need darts and the general pattern shape. To do this I lay plastic from A4 plastic ringbinder wallets over the sculpt in straight lines and then pin it into place, marking seam lines and darts as I go. I started at the top and worked my way down with this guy because that piece was the easiest part!
Anyhoo, now I have paper versions of those initial pieces ready to go. Ideally what I should do now is use canvas to make a practise version because they rarely go well the first time but ARGH the mohair is calling me... what I may do instead is make a paper version by using sellotape to hold the pieces together so I can check the fit.... shouldn't, but probably will.
I hope that makes sense? It really works for me and I'm hoping for some budding bear artists out there, this might be a trigger for your designs too :)
Chleo and the Lugly's xxx
P.S. Mmmm.... tasty wee.....