Friday, January 8, 2016
Henry Kiwi and Dwayne Crane in The Bird Sanctuary
Between 2003 and 2005, I spent a lot of free time creating characters for The Bird Sanctuary. In my mind, it was going to be a movie, but I was never able to think of a good story to give these birdies.
The main character was going to be Henry Kiwi, which was the first character I made. Kiwi birds are considered "honorary mammals" in their native New Zealand (because they can't fly, they have whiskers and they have hairlike feathers), so I thought he would be a unique lead. Dwayne Crane (an African Crowned Crane) was supposed to be his antagonist rival---someone who can't stand flightless birds. (Like I said, I couldn't think of a good story...)
That being said, I did create quite a bit of exploratory artwork for The Bird Sanctuary, especially in 2004 and 2005.
In 2002, I got a PowerMac G4 with Photoshop and a Stylus. I had great fun testing what it could do.
The birds are made out of Sculpey, a crafting clay that can be cured in a standard oven. It smells pretty horrible when it is baking. Dwayne Crane and Phoebe Flamingo are about 12 inches tall. These were an engineering feat to make. They are free standing and had to stand up in a glass baking pan in the oven. Each bird is made up of twisted wire coat hangers, clumps of aluminum foil and many different colors of Sculpey (no painting was required). Looking at them now, I am amazed that they are structurally sound.
With their short size, Lowell Owl and Gwen Penguin were probably the easiest to build. Henry Kiwi was kind of tricky---making sure the character did not tip over and making his "hair" (with an extrusion Sculpey tool) took some time.
The most time-consuming character was the last one I made (in 2005), Brock Peacock. Creating all those eye feathers (front and back) and getting the darn bird built lead to Sculpey burnout.
I made these so long ago, that I feel like a different person made them.
Henry Kiwi makes friends with a Starling.
Dwayne Crane is not so nice to the little bird, and gets a different reaction.
Much of the conflict is courtesy of Dwayne Crane.
Henry is a very friendly, popular, and different kind of bird---one that isn't flashy, and it drives Dwayne crazy.
Dwayne has to be the best at everything.
The Bird Sanctuary is a world of birds from all over the globe.
It's a great, big, beautiful (and dangerous) world for a Kiwi.
Henry Kiwi can't fly, but he can take care of himself.
The apex bird in The Bird Sanctuary is Brock Peacock. He looks good and he knows it.
If Brock Peacock ever forgets he is handsome, he has dozens of shrieking Peahen groupies flocking around to remind him.