I hope you won't find my extensive written Tips on Doing Friendz, Intrusive. I am by no means an expert in the field of dolls. But, I have had some first hand experience with a doll called Baby Face that paralleled this project, and like Friendz, Baby Face was identical, and inconspicuously unique, in the way the eyes were done. Many people who had every reason to feel that they knew what they were doing, made many mistakes in doing Baby Face, and the project was on the brink of being dropped, when we developed, more out of desperation than Inspiration, the processes I am about to share with you.
That was over ten years ago. No doubt, technology has exceeded what we did, many times over, by now, but I have never seen another doll with quite the same sort of pre-positioned eyes, so maybe there are still a few tips in what I am about to relate that you will find helpful.
Kirk, please understand that my comments are in no way intended to reflect on your expertise. I am only trying to help. Until just the other day, I didn't know that Hasbro even had the facilities for doing dolls in-house. The other toy companies I have worked with did not, and therefore, they had all their dolls done by sculptors like myself, and outside model shops. Thus, on the doll lines I have created in the past, I have always sculpted the original heads and refined the finished the waxes as well.
Each head was a two-part operation. In the case of Baby Face, the wax stage was by far, the more complex and critical. I have attached a photograph that will explain what I mean. The same photo was attacked to an e-mail that I just sent to Natasha, so perhaps you already have it. The top photo shows the original Sculpy head and the Wax copy cast from a pantographed enlargement of the smaller Sculpy head. You will note that the unaltered wax head at the top is quite distorted with the larger eye size making the 20 mm eyes set in the wax appear to bulge.
Friendz should not encounter distortions this extreme, as the Sculpy heads are already about 6% larger than the shrunken latex heads that became my prototype dolls. But, if the Sculpy heads must be enlarged an additional 3% to account for wax shrinkage, then distortions, similar to those shown in the top wax head might occur, and will need to be corrected and compensated for in the wax heads. If the Sculpy heads are laser scan enlarged 3% and then shrink 3% when cast into wax, the distortions and necessary corrections to the Iris Eye opening relationship might be minimized, but will still need some adjustment.
The bottom two photos show the same wax head shown at the top, after I had finished it. The eye areas were re-sculpted, directly in the wax, using an electric hot wax pen. I built up the eye areas and create new smaller openings for the 20 mm eyes. I also filled out some of the larger areas, cheeks and scalp, as they tended to shrink more than detailed areas when the wax cooled. Again the wax head pictured on the bottom is the very same wax head as that on top. The bottom photos show the head finished, but before I installed the eye plugs. I did 35 different heads, in all.
Somehow, I had the impression that I would be completing the waxes on Friendz. Therefore, I had not taken the trouble to fully refine the eye areas on the Sculpy heads. My thinking being that I would have to do them all over again, anyway, in the waxes. As you can see in the photo, the eye area can need extensive re-sculpting. Upon the realization that I will not, in fact, be doing the waxes, I delayed sending the finished Sculpy heads to enable me to do a little more refining, on the eyes, before I sent them off.
Thus, I have popped eyes into place and fine-tuned the iris to opening relationship on the Sculpy heads. It is critical that THIS RELATIONSHIP is maintained in the FINAL waxes. PLEASE LET THE SCULPY HEADS BE YOUR GIUDE IN THIS RESPECT. If the heads are enlarged 3% by laser scan, the eye areas will have to be re-sculpted in the wax to maintain the same iris to opening relationship you see in the Sculpy models when the eyes are positioned centered. By "centered" I mean front and center, staring blankly and unfocused, what I would call the Babbling Boo Position.
THIS IS THE POSITION THE PLASTIC PLUGS MUST BE IN WHEN THE MOLDS ARE MADE TO CAST THE HEADS IN WAX! You will receive them from me in this position, if they do not move in transit. I am Not gluing them in place, so they can be easily moved and removed.
Kirk I am getting a bit of a complex about the length of my E-mails, but hopefully the person who ends up doing the work might welcome my input, and be more inclined to read it with interest. I'm sure you will already know most of what I have to say but I will say it, anyway, just in case there is something in it might help you.
For starters, the actualPrototypes that we trying to emulate are actually the result of Shrinking 6%. The molds they were cast in were made from Plasticine originals 6%+ larger, in their original full size form. The latex that I had was very old and the shrinkage was rather extreme, As best I can calculate it is in the neighbor hood of 6%. I have only two pieces latex pieces here, which I did not use because the shrinkage seemed distorted, You will be able to gauge the amount the latex shrank from the two sets of latex doll pieces I sent Natasha some time ago. Measuring from the flocked dolls might be deceiving as the Flock thickens them somewhat. The shrinkage on the latex castings was sometimes quite erratic, you will see that in the end views of the body, among the zip full of photos that I just sent Natasha, the length of the body shrank about 6% but the tummy came down considerably more.
Kirk, the important thing to keep in mind here is that the final look we are trying to arrive at will come from letting the heads Shrink 6%from the Sculpy Models, not from thinking in terms of enlarging the prototypes 6%.
The Sculpy pieces I have just completed began as accurate impressions, with negligible shrinkage, taken from the same plaster molds the latex prototypes were cast from. I merely refined and perfected them. The original Plasticine sculptures were crude by comparison, but the flocking hid many of the imperfections. Thus, the Sculpy pieces are the same size as the original Plasticine models and are all uniformly 6% larger than the prototype dolls.
My guess is that if shrinkage is 6% from wax to finished Vinyl, the Sculpy pieces will all need to be uniformly enlarged 3% or so to allow for shrinkage in the wax casting. I suggested the possibility the other day to Natasha in an E-mail that I don’t know if it was passed on to you, or not, that perhaps first stage bronze molds could actually be made from Laser scan copies directly, Using wax to make refinements and correct for the eyes etc. I did some heads of this nature for Fisher Price that I created from a combination of the laser scan plastic with wax additions. I'll ad a photo to the zip file, one, which I have already sent to Natasha.
When the Sculpy heads and body parts are translated into wax, whether or not they are enlarged, additional sculpting will be required to adjust for the altered eyes. The Sculpy pieces I have just supplied began as accurate impressions with negligible shrinkage taken from the same plaster molds the latex prototypes were cast from.
There is negligible shrinkage in the Sculpy. Thus, the Sculpy heads and body pieces are virtually the same size as the original Plasticine sculptures, Uniformly about 6% larger than the prototypes throughout. The only difference being that the Plasticine sculptures were very rough, they depended on the flock to get by. I have refined and improved the sculpting extensively in the Sculpy Models.
Kirk the thought occurs to me that if Laser Scans could be used to make first generation bronze molds, combined with wax, but essentially instead of it. The present Sculpy heads with the eyes removed, allowing the sockets to be replicated, could be scanned and duplicated as Same-Size Laser Scans. The Laser Plastic heads and parts could be sanded and refined, by working with wax, and filling in the grooves in some instances, and sanding the ridges down in others, then setting the eye and neck plugs in place, with wax.
This would supply heads ready to be made into first generation bronze molds, with no distortion in the eyes. The scans being the identical size to the Sculpy parts, 6% larger than the desired end result could then be used to make the bronze molds, instead of wax. This might give us a more accurate reproduction directly, rather that enlarging the heads by laser scan 3%, and casting a wax from that to come down 3% again as a wax head. Might it not avoid the wax stage all together, and the accompanying work and Distortions? Am I Crazy? Would this work?
I must stress that The eyes will appear larger in the finished dolls. This is due to the fact that the eye plug areas will not shrink, while the rest of the head will. Furthermore, the 20 mm eyes will push out the vinyl somewhat, making the eye openings seem even larger in the vinyl dolls. This was by design. So the size and shape and relationship of the Iris and Eye opening that is to be emulated in the refining of the waxes should be that of the Sculpy Models, not the prototypes. By doing this, the look of the prototypes will be achieved in the final dolls.
The key to making this happen are the EYE PLUGS Two Kinds, The first is Plastic tooled from the actual Plastic eyes. The second will be turned from Brass or some other appropriate Metal. The plastic plugs are used to translate the Sculpy heads to wax and must be in place in the RTV [or whatever is used] molds when the wax heads are poured. They [or a few sets of fresh ones] are also essential for posing the eyes.
Metal Rods the diameter of the hole of the rear shaft of the plastic eyes must also be fashioned, The length a can be anything that is workable. They must be long enough to pass through the eye plugs and protrude from the front half of the mold the RTV molds the wax heads are poured in.
The plastic plugs MUST BE VERY DRILLED ACCURATLY. I have included one of the ones that were actually used in baby face. If the hole is not perfectly centered in the front lens area, the focus of the eyes will be thrown off. Galoob's Model shop made the mistake of trying to drill these with the eyes assembled, and thus many were wasted, As it was difficult to hold the round eye in place for drilling. At that time, the eyes were made better than today and the white halves were glued together. Please note that the front lenses pop out with the aid of an Exacto blade or something sharp to pry down and lift the lens out with. The front and back sections of the eye should be separated for drilling.
The lens should be removed from one or more front pieces. This will disclose the cup area, which has a lip that always remains the same. Now a jig must be created to lock a front piece firmly in place, a flat board with a raised section to hold the front half of the eye or a little frame to grab it from the sides. You can do this however you like. The jig should now be locked in place with clamps on a drill press and adjusted so that a hole, the diameter of the metal rods [and the rear shaft of the eye] can be drilled perfectly centered in the flat area inside the lens cup. Because this is always the same on every eye, once the jig is correctly placed it can be used to drill any number of eyes. If the hole is not perfectly centered the resulting eye placement will be poor. I always double check before using a plug to make sure the hole is properly centered.
Now all the eye plugs can be drilled front halves only, The lenses do not have to be removed on the others once the jig is properly placed, but care must be taken that the drill is not diverted, veering to one side, when it contacts the rounded lens. .
If rods cannot be obtainedthe exact diameter of the rear hole then slightly thicker, never thinner, rods can be used and the inside of the rear shaft can be drilled out a little to fit. The rods must slip in easily without difficulty, but also fit firmly, without moving. On Baby Face some kind of very strong shiny rods that slipped in and out smoothly with rounded of edges were used. They almost appeared to be chrome plated.
Now the two white halves of the eye plugs should be glued together so they will not come apart in use. The newer plastic eyes made now separate easily. Hopefully the ones Hasbro manufactures will be closer tolerances and will not need to be glued when snapped together.
Before the Sculpy heads [or an enlargement] are molded in RTV to create the mold for wax, plastic eye plugs must be placed in the eye sockets. The placement is critical though not nearly so much as later in the posing process. I am sending you the Sculpy heads with a eyes sitting in place, but not affixed. On the new middle sized head I will pose the eyes in approximately the eye position I feel they should assume. All the other heads when it comes to posing should replicate their corresponding prototype heads eye positions exactly. The new large head with wider smile should use the position of the large redhead, It is essentially, the same head with a wider smile and slightly altered lower eye lines. The person who poses the eyes [wish it was me] should favor the way the eye contacts the top contour of the eye opening in emulating the eye position, because I have changed the bottom contour slightly. I will discuss eye position later.
All the plugs must be set in place centered in the eye opening, like I have placed the eyes you will see in the heads now. Then the rods must be carefully slipped in, and an effort should be made to make sure both rods are on the same horizontal plane. They might be on a slight tilt but both rods should tilt to the same degree. If one rod veers up and the other down, the eyes cannot be properly focused. They can both be lined up the same in the opening but if the axes are different they will not focus. Now the rods are carefully slipped out without changing the eye positions. And the eyes are Temporarily glued in place from inside the head. Use a little adhesive like a dab of 5 minute epoxy or even a few drops of melted wax applied to the place inside where a portion of the eyeball meets a portion of the inner eye socket, this will only be a temporary bond so do not overdo it!
Now, a mold is made in RTV, or whatever you use, to make a two part mold, front and back, to pour the wax into to cast the wax heads. A pouring spout must also be fashioned, It is VERY IMPORTANT that the diameter of the Neck position be retained The neck holes have been very carefully placed to give the best appearance.
Now a mold is poured of the back half of the head.
When that is set and the release agent is applied the RODS ARE INSERTED IN THE EYE PLUGS and the front half of the Mold is poured. Make sure the metal rods protrude above the surface of the mold! When that is set the rods must be pulled out first and then the mold can be separated, and is ready to cast the wax head
Then the wax is poured and when the walls are the correct thickness the excess wax is poured out, leaving a hollow image of the head.
When that is thoroughly cooled the rods must again be pulled out First. Then the wax head can be removed from the mold. Next the neck hole must be carefully trimmed. If a pour spout the exact diameter as the neck hole was used, make sure it is not cut off flush when trimming., or the exact neck position will be lost. Leave a little sticking up, then an Exacto blade can be used to cut down and inward along the line to indicate neck plug placement. Its all right if the hole is a little bigger than the plate, or whatever is inserted to serve either as the neck plug or a holder for it can still be centered and the gap filled with wax, at least the position will be retained. Putting in the neck plug and thus sealing up the head is the final step after the eyes are done and the eye plugs positioned. For now, the neck hole must remain open.
Now through the neck hole the wax covering the back of the eye plugs should be cut away , to create a situation like the Sculpy heads, with just enough wax to hold the eyes temporarily in place, then the eye plugs are wiggled , inserting the rods helps , just enough to loosen them and with some fooling around and coaxing, they can be made to move and loosen, Then tapping the eyes gently with some blunt narrow dowel rod or something causes them to fall down into the head. That is it, a wax head ready to be finished.
NECK PLUG. This can be a variety of things, In Baby Face it was a plastic cylinder that something was attached to later. This was good as I could install it in the Wax head and still have full access to the inside to work on the eyes. It is visible in the photo. The heads might have to have a hole or opening that is opens in the rear and is later sealed with some kind of separate scull cap, that is then covered with flock and hair. You will know all this better than I do. I just what to emphasize now that one MUST KEEP IN MIND the fact that the neck socket in the head, like the eyes will not shrink at the same rate as the neck. So the plug that creates the socket or cup in the head will have to be pre reduced in size, by how much, I do not know. It MIGHT be as much as 6%.
Please note the necks on the medium and large dolls are the same so the plugs can theoretically be the same, the cup should be ball shaped and a ball fits into it about half way+. Also keep in mind the fact that there will be flock on the neck, but not, most likely, inside the socket. This will figure in the measurements. The top of the neck should also be a matching ball shape. How the two are attached is open to your discretion. I discussed the matter in some detail in the long letter I sent some time back that is available I on the CD I made for Hasbro.
Now the heads need to be finished, and major distortions compensated for. Large areas shrink more that the detailed ones do. AS THE FINISHED WAXES SHOULD MATCH THE ORIGINAL SCULPY HEADS ALL DISTORTIONS AND UNEVEN SHRINKAGE ETC. SHOULD BE EASY TO GUAGE AND RESCULPT WHERE NECCESSARY BY COMPARING THE WAXES TO THE SCULPY HEADS. This will be made easier to do in this case as the finished waxes should be exactly the same size and identical to the Sculpy heads in every way, The same is true for the body. The Sculpy happens to be 6% up, just because that’s the way it worked out, but in this case, as the waxes should be 6% as well. Once the sixes is compensated for the waxes become the same in every aspect as the Sculpy heads.
Let me point out one final thing about the eye shapes. Please be aware that the eye openings are of subtly different shapes by intention, only a few are perfectly round, Essentially the more a doll smiles the more the lower edge comes up and flattens out the bottom of the circle. It is subtle but plays a key role in the expressiveness of the dolls. Please handle these contours with care and match the Sculpies exactly. This match must be accomplished with the irises centered to gauge the relationship to the size and a shape of the eye opening,
This is essentially one of the things I expected to be doing. It is also an opportunity to make last minute refinements and improvements. Now, when the heads are Perfect and the necks still open it is time to pose and set the final brass eye plugs.
One thing to think about: somewhere along the way one should inquire about what kind of Vinyl surface is best to grab the flocking cement and have the molds sand basted if that will improve adhesion.
POSINGTHE EYES AND SETTINGTHE EYE PLUGS.
Please follow Natasha's suggestion and USE MY ACTUAL SAMPLES AS A GUIDE TO EMULATE EXACTLY FOR POSING THE EYES. That is the best way to go. OF COURSE, BETTER STILL, IF YOU WOULD LIKE, WOULD BE TO SEND ME THE FINISHED WAX HEADS AND THE PLUGS AND I WILL BE GLAD TO POSITION AND SET THE EYES IN THE WAXES FOR YOU, GRATIS.
Meanwhile, here are some observations on using my prototypes as a guide: All of the Sculpy heads, except one of the two new ones, has a direct parallel in the prototypes.
The eyes of the large head with a wider smile should be posed like my large redhead prototype. The one totally new head is in the middle-sized range, and I have an intuitive feeling as to how her eyes should go, so perhaps I will hold them in place with a little glue.
I am a little puzzled as to how that would serve as a guide for the eventual pose, as they will have to be removed in order to cast the heads in wax. Perhaps you intend to photograph the head or something.
What One Needs: Brass Eye Plugs these are essentially the same a size as the balls of the eyes. I don’t recall that on Baby Face the stem was replicated. I believe they were just round balls or perhaps slightly elongated, with a hole the same diameter as the rod drilled through the middle, they were turned on a lathe, and the hole was perfectly centered. They were essentially the same diameter as the plastic eye balls 20 mm. I know they fit the opening occupied by the plastic eye perfectly. I do recall that, early on, in the process of doing Baby Face some minor adjustment had to be made by the mold maker to prevent the eyes from protruding slightly. I don’t know of the ball was made a little deeper or the hole through which the stem protruded inside the eye a little bigger to correct the problem, but this should be perhaps considered. What ever it was, the problem was correctable in the mold, so I would think you could go the way you know and see what happens with one head and make adjustments if any are needed on the others. Unlike Baby Face I want to see the holes get a little bigger when the heads shrink, so what ever happened that did not look perfect on Baby Face might be just what is to be desired here. I know the eyes protrude on the latex, and with the flocking, I like it
Now also needed are Rods, one for each eye plug. I believe they might become part of the mold, I'm pretty sure the eye plugs do and I think these very strong rods keep the eye plugs firmly in place and protrude through the back of the eye Plugs to supply the guide to hold the stems in position.
Also needed are clean or cleaned up plastic eye plugs eight sets in all would be a luxury and permit all the dolls to be posed together for the best selection of poses but less sets will do, the plugs survive the process and are used just temporarily. The most perfectly drilled plastic eye plugs must be chosen. Then the lenses with holes must be popped out and temporarily replaced with solid lenses. It is a good idea to trim off excess plastic a little, so the lenses can pop in and out with ease. The lenses, ten years ago, were held in place with double-sided tape, if the new ones have it that should be removed.
Now with the eye plugs with solid lenses, which look and are exactly like the regular eyes, except there is a secret hole inside the eyes, are posed. I usually take a day or two to pose them, checking them throughout the day and then once more the following morning to make the sure the pose is absolutely right. It's amazing how much one's perspective can change over night. When the eye position is right, I know it. Some are easy some and feel right, right away. Others lead me to make many adjustments.
Posing eyes like Babbling Boo ere easy. There is only one aspect to them the straight forward look means the eyes only have to fit the open spaces with equal white showing around the sides and lower edge, The eyes are not focused they stare out into infinity.
Now the eyes on Friendz and family will be required to accomplish three goals, all at once, whoever sets them will need to be aware of all the nuances, if the doll is to come to life. I'm telling you my tricks and methods, but be warned the biggest trick of all is the skill and intuition it takes to execute them, That is why I am offering to pose the eyes for you myself. I want these dolls to come to life and succeed. But here is how to proceed if you chose to have someone there attempt it.
By the way, this process can only take place using actual eyes in the form of plastic eye plugs. The sensitivity required cannot be accomplished using brass plugs with holes representing pupils.
Factor one POSE. This is the position the eyed appear to be posed in, viewing the doll head on from the front. Each doll has poses that look good and fit and ones that do not, But viewing from the front POSE is what the eyes appear to be doing, looking to the left or right, up, or down. The pose must paint a pretty picture, not be too extreme or too ordinary. There must be enough happening in the pose to keep these dolls looking different from all other dolls. The eyes must all fit the space comfortably. Poses that real eyes do in real life don’t always suit these dolls, I play with the pose until it feels and looks right from the front.
Factor two is POINT OF VIEW this overlaps with factor three, I am looking for words here to describe things I have never had to convey in words before. For lack of a better term I will call factor three FOCAL POINT.
POINT OF VIEW is that point, to which the doll is looking, seen as looking at the viewer, when the viewer is standing at that point. It is a point where the doll looks like it is looking forward when the head is, in fact, turned. This is not easy to describe in words, but if you handle one of the samples, you will see what I am saying, When the doll is turned, a point is reached where she is actually looking at the viewer. Unless THE POINT OF VIEW is working at the same time as the POSE the whole thing falls apart, becomes uncomfortable and out of joint.
Not many people are consciously aware of these elements, but most people have an innate sense when something is not quite right, They sense it in a second, in a human being. But they don’t expect it in a doll, in fact, not being right is one of the signals that tells them a doll is a doll, Ah, but when it is Right in a doll, that’s what brings a doll to life! There is a delicate balance to be hit here for each time the POINT OF VIEW needs to be adjusted the POSE also changes, and sometimes it no longer looks good. The best illustration of what I am talking about is perhaps shown in some of the photos. The shot of the dolls the blond baby being hugged by her older sister shows what I would call the POSE. While the shot of the baby alone in which her head is really turned, yet she is looking directly at the viewer is an example of POINT OF VIEW. There must be a comfortable and natural position where even though the eyes are posed the head can be turned so that can look directly at the viewer.
The last factor is a subtle one, FOCAL POINT is the distance from the doll that the eyes appear to FOCUS. This is a subtle adjustment. It is, in essence, a movement of the eyes on the vertical plane. If the eyes just point dead straight, the focus becomes infinity, and the doll is looking at either something very far away or at nothing at all. If the eyes move closer together as the object they are viewing moves closer If the Focal Point was only inches away the doll would appear cross eyed, We are talking of subtleties here. But if you pick up a Friendz doll you can tell how far away she is from you, the object she is looking at. Some might be arm's length from an adult, some arm's length from a child. I try to hit an intuitive compromise. You can see what degree of subtlety and delicate nuance we are dealing with here. And why this can't be achieved in the abstract using brass plugs to set the pose.
If you pick up and handle any of the Friendz prototypes you will see that there is a SWEET SPOT that can be discovered at which the doll looks you directly in the eyes. You will be able to determine exactly the right angle, and exactly how far away to hold it, so that its eyes focus on you. A Doll that does not have this spot and at the same time look comfortable and right from every angle is not posed correctly, nor will it come to life. The one exception you might notice is the baby, who sucks her thumb, I purposely made her gaze a little spacey.
After the poses are determined. I take a very sharp pencil and carefully trace the outline of where the eye opening touches on the visible white portion of the eye.
Then I carefully move the eye so that the lens area is free of any overlapping of the wax contour and carefully remove the solid lens and replace it with one with a hole drilled. Then I reposition the eye, using the pencil line as a guide and fine tune the setting until I am sure it is perfect. Then working inside the head I apply enough hot wax to hold the eye in place temporarily and make sure the eyes do not move during the next steps, Now I insert the rods into the holes in the eye plugs.
Then I mix up a small amount of Hydrocal and carefully lob it onto the area around the eyes, being careful to stay clear of the nose. I need enough to make a little mold of Hydrocal that will capture the position of the rods and enough of the adjacent area to properly key it into the correct position in the future. Then I let the plaster set, When it is cooled I carefully slide out the rods. A little Vaseline on them beforehand helps them to slide free. Once the rods are carefully removed, the Hydrocal mini-mold is lifted off, and the plastic eye plugs are removed as well.
Now, the Brass eye plugs are inserted. Through trial and error and careful handling they are manipulated to line up with the former eye position and with the Hydrocal impression in place, the rods are reinserted in the brass eye plugs. When the fit is right you will know it as every thing locks into place perfectly. Then, from inside the head, the brass eye plugs are fully impacted in wax including some of the protruding rod inside.
When the wax is cooled and set, the rods can be carefully removed and the result is that the perfectly positioned eyes have been replaced by perfectly positioned plugs that replicate every nuance of their perfect positioning, perfectly. Of course, Kirk, the irony here is that in about the same amount of time it took me to write this I could have set the eyes myself. The rods must be sent along with the finished wax but leaving them out will prevent the rods from being hit in transit and knocking theplugs out of position
I hope that what I have written is helpful. I will send a Zip-file with a variety of material that might help, including the early letter, even longer than this, that touches on other aspects of the dolls, like the joints which have to be determined before the body waxes can be finished and the holes placed etc.