Monday, 16 April 2012

Preproduction for specialist study- puppet designs!

My 'Preproduction for specialist study' module does not technically begin until after the Easter break, though we have been encouraged to begin work early. The aim of the module is to help the current L6 (third year) students with their projects, the idea being that we collaborate and effectively work for them, as we would in a professional scenario.

With my intentions of specialising in stop-motion animation in my third year, I have teamed-up with Richard Whillock- a fantastic stop motion animator based in Birmingham, UK, who is very creatively-minded! You can find out all about his work via his blog at

His current project revolves around a storybook-style animation, explaining the concept of death to small children, hopefully to explore some of the mystery and relieve them of their fears. The animation features a variety of characters to help illustrate various feelings and themes- including a portion on the differences between how religious and atheist people perceive death.

My first job helping Richard is to create a priest puppet for use in his animation! I have a lot of experience model making, and this will be a very welcome change to my very After Effects heavy second year. The priest is set to talk to a congregation (sitting off screen), and so the puppet needs to be able to move its head and arms.

Richard already had some ideas in mind. Of course, when collaborating with someone, communication is essential. I am working for Richard for this task, and so everything is being made to his specifications- as such, it is important for me to get feedback on any designs I make, to ensure that he is happy before we progress any further. Saying that, Richard has been great to work with so far, staying in touch to discuss the project, and allowing me a lot of creative freedom over the design process. It is certainly very nice to know he has confidence in me as an animator to make the right decisions!

First of all, we met to talk about the project so that I had a strong idea of what was going on! Once I was familiar with the tone of his animation, the style of the characters, and what my role was to be, we began to discuss the priest character in detail.

According to the specifications Richard said he would like, I created the following designs, including a plan on how I would approach the task of building the character puppet.

From feedback, I was pleased to hear that Richard agreed with the vast majority of my designs, and I was able to make a few minor adjustments (such as making one of the head designs shorter/wider). At this stage, we have decided upon a final design, which you can find below:

This is the puppet I now have to make! Over the next few days we will be collecting materials, and from there I can begin sculpting, etc. As always, I'll post a walkthrough of the modelling process at various stages of completion.


  1. I look forward to seeing your priest puppet design fleshed out!

  2. Thanks for the comment! I can't wait to get started! Hopefully the model will be complete within the next week or so.