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1/1 Sculptures

As well as resin, foam castings are made of the maquettes which are cut into many segments and numbered. These segments (which resemble slices of bread) are then put onto a projector and enlarged to full size onto sheets of wood. The wood will then be cut out (reduced by several inches to allow for clay) and hooked onto a sculpting armature, the structure looks very much like those little wooden dinosaur kits available in many model and toy shops.

Hardware cloth is layered over the structure to form a rigid skin upon which the clay is placed. Sculpting on this scale can take a very long time as with the T-Rex, which took a team of 10 artists 8 weeks to complete. An oil-based clay is used nowadays as water-based clay is simply too messy, and has to be covered every night to prevent it from drying out. The full-sized T-Rex sculpt took an amazing three thousand pounds of clay, which formed a thick layer on the outer structure.

Nowadays, alternative methods have been used in creating life-size sculptures which have proven to be faster and far easier. One of these use recent advances in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) that allow them to automate a significant part of this process.

The maquette is taken to Cyber F/X, where it is scanned by a 3-D digitizer. This is nothing like a normal computer scanner. There are a variety of methods used in 3-D digitizers, but the one that was used for Spinosaurus is called laser scanning.

Laser scanning takes precise measurements of the maquette by bouncing beams of laser light off its surface. As the laser scanner moves around the maquette, it sends over 15,000 beams per second. The reflected light from the beams is picked up by high-resolution cameras positioned on either side of the laser. These cameras create an image of the slice (cross section) of the object that the laser is scanning. A custom computer system collects the cross sections and combines them to create a perfect, seamless computer model of the maquette.

Cyber F/X then used the computer model to mill the life-size model of the Spinosaurus from polyurethane foam. This very rigid foam is cut to the correct shape through a proprietary process called CNC-Sculpting. This process, developed by Cyber F/X, takes the data from the full-scale computer model and divides the model into manageable chunks. The data for each chunk is then sent to the foam-sculpting machine, where a life-size section of the dinosaur is created by whittling away pieces of foam from a large, solid block using tiny spinning blades.

Once all the sections are done, the SWS team assembles the pieces like a giant 3-D jigsaw puzzle. This creates a very basic full-sized model. A lot of work still needs to be done and it is handled by a team of sculptors at Stan Winston Studio. They hand-carve the foam to add all the incredible details that make it seem real.

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