Sculpey Painting Techniques - Painting Aliens with Casey Love

Master monster maker Casey Love teaches sculpey painting techniques for creating photo-realistic aliens, monster and creature maquettes.

Jun 30, 2012

You’ve seen many lessons on the SWSCA website about sculpting.  A few examples would be:  Portrait Sculpting, Speed Sculpting, Monster Suit Sculpting, and even Part I of this series, Creature Design – Digital to Practical.  Many times when the sculpture is completed, that’s where the lesson ends.  But here, that’s where we begin.  In this week’s lesson we’ll show you how, in many cases, sculpting is only half of the process.  Where a sculpted maquette is able to truly come to life is through the painting.  As previously mentioned, Sculpey Painting Techniques is a continuation to Creature Design – Digital to Practical.  Although, this lesson definitely stands on its own as well.

The central theme in this week’s lesson is about layers.  With art in general, it’s striking how every single layer of any process builds upon the next to eventually create something truly incredible.  This is most definitely on display in this video.  Watching master creature creator, makeup effects designer, and amazing alien maquette painter, Casey Love, work his layering magic is a thing of beauty.  Starting with blue, layering on some red, then green, then eventually yellows, browns, and seemingly everything else, Casey uses layers of color like a mason uses bricks.  The eventual creation they build far surpasses any individual component.

At one point in the lesson Casey talks about how painting is what he calls the “fun” part of creature design because it’s what brings the creation to life.  Using different color patterns and designs can drastically change a character in an infinite number of directions.  He adds that sometimes you can even take a bad sculpture and bring it to life with good paint work.  Well, imagine then what it can do for a maquette that’s already amazing on its own.  “Breathing life” is the only phrase that works here, because that’s honestly what this process does.  Watch as wrinkles are shaded to pop out, lips are darkened so that they almost appear to talk at any moment, and veins and spots literally make the skin look soft to the touch.  These are all techniques that definitely “breathe life” into a piece of art.

While I focused earlier on the importance of the layering of colors, the finer details are equally important.  They continue to “breathe life” into the project down to the tiniest touch.  Watching Casey put on these final details, occasionally with a paintbrush instead of an airbrush, is absolutely fascinating to view.  Whether it’s a specifically painted vein coming out of the ear to make it look like a sensitive organ or a final epoxy on the eye that actually make it look moist, these are absolutely the icing on the cake.

From the broad patterns to the finer details, watching Casey “breathe life” into his alien maquette is honestly an intoxicating experience.  As you watch each layer subtlety build on the next, it’s both a specific lesson on painting, as well as a perfect metaphor for the layering of art itself.  Enjoy.

-Jeff Dixon