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How to carve foam like rick Kranes class

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by JimsTaxidermy, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. Rick Krane

    Rick Krane Fish Taxidermist/ Judge/ Sculptor/ Instructor

    Hi Jim

    Thanks for such great questions that gets posts stimulated and knowledge is shared! I read some of the posts and they are thoughtful and full of experience. At Anglers Artistry, it is a good part of a day learning not just the how but the whys involved with live anatomy vs dead anatomic features and how to create lines that work for your fish and the outcome your shooting for. We do a good deal of molding from our fish for projects thus I carve as many tube fish as possible. Many of the fish have extreme curves and movement so the system of mine I use is repeatable and predictable. When students come here they have all sorts of different skill set or experience and I have custom make the approach not the system learnable for all. The important part is when you go home that you can do what you learned so over the past 27 years of teaching these methods I have and continue to learn myself and refine them so you can make it your own system that you can repeat each time with practice!

    I don’t want to take 3 pages up with what takes a day to teach so I’ll share some the highlights and trouble areas folks work out when learning how to carve.

    1.) I like to work with a semi frozen fish. Often I’m just about thaw the fish out and then slowly refreeze it removing flat spots and making corrections so I can trace a good fish.

    2.) Use a flat pencil if it helps you stay in contact better with the fish. Often times the pencil can cant in or out distorting the template.

    3.) Establish reference points that are not effected by movement. Find known points of reference that are static.

    4.) Try not to irrupt the death features but rather learn what is should look like when it is a live and under water.

    5.) Lot of information is better than too little. I use about 10-11 point of reference 25 years ago I would teach with 30 but I have refined it down to the number I’m comfortable with. You do the same for the best outcome for you!

    6.) Prop up the fish body in areas where it sags as you will draw a distortion in the template. I use paper towels to do so. You don’t want sags and you want balance as it was alive not just flopped on the bench.

    7.) Remember an important pint of information if your fish is going to have curves and movement muscles will contract and elongate your drawing a static flat-ish fish on a bench so you will need to factor in movement as fish are bi-lateral not bi-symmetrical when movement is involved.

    8.) Make mistakes and work them out it is the best teacher! Learn to read the skin it is the best teacher!

    9.) Have a system so you can measure your efficiency and be able to learn through what you’re doing well and where you need a little more improvement.

    10.) Have fun!!! It is not life and death nor are you curing cancer your working through what so many have and still do each day. If was easy then there would be no reward for your hard work! Enjoy the journey of learning!!!

    I have enclosed a few phtos and reference guild I created for teaching point s of anatomy.

    I hope this helps in some way but the cool thing about the forum format you will always get lots of great information from vast levels of experience! If I can help give a call as long as I’m here and not teaching I do try to help out where I can!

    My best

    Rick Krane
    Reference sheet on thoughts of what your looking to create shape wise.


    A look at different shape in the sections of the fish.


    Some reference point I use when drawing a Side profile templet.


    Dave working out the lines of the templet.


    Some of the reference points on Daves templet.


    Passive head cast we use to fit the foam before the real cast we will use to go after the first fit.

    Working out the basic shapes.

    Dave is making final head transitions.


    Working through a system be it mine or yours make it a system so you can work on what works and where it may need some adjustments. Keep at it you'll get there!

    Rick Krane
    TPT66, FishArt, jemmick and 2 others like this.
  2. jemmick

    jemmick Active Member

    This guy ,Rick Krane ,is the most helpful and encouraging in the industry. He has helped me on a number of occasions by phone. I have most of his painting DVDs and learn something new from each one. Maybe if he gets enough support and encouragement, he could be persuaded to do a fish body carving DVD. Rick, thanks for all your help, after 47yrs in the business, you've made fish taxidermy enjoyable for me again.!!!THANKS, Jonathan (ps. The 2 nine foot sharks came out great, fun project)

  3. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Even after 68 years doing some form of taxidermy (fish...mammals....birds), I never met another taxidermist who didn't at least show me something I didn't already know. Rick is one of them.Never stop listening, watching,or trying. JL
    Cecil, jemmick, FishArt and 1 other person like this.