It has been awhile since I posted my previous project working with InstaMorph, but I was recently published in Society of Illustrators Los Angeles 52nd Annual Illustration Exhibition. The piece I submitted was Beauty of a Still Motion and I worked with a mixed media approach.
I received a few questions asking more specifically on what this plastic sculpting is like and so I have decided to post about my experience.
InstaMorph is a very affordable plastic that can be sculpted into virtually anything. You have to heat up the material in hot water. The plastic comes in a container in the form of white beads as you can see in the second picture. The temperature is recommended no higher than 150 degrees fahrenheit. This process takes up to 20 minutes and then turns into a clear form. The plastic does not hold a lot of heat but I recommend being careful when compacting the plastic because the hot water can be folded into pockets which will squirt when applying pressure!
The plastic comes to a complete solid within about 15 to 20 minutes so sculpting must be done within the time frame. For this specific illustration, my sculpting tools consisted of a palette knife, plastic bag, a bottle of sand, knife, and a cutting board (whatever I could find around my house and yes, that is a massive sunburn!). Literally anything can be used because InstaMorph is more flexible than clay at first. Once it is dry, it is a solid material you can carve, sand, or paint into. I used some of the scraps for splashes as the butterfly pulls the leaf through the paint. Also, if you bend the plastic once it is dry it gives you an array of textures you can work with (if people show interest I will upload more experiments with skin textures).
After you sculpt it, photograph, and use the lighting as a basic reference for scenes. The better you photograph the lighting you want in your scene, the easier it will be to paint over. For instance, I did not have any lighting equipment capable of producing the soft pastel atmosphere, so most of this image was edited and repainted in Photoshop CS5.
Since the material has a reflective quality, it really trends toward wet or metallic surfaces, which is why I favor working with it. However, this can also make it very difficult if this is not your intention. InstaMorph does have dye you can purchase, which I imagine will affect the specular qualities. If this intrigues you, check out their website.
Nonetheless, the best thing about InstaMorph is the ability to reheat, and reuse like brand new. I hope this spikes some interest for people to use this material, because the possibilities are endless.
This piece is a metaphor for overcoming depression by seeing life as a journey instead of limiting one’s mind to a painful present throughout life until death. It is the form of motion within time, with still frames that show an inactive past through emotion and purpose. Without this we forget what life truly is or how it became. The beauty of a still motion is its history.