Join Rayce Bird for an in-depth discussion in this video Rayce Bird: Real Life Creature Creation - Film, part of Rayce Bird: Real Life Creature Creation.
- I've loved monsters my whole life. I was really inspired by Predator and Aliens and they'd be in my dreams and I would sit there and think about them for one or two hours when I was a little kid before I'd go on with my day, just sit there in bed looking up at the ceiling. There was a time where I was just terrified of putting anything that I dreamt about on paper. In fact, I used to have little stacks of paper that were just hidden, because some of them were really creepy and gross and like, a lot of gore, a lot of demonic things.
I'd have these thoughts in my head, like, oh my gosh, if someone saw this, like I'd be put in some home or something. So that was always kind of, I'd wake up and I'd try to draw that. And that inspired me to buy a little Monster Makers mask making kit when I was really young. When I really decided to do this as a career it was more of an obsession. I mean, it's something that you just can't stop doing.
And I think when you find something that you just can't stop doing and are doing it in your down time, and you think about it when you're supposed to be doing other types of work, then maybe it's a sign that you're supposed to be doing it. Steve Jobs, he would write about doing something that you're passionate about, because trying to achieve success you're always going to run into this crazy test where what you're trying to do is just going to beat you up. And the only way to break through the wall is to do something that you're passionate about, because if you're not passionate about it you'll never get through it and you'll just quit, but the things that you're passionate about you'll continue to attack and you'll continue to press forward because you love it so much.
And that's what's going to allow you to be successful in it. (fast-paced rock music) So when it comes to this guy, we have our concept that was done on the Lynda course and the big question now is how do I take this guy and move him into a real life character? It can be kind of tricky to pull this off because when I was building for the character, as you can see it's kind of void of a lot of human anatomy, and I need to make that work on a makeup.
When you are building a makeup like this it becomes more of a mask, because you're really not utilizing the actor's face or expressions as much. And that becomes kind of tricky, so with this guy he's got a little bit of a flat snout and because humans have that nose that pokes out you have to be really conscience of that, and so what ends up happening is when I sculpt the clay over the top of the bust I end up going really thin right over the nose and a few areas on the brow as well, so that when I do glue those on you get a little bit more movement out of the actor and it becomes more expressive.
(gentle music) I used to have people tell me that you have to learn how to master one thing, so you have to find what you want to do and just really spend every ounce of time you have on it to achieve great success. I always believed that that was true, and I still do, that if you want to be the best master possible at something then that's what you focus on, that's what you do for the rest of your life. But there was always a side of me that said I'm always fascinated in so many different things though.
And I learn more from failing at something than I every did achieving success. When it comes to art I just know that I want to do something creative. And right now I do a lot of special effects makeup, and I do a lot of concept art, and that's really the thing I do most right now, but that's not necessarily the thing I'm going to be doing most in five years. I don't know what that'll be, maybe I'll get into something else. And the coolest thing about experimenting in all these other artistic avenues is they all help me achieve greater success in the ones that I'm moving away from.
I started off in graphic design and when I started doing tattooing, for instance, I learned a different level of refinement and a different level of movement that helped me bring that back into typography and then all of a sudden I was better at it, even though I hadn't touched it for months. And every time I've made some kind of a jump it's always done that. And so I have to look back and say, would I ever have achieved that if I was just trying to master at one skill set? Maybe, but how long would that have taken me? So that's kept me really thirsty and continuing to go along in this crazy process.
This clay sculpture that you spend all this time on is actually destroyed, so here's some of the final shots of it before I sprayed it with a clear coat and it just helps seal the clay in, it also allows it to be removed from the mold a little bit easier. I'll take this and put a bunch of plaster on it. And I'll create one half of the mold, flip it over, remove the clay wall, put some Vasoline on, and then make the other side of the, the back half of the mold. And once I have that I rip it off and then this clay is just kind of being torn up and everything and I have to peel it out.
And then I'm able to do this casting. I'll put in foam latex, we'll mix it up in a mixer, and then pour it into the mold, and then poar the core, which is the human head, inside that, and then the foam kind of wraps around it as you sandwich the two halves together, and then we put a few belts on it, so it keeps it nice and tight, and then we take that and put it in a foam oven, and the foam oven will cook out all of the ammonia from the latex and it's really kind of stinky, but it'll create this really cool foam, nice moving, latex mask that it's really lightweight, and it's comfortable for the models to wear.
When it comes to creature design and coming up with ideas my job as an artist to try to bring that to life is to try to capture moments that I see in my head. And so sometimes it just kind of will, I'll keep thinking about it, thinking about it, thinking about it, then my hand will just start to put it out there. And then there's other times where I could be walking down the sidewalk and you step on a grape and it smashes across the concrete, then all of a sudden it gets this new form or new texture, maybe the splatter has a unique shape, and so sometimes that's the inspiration.
I'm like, oh, I need to make a character that utilizes this in some way. Face Off was a great opportunity for me to go out there and prove what I could or could not do. And I didn't go out there to be on TV, of course. I got on Face Off because I loved creating and art and I love being challenged. When I was tattooing the guy who actually mentored me, he said, "Hey, have you seen this show on TV? "They're doing a bunch of monster stuff "right in front of you and you get to watch them, "it's reality competition series." So I started watching it and it was really inspiring, really cool with what they were all doing.
My mentor called me again, he's like, "You have to try out for this, "you're good enough to do this, "I've seen your masks." And I said, "I've never put makeup on, "so I'm not really sure if I can do this." I know it's a similar process, but it seems so foreign. And I said, you know what? What's the worst thing that could happen? And I was going through college at the time and they would always push that it's not the tool that's the important thing, it's your creativity, it's the way you're approaching the design challenge that defines who you are.
And I said, okay, if this is true I should be able to try out for the show and if I were to get on the show I should still be able to get about halfway based off of just my design. Because makeup is just a tool, it's the way you deliver the message, but the message is what's important. And so I decided to apply for the show and then the next thing I knew I got a phone call and I was on the show. - Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for Rayce Bird.
(audience applauds) - But along with that came all this crazy swarm of fans and all of these people all of a sudden knew me and knew my art. And it was really kind of humbling in a lot of ways that this many people knew what that show was, knew who I was. And so I remember when I was young and I'd write to comic book artists and I remember the ones who would write me back and I remember the ones who didn't. I always told myself that if I ever got to a certain point I would always try to talk to the people who needed me for help or advice.
So after Face Off, going to the Comic Cons is kind of a great way for me to meet the fans of the show, because the Comic Con crowd, all of those people love doing the cosplay stuff and Face Off is very much an inspirational tool for a lot of those people. Yeah, my brother's here and I've talked him into letting me put a bit monstrous foam latex piece on his face. He'll barely be able to see and it might be kind of claustrophobic, so you'll either come watch a makeup demo or you'll come watch my brother get really mad at me.
(audience laughs) So what I'm going to do is I'm going to, we're going to make sure these eyes are comfortable for you. - Okay. - And then I'm going to tack it down on the brow right there around where the nose is, so you can like push it onto your skin. - Okay. - And once we get a stick, you're going to grab on the inside of this little nose ridge and that's what I want you to, so where I cut that out, yeah, and so vision's first, so you put that where you want to see out of that thing.
So that's like your push point. And this is just kind of a fit, we're just kind of seeing where it sits. So push right here on the, in between your eyes. And I'm actually going to pull this a little bit further away from your eye, give you a little bit more breathing room there. - Yeah, that's better, I can go with that. - You can handle that? I think when you show something off in the public you're making yourself available for ridicule, you're putting yourself out there.
And I think when it comes to showing off your art even if it's not, they're not where you want them to be I think that the best way to show who I am is through my art. There's also the business side of it too, you want to promote yourself. So I think that everyone should be doing that to some degree, but the biggest thing is to try to find your own voice and be able to kind of promote that voice as well. It can be really tricky because everyone's solution to that problem has to be different.
You can't really lay it out and say, oh, to find yourself in design here's the top 10 things you have to do. It's about kind of fighting through your own personal battles. It's about iteration too, you have to do something over and over and over and over again to be good at it. And the big thing is when you're not good at something you have to continue to fight against it. If you're really passionate about it and if it's really something you want to do then you have to fight and you have to go through being bad at it for a long time before you start having successes.
And at the same time, don't feel bad if you're not as great as you think you should be. As long as you're moving forward and you're willing to learn each day then I think you'll be set. I feel like for me moving forward I want to just keep creating, I want to be able to tell stories, I want people to be able to see more into the world that I grew up with. I want to be able to take those dreams that I had as a kid and show them to the world, and say, look, this is what I went through, this is what I saw, and this is what inspired me to do all the things that I do.
Whether that's going to happen or not, I don't know, but that's kind of the journey I have in front of me and that's what I'm going to push for and see where it takes me. (upbeat music)
Want to see how Rayce created the 3D model for the mask shown in the film? Watch his course, Sculpting a Creature in ZBrush and Photoshop.