Thursday, 21 November 2013

Replaceable Mouths


These are the replaceable Plasticine mouths I made. I had intended to connect them to the head using k&s but decided that it would be too fiddly. I decided instead to place a tiny magnet on the back of each mouth and one on the head itself.


The back of the mouth pieces. I glued the magnets slightly above center to stop them from spinning when I attached them to the puppet.

Once I started filming the lip sync I decided to remake a few of the mouths to improve the animation. I make sixteen mouths in total though I only used about ten of them.

Set Building

 I built the a small animating table several month ago (30cm, 50cm), I decided to add two walls to it to create the corner of a room.

This was the set after I added the walls. It's basically a couple of MDF boards held together with batons. I then screwed the batons to the legs on the table base.  I would like to thank my dad for helping me out with putting the set together.


 Next I carved the eye sockets out of the head then reinforced them with Milliput.

Next I covered the head in felt despite its odd shape I found i easier to cover than the body.

To finish the head I need to paint and glue in the eyes and make the ears and replaceable mouths.

Covering the Body

 The next thing on my to do list was to cover the body of the puppet in felt. This wasn't as easy as I was expecting. My first attempt was to wrap it like a gift but I found that the excess material created too many lumps and bumps. My solution was to cut away any excess fabric then carefully stitch or glue the seams.

Arms and Legs

 All four legs wrapped in wool. I would love to have cast both the arms and legs in legs in latex. Unfortunately I felt that the 'latex look' would not have been in keeping with the style of the puppet.

 This is my new favorite way of making hands. It's much easier and stronger than separately gluing each finger on to a washer to create a hand.

 Wrapping the hands in foam to bulk them out.

 These are the hands after I wrapped them in wool. I was quite please with how they looked. I was concerned  that the wool would restrict the movement but this was not the case.

I made an extra set of arms in case the others broke. The first pair of arms I made didn't have removable hands so I added them to this pair instead.

Casting Latex

I spent a little while cleaning up the plaster before painting a few layers of latex into each half of the mold. I also had to remake the armature as I managed to break the one that was inside the original Plasticine hand.

After laying the armature inside the mold I poured latex into each half. I find the best thing to do is leave the latex to dry for a few minutes before putting each half together as it reduces the amount of latex that spills out.

 In the place of clamps I had to improvise a way of keeping the two halves pressed firmly together. It's lucky that I have so many elastic bands. I left the latex to dry overnight.

This was the result. The latex was smooth and a uniform colour throughout. The last step was to cut away the flash(extra latex) around the edge of the arm and hand.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Making a plaster mold

This post is a little different, for three days we had the wonderful Kerry Dyer (blog here) showing us how to make plaster molds for casting latex.

Despite not needing to cast latex for this particular puppet I though I would upload this post as it's a very useful skill to have. I apologize that there are some photos missing from the process. I will do my best to explain the missing steps. 

Step one: Build and armature for your hand/arm/foot and then sculpt over it using Plasticine making sure you add any details like fingernails or skin texture.

Step two: Make a bed of clay and lay the Plasticine hand into it so that it is half covered. You then need to make sure the clay is smoothed and pressed against the hand all the way around. This is shown in the two photos below. You will also need to place a 'key' over the exposed k&s, this will help you remove the hand later on.

Step three: Draw a box around the arm leaving a few centimeters of space all the way around. You then need to put a clay 'key' in each corner of the box. These 'keys' will ensure that the two halves of your plaster mold will align perfectly. You can then cut off the excess clay.

Step four: You now need to make a box around your square of clay. You need to use plenty of hot glue to prevent the plaster leaking out of the box. Once the box is made you need to use a thin sausage of clay to seal the edge between the clay and the box to prevent the plaster leaking. Finally it is very important to put a layer of Vaseline onto the plastic box to prevent the plaster sticking to it.

Below you can see the box I made, at this point I had just poured the first half of the plaster into the box. This particular plaster took about an hour to dry. My advice is to walk away from it for a while or you might be temped to un-box it too soon.

Step five: Hopefully by now your plaster has set and you can pull off the plastic. You should end up with something similar to the photo below. Next carefully pull the clay away from the plaster making sure the hand sculpt stays in the plaster half.

 Step six: Clean as much clay off of the plaster and hand as possible.

Step seven: As shown in the photo below you need to add annother key to the other half of the exposed k&s.The blocks of yellow Plasticine around the arm will create a space which will allow any excess latex to pour out when you come to casting.

Step eight: Once again box up your mold and put some Vaseline on the plastic. Then pour in more Plaster and allow to dry. See photo below.

Step nine: Once your plaster has set you can un-box it. I suggest using a flat head screwdriver to gently pries the two halves of plaster apart. See the photos below.
You are now the proud owner of a plaster mold. You can now spend some time removing any leftover clay and Plasticine from the plaster and making it clean and tidy before you cast any latex in it.

Next Post - Casting with Latex

Head Shaping

Im so glad this is the last block of foam I have to shape, this stuff just gets everywhere! This piece was relatively easy to sculpt because it doesn't hold any complicated armature pieces. Only k&s connections for neck and replaceable mouths.

All glued to together

After assembling the armature and shaping the foam all I had to to was glue it all together. I used B&Q's own two part re-positionable epoxy (which I highly recommend, its pretty inexpensive and super strong when mixed correctly) to glue the armature into the foam. I then used UHU glue to stick the soft blue foam and the hard yellow foam together. Next post will be shaping the head.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Compleated armature

I realized that I hadn't posed a photo of the finished armature on it own. So here it is, in all its shiny glory.

He's got an arm off!

 I was having some problems with the arms and legs falling off of my puppet until I remembered that someone mentioned 'dinking' the k&s. All that needs to be done is lightly dent the k&s to create some friction between the two peices.

The top photo show my test piece. I originally dented the k&s when both pieces were together. I underestimated how soft the brass was and had a tough time getting them apart again, which is no good if you need to quickly replace a broken appendage.

For my second attempt I only dented the outer piece of k&s, this worked much better. The pieces hold together well and only need a gentle tug to pull them apart.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Minor alterations

I finished the legs this morning. They are a little bit longer than I intended because I decided to give the puppet knees. I also added some Milliput to give the feet to make them stronger and to give them the right shape.

I added a washer the the foam at the base of the spine because I found that the wire had started to wear the foam away. I figured this was the simplest and fastest way of fixing the problem.

I reinforced the pelvis section of the armature with Milliput. I wouldn't normally do this but I felt that the epoxy glue I normally use was enough the cope with the stress of moving four legs and the spine on its own.


I started shaping the hard foam to accommodate the K&S armature sections. This is always the messiest part of the project for me. I know that in a weeks time I'll still be finding foam dust in my tool box. The piece of foam in the photo directly below will hold the pelvis of the armature.

 The piece of foam in the photo below will hold the torso section of the armature. I managed to break the foam during my first attempt so I had to re think how the K&S would sit inside the foam and what you see below is the second attempt.

I still need to shape the outside of the foam to give it a softer/friendlier shape. As you can see below the K&S fits quite snugly into the foam, all I need to do now is glue it into place.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Armature

A few days ago I started to put together the armature.
I made a few changes to my original plan along the way like using K&S instead of electric block in the pelvis.
The majority of the pieces have been cut to the correct size but I have held back on gluing it all together. This is because I am unsure how far the armature will sit inside the foam I will be using to pad out the puppet. Once I have cut the foam to size I will make allowances in the wire to ensure the arms and legs are the correct length on the exterior of the puppet.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

CW 2 Pre Production Minor Project

Well it's been a while but I'm finally blogging again.
The pages above are all pre-production for our latest project.

We were given a sound clip and a child's drawing and told to develop and then animate the character.