GREAT WHITE SHARK MODEL WA MUSEUM 2020
The Western Australian Museum in 2020 requested a full sized 5 and a half metre adult Great White Shark model. This would be hung in the main exhibition space in the new WA museum in Perth, opening November that year.
We had a big job already to finish for them, a 16-meter-long Titanosaurus dinosaur and almost at capacity we wondered if we could fit this in. A 5.5 metre Shark model is not a quick job, this was to be hyper realistic, open mouthed and hanging in the public gallery. Well what’s another 5.5 m of model when you are already making 16 m. We accepted the request and began production alongside the huge Titanosaur model.
Read on for outline of production method or go to video Link : GREAT WHITE SHARK PRODUCTION
3d digital files of a Great White were scaled up and CNC carved in rigid PS foam and this was the basis of our original sculpture. We made all the modifications first into the foam to improve the anatomy and create a more lifelike swimming pose. A shark is a magnificently adapted marine predator and an adult Great White is powerful as it is sleek in its form. The enormous tail itself is taller than a grown man over 6 feet from tip to tip. This massive surface area gives the shark great force to propel 2 tons at high speeds through water. To power the tail the caudal keel is the bundle of muscles and cartilage that attach tail to body. This part of the shark is often not appreciated andmostly under proportioned in shark models whether they be 3D digital renders or hand built. We spent many hours researching scientific data, scouring through images and watching video footage to get our shark anatomy and proportions just right.
Sculpting the surface detail was a maticulous yet satisfying task, smoothing layers of a special render plaster tooling and sanding it back to achieve an optimally sleek hydrodynamic finish. Adult Great White Sharks can live to 70 years, this rich underwater life can sometimes rough, so we added scarring, nicks and scratches, adding to the realism.
Once the original sculpture was finished, we made a silicone rubber mould of the shark in sections. Lightweight fibreglass re-enforced polyester resin was cast into the moulds. and the shark was fixed over an internal supporting framework. This intrenal structure also enabled secure tie off points for the cables. The model was 100kg in total.
The paintwork used airbrush to replicate the sharks pearlescent/metallic sheen and and hand detailing to enhance the lifelike finish. The teeth were cast replicas of real Great White Teeth and all the rows including the fleshy details were modelled into the mouth. The classic menacing large black disk eye of this shark when observed more closely is not all black but has a deep silvery blue iris.
We managed to build and deliver the whole 5 and a half metre model in one piece (great for sleek marine animals). We designed a simple but sturdy timber stillage to comfortably bed it and protect its paintwork. It would be 4 days in a truck crossing the Nullarbor. It arrived in mint condition not one blemish or break. The stillage was also a trolley enabling the WA museum staff to easily unloaded and safely manoeuvre the shark through the tight exhibition fixtures and cabinetry into its hanging position.
The WA museum’s curator of ichthyology was blown away by the realism of the Great White Shark and we were very proud that we could deliver such an amazing model during this very busy time.