Monday, September 26, 2011

Making a Stop Motion Puppet (Part 1): Sculpting & Molding

My current personal project between jobs is making a silicon puppet with a wire armature to use in side projects and to get some more practice in character animation. I am sort of figuring it out as I go along, and will record the process here in a few installments as I finish them.

I'm going for a character that has long skinny limbs and a sort of Danny DeVito-esk torso. I was thinking for the type of animation I'm going for, I want him to have replaceable eyes on top of his head, like a frog, and a large mustache that will act as an expressive mouth. I imagine him ending up a little like the guy I made HERE.

First, I did a little sketch of the proportions that I wanted, and then used some armature wire and plumbers epoxy to build up an armature to build around. I actually made two armatures using the sketch as a template so that I'd have one to live inside the silicon version as well as the original sculpt. You can watch a quick timelapse of the sculpting process here:

I used Super Sculpy that I could then bake for molding. I feel like there are more responsive and accurate clays to use, but I grew up on and I love the feel Sculpy. The only thing I changed from the original design was the style of nose. I like the original, more bulbous nose, but thought that it would be too much trouble as far as undercuts go when it came to making a mold of it.

I then baked him, spent quite some time sanding him, and then sprayed him with a good 9 or 10 layers of Krylon Crystal Clear to smooth him all up. Here his is all smooth and shiny before I started up with the molding process:

Since that video, I added some nipples and a bellybutton to give him a little anatomical correctness. The black dotted line around the edges is there to indicate where I want the mold half to go up to to minimize the undercuts in the molding process.

To make the mold I used some UltraCal 30 to act as the actual mold material, and some water based clay to build the housing for the mold. Here he is sitting in the clay holder I made around him to pour the plaster into:

And here with the first layer of Ultracal, looking very much like Han Solo:

Then, after five more layers and a layer of burlap, here I wait for the plaster to dry:

And then, after pulling off the clay and hosing it down, here if the completed first half of the mold.

I ended up using all my Ultracal on just this first half, though. So now I am waiting for the delivery of a new tub of plaster, as well as some Smooth On Dragon Skin silicone, to start on the next step of the process.

NEXT UP: Part 2: Demolding and Casting!

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