Friday, April 18, 2008

Down from the High Lonesome (p13) Now the Human Side

(Before I get started, to enlarge the photo's, just click on them)
Now to create the Mountain Man and the Indian woman. Just like the horse, everything has to do with human proportions. There's a great website I just found on human proportions. Go to

Proportions were developed by the Egyptians and Greeks thousands of years ago. According to accepted artistic convention, dating from the Greek Classical period, the head of a god or goddess is represented as 1/8 of the total height, whereas the head of a man is 1/7 and the head of a woman is 1/6.5-1/7 of the total height.
Most artists today measure human figures by 7 and 1/2 heads tall. As shown in the illustration above.
Now that I'm combining horses and humans, I have to come up with an equation for the scale of the man and woman to the scale of the horse.
As you can see below, I open a photo I took of one of my models on horse back, and in the computer's windows program, I open the photo (fig. 1). In the viewing program there is a magnifying slider that allows me to zoom in on the photo. I take my caliper set at the head measurement of the horse I've created in clay. I just magnify the photo till the head of the horse (fig. 2)in the picture matches the clay horses head measurement. Once I get that, then I just have to measure the man's head (fig. 3)to get the scaled head measurement for this piece. This method can be done with feathers, guns and just about anything.

Now I mark the head measurements on the base of the clay (picture below, fig. 4). I mark out 4 heads, because the center or groin area of the figure falls about 4 heads down from the top of the figure.
Then I take 1/8th inch copper tubing, and bend a length in half. The area of the bend is where the shoulders will be, so I place this bend 1 and 1/2 heads down from the first mark (fig. 5). I then mark where the bottom of the 4th head measurement falls on the tubing. This is where I make two right angle bends. This is where the top of the legs femur is located. I measure down 2 heads to the knees from the femur bend, and then from the knee to the bottom of the foot, I measure 2 more heads. Finished base armature of the figure is shown in figure 6. This is the one for the female so her hips will be 1 and 1/2 heads wide. I subtract from this measurement, for clay, and this is the width of the hips. I take a single length of copper tubing and use it for the head and neck. I subtract from the top of the head for the clay.

Now if your keeping track, the measurements I laid out for these figures worked out to 8 heads tall. I need that to make the figures believable on the back of the horse. Sometimes longer legs work best. For a standing figure, it's up to the artist as to whether they make the figure 7 1/2 heads tall or 8.
In the photo below, I am shown placing the support for the figure into the horses back. I make a copper tubing fork. Forked because it needs to be pushed into the clay. If I made it a straight piece of tubing, the main armature in the clay of the horse, will be in the way. So being shaped like a fork, it will miss the armature, and will also be more stable.
Shown is the figure of the woman attached to the support. You can see the added head and neck piece. Her shoulders will be narrower than the males. A female is ideally 1 1/2 heads wide at the shoulders and males are 2 heads wide. I subtract for clay, once again in this measurement.

The final photo shows both man and woman now on their horses. The man is on the front horse. Tomorrow I start to add clay. I may raise the male on the back, because he will be riding in a saddle, so I need to add to the space between the horse and his bottom.