This easy baby orangutan portrait was inspired by one of the first projects I created for this site – a mamma orangutan face made with paper mache.
That old post is still one of the most popular projects, too, because it’s easy enough for kids.
This baby orangutan is made almost the same way as the one in the original post, but I was able to make him faster because I made two major changes:
- I used foil and hot glue instead of crumpled paper and masking tape. The only reason that it’s faster is because it takes time to pull the masking tape off the roll. If you’re making this baby ‘rang with kids, use crumpled paper instead of foil so nobody gets burned by the glue gun. I’ve made hundreds of sculptures with crumpled paper, so I know it works just fine.
- I used a fringe of heavy brown paper for the hair, instead of a new cotton mop dyed orange. I didn’t have a new cotton mop, and I didn’t have any orange dye. The paper is much less expensive, and easier (but the mop ‘do looks nice on the mamma orangutan).
Be sure to watch the video for the full instructions, but if you’re in a hurry, here’s some highlights:
Step 1 – Draw the outlines of a baby orangutan face
Find a piece of cardboard that’s at least as big as you want your baby orangutan to be when it’s finished. Do a Google image search for baby orangutan photos, and draw the outlines of your favorite baby ‘rang.
The face of an orangutan has really simple shapes. It’s a large oval, with a round ball at the bottom. The ball is the baby’s muzzle, and it’s slightly pointed at the top, where the nose will be.
Draw the eyes so you’ll know where to put them when you start sculpting. And remember to add ears (I forgot to do that, and had to add them later.)
You can make as many changes and scribbles on the drawings as you need to, because it will be completely hidden when the baby orangutan is finished. You can see that I didn’t like the mouth I drew on first, so I just drew another one.
When you’re happy with your drawing, cut it out.
Step 2 – Add the eyes
I made the eyes with 1″ Styrofoam balls. You could also make the eyes with crumpled foil, or with crumpled paper and masking tape like I did when I made the mamma orangutan.
Use hot glue or tape to attach the balls to the drawing.
Step 3 – Start adding crumpled foil or paper to create the rounded shapes
Start adding crumpled foil with hot glue to create the rounded shapes of your baby orangutan. Or use crumpled paper and masking tape.
The forehead and cheeks are about the same height as the Styrofoam balls. There’s a ring of bone all around the eyes that’s thicker. The muzzle is the thickest part, and will stick out the most.
Be sure to build the muzzle in two pieces so you have a upper and lower lip. It’s best to watch the video to see how this is done, or look at your favorite baby orangutan photo and copy the shapes you see.
Step 4 – Cover the foil or paper with masking tape
Use masking tape to cover the foil or paper. This makes the paper mache stick better, and it also makes it easier to see the shapes. As you’ll see in the video I changed a few of the shapes on my baby orangutan after adding the tape.
Then get out a plastic bag to put on the table so your paper mache won’t stick to it.
Step 5 – Add one layer of paper strips and paste
You only need one layer of paper mache (although I added another one, which you’ll see below). I used torn newspaper and raw flour and water paste. You can find the recipe here.
I also have a video that shows you 5 easy tips for smooth paper mache.
Step 6 – Add one layer of torn paper towels (optional)
I added one more layer, using torn strips from a paper towel. I thought the bumps on the towel would make an interesting texture, and I wanted the soft paper for the wrinkles under the eyes and for the eyelids.
I didn’t use paper towels on the mamma orangutan, so her skin is much smoother. If you first layer of paper mache looks the way you want it to, you don’t need to add the second layer with the paper towels. It’s totally up to you.
When the paper mache is done, put the baby orangutan in a warm place or in front of a fan, and let it dry completely before painting it.
Step 7 – Paint the hair
I mixed Burnt Sienna acrylic craft paint with water and brushed it over both sides of some heavy brown paper. This is the kind of paper that paper bags are made with. Do this while the paper mache is drying on your baby orangutan.
Step 8 – Paint your baby orangutan
Note: The Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid is totally optional. It actually works better on a smoother paper.
Step 9 – Adding the hair
While the paint is drying, cut the heavy brown paper into a fringe. Then use hot glue to attache it to the back of the head, all the way around the sides. I had enough paper fringe for two layers or ‘hair.”
Just as soon as this post is finished I’ll go back and add a coat or two of matte acrylic varnish. I may even use some clear fingernail polish to bring out the shine in his eyes.
The baby orangutan is finished:
And now the baby orangutan is done. I started this project at around 7:30 am, and finished him at 4:30 that afternoon.
If you’d like to use this project for an art class at school, be sure to make on ahead of time to see how long each step will take. That way, you can estimate how many class sessions your students will need to finish him.
If you make a baby orangutan, please come back to the Daily Sculptors page and show him off. We have a new, easy way to share photos, and I’d love to see how your little ‘rang turns out. 🙂