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Thread: First Tail

  1. #1

    First Tail

    I've been planning my first tail for months and now that I'm enrolled in a school for special effects it seems a good time! I always felt if I were a mer I'd be from the wetlands. Someone who hides in the mud and long grasses so my inspiration for this tail is the red tailed catfish.



    The first drawing I did of it was more or less to get the design down. There were so many possibilities!



    Since ordering my first monofin the design has changed but parts of it are still the same.



    I've started drafting a pattern for the fluke and have a duct tape body form done and ready for rigid foam.



    I will not be adding scales to this which is screwing up my idea of how to make this tail.

    I'm waiting on large paper to start a paper body pattern, a board to start sculpting my fluke, and WED clay for the body. Wee! From there I'm hoping to check my proportions and start drafting the fins.

    Right now my question is how do I attach the fins to the body once everything has been cured and painted? I'm still digging around but I haven't stumbled across an answer yet. And what is the purpose of powermesh? Ill keep you guys posted with progress photos and stupid selfies as things progress.

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  2. #2
    I forgot to add one.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Assuming you are making it out of DragonSkin from Smooth-On, the power mesh is used to strengthen the fins.

    And if you are attaching fins, you can do that before or after painting with more silicone. I did an individually scaled tail, so I attached mine before the tail body was painted.

    Also if you are doing silicone, your fluke is going to be heavy and you should consider the stress it can put on your Rapid since it's a plastic monofin.

    Hope this helps, but if you are using a different method then it might not be.



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  4. #4
    Senior Member North Pacific Pod Mermaid Kane's Avatar
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    I was using a redtail cat for my first tail, too, but I guess you beat me to it!
    https://sta.sh/0tpzx6nmft1
    You can also see in my signature.

    Anyways. Good luck!



  5. #5
    Do it anyway!!! I'd love to see your take on it and another fresh water mer!

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  6. #6
    Plus a beautiful design. I love the super long whiskers!

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid_Izzy View Post
    Assuming you are making it out of DragonSkin from Smooth-On, the power mesh is used to strengthen the fins.

    And if you are attaching fins, you can do that before or after painting with more silicone. I did an individually scaled tail, so I attached mine before the tail body was painted.

    Also if you are doing silicone, your fluke is going to be heavy and you should consider the stress it can put on your Rapid since it's a plastic monofin.

    Hope this helps, but if you are using a different method then it might not be.



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    I had planned to use dragonskin. I take it the fabric is wedged between the two halves then? And would you recommend shaving down the ridges on the fin so I use less silicone or will that upset the structural integrity of the monofin?

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freyamaat View Post
    I had planned to use dragonskin. I take it the fabric is wedged between the two halves then? And would you recommend shaving down the ridges on the fin so I use less silicone or will that upset the structural integrity of the monofin?

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    I used the finis foil and it has high ridges, I thought of shaving them down, but after warnings of defects, I decided not to and I can't even notice them through my tail.


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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid_Izzy View Post
    I used the finis foil and it has high ridges, I thought of shaving them down, but after warnings of defects, I decided not to and I can't even notice them through my tail.


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    Okay, thank you. I may just risk leaving them be and see what happens. If it cracks under the weight I've learned my lesson and will invest in a better monofin next time.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freyamaat View Post
    Okay, thank you. I may just risk leaving them be and see what happens. If it cracks under the weight I've learned my lesson and will invest in a better monofin next time.

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    Okay. I know that MerNation uses them in their lighter full silicone tails, but I don't know how that works or really how they are made...


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  11. #11
    if you are going to use dragonskin, you better use body-double made out of packing tape, as ducktape will stop curing dragonskin.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid Fenicia View Post
    if you are going to use dragonskin, you better use body-double made out of packing tape, as ducktape will stop curing dragonskin.
    It never stopped the cure of mine. And it was always in contact with the ducktape.


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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid Fenicia View Post
    if you are going to use dragonskin, you better use body-double made out of packing tape, as ducktape will stop curing dragonskin.
    I plan on sculpting on top of the duct tape. Silicone will never come in contact with the duct tape in theory but I'm flying by the seat of my pants because I'm not using a scale sheet.

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  14. #14
    I thought duct tape dummies were supposed to be done with the legs together? Is there a reason you did it differently?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod PearlieMae's Avatar
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    Shimmy is right, those legs need to be together and the mannequin needs to be tight...leave about a fist-width between the ankles so you have room to put your feet in your fin. Remember, rubber stretches! The tendency is that there will always be a bit of bagginess in the back of the thighs. But i haven't figured out how to remedy that and be able to sit in a tail on land and not show mer-crack without that extra.

    Packing tape works better than duck tape/duct tape because A: it's lighter; B: it's cheaper; and C: it doesn't leave glue residue on your straight pins.

    You don't really need powermesh in your fins, but it can help attach them to your tail body. Powermesh as a base to your tail adds strength and helps the tail keep its shape. Otherwise, a Dragonskin tail without it could be too stretchy (Dragonskin is really soft) and you could have trouble with ballooning and slipping off. Powermesh is a lightweight, stretchy stabilizer/foundation.

    Don't sand down the ridges of your fin...it will speed the deterioration of your fin. The constant flexing of swimming will eventually cause the plastic to fail and crack, usually right across, in front of your toes. The ridges will make the fin last a little longer, but it's been my experience that it will eventually break. I've worn out several. Bend the lid to a food container back and forth until it breaks and that's what eventually happens to your fin...it's the nature of that plastic. I think it's polypropylene.

    Good luck!

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by PearlieMae View Post
    Shimmy is right, those legs need to be together and the mannequin needs to be tight...leave about a fist-width between the ankles so you have room to put your feet in your fin. Remember, rubber stretches! The tendency is that there will always be a bit of bagginess in the back of the thighs. But i haven't figured out how to remedy that and be able to sit in a tail on land and not show mer-crack without that extra.

    Packing tape works better than duck tape/duct tape because A: it's lighter; B: it's cheaper; and C: it doesn't leave glue residue on your straight pins.

    You don't really need powermesh in your fins, but it can help attach them to your tail body. Powermesh as a base to your tail adds strength and helps the tail keep its shape. Otherwise, a Dragonskin tail without it could be too stretchy (Dragonskin is really soft) and you could have trouble with ballooning and slipping off. Powermesh is a lightweight, stretchy stabilizer/foundation.

    Don't sand down the ridges of your fin...it will speed the deterioration of your fin. The constant flexing of swimming will eventually cause the plastic to fail and crack, usually right across, in front of your toes. The ridges will make the fin last a little longer, but it's been my experience that it will eventually break. I've worn out several. Bend the lid to a food container back and forth until it breaks and that's what eventually happens to your fin...it's the nature of that plastic. I think it's polypropylene.

    Good luck!
    It was easier to wrap it like pants, this way I can shape and modify it. I can stick it in the monofin and then take the legs together so it's all the right distance.

    Thank you for the feedback, its much appreciated! Ill splurge on a fiber glass fin next time.

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  17. #17


    Taking a break from my tail to work on the top. I haven't looked yet on the network, but what's the best way to strengthen and reinforce shells? I'm so scared of them breaking.

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  18. #18
    Started playing with pattern placement for the fins. Need to do one for the dorsal, make the hip belt and hair piece, and reinforce my body form so I can start sculpting.



    If any of these don't load please tell me.

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  19. #19
    Looking good!! Love the long lines of your top too


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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by MermaidAstrid View Post
    Looking good!! Love the long lines of your top too


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    Thank you!!! I took it for it's first water test and it held up better than expected.

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