Monday, 15 April 2013

Oh Well- puppet construction part 1

It's been an arduous month, but my Walter puppet for my Specialist Study 2 project is finally nearing completion! The past few weeks have, as usual, been fraught with unexpected problems that have pushed me far away from my project schedule.

As you have no doubt noticed from the long time since my last post, I've been incredibly busy, and have covered quite a lot in this time. For this reason, I've decided to split this walkthrough into several parts to avoid a single massive post.


Creating the Walter puppet for my SS2 animation has been a daunting task to say the least- one which has pushed me well beyond my comfort zone as a model maker, which is a good thing as I have resultantly developed a wealth of new techniques and skills to draw upon in the future.

Following the creation of my scale puppet diagram complete with accurate armature dimensions, I was able to construct my armature to the exacting specification. Largely, this was exactly the same process/technique as used for my SS1 project, though this time around there were a few modifications to the design in terms of rigging points, requiring some tricky soldering.

Above left: The key sections of my armature (the hip joint with rigging points, the chest plate and the ball of foot joints, going clockwise).

With the armature assembled, it was manually tuned by tightening the joints until it was capable of supporting its own weight effectively. From here, I separated the legs from the body ready to be sculpted around and cast individually. To ensure that the armature would fit within the eventual mould, it was important to sculpt the various components directly around the armature.

I was somewhat restricted when it came to the size of my armature, since I could only gather materials to create joints of a certain size- meaning the size of the character was dependent upon the joints. In trying to keep the puppet as small as possible, the tolerances were admittedly very small.

The methodical process here was dictated by necessity. I had to create the sculpts before I could make the moulds, the moulds before the casts, and the casts before adding the finishing touches to other components due to the need to match paint colours. I began by sculpting Walter’s head from air-drying clay, with a magnet and eye beads within as per my designs.

The design is such that the neck plugs into the head. To ensure the neck would fit (though I did need to take a little more material out afterwards to get things to fit properly) I made a simple tool from a piece of dowel and K&S rod to simulate the neck, which the head was carefully sculpted around.

The mouth was then cut away to be cast in the same manner as seen in my SS1 project, to create a series of replacement Plasticine mouths. The mould was created from plaster in the same way, with a base built with Plasticine and plaster poured on top. The second half was then produced via the resulting first half.

Here is the final mouth mould:

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