Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bringing back an old friend

While I have been researching new mould materials I have also been playing with a new way to make puppet heads.

After previous puppet head fails I have been looking at ways to make a light weight head. I have developed a simple technique. It has probably been done before but I've  never heard of anyone doing it or documenting. I'm quite happy with it.

The core of the head is made out of Styrofoam with a piece of K&S secured in to the bottom for neck wire or a smaller bit of tube to slot int. Then Its just a case of skinning the core with a thin layer of plasticine.

I was fairly happy with this but I fixed the K&S far too close to the chin leaving him pretty much unusable. Still it was a good first try.

For the next head I did exactly the same thing and made sure the K&S was fixed further back leaving enough room for it to have a fair sized chin.

The next step was to cut out a space for easy keying replacement mouths and covering the whole head in a surgical cloth tape to give the plasticine some extra grip.

Now for the fun part, Sculpting!!!

One problem I did come across was how too keep the eyes in place firmly as when I tried to manipulate the they would end up completely moving or popping out. This was solved by sculpting the eyelids around the eye to keep them secure. I will still need to look into to this for future heads as it may not be desirable with certain character designs. But it will do for the moment.

Then after a bit of smoothing and adding a mouth

As I'm not working from any particular design I couldn't decide whether he looked like he could be a small chubby kid or as an old chap. I asked peoples opinions over on TWITTER and most suggested an old chap. I did a quick bit of a draw over to see how he could look and was quite happy with how he would look as long as I could get it very similar to the photoshop make over.

I was also quite surprised that he looked like a better and updated version of my old friend from my first student film 'In with the old out with the new' 

I am really quite proud of the old chap and is definitely some of my best work so far.  
I have also mixed the plasticine for the eyesbrows with bee's wax as this makes it a lot harder and holds its shape for much longer. I am thinking that I will also do this with his mustache.

Here is the final head. (Click for a bigger view)

I just need to make a few replacement mouths and also a few replacement mustaches. All in all I'm really happy with this test.
I'm wondering if I should bring back the old mender and give him a new story or just to create a new character for him. Hmmmm so much to do and so little time.


  1. This character is wonderful too, Ben! Your skills are increasing rapidly.

    I love watching it all develop. Very professional presentation.

    I vote for starting a whole new film for this old chap as he really does look like he's come from a whole other artist now!

  2. You're so thorough! Thanks again for sharing all the tips and your experience in general, you're a great resource!

  3. Brilliant stuff, man! You always get me fired up for puppet building. You're puppets are looking more and more professional. Keep it up, dude! All the best!

  4. Nice sculpt sir! It's great to see all that process in there

  5. Thanks so much everyone. I really appreciate all the kind words. I hope you are all doing well and had a great Christmas break

  6. you got skillz brother!! bigtime..