Guest artist Cornelia Kuglmeier helped explore the topic of mermaids this month. Dive into the history of mermaids and learn a few fun facts about their origin.
Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid will be out in theaters later this month. Hear how it inspired Connie and discover the techniques that enabled her to bring her vision to life!
Diving Into an Underwater World
Mermaids and mermen appeared in folklore with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. These mythical beings appeared in many different cultures and were considered magical creatures who loved music and often sang.
Early stories about merpeople suggested they brought harm to humans in the form of floods, shipwrecks, or other disasters. However, mermaid and mermen sightings exploded during the early 1500s as explorers took to the seas and made their way across the ocean.
In fact, as early explorers traveled through the Caribbean they claimed they saw mermaids. It was likely manatees that they were spotting in the ocean, but the legends continued.
In 1873, Hans Christian Anderson wrote The Little Mermaid as part of a collection of fairy tales for children. The story shares the journey of a young mermaid willing to exchange her life in the ocean to gain a human soul. Over the years, the tale was adapted to theater, film, ballet, and even opera. The most well-known adaptation is that of the animated Disney film that was released in 1989.
“I loved the character of Ariel. She’s such a curious, lively girl, who loves to explore, to learn new things, and expand her horizon,” said Connie. “What intrigued me the most, though, was that beautiful underwater world. It was a completely new world to me, as was ours to Ariel.”
3D Design Process Explained
In sketching this latest project, Connie explains that her drawings continue to evolve throughout the project, and the final design may differ slightly from the original sketch. The next time you sketch, consider using a 3D pen to create a scene or add detail to a particular project.
“Once I start, the ideas start to flow,” said Connie. “As you draw one thing, another crosses your mind, but it doesn’t quite fit with what you’re sketching at the moment. Then, there’s a second idea, and so on.”
She explains that creating is an ever-evolving and living process. Sketching is an essential part of the process. Connie describes it as taking notes and putting them into a picture. That picture quickly becomes a 3D design as the process unfolds.
Connie draws from various angles to help in her three-dimensional planning. This process enables her to firm up the design’s dimensions, proportions, and details.
“The result is often a mixture of different ideas, but seldom just one specific sketch I made previously,” said Connie. “Even though the sketch is important to the design process it doesn’t determine the final result. It mostly serves as a visual note.”
Surprising Details & Techniques
Connie admits that creating something truly unique can take time and patience. Some elements, like the scales, were planned, prepared, and applied. But others, like the pearls and bubbles, were added as a finishing touch.
“The result is so rewarding,” she says. “I love the light reflecting on the multi-colored scales. I like the varying hair color. The details breathe life into things.”
A surprising material created the look of the skin on this mermaid. Connie used wood filament to make the skin and body. She doodled the pieces and then used the flattening tip to smooth them and create an even surface.
“Wood is such a good filament for sculpting,” said Connie. “If you use the angled tip, you can carve into the plastic, as I did for lips and eyes. If you want to speed up the process, change the setting from PLA or Wood to ABS. It makes a big difference, but you need to be careful not to press too hard or the plastic will melt away.”
Regarding the new live-action Little Mermaid, Connie is excited to see how Ariel’s sidekicks and the underwater kingdom come to life on screen.
“I’m really interested in all aspects of the story,” says Connie. “I’m mesmerized by modern film technology and enjoy seeing what artists are capable of creating. Entire new worlds to literally dive into!”