Spotlight On: Custom Vinylmation Artists Nick and Rachel

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I just finished my third Vinylmation custom figure and the second in my Donald Duck Cast Member series. It’s great to see more and more of you out there picking up a paint brush and giving it a go at your own creations. It is daunting at first, and I had the fortune of having a friend who had all the paints and brushes I needed, but it can be a lot of fun and you never know what you can really do until you do it. I’m not saying I have any real skill yet, but I hope I am showing some improvement along the way.

The Donald I chose to create this time is a Splash Mountain Cast Member. Splash is one of my all-time favorite rides and has a unique and identifiable costume. I started with a light blue base all around the body.

I then layered over that with the white bib on the front and the cross hatching of white to create the checkered effect. I found this very difficult for my skill level to get even in anyway. So I found the best effect I can do would be a more “sketchy” type line. When I tried to draw a more perfect line, it came out too messy. I also make this work in my head by telling myself it’s fabric and it bends and folds and isn’t perfect anyway.

As you can see, I also used a clear eared vinyl. This is because I will be painting the outline of Splash Mountain in one ear with a sky behind it and water splashes in the other ear. I decided clear ears would give this an added effect.

As you know, Donald’s signature is that he gets angry. So Splash Mountain is perfect because, well you get wet. So Donald is angry here because he is being splashed.

For the “splash” I used a few clear, “puffed out” rain drop stickers. I painted the backs with a peal blue and they sprayed an adhesive on after they dried. Note: be careful with spray adhesive. We had a slight production delay when I sprayed my fingers together.

Here is a look at the finished effect of the splash in one ear, with one drop landing on his nose, and the mountain in the other ear. Honestly, the drop on the nose and even how to go about the water effect, came after the figure was almost done. The ear and head splashes were going to be paint. Then possibly hot glue gun drops painted. But these stickers provided the most polished effect for me.

My favorite part of this figure has to be the tiny Splash Mountain in the right ear. I modeled it after the classic attraction poster that is drawn like a cartoon instead of a picture of the real attraction. I am proud of how I fit the top two levels on and the tree with the little bit of detail work in it. And my effect worked as planned. By painting the mountain on the front of the clear ear and the blue sky behind it, it gives a little depth of field. The sky was not planed to have the cloud effect, but when I applied the paint and saw it, I was impressed. Some things just happen by accident and work out for the best.

The complete finished figure from the front.

And the back. Now of course, I’m not the only one painting a series of figures. Let’s check in on Rachel’s progress with her Fantasia set.

Here next figure is a very ambitious one, Yensid. As you can see, she began with a Toy Story Rex figure and molded a robe out of clay.

She applied blue paint to the body and arms and white to the head.

Then, with paint, she carefully drew the frame of Yensid’s face.

Steadily, and with much attention to detail from the film, she applied his facial features.

Yensid’s face was nearly complete, but his ears and head still needed some final touches.

She sculpted a hat to place upon his head and painted in the colorful butterfly Yensid conjures up in the film.

The finished Yensid has magnificent detail in his face. The robe has a beautiful flow to it. And the hat and robe were finished off with a slight sparkle in the paint.

Yensid now joins his fellow Fantasia creations.

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About the author

Nick LoCicero

Nick LoCicero has almost 20 years experience in the media industry. He has worked on numerous Disney related media projects, most know at WDWNT for WDW News Tonight. He has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1982. After moving to Orlando in the late 90's he became a passholder, developed a fascination with the history of the vacation kingdom and has spent way too much money on park merchandise.

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    • About 1.5-2 hours total to paint the body and ear. But honestly about 5 hours of painting and painting over to do the face. I’ve never been so picky before but just couldn’t get the face on the 3D mold to look as good as my drawing. And since I liked my drawing so much, I took the time to keep painting over and over until I was happy.

  • How do you get the head back kn without messing up the paint. ? I did a custom ine and am workjng on my secomd one. But im afraid to remove the head again since i couldnt manage to get the head back on?

    • That is very tricky. If any other more seasoned customs artists out there want to chime in, go ahead. But for me… First, I let it all dry 24 hours before putting the head back on. Second, after I pop the head off and before I paint, I check to see how hard it is to put back on and even file down the post a little to make it easier. Even if its a bit loose, that’s OK to me because it will just sit on a shelf. But I know what you mean, i’m so scared to really grab it and push down.

      My biggest problem is the arms. I have a larger problem getting those back on. So much so I did mess up the paint on my Star Tours Donald and had to repaint them. Again, I file down the post just a little.

      On another note, if you’d like to share your work, send us and email and some pictures and we will do a spotlight article on you.

      • Pretty much just wait for it to dry and make sure you have clean hands. Or spray some sealer of varnish on it to seal the paint so that it can’t be messed up.

  • Nick, pretty soon your Donald faces are going to be better than any Disney artist. Keep it up! By the time you get to #12, I think you’ll be there!

    Rachel’s Yensid is spot on. I wish I had one!

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