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Ecorche/3D Anatomy w/ Rey Bustos – Spray Paint & Varnish

One of the most transformational parts of Ecorche with Rey Bustos at LAAFA was spray painting the baked ecorche.  I was careful to mask the hand and foot that I wanted to remain the fleshy color of Sculpey with aluminum foil before painting.  You can see below how a light coat of off-white spray paint really shows off all the sculpting work that goes into the skeletal portion of the ecorche.

In class, Rey had a “varnishing station’ set up for us. We lightly brushed varnish over our spray painted ecorches. We only applied the varnish to the left side, the side that will remain as exposed skeleton. We left the right side coated with spray paint only, so the clay we apply to represent muscles will stick. The effect of the varnish over the spray paint is fantastic- don’t you think?

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Ecorche/3D Anatomy w/ Rey Bustos – Week 5

I can’t believe we have already reached the halfway point- week 5 in Ecorche with Rey Bustos at LAAFA!  Class number five focused largely on process, as this week’s tasks were to complete the skeletal body and “bake” the ecorche to permanently harden the Sculpey.

In class, Rey demonstrated how to finish the delicate bones of the lower arm, the radius and the ulna.  Rey recommended stringing the tiny finger bones onto the wire like beads. This simple technique creates a sophisticated skeletal model of the
human hand.

For the fleshed out right hand, Rey drew us a diagram of the palm. He encouraged us to make our ecorches’ hands expressive, and to add creases, or flexure lines, for a lifelike effect.  Everyone had more than enough armature wire to support the fingers on each hand.
We just cut off what we didn’t need after
completing both hands.

The next lecture topic was Rey’s favorite bone: the scapula.  I have to admit, floating like wings on the human back, scapulae are beautiful bones.  Rey showed us how to mold the organic protrusions that define the scapulae. He also showed us how to attach the left scapula so that only the socket, or glenoid fossa rests against the head of the humerus. As you can see, this was a well-documented moment of the class. 😉

Back at home, I carefully followed the written instructions Rey gave us on baking our ecorches. Behold! Five weeks of sculpting permanently set in polymer clay! Now, before adding the muscles, all I have to do is paint and varnish the bones.
I’ll post an update on the painting and finishing process soon!

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Ecorche/3D Anatomy w/ Rey Bustos – Week 4

Week 4 in Ecorche with Rey Bustos at LAAFA was action-packed!

During the first part of class, Rey led students in bending wire to create five-pronged armatures for the right and left hands.  

The design of Rey’s ecorche features a moveable left elbow joint, so we made the wire armature for the left forearm and hand as a separate piece. I taped mine to my ecorche’s ground for safekeeping.

After a series of neat accordion bends and just one snip with wire-cutters, we had the armature for our ecorches’ right hands in place as well.

With the final armature building behind us, we moved on to the triple topic of the day: vertebra-thorax-humeri. In English, that’s spine-ribcage-upper arm bones.  
Rey showed us his neat technique for representing the vertebra in a believable way as a group.  Rey guarantees that this “grouped” approach poses less of a risk to mental health than attempting to sculpt each vertebra individually. I can vouch for the technique, but you’ll have to take the class to find out what it is. 😉

Rolling out the ribs and building the support surfaces for future “muscles” on the right side of our ecorches filled the rest of the class.

The support clay on the right side of the ecorche does not represent any anatomical structures in the human body. However, for our ecorches, this support will be necessary when we begin to add muscle to the figures in two weeks. Rey made sure each student’s ecorche was on track before dismissing class.


Our homework for the week was to install the support clay, complete the humeri, and finish the ribcage with a sternum. Here’s the result of my best efforts:

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Ecorche/3D Anatomy w/ Rey Bustos – Week 3

Students in Rey Bustos’s Ecorche class at LAAFA started week 3 by covering the wire and nails holding their ecorche upright with clay. This clay was the beginning of the ground our ecorches would come to stand on… after we took care of the small matter of sculpting the 3 bones of the lower leg and the 26 bones of the foot!  Fortunately, Rey’s design of the ecorche “fleshes out” the right foot, so in all we only had 33 bones to sculpt.  Now that class is over, and I’ve completed my homework, I can’t believe how much we learned and got done this week!  Rey kept his lecture brief so we would have time to get started on sculpting those 33 bones!

Rey advised that we start with the feet, and then work our way up to the tibia, fibula, and patella that make up the lower leg.  To create the bones of the skeletal foot, Rey advised that we use top-view printed anatomical guides and “draw” the bones into our clay. The method really worked!

Photo by Ryan Patterson

Soon we had our skeletal left feet completed.  Rey demonstrated how to create toes, toenails, and tendons for a lifelike look on the right foot.  As a final touch, he added red calluses and blue-green veins in watercolor paint.

Rey gave a final demonstration to show us how to “cook” the two small bones of the lower leg in hot water.  The fibula is a very thin bone that we will eventually wrap in “muscle” on our ecorches, so we used a wire for support.  The patella (kneecap), however, is not connected to the skeleton by any bony structure, so we used a wire to show the patella’s “floating” position.  Check out my ecorche’s little left fiblua and patella enjoying their hot bath- aren’t they cute? 😉

Ta-dah! Here is my ecorche’s newly completed lower skeleton! Check back next week to see what we learn in week 4!