3D Goggles!

Sorry for the silence, good peoples.. I’m wading with Grim Purpose through the mires of book-making.

I’ve always had a hard time drawing Babbage on-model, so I finally made a maquette!

Some process (I’m using SuperSculpy, for the interested):

PROTIP: When sculpting a maquette, FIRST affix the armature to a stand, THEN start sculpting! Because it’s bloody hard to hammer it down afterwards without smooshing your poor mini-Babbage. This is what happens when you launch haphazardly into a project without fully considering the endgame or consequences, which is how I found myself writing a book, so let that be a Dreadful Warning.

Other signs that it may be time to reflect on where one is in life and how one wound up in this strange place is when you find yourself making little loo-roll cravats eeeeeee!

(at this point my husband walked into the room and then slowly backed out again)

Doesn’t he look DASHING?

I think I need something sturdier for the jacket, maybe kitchen roll?

There IS a reason for this, and it’s a GOOD reason too– back in The Day, when we used to animate on paper with marks made with burnt sticks in a cave somewhere, we would get issued with maquettes to keep the drawing consistent and to be able to draw difficult angles. Thinking of this just made me dig through my giant ancient box of 2d animation junk..

Gosh here’s a piece of animation history for you– some photos of the rough maquettes for The Iron Giant, by Carla Fallberg (no I didn’t get to keep the maquettes themselves, SADNESS):

So now we can solve the burning mystery of: what does Babbage look like from 3/4s top?


ADDENDUM:  Just another practical tip: it’s good to take a photo and then draw over it to check if it looks like the character.. I think he’s pretty close!


  1. douglas442 on August 29, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Hey Sydney!

    I’m leaving this message here, instead of as a reply to your August 14th post, because clicking on the “Comment” link for that one leads to a “Page Not Found”, for some reasons.

    Sadly, Edinburgh would have been too far a travel distance ( at present, anyway ) from scorching hot central California for me to have attended. Maybe someday!

    But I am anxiously awaiting any and all news on “The Book”! Many Congratulations on that deal! You can sign me up for a first-in-line Advanced Purchase the moment they start gearing up the printing-presses!

    Then, of course, we’ll all have to start waiting for The Movie…

    … and I second the motion for a “Babbage-Bobble-Head”!

  2. Skauthen on June 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I feel like I should… erase everything I’ve EVER drawn and start making maquettes.

  3. Adelie on May 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I’ll second that recommendation for a 3D Brunel.

    Wonderful work – please keep it up!

  4. Clare on May 16, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Fascinating to watch the process – thank you!

  5. Mike Stone on May 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Sheer. Awesome.

    It sounds like you had fun making him. Good. That’s what makes the process so much fun to watch from out here in spectator land.

  6. Telzey Amberdon on May 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

    OMG, that’s amazing–you’re talented in so many mediums! Plus, it convinces me more than ever that the man to play Babbage is David Hewlett, the actor who played Dr. Rodney McKay on Stargate. McKay being something of a take-off on a Babbage-style genius. He’d make a good Babbage descendant, if he were a real person, of course.

  7. palenoue on May 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Any chance you could scan Babbage so your fans can print him out on 3D printers?

    • Barnesm on May 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

      A 3D Brunel would be almost to awesome.


      But with a scan to produce a model on a 3D printer would be a great boon.

      • palenoue on May 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        I’m already planning on printing out the gears and stuff for a small difference engine. it would be great to have a 3D model of Babbage, Lovelace and Brunel to print out for a diorama or something.

  8. Dave Van Domelen on May 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    1) Did you bake the Sculpey, or is this a permanently soft sculpture? (I stopped using Sculpey years ago, I prefer two-stage epoxy clay, less issues with warping in the oven.)

    2) If I dug out my Iron Giant DVD, would I be able to find your name in the credits, or were you under one of those “so-and-so Studios” umbrellas?

  9. Karen on May 11, 2013 at 2:47 am

    He’s a little unsettling but still cool. I would totally buy a bust of Lovelace. With 3d printing it might be doable!

  10. Rico on May 10, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks for posting the “making of” pics and explanations. I had been wondering if you were working off 3d models, now I know. If sculpty gets baked then shouldn’t you worry about the object being solid? I’ve only worked with clay and in that case having a thick solid piece is asking for trouble (trapped moisture evaporating and expanding and blowing up). Maybe since sculpty is cooked at a lower temp is doesn’t matter? Also, when you have a wire skeleton, do you have to worry about the wire expanding during baking?

    • =Tamar on May 15, 2013 at 2:44 am

      I’ve baked Sculpy on wire, with no trouble. I think you’re right and it’s the lower temperature that makes the difference, that and the fact that Sculpy isn’t a water-mixed medium. Just don’t make closed hollow objects and you’re fine.

  11. Redshift on May 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Kinda weird — even though the maquette matches up well with the drawing, by itself it looks more… frog-like, or something, to me. It may be because the lips seem more prominent than in the drawn version. Regardless, he is quite dashing when dressed!

  12. John on May 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Your husband can rest easy. It’s not creepy and obsessive until mini-Babbage has a mini-form.

    Though, to be fair, that’s pretty much the size I envision him being, now…

  13. Laurie on May 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot about using polymer clay to make largish sculptures, but have yet to try it. Is this maquette solid Sculpy, or is there something else as a core?

    • sydney on May 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      There’s a little thick wire to hold it up, but it’s pretty much solid sculpey. I don’t know about using something to build up from a core.. I’d worry about cracks when baked? But I’m defintely no expert! If I were to do a full-body one I’d definitely think through the armature a lot more.

      • =Tamar on May 15, 2013 at 2:42 am

        I’m told that you can use cores with Sculpy – even styrofoam (which melts out or something, without damage to the sculpture). I’d be more worried about cracks with solid Sculpy. On the other hand, solid Sculpy is less likely to break from casual pressure on an unexpectedly thin spot. Still, Sculpy is pretty strong stuff. I’ve seen a thin Sculpy figure (over wire) used as a hood ornament on a motor vehicle.

  14. sara on May 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Ok, now it has become somewhat crucial to my life’s existence to see the Great Brunel in 3-d.
    Also, I think there is a way to make money off of 3-d models of your characters.

    • Sharla on May 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Dammit. Now I’m going to have a mental image of a Babbage bobble-head doll leaning over my shoulder all day. One day I will learn not to read the comments before breakfast.

    • Edward on May 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

      You can see IKB in 3D sitting in a chair about half way down Platform 1 at Paddington Station.