Thursday, July 04, 2013

Emerging Structure

Every character that can be made is quickly emerging from their plaster cocoon. Above, Yanu, the moth man, begins to come away from his mold bed in layers of rice paper and matte medium form.

Lower left, he is seen against his finished silk wings as a preview. On the lower right, the casting is being filled halfway with liquache flesh before his internal armature will be embedded in it the rest of the way. He will them be painted and his wings fully installed, ready for filming.
I made advances too in next gen armature concepts for this. My armatures need to be easy and inexpensive for me to make yet be able to hold the puppet positions reasonably well. Enough to accomplish the limited action each scene will need. They should also make it possible to repair when they break. Do any armatures not break?!

Top row above, shows my favorite joint solution so far. I took two cotter pins, inherited from Upstairs Clare, joined them with a miniature machine screw and nut, inserted their stems into brass tubing "bones". Same system works with drilled dowel bones as well. Either way, I apply white glue on the pin's stems and wrap with sewing thread before inserting, so as to cushion the stress point on the metal. I used beeswax on the screw threads to slow down their loosening as an alternative to using neurotoxic products.

I wrapped the completed joints in thin sport foam to keep out the liquid flesh that will embed the armature in the pupp skins so their mobility with be protected and so I can cut down into the foam for future repair as needed.

The bottom row shows my experiments with another easy solution to build. This one uses 3/16 aluminum tubing, cut to segment lengths with a hobby tube cutter, ends flattened with a hammer, drilled with a 5/64in drill bit for 2/56 x 1/4" zinc round head machine screws and nuts. These may be good for joints that only need to move on one axis. (The top cotter pin solution has the added ability of rotation inside the brass tubing making it instead a nearly universal joint.)

The flattened tube structure gets wrapped in sport foam and sewn into latex bandage to pad it out before it gets smothered in liquid flesh inside the slim arms of a mermaid.

Next step is to join the two parts of the casting, seam their join, trimming away excesses, and see if any of this will come close to working for animation.


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  2. Looks like I've missed a lot, your stuff is looking really great Shelley!

  3. Thanks so much, Jeff! I'm glad to hear that you are continuing to fulfill your vision for the Curse of the Wolf's Heart through a means that will work better for you.

    Stop motion, as you know, is overburdensome. If you can get your story out the way you want through your talents in drawn art, then I'm all for it!

    Thanks for checking in over here.

  4. Shelley, he's such a beauty! It's good to see that you're able to work again on those things!

    And a nice instructor from the Bristol School of Animation once told us that it is a question of when your puppet's joints will break, not if

    I'm excited to see them all in action!

  5. Shelley, he's such a beauty! It's good to see that you're able to work again on those things!

    And a nice instructor from the Bristol School of Animation once told us that it is a question of when your puppet's joints will break, not if

    I'm excited to see them all in action!

  6. Thanks, Jessica! I'm feeling like I'll need to use twisted wire armature with bones for the Yanu puppet because he is to petite and delicate in size.

    And I'll need to make the arms and legs in something more flexible than my rice paper and matte medium. Works great for the faces so far, but the arms are cracking/breaking at the elbows when folded.

    I guess when the joints break, I'll have to slice open the puppet and insert a new limb somehow. Strange that this issue isn't better solve-able.

  7. Yanu emerging from a cocoon, how appropriate!
    It's arms and legs, and waist, that I was mainly thinking of whenI wondered if the rice paper method would animate well enough.
    Peter Montgomery has just shown how he makes pterodactile wing membranes with tissue paper and liquid latex, over at SMA. They flex well enough, and have some of that interesting papery texture in them. But i don't know if they stretch a lot, maybe just flex when they are a thin sheet. But worth testing to see if it could add more flexibility at joints without completely losing that magical texture.

  8. Right you are, Nick! Not surprisingly.

    The arms in paper are a total bust for animation. The faces are still in play.

    The paper tears without my using latex as the binder. So, this leaves me to seek out a flexible casting medium for the Yanu puppet and the small Kyra puppet, and all puppet hands. I'm going to try your build-up technique for the hands.

    Trying to reverse-build-up the flesh and armatures to fill the pupp skin is way too challenging for me. Will try straight build up, at least for hands and any nude bodies that will move.

    Brilliant! I never realized the moth was emerging from his cocoon before you pointed it out!

    PS: I'm fixing to try a recipe of gelatin, glycerine, and sorbitol to cast in my molds and/or to use as the binder with the rice paper. I am doubtful the results would be durable enough for stop mo. At the end of my trials I may just load up with respirator and go outside to work with latex.

    Have you ever tried out a stabilized gelatine puppet?

  9. No. Used to use gelatine as a glue, many decades ago. But it shrank and hardened as it dried. Glycerine replacing water might keep it in a soft state. But I don't think it would last well - gelatine was used for makeup prosthetics for a while, but at the end of the day the prosthetic is peeled off and discarded, and a new one fitted the next day. I think it's pretty well replaced by silicone now, when they want the translucent quality.
    Build-up for nude bodies only really works well if they are skinny, otherwise the latex skin layer bends like a rubber boot and flattens the soft foam underneath Or it it's all solid latex, it doesn't want to bend at all, it springs back. That's where casting in foam latex or silicone gives the best results. If you bend the piano tuna you'll see how foam latex can make small surface wrinkles - not always best for some characters. Silicone stays smoother when it compresses, but is heavy, and difficult to paint.

  10. Yes. I see what you are saying, Nick. I'm 100% positive you are correct.

    My issue is that I can't/won't use anything toxic and I'm finding that materials listed as non-toxic are actually only referring to their cured state. Many making claims of safety for things that are in fact very harmful to use in the raw.

    I will likely go back to using latex, with gloves and respirator to mitigate its toxic ammonia fumes, as the binder with my rice paper mache puppet skin technique in the end. But am meanwhile experimenting with the stabilized gelatine for that use.

    I suppose two options for me is to either hire someone to pour foam latex into my molds at their location, unlikely as it's expensive and awkward, or to make fresh gel casts of characters as needed.

    I'm not expecting to make a lot of movement, not any extremes, so all I need is slight shifts without cracking or tearing for relatively briefew/YYYYYYY [typed by new kitten] scenes.1277777777777772111111111111111111111111111111 [typed by new kitten. Clearly code for a non-toxic puppet skin formula.]

    Thank you so much for your input too! xox


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