Orang Mother with Baby

ok, i said i will show her finished, but she is not yet… for i decided to carve the elaborate border idea i had, and not just the plain ring. as the carving is now, i believe my idea will look great, and enhance the mood of the carving, even though it will “just be” a frame…

but i have something to show and tell which i think might be very helpful for any relief carving… to illustrate my point i made fotos while i carved orang moms hair on head …

i first drew with pencil roughly how i want have the bigger locks, and then rough out the shapes using a deep round gouge like a #8,4mm and then sharpening up the edges a little with a small u-tool. i first did cut the top layers of hair and then working down to the deeper apearing layers of hair. the result was this :


then i worked over the whole hair with cutting the borders of the locks clean and sharp, by making stop cuts and removal cuts with an almost flat too (i did use a #2,5mm, or 2mm if space was too tight for the larger one). this has sharpened up the forms :


now i went over the whole hair with my small u-tool, and cut in lines inside the shapes of the single locks to suggest the flow of the single hairs… this is what i got :


looks quite good, but it is not really good. why ? i hear you asking … well, i tell you … as we can see from the stong shadows in the noses for example, the lightning is pretty dramatic, but still the hair is hardly visible in many areas… can you see orang mom´s ear ? no you cannot, and neither can i even though i know where it is since i carved it. also, look at the locks at her forhead, they look like pasted on and not fluffy… altogether we can say, until now the hair is not good, since it is way too flat. that is the reason why it does not read well, despite the dramatic lighting.

ok, now we know what the reason is, the hair is too flat. sounds familiiar when you carve reliefs, does it not ? so, what can we do to improve that hair. how can we make it look more 3d when in many regions the whole depth the hair can have is only 2mm ?

some people suggest now “do undercuts !” … and they argue, undercuttings yield shadows, and these shadows separate the forms… in my opinion, this is the wrong way, and is in fact quite difficult to carve. have you ever tried to under cut something in a very narrow region ? even with sharp tools, this often left fuzzies simply because you hardly can see where to cut there, ,,,

another disadvantage of undercutting is, that it weakens the wood above the undercut, and more importantly from an artistic point of view, the shadows it creates are wrong. they are not natural shadows you would see.

so, my solution is as follows : i avoid undercuts at all places where they not belong to, but cut them where the forms dictate them. fist let´s look at the result of my improvements. note that the lightning is actually less dramatic than in the previous foto, since the shadows in the noses reveal they are more washed out. nevertheless, we can, for example, ow see her ear, and how a strand of hair goes behind and another in front. also the locks on her forehead are more fluffy, and we can see most of the hair strands well…


so, what did i do ?


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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamara
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 17:33:25

    Yeah! Doing a series just on motherhood would be something I know you and I would both love to do! I love this Doris. It touches my heart because I can relate to the mom in how she cares for her special baby. The composition you chose for this looks really nice too with an interesting side angle in the forefront. I’ve got a book that shows anatomy of the ape and I’ll send some pics although you’ve got it down very well. I don’t know what babies eyebrow region looks like but on the adults that area protrudes quite a bit. I love the beady eyes that you gave the momma. Also, the baby apes little nose is really cute. I look forward to watching the rest of the pics as this progresses.


    • dorisfiebig
      Aug 06, 2009 @ 20:16:57

      lol…tamara, i just wanted write you an email to tell you about my new project, and there you have found it already … and even send me anatomy pics ! i just received them … wow, tamara, thank you…
      after i posted, i have changed baby already tremendously, that is, only very few tiniest woodchips fell, but it made changed his eyes completely, and the nose a little, and yes, as you mentioned, baby needs have a strong eyebrow region too, though softer than its mom has,,,i did that too, and in my opinion, got closer to the feelings i want portray…i will post soon. thank you so much for your encouraging comment, tamara !


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