Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Character line out

Above is a large picture (click image to view full size) of the characters featured in our film. These four character marquettes were sculpted and digitally painted by Josh and Myself. In the center are our main characters that I posted earlier in this blog, Link , Roy the Mail Man and the Actress named Elle. To the left is the Theater Usher. This is a bad tempered character who's only goal is to throw Roy out of the theater. He's a large square character who fills a doorway and is Roy's greatest obstacle. To the right of the image is the little Old Lady who plays a small part in the story. She's a very short and colourful character who's part in the film mostly consists of her staring lovingly at the Mail Man. You can find information on the development of these characters Here.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Armature Construction

Using the my armature design drawings I decided to make a test version of the 'Mail Man' armature. I was able use this armature in my 'Mime Project' to test if it works OK. This was the first time I would be using the silicone hands that I made and my new home made ball and socket joints at the neck. 
I started by cutting all the K&S square brass tubing and aluminium tubing I would be needing. I used my diagram to make sure all the pieces were the correct length. Next I twisted and cut all the Aluminium wire, using 3x twist for the legs and spine and 2x twist for the arms. I used heat shrink tubing around the wire to protect it from the sharp edges of the tubing. This means that the wire should last longer before eventually breaking.
I used epoxy resin to glue all the parts together making sure everything was the correct length and symmetrical. Instead of making new feet I recycled some from an old puppet I made in my second year at Uni.

In the picture above you can see the armature fully assembled with the new hands. I used white milliput (epoxy putty) to strengthen some areas. The milliput on the neck is what I will use as the core of the head.

Finally I bulked out the chest and waist using blue foam that I carved into shape. I cut out a square channel in the foam to give access to the rig point in the waist. The next step will be to continue bulking out the figure using sponge.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Armature designs

Before I start making the puppets for each character I draw a 1:1 scale plan of the armature. It's important to design the armature to ensure that the character will have the correct proportions and so that it'll be strong enough the support the puppet.
Below are my plans for the Mail Man (Roy) and the Actress (Elle). In each drawing I included the outline shape so I can see how the armature fits inside.


I decided to make the puppets from a mix of Aluminium wire and Ball and socket joints. I've made many different wire armatures in the past and know that they should work effectively in this project and keep costs down. Each part will be replaceable in case of damage thanks to the Interchangeable K&S sections. The puppets will have rig points at the waists for if they require external support. I will be using nut and bolt tie downs with feet made out of steel plate. Also each hand has a nut rig point in the palm to allow props to be tied in place.
I will be manufacturing my own ball and socket joints for the puppets necks. I feel that the head is the most important part of a puppet as that's where most attention is directed. Ball and socket joints give smoother movements that wire armatures and therefor give better performances.
The other characters will use similar armature plans but designed with various different proportions.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hands Part 3

After completing the moulds I decided to cast out a pare of hands as a test. The first step was to mix the silicone. The original colour is white so I pigmented it using a mix of oil paints until it became a fresh colour.
After I achieved the desired colour I added the catalyst and a catalyst booster that accelerates the reaction meaning it will cure faster.

I painted in the first layer of silicone to help avoid air bubbles. Then I inserted the wire armatures and filled each half.

The two halves were then quickly sandwiched together and clamped while the silicone set.

After everything had cured, I opened up the mould and removed the hands.

The excess silicone 'flashing' is cut off as part of the trimming and seaming process.
Finally here are a pare of finished Silicone hands.

Hands Part 2

 After finishing the sculpt of the Mail Mans hands I put them into the freezer to harden them up ready for the moulding process. I will be making a two part Polyurethane mould.
The first step was to build up a wall of clay that covered the sculpt half way up. The hardness of the frozen hands meant i didn't nick or damage the sculpt as I was applying the terracotta clay.

Next I added Plasticine keys to help the two halves slot together. I used foam board to construct a box around the mould. I sprayed the whole surface will wax so that the two sides would release easily.

Above is a picture of the mould box filled with PU resin. This is the first half of the mould done.
After the resin was dry removed it from the box, flipped it, and removed the terracotta clay leaving the hands still in the mould. After adding more Plasticine keys to the resin surface, and building a new box, I poured the second half of the mould.

Finally here are the two completed mould halves cleaned out and ready to be used. The hand armature fits into the negative space and is held in the mould by the K&S slot. The next stage will be casting the hands in skin tone silicone.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Puppet Hands

In this post I will show how I am Making the hands for the Mail Man Puppet. This year we have decided to upgrade from latex hands to silicone.
Above is the start of a hand armature. The palm has a nut in the center to allow props to rigged into the hand.
Each finger is a twist of two wires and the wrist is a twist of eight.
The palm is build out a strengthened using Milliput and the fingers are shortened to the correct length. Each finger tip has a blob of epoxy resin at the tip to stop the sharp wire damaging the silicon. The brass K&S will slot into the forearm allowing the hands to be replaced if they are damaged or need to be repaired.

Next clay is applied onto the armature and the hands are sculpted.
Above are the final clay hand sculpts ready to be moulded.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Eye Balls

Our film will feature multiple different characters, and each character seems to have a different size  set of eye balls. It;s often very difficult to find the correct size bead to use as eyes for stop motion puppets. Also most white plastic beads have a small seam running around them due to the way they are manufactured. To solve the problem of finding eye balls I have instead decided to make my own.
I collected a range of round beads and ball bearings and will be moulding these so that I can cast out as many new eye balls as I want.
First I collected beads and ball bearing of various size and glued wooden pegs into each. These pegs will suspend the balls inside the mould and will act as a pouring spout later.

Next i rolled out some plastacine and arranged the beads suspended just above the surface.

The mould box was made using Foam Board and hot glued together.
Finally silicone was poured into the mould box and left to set. The next stage will be to take apart the mould and cast some new eyes using polyurethane resin.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Expression sheet

Above are some different expression sketches For the Actress who we have now decided will be called 'Elle'.  We chose this name because we wanted it to be short, simple and memorable.