Thursday, June 25, 2009


The Handsome Family video has been progressing, or, if you prefer Darwin to Baron d'Holbach, evolving nicely.

Thanks to Asterisk, I got to scan and color in the final group of character designs last night (I've been without a scanner since almost February now).

With that out of the way, it's time to move onto the fun part (at least for me). While Chris starts sketching out boards, I'll be launching into the actual puppet construction. So, as I use to say to my Elementary School students, ikimashou!

I begin by making the armature. It seems like a no-brainer, really but I figured it was a good thing to mention. If you don't start with the armature as a base, you're going to have a hard time fitting it to your mold later.

Usually, I would draw the character with the armature's outline to scale on a sheet of paper. In this case, I'm going with a realistic size and shape so a simple Google search will do for the image, with on outline sketched over top.

Then I bend the wire to match the lines.

Because lots of things can conspire to go wrong during a shoot, I always make multiple casts of the same puppets (especially when they're the main character). So, it's a good idea to make all the duplicate armatures now to ensure they'll all match. Usually I do this by taping a new piece of unshaped wire to the shaped one and then bending it to match the other's curves exactly.

Next, tie-downs! Groups of matching screws, nuts and wing nuts are great for these.

Our main character, the mackerel, doesn't have to move (in fact, he can't) so the tie-downs are simply to secure him to the set while we shoot. I've decided to use two tie-downs: one near the gills and one at the tail.

And for anyone who's wondering, that gray stuff is plumbers epoxy. Apparently, few people have ever heard of the stuff (at least that's what I can gather from the number of times I've mentioned it and gotten blank stares). It's toxic, smells and is disgusting to work with but it's an armature necessity.

That's it for now. Next time? Clay and tin foil!

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