Thursday, 15 September 2011

Puppet Progress

I cant believe it has been just over 2 weeks since my last post. Doesn't time bloomin fly ey!

My training puppet is coming along very nicely.  After doing the hand test with the liquid latex I decided I would do both hands at the same time while the technique is still fresh in my head.

I took a few step by step pictures of how I do my hand armatures as I think they are very simple to do but but very strong.

With one strand of 1mm aluminium wire I make the basic shape of a hand

Then I hold the bottom of each finger and twist the wire leaving a loop at the top to form the base of the fingertip. I also twist the wire to form the wrist and forearm

Then with what ever wire that is left from the forearm I double back up to the wrist and wrap it around to form the base of the palm of the hand. Thats it, you now have a quick and easy hand armature!

Also here is a couple of photos of adding the thin foam to the hands and then cut into shape ready for the latex build up

The hands did not come out as good as my last try but they will do as I'm not going for perfection with this puppet. You will see them in a few photos a bit further down.

The next step was to make the main body armature. I had already roughed up the proportions and armature design but left them very sketchy as I knew I wanted to make adjustments as I went along.

I started out with two blocks of wood for the hips and chest. I sawed these down to the right sizes and then rounded off the edges.
I drilled holes in the top of the chest block so I could slot the wire into to it for the arms and neck and did the same for the hip block. For the arms and spine/neck wire glued some aluminium tubing to harden up the areas that dont need to be manipulated. I attached the hands and also made a neck by using the same build up technique that I used to make the hands. I have also drilled a hole in the hip block to attach a rig when needed.

The next step was to sort him some feet out. This took a few days of trial and error as I want the puppet to have toe joints. The feet are made from steel strips as I am going to try out magnets instead of tie downs. At first I tried to make aluminium braces to clamp the wire down to the steel. The only way to do this was using 5minute epoxy. I glued them together then clamped them with spring clips to keep them secure.

Unfortunately this didn't work as the epoxy does not seem to bond steel and aluminium very well. The next step was to try soldering them but I had to wait a few days for that as I was waiting on an order of silver solder, flux and some square K&S tubing.
When they finally arrived I decided to ditch the brace idea and use K&S tube to fix the wire to the steel feet plates. The first test I did was with one piece of tubing but when it was done I attached it to the puppet and I found the ankles were not strong at all and would just bend too easily. So I doubled up the K&S tubing and wire that went into to them create a stronger joint. this worked great and was very happy with the results.

The finished feet armatures

While I was waiting for the materials to arrive I started to pad the top half of him out.

The next thing I did was to make shoes for him. I made them using the liquid latex build up as I need the toes to bend. Using some cushion foam I made the base of the shoes which I think look like slippers!  After the glue had dried I chopped them down to right shape.

I then added in some very basic details like the back of the shoe, tongues and a rim around the outside.

Then it was time to add the latex. I didn't smooth the whole shoe as I was liking the texture it was producing when drying.
One tip I can offer is if your doing latex build up work and adding it on to foam it takes a while to dry so I found out using a hairdryer to heat it speeds the curing process up quite a lot. Remember though if you have a very thick bits/pools of latex it will just dry the top layer and underneath will not be 100% cured.

The finished feet

After the feet were complete I could pad the rest of the puppet. I only took one photo of that step as I worked pretty fast and didn't really stop while doing it.

I wanted to leave the puppet like this!!

So that's pretty much where I have gotten to with this chappy. He is at this moment in time lying on the table ready to be clothed. I have all the patterns done and some material cut ready to be sewn. I also need to paint up some wood for an animation table and also make the rig to support him when running/jumping but I have to get some photography work out of the way first before I can do those jobs. Hopefully this time next week I will have some animation tests done to show you.

So I will leave you with a sneaky look at how he is looking at the moment even though he is pretty much naked! Hope you are all doing well


  1. Really and truly fabulous designs, Ben. I really like your clean thoughtful approach. Looks great.

  2. Double neat work, Ben. Neat-tidy and neat-cool. The bottom pic looks like he's wearing PJs.

    You do your hands the same way I do. Except yours look a lot better. I tend to be careless and impatient.

    I like the way you've made the feet armatures. I've been trying to find a good way to incorporate toe joints. I think I recall the Flynn brothers using K&S tubing in a similar way. I get epoxy putty in my hair and everywhere.

    Great work.

  3. Awesome post Ben!!! Your making it look easy.

  4. Great looking puppet! I'm enjoying watching your progress.

  5. Thank you very much everybody! I really do appreciate the kind words. Big loves!

  6. Stunning and so damn inspiring !!!

    What is the height of this one ? 12 inches ?

  7. Thanks Mate! Yes it is around 12" but its proving to be a bit of a trouble maker as being quite tall and using magnets its not to stable at the minute. I will either need to get some stronger magnets or use a rig to support him.

  8. Hey there!
    I am a BA(Hons) Aniamtion Production student at The Arts University College, Bournemouth (formerly the arts institute, bournemouth) and I'm in my 1st year :)

    I can't tell you enough how much I desire to be fully involved in stop motion... it's my dream!! Much like yours which is why your work is SOOOO inspiring!
    I love your till death do us part animation... very skilled and sophisticated movement. Especially of the movement of the cloth too. How is this achieved... I am always desperate to learn these techniques.
    Forgive my blog, there is not much on there at all at the moment due to it only properly being set up few days ago hahaha but will be posting more stuff on there soon! Plan to learn more digital painting aswell as create my own mini stop motion/puppet making projects on the side in the meantime! I tried to click on your email link to contact you there but for some reason it failed to open up haha!

    Heres my email just incase:

    I'd love it if I could stay in contact with you and get to know more about your work and what you do as I said... it's the same passion as mine and it deffo. shows in your work!
    Who do you look up to/artists that are your influences?

    Kind regards,

    Amy Backwell
    BA(Hons) Animation Production
    The Arts University College, Bournemouth.