2: The Soldier

The second item to go into my first aid kit is my soldier.

As mentioned before I am making this as interactive as possible, so I want to make a 3D soldier which the viewer then has the opportunity to build. I want this to almost take the viewer back to feeling like a child with a toy, they get to make something, which in itself differs from the usual brochure/pamphlet you get in the post. But there’s a twist, the soldier has a prosthetic limb. Whether this an arm or a leg, this is supposed to bring a slight shock to the audience. Hoping to take them to a child-like manner where they get to build together a toy, then to bring them back down to earth again to make them realise that this is in fact raising awareness for a very serious matter: this toy is broken. This is a very hard-hitting approach towards the idea and hopefully it wont be to gruelling for the viewer, and hopefully by taking this route people will be able to take a step back and understand the importance of what I’m trying to say.

I really wanted my soldier to be 3D, with detachable arms and legs in order to rebuild him. I began weighing up my options for making him first thinking of modelling him with clay, then  had the realization that we have the facilities at university to do 3D printing, which is something I’ve never done before, so I also get to learn something new! I found out Ingrid, hidden away in maker and ceramics to see what she had to say about it all. It really was a wild goose chase that lasted around a week. I got to sit down with her and explained my idea to her and she began to tell me about my options. In order to 3D print I had to be a bit of a whiz with the software, which surprise surprise, I was not. I went away to see if I could become well equipped with it, and fast. I needed to find a 3D template of a soldier for my starting point. I then had to use the tools in the software to detach his arms and legs, then create fastening points for the limbs to be reattached. I got home and got out the list of software that Ingrid had written down for me and began to download it all onto my laptop. (This included Meshmixer, Sculpt 123D, Autodesk 123D Catch etc..) This took a few hours, and I had no idea how to use it. Ingrid didn’t have any spare time to show me too much of what I needed to know as she was very busy with her own day (which is completely understandable), so it was all looking pretty hopeless but I wasn’t prepared to give up! Until I tried to open the software which refused to work with my laptop. I needed to figure out another way I can get my 3D soldier as I couldn’t afford to get him printed in the FAB-LAB. I went to look for one of the tutors in Ceramics, I can’t remember his name, but he directed me to a website where I can buy bulks of soldiers which he insisted came as separate pieces, so this could be another option for me. When I looked into this it was clear that I couldn’t buy them separately, so back to the drawing board.

In a tutorial with Amelia I explained all of this mess, and then it dawned on us both.. why not make a 2D soldier? Life quickly became much more simple after this and I finally began to enjoy this part of the project.

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I had picked up some really strong card from Pen and Paper in Cardiff and planned to use that to illustrate onto. I knew that the expression on the soldiers face would play a very strong and important role in this- if he were to be smiling, laughing and so on it may add a comedic factor here, and that isn’t what I am aiming for, I am after sympathy and empathy. I feel that the eyebrows are an ever so important feature in the face as they portray so much emotion, so I planned to use them to my advantage. The same goes for the lips. This will also be the first introduction of colour into my work, so here I began thinking of a colour scheme to run throughout. The obvious colours I have taken from the Royal Marine uniform, then using fain skin tones for his face,hands and the prosthetic leg. I began thinking of what I would use to attach the limbs together now that he is 2D and will be cut out of card. I thought of split pins and how they will quite accurately represent the joints in the body; these will be on the shoulders and on the hips. When making my mock-up soldier out of paper I first made his arms a little to bendy and long, so I was very glad to have a trial of this before jumping in at the deep end.

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Here he is, all finished. I am happy with the results, and if I am completely honest with you I am so much happier with the fact that he has turned out 2D rather than 3D. As great as it would have been to learn new tricks and all that goes into 3D printing, I wouldn’t have been able to put as much of my own personality into my work as I managed too here. The way he has been illustrated is very typical of my style, which I am glad about, this also gives me opportunity to have consistency throughout my work. The split pins work well and make him interactive just like I had hoped for. Something I would say is that I have generalised soldiers a lot here, with the colour of his hair, the age, the build and so on, which if I expect this to go through customers letter boxes then I will need to create something that will appeal to everyone and something that everyone can relate to. But for now, here he is.

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