Great Grey Owl

 This is Strix Nebulosa, Great Grey Owl, or in Finnish Lapinpöllö, which means Lapland owl (even though it lives outside Lapland too). It is the third biggest owl in Finland, even though it mostly consists of very fluffy feathers and is shaped like a log with wide long wings. The head of the actual owl is very flat dish with white beard-like pattern. Great Grey Owls weight equals around 20 Eurasian Pygmy Owls.

This one was built for my LUG Palikkatakomo Ry's contest in April. The contest was supposed to be held in HupiCon event with audience voting, but that was naturally cancelled because of the virus. Fortunately the contest was turned into old-school forum contest, with new feature of anonymous entries. The idea of the contest was to build a real animal - as simple as that. Out of sixteen entries I got the first place on LUG voting and the second place on Facebook voting that substituted the audience voting.

I like Great Grey Owl. It's very majestetic bird with certain humoresque qualities. I'm not certainly sure if I'm seen one in wild or not; I have a vague memory of seeing a large grey owl in local Northern Carelian forest eleven years ago. But my strongest memory about this species is a collage poster of different birds in my grandparent's summer cottage, above my sleeping spot. It had two images of Strix Nebulosa, one of them with its goblin-like hatchlings. I also made a rather good acrylic painting of this bird around seven years ago.

The creation itself was the result of one-and-a-half-day panic sessions just before the deadline. I was in middle of my term-end deadline hecticness with lot of information modelling and computer-aided design to do, but it was matter of pride to do something for our local contest. Great Grey Owl was an obvious choice; I had made the Eurasian Pygmy Owl earlier, but my real owl ambitions always centered the Nebulosa (I actually made a forest nature center project shaped like Great Grey Owl on my second year of architecture studies. I made two LEGO models of it, and a final wooden one. It wasn't a huge success, mostly for good reasons. But I had fun with it. There be some photos on the end of the article).

I began, once again, with the face, a very definite part of the owl. The face of the real animal is essentially a dish, so I used dishes. The black circular patterns are simplified to circles of chain links and the beak is same pearl gold Bohrok eye than on the previous owl. The beard-eyebrow thing was complicated, but I'm happy with the results. Only the eyebrows are bit straight, giving it Angry Birds -like expression, but it's not too severe.

After finishing the face, I had to choose the posture of the animal. Pygmy was sitting on branch, and that felt easy and simple, so I went with flying stance instead, challenging myself in the middle of business and panic. I knew it would be worth it. There's something so dynamic in predatory bird sweeping to catch a rodent with its wide tail feathers slowing it for the catch. The profile is unique to anything I've ever build, too.

The choice of the posture resulted some tricky bits. The most challenging was the coupling of the face dish with the body. The log-like shape was made mostly with 45705 windscreen 10 x 6 x 2 curved in dark bley and some wedge plates. I like how it works. The head is dish is connected via Mixel ball joint, making it even bit posable. The another challenge was the wings and their connection. I ended up doing their structure in the simplest possible way - two plates connected to the torso with click plate joints. Of course, the wing plates are covered with array of wedges, wedge plates, modified tiles and grille tiles angled to imitate the feather patterns. The large "finger" feathers on the tips are important part of the owl's essence, so they're positioned individually. The tail feathers are very simple, using wedge plates angled with swivel plate joints.

The original idea included hanging the owl from strings. It would have made the posing more dynamic, offering some interesting display options at home. It turned out to be disastrous idea, causing lot of bad blood and boiling spleen. The centre of gravity is incredibly hard to locate on a build like this. Fortunately the centre was around the point of the legs, so I made a simple stand with some trans-clear 1 x 2 x 5 bricks. It stands out with the black backdrop but works quite discreetly in usual shelf setting. The legs are simple octagonal pillar parts; Great Grey Owl's legs are, especially during the winter, ridiculous furry tubes. The claws here exaggerate a bit, but no-one would have believed in them it they were just those pillars!



I was interviewed by Are Heiseldal in Skaerbaek Fan Weekend last September (footage can be found here and here). In the interview Are asked me if I had ever built myself. I hadn't. I had though about it. I've made some self-portraits; on the first year's architectural studies we made "psychological self-portait"; I used coal. Last summer I painted another one with oil paints Pinja gave me as a birthday present. But a brick version, why not. The previous two-dimensional ones had been busts mostly, but this time I wanted to make a full version in the usual scale. I could make myself meet some of my character builds, for example.

The attire portrayed here is my usual winter gear. As this build was made in November, I was still looking for wearing it during the following months, but tough luck: It was the lousiest winter of my lifetime. Barely any minus degrees (celcius) and barely ano snow, neither. And I like my winter clothes! The boots were bought by my grandfather in Oulu, they're most likely Finnish made, and no idea how many decades old. The coat is made by Finnish suit factory and was found with some Finnish marks (old currency before joining Euro in 2001), so it's several decades old too. The hat, I believe, is my sister's partner's old one, origins unknown. Gloves are some usual supermarket type and the head is, of course, me.

As usually I began with the head, capturing my light-coloured beard, rosy cheeks and eyeglasses; bucket handle is used as my moustache and eyebrows are darker than my facial hair. My glasses do actually have metallic frames, but detail so thin gets quite impossible, so 1x1 tiles in trans-clear are used. I'm very happy with the shape of the hat; it's rather true to the original. I like wearing the rim turned upwards, with the earflaps flapping up and down as I walk.

The coat uses lot of dark blue, and I had to resort to blocky yet classic use of minfig leg elbows. The collar, a very definite part of the coat, is built with 2x2 triangular tiles and 1x4 swivel hinge plates. I'm happy with how I captured the subtle shape of the coat bulging a little under and above the belt.

Reddish brown boots have nice colour contrast with the dark blue coat, as with the real things. They're traditional "lapikas" type with up-curled toes. The shape is quite subtle, and I'm happy how it turned out, with the foot area being quite flat. These boots are fantastically airy.


Some reference pictures from January 2021:


Doctor Hugo Neovius

Okay, hi. Been bit quiet lately, but I'm OK. I've been isolating myself, of course, but mostly I'm just been very busy with my studies. But it's all gone now (for three and half months anyway). It's summer holidays! How absurd is that? It's four celsius outside and on Monday it was snowing. And the holidays started late. Usually they start at May Day (which was naturally cancelled) but due to some things, our biggest deadline was moved till today. It's gone now. I've made a change-management report (my own translation, probably not that good, but it's new type of report anyway) on Sara Hildén art museum (three member project), built heritage transformation design project on Tampere Suit Factory (pair project) and designed 20 000 square meter university infill building (pair project. And learned things about profession of architect but that was pretty easy. I don't think I have had a day off for three weeks. Not that there would be that much to do; I've been biking, walking, reading, playing MTG with Pinja and building. Not horribly much, but I've got around ten unpublished models and some of them are big. It's not that I didn't like writing the blog, building is just better balancing to using cad programs, so here we go.

This guy - adventurer Doctor Hugo Neovius - was born in... November, after New Elementary Parts festival but before MOC Wars. I just happened to jump from one to another immendiately, despite making several builds between. Remember that Parts Festival models were built some time before being posted to NE. Well, anyway - it began as a tablescrap of the head. I made the beard, which is inspired by old MTG card Arcane Teachings, featuring a dwarf wizard in his research. Beard braids (using tooth pieces from some British PaB wall), monocle thing and the moustache originate from that card; I added a third braid, too. Eyebrows define the features of character a lot, so they're quite bushy, made with angled 1x2 plates with bar on end. Twin arch piece nose made its debut on John Cleese earlier, but this guy is its original owner.

I wanted to use blue on this character, as it often feels unused colour despite being very common. It also fitted the dieselpunk feel, so I pursued maybe 19th or 18th century bluecoat militia feel. Angled "classical architecture" detail bricks are angled to make the ruff shirt. I'm very happy with the effect, even though it requires some sturdy  constructions on the back; anything can't really be connected next to those angled bricks! The sleeves are recycled from old samurai MOC from 2016, but I like their silhouette. Mechanical arm continues the motif of the cyborg eye; I like the "1x1 round plate with bar" -fingers.

The legs are nothing too exciting; however, I tend to sturggle with trousers, and these are not bad as far as trousers go. I'm happy with how the red stripe continues to the knee joint, and I try to use shock absorber piece when able as it gives mechanical parts unusual quality; it's not just plastic! The mechanical leg doesn't have much poseability, but neither does the shoulders, and the head is fixed. Still enough to make him look natural, I reckon.

After finishing the limbs, I still felt I needed to definte the character. Usually this sort of dieselpunk adventurer would have a gun and a rapier, but weapons are so dull and overused and I wanted to try something else. So Hugo Neovius (the name derives from two Finnish architects, Hugo Lindberg and Harald Neovius) got a sextant and a chrome green crystal. I also felt he needed a hat to balance the white hair. Nothing too militaristic, maybe a pith helmet - or a fez! I sat nicely on the head, looking a bit too small, and I'm very happy with the whip as the string.

The next model won't take two months, I promise! I've got time!