The creation of the Snark

Considering all the many ways I could create this nasty little creature, I thought that sculpting it out of polymer clay would be the best way to
capture all its organic details, without having to melt any plastic or work with other hazardous chemicals like I usually do with my creations.
While there are a few versions of the Snark to choose from, I decided
to mostly sculpt mine after the high-definition model from Half-Life,
with its eye taking inspiration from the version seen in the Half-Life
remake Black Mesa.

Instead of buying a big blob of expensive polymer clay that would
probably not even bake properly at that thickness, I also bought
aluminum foil that could be crumpled up into various structural
shapes and then be covered in clay, while a coil of aluminum wire
would also give the legs some extra strength.

Since making a big ball of aluminum foil is probably not the best
option either, I wanted to make an internal structure out of a piece of
wood that I saved from my house, just because it's over 100 years
old.

The top and side profiles of the Snark were traced onto a piece of
paper as reference for shaping the piece of wood.

The antique piece of wood was already somewhat Snark shaped, but
cutting it down to size with a sharp knife was taking far too long, so I
had to come up with another option.

Setting an electric saw on the highest speed and rubbing a piece of
wood against it is probably never a safe idea, but at least it worked for
quickly shaping it into an internal Snark structure, with lots of
sawdust to show for it.

With the antique piece of wood properly Snark shaped, I could further
define its body by wrapping it in with aluminum foil until it got to the
desired shape and size.

An internal leg armature was made from the aluminum wire, and the
shape and thickness of the legs were further filled out with aluminum
foil.

After taping the leg armature onto the bottom of the body, I further
secured it with wide headed nails that were hammered into the
internal wooden structure.

I thought it would be best to separately sculpt and cure its legs to
have something to hold onto while sculpting the rest, and of course
they would then be more durable when the Snark is standing upright.

After covering the leg armature with clay, several lines were sculpted
into the claws to simulate the grains of whatever these alien claws are
supposed to be made of.

Despite all the trouble along the way, I always enjoy sculpting things in clay, and this particular polymer clay worked out really well for
sculpting a nasty little organic creature, and I will most likely use this type again for sculpting other organic looking prop replicas, such as
Gordon Freeman's Hivehand.

If you found this project tutorial helpful, please support my future projects on Patreon.

Thanks to

Ace Of Clay for inspiring me to create the Snark out of polymer clay.
Staedtler for making the Fimo Professional polymer clay.
ITS B.V. for making the aluminum foil.
Whoever chopped the lumber for my house over 100 years ago.

Project duration

1 week, 6 days - Between 15 February 2019 and 2 March 2019.

Costs spent

Fimo Professional black polymer clay - 139,90 NOK
Rema 1000 aluminum foil - 17,90 NOK
Aluminum wire - 89,90 NOK
Silver epoxy putty - 0 NOK - Escess from my Xenomorph costume.
Block of wood - 0 NOK - Excess from my house.
Tamiya paints - 0 NOK - Excess from my Pheropod.

Total - 247,70 NOK / $29,35 USD


- Jehudah Design





With the legs all baked and hardened, the whole body of the Snark
could be covered in clay.

A small wire armature was also made for the beak stalk that I wanted
to sculpt in an open and extended position to make the Snark look a
bit more alive and aggressive.

After sculpting in all the pointy edges and other ridges, the beak stalk
was baked and hardened so the small details would not be
accidentally warped when sculpting the rest of the Snark.

A hole was also drilled into the back of the beak stalk where a
threaded rod could be screwed into it.

After removing some of the clay where the beak stalk should be, a
hole was drilled into the wooden structure where the threaded rod
would hold the beak stalk in place.

With the beak stalk securely screwed into place, I could start
sculpting what I presume are most likely gills of some sort around it.

I suppose there is some sort of breathing issue that make the Snarks
blow up after a minute or so in our atmosphere.

With the gills complete, I could start sculpting the plastron that I
wanted to give an interesting texture by poking the tip of my sculpting
tool all over the surface of the clay.

For whatever reason, the Snarks seem to have several body segments
with 4 heavy wrinkles on each, so several snakes of clay were stuck
onto its sides and blended together to form these wrinkly segments.

The wrinkly segments were added all around the Snark towards its
backside where they appear to come together in a more triangular
pattern in the texture files.

Since I was running out of clay at this point, I decided to remove the
clay from the top of the Snark to fill out the shape of the shell with
more aluminum foil instead.

After making a thick shell of aluminum foil, it could conveniently be
stapled onto the wooden structure inside the Snark.

A long snake of aluminum foil was also attached around the bottom
edge of the shell to form the rim.

Before adding the clay for sculpting the shell, I wanted to complete
the rest of the body while I still had the aluminum shell structure to
hold onto, so I started by adding all the gross and bulging blood
vessels to its legs.

Even more snakes of clay were added along the neck that were
smoothed out into several more wrinkles that would follow the overall
look of its other body wrinkles.

I noticed earlier that the acrylic eye I had found for the Snark started
melting from reacting to something in the clay, so it was covered up in
tape before I could further sculpt the wrinkly skin around the eye.

With all the sculpting of the body complete, I could start adding clay
to the aluminum shell structure now that I wouldn't have to hold onto
it anymore.

As chance would have it, I used up all the clay I had left for making
the shell.

After some poking and dragging around with my sculpting tools, all
the pieces of clay had now become a smooth shell instead.

With the shape of the shell complete, I could finish off the body sculpt
by smoothing out the surface with acetone that would remove any
fingerprints and further blend the details together to make them look
more natural.

To give the shell an interesting texture, I continually poked the round
end of a paintbrush into the surface of the clay until the whole shell
got a sort of hammered finish, then it was also brushed over with
acetone to make it look more natural and smooth.

With all the sculpting done, the Snark was ready to eat after roasting
it for about 30 minutes, but I decided to keep it as a pet instead after
it survived the head somehow.

Unfortunately the thin tips of its claws didn't survive another curing
underneath the weight of the Snark and shattered apart into several
pieces.

Since I didn't even have any polymer clay left and didn't want to buy
another expensive pack just to make these tiny tips again, I decided to
remake them out of a much stronger epoxy putty that would require
no further baking to cure.

After removing all the cracked clay, I added even thinner metal
supports to the ends of the claw armatures so I could make the tips
even pointier than before.

While a black epoxy putty would be better for making the Snark's
black claws, it was now out of production in my country, so I had to
borrow some metal colored epoxy putty from my Xenomorph costume
instead.

In the end, the color won't matter after the whole Snark gets sprayed
with primer and different paints anyway.

It seems I forgot to add the feeler stalks to the Snark's head too, so
decided to also sculpt them from the same epoxy putty that I used for
the claws.

This is what happens after a few years of insomnia.

The bottom surface and the claws were sprayed with primer first so I
could stand the Snark upright to spray the top with primer after the
bottom layer had cured.

To give its body a bit more of a skin texture, a different kind of thick
primer was stamped onto the surface with a piece of foam to give it a
bumpy finish.

With all the previous layers of primer cured, I could stand the Snark
upright to spray the rest of it with primer too.

To make the skin look a bit more realistic and gross, several blue and
green lines were airbrushed onto the surface to simulate blood vessels
underneath the skin.

I did of course not add any red lines since these would only disappear
underneath the red skin paints later on anyway.

Several skin-toned paints were airbrushed onto the legs and plastron,
and darker shades of red paints were airbrushed into all the cracks
and details to give them more contrast.

The red paint for the body was airbrushed on in a splotchy pattern
that would still show all the blood vessels I added earlier through the
surface.

The beak stalk and claws were all airbrushed with a dark gray paint,
and the gills were airbrushed with a light gray paint to match with the
look of the original.

A few light sprays of black paint was airbrushed into all the various
cracks to give them more contrast and make all the details really pop
out some more.

The leg claws were also made considerably darker to match more with
the look of the original.

I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to add the green markings to my
Snark's shell that this version was supposed to have, but I decided to
make mine a bit smaller and more subtle than the original that I
thought looked a bit out of place.

A simple paper pattern was cut out to work as a stencil for the green
shell markings.

Since I didn't want any masking tape or glue to peal off the fresh paint
from its shell, the stencil was simply stuck to the surface by soaking
the paper in water.

By painting on the green markings in a splotchy mist, it looked much
more natural against the red color of its shell, instead of looking too
bright like on the original.

I can just pretend that this particular race has its own unique
markings between all its members anyway.

I had bought a model kit of the USS Enterprise that I also bought more
accurate replacement domes for, and as luck would have it, the
original dome had the perfect size for the eye of the Snark.

To give its eye the same insect-like compound eye look as the Snark
from Black Mesa, a small round grinding bit on a rotary tool was used
to cut several round pits into the inside surface of the dome.

Just painting the eye green on the inside would make the compound
eye look too uniform in color, so to give all the tiny pits more contrast,
the paint on the edges between them were lightly sanded off before a
darker green paint was airbrushed over them.

The eye was glued into place with super epoxy and heavily airbrushed
with a glossy clear-coat to make it look wet and shiny.

The shell was also airbrushed with the glossy clear-coat to give it
more contrast against the Snark's semi-gloss skin.

A whole lot more glossy clear-coat was brushed around the edge
between the eye and its socket to give them both a shiny wet look.
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To give all the wrinkles and details even more contrast, the whole
surface of the Snark was oil-washed with a black oil based paint that
was mostly rubbed off again with a wet cloth.

The oil-wash might have been too dark at first, but can still be further
defined later on since I always add the oil-wash over the sealed paint
so it is always reversible.
With the Snark freshly oil-washed, all that was missing were the two
feelers that were made from pieces of
3D-printing filament that I tapered towards the ends.

While the feelers are relatively flexible, they were only stuck into the
feeler stalks by friction so they can still be easily replaced if they
should break.