anecdotes about the creative process

Young Iguanodon Sculpture

Sculpture of a juvenile Iguanodon dinosaur. edge

During the late 1990s, I worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation on their first computer-generated movie DINOSAUR. For that production, I worked as a supervising animator over Neera, the main character's love interest, and all of the juvenile dinosaurs. On Disney movies, supervising animators were made responsible for character acting performances; however, they had limited control over character design decisions which were made by group committee. I was unhappy with the final design of the juvenile iguanodons which, in my opinion, did not look as cute as they might have been. Because of this dissatisfaction, I was inspired to create a personal sculpture - my own interpretation of how the young iguanodons should have looked.

Iguanodons were primarily quadrupeds that supposedly could switch to become bipeds as well. With that in mind, I decided to pose my sculpture as a dynamic running biped. My creation was made of Sculpey polymer clay, a substance that remains pliable until baked in an oven. Since the sculpture was to be supported by only one leg, I made a robust, rigid armature of metal and epoxy putty to start the project. The armature was strongly attached to a T-nut in the foot, which allowed the sculpture to be screwed onto a wooden base. Because Sculpey clay tends to crack if applied too thickly, I bulked out the basic shape with crushed aluminum foil and wrapped it in wire to hold it firmly in place on the armature. After securing those steps, I was able to move on to the fun part - applying the actual clay and sculpting my juvenile iguanodon with traditional tools. To simplify some of the detail process, I used custom rubber stamps for the scales on the skin. I also purchased glass eyes from a taxidermy shop to add extra realism. After the sculpture was finished and baked hard in the oven, I gave it a coat of grey primer. It was my original intention to give the sculpture a full color paint job, but for some reason I never got around to it. Maybe someday, I will feel motivated to embellish that plain grey paint with a better look.