This is the second float we’ve built for Grand Canyon University. They are always a pleasure to work with. For this year’s design, they wanted to showcase their basketball team. The idea was to build a scale model of their basketball court with “Thunder”, their Antelope mascott, slam dunking a basketball.
The design was approved, and with everything we do, there is usually one element that we know will be tricky. For this float, the mascot suspended by a single hand (or hoof) was going to be the tricky part. The basketball court itself was pretty straight forward albeit, very time consuming. All of the paintwork was done by hand, and required a steady brush to get the lines so clean and nice. The irregular surface of the wood (to simulate the wood planks on a basketballcourt) made this job one that masking tape would not work well on. The girls did a fine job though and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out.
The client provided us with a few illustrations of what “Thunder” should look like. We then generated a 3D model of his head and prepared it for machining from foam. We had decided to make the entire character from lightweight foam materials to keep the weight down. The heavier he is, the more structure we’ll need to build in to support his weight.
The body file was generated separately, in the appropriate pose. After it was milled on the CNC Machine, a steel skeleton was installed into part of the upperbody and arm, to support the weight of the model. Then ‘clothing’ was meticulously applied. We chose to use a flexible foam, to enhance the soft folds and curves that would be present in an illustration. Real fabric would have looked too… ‘real’, for this purpose. So the soft foam became the method used. The character required hand painting to be done, as there was a lot of detail, and the shape was quite organic. A slow painting process that certainly paid off.