Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Puppet Progression - 'Elle' & 'Theatre Usher'

In this post I'll be giving an update on the 'Elle' and 'Theatre Usher' Puppets.
In my previous posts I described how I made eyes for 'Elle' and showed the puppets head with the skin tone coloured faces. I will now show how I painted extra details onto the faces and hair.

Above are the lower face masks for the puppet. As you can see they are a consistent flesh colour. The lips, mouth and teeth need to be hand painted with acrylic paints.

Firstly I painted the inside of the mouths a darker colour using a fine brush. Once that had fully dried I applied white to the teeth and finally red for the lips. It was really small work so I had to keep a steady hand. I used the smallest brush I have. Above is a picture of the masks with painted mouths.

The next stage was to add colour to the cheeks and make-up around the eyes. These needed to be very subtle so I used chalk pastels. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take any pictures of the process. Luckily Josh took some photos did when he was painting the Mail Man puppet. Follow the link HERE to read his post.
I used the exact same process of applying the chalk powder to the face and sealing it with dull coat spray.
Adding pinks and reds to the face helps to give the skin some variation and makes it look more natural.

Above is a full body shot of the puppet with the painted facial masks. I added some variations in colour to the hair to make it look less yellow and more blond. Regular paints aren't flexible and wouldn't stick to the silicone hair. To solve this problem I pigmented silicone and used that to paint onto the hair. I used a  darker brown colour for the recessed areas and dry brushed a light yellow over everywhere else. This helped to bring out the detail in the sculpt. I added an accelerant to the catalyst to help the silicone cure faster. (roughly 30mins) so I had to work fast.

Above are some pictures of 'Elle' with a selection of different expressions. At this stage she doesn't have any eyebrows, eye lashes or jewellery. They will be added next.

Theatre Usher

Now it's time to jump to a different character. I think the last post about the Usher was HERE where I had made his wire armature. The next stage was to start bulking out his figure, and there was a lot of bulk to add to this chunky character. If you haven't seen it yet, you can view his design HERE.

Above you can see I've added blocks of balsa wood around the aluminium armature. These were made it two halves and sandwiched around the armature with epoxy resin glue. The balsa wood keeps the weight down and is easy to shape and sand. The puppets head will be half Sculpey and half plasticine. The back half of the head will be solid to give us something to push against while animating. The front half will be plasticine, allowing us to sculpt changes in expression. We decided to use this system because the Ushers expression doesn't change very much during the film. The plasticine can still be removed and replaced to create extreme changes in expression.

Above is the puppet with soft sponge added to the arms and legs. Also the torso is covered with a thin white sponge that was cut to fit tightly around his body. The foam is cut and shaped with scissors and glued onto the armature with contact adhesive. The next stage for the Usher is to make his red suit and black shoes.

I think that's enough for this post
Thanks for reading.


  1. Looking great - keep it up. It's really inspiring to watch you and your brother's updates. It's really starting to come together - I can't wait to see the puppets lined up together. What kind of silicon do you use? Do you think it down for painting?

  2. Thanks for the compliments.
    Im using the same type of silicone that I used to cast the hair arms and legs.It's called T20 Silicone from I didn't need to thin it down because it was already at a good viscosity.