Greetings Instructable friends!
how many of you have wanted to make your own stop motion films? I am sure everyone has thought of it at some point and if you haven't ... what kind of childhood did you have?
I myself have tried and failed numerous times trying to animate toys and clay, but I have friends who are great at it and love it and so I from time to time make stop motion puppets for there needs, so I am atleast helping out with one of the biggest parts to the animation process the PUPPETS!
stop motion movies have been a hit for years and have recently been coming back with a huge boom and a new audience loving this classic technique and allowing it to once again blow their minds. the nightmare before christmas, james and the giant peach, coraline and my personal favourite Paranorman, all films that have been erupting with new techniques to make a classic animation style take the modern age of movies by storm.
in recent productions there has been an amazing growth with merging different puppet making and animation techniques and now it seems computer animation and even 2D animation all come together to make these new stop motion films incredible. in this instructable I will be showing you how to make a one piece simple armature and puppet. this same technique can be used to make moveable toys and even just still statue pieces you may wish to display. there are many ways and many materials and techniques that one can use to make these puppets and toys, I will be showing you one of them and discussing a few variations that you can also do. this particular puppet i made took me 3 days to complete.
hope you enjoy the ride!
Step 1: Plan It Out!
so now is the time to figure out what you want to make and how you will go about this.
for this project we were making a gummy bear warrior, a rogue gummy bear that has cast off the shackles of his normal candy filled world and sets out to right the wrongs done by the evil candy forces. I loved the idea of seeing this gummy bear warrior taking on and killing gummy worms and so that was my main objective to see and you will see exactly what i had in mind at the end of this instructable.
so first step that i did was draw out the size and shape that i roughly wanted my puppet to be. and inside that simple drawing of my puppet i sketch out what i might want my armature to look like. again this project was a simple design that didn't need to be overly complicated but when working on professional armatures they are mainly made up of steel ball and socket joints and bars this is because they need to be able to perform the many task over and over again for months and months and with ball and socket joints when things get to loose you can simple make a very small slice into the puppet and tighten it up again. for my purposes a simple wire armature was more then sufficient. it is important to follow your plans to avoid surprises later.
next step gather your goods!!
Step 2: Gather Materials
so first grab the materials you will need
heres a short list of what was used for this project
- aluminum block
- aluminum pipe and armature wire
- set screws
- magnets x2
- a rubber screw driver bit holder (for the head i will explain why)
- clean clay
- beads x2
- ultracal 30 (molding)
- clear coat spray
- silicone tint
- fabric materials
Step 3: Make the Armature
now to start in this case I took the armature wire and twisted it around itself a few times this will be the strength for the arms and legs and mid torso and neck. you can do this twisting by hand but to speed up the process just put the 2 or 3 wires in a clamp or vise and then stick the other end into a drill and spin for a few seconds and bam a nice long perfectly twisted wire taht you can cut to any length.
the aluminum blocks that i am using were left overs from another project and so i just cut them to fit and drilled some pilot holes in the areas that i was going to need the wires to fit into and where i was going to need to put in my set screws.
the reason for using these set screws is so that i can adjust the tightening on the wire armature pieces i am using. as you move and use your armature more and more it naturally becomes looser so to extend its life having set screws helps a lot, you can pick up set screws at most hardware stores I got mine at brofasco. I also used some small earth magnets at its feet to help keep the puppet in place this way with a metal floor the puppet stays wherever you place him. i have also pictured here a tap set which i picked up at canadian tire on sale for 20 bucks. it has all sizes and has come in very handy, for those who may not know these tap sets are used to create a groove in your drilled holes to allow screws and bolts to easily be screwed in without stripping the material or bolts.
for this puppets head I used a rubber screwdriver bit holder its meant to hold bits while it sits around the handle of the screwdriver. i used this because i needed something sort of contraption to house the eyes and have them sit snuggly and this just happened to be the perfect size and shape to use. in ideal cases you would make some sort of complex armature in the head that can hold the eyes and maybe even move a mouth.
in professional settings most of the time the mouths are removed and replaced with different movements instead of making the face move itself. this has been aided now by using rapid prototyping to make hundreds if not thousands of facial expressions and combinations as well as 3d printing the full under skull. if i had a 3d printer I probably would have designed a under skull armature in a 3d program like Z-Brush and printed it out for a perfect fit and maybe even a moveable jaw or replaceable facial pieces. with this same process it would be easy to create a chest and pelvic armature that could contour a lot better to any puppets body as well as offer more complex designs
now that you have assembled the armature lets move on to the SCULPTING...
Step 4: Sculpting Your Design and Molding
not everyone is a world class sculptor and that is ok
if you can't sculpt very well you can always ask someone who can to help you out, but even if you are not the worlds best sculptor that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it and have fun. these puppets can look incredibly detailed and beautiful works of art in some cases but they are also meant as fun so even if your person looks more like a deformed tree, whats the harm in that? i suggest to everyone who is interested in this instructable regardless of your artistic talent to try to make some sort of sculpture on your armature. you never know you may have some locked away talent that you didn't know you had.
I apologize to you all as i forgot to take pictures as i was building up clay and sculpting. I got really into a few episodes of the walking dead and well thats all she wrote by the time i was done watching i was done the sculpt and ready to mold it. as a few tips on sculpting tho remember while there are many sculpting tools one can buy, look around for other solutions I often do a lot of sculpting with a pen and an old mini spoon I had, its whatever works for you to manipulate the clay, and to soften it and smooth it most clays have different liquids that help with that. in this case I am using Clean clay which works well and can be smoothed with mineral oil. if using chavant use alcohol to smooth. (disclaimer do not use a sulphur based clay if you intend on using silicones or latex it just adds problems)
when your ready to make your mold which is what the final puppet is going to be coming out of first start by clear coating your puppet sculpture with some gloss acrylic crystal clear then let it dry. next grab more clay and star building up a walk around the sculpture which you can see me doing in the pictures. it helps to draw a line down the centre of the whole puppet so you know where to build up the line to. get the wall as close to the edge as possible. you may also notice that i have wires sticking out of the hand appendages that will help later when you need to float your armature in the mold.
once the wall is build up around the puppet you must make some keys to register the two halves of the mold when its done. so take a small metal loop of armature wire and stick it into the clay and twist in a clockwise formation and you shoud have a nice little circle groove in the clay
continue this all the way around the puppet and once you are done with this clear coat the entire thing once more this will make it easier to remove from the mold later.
*another thing to note is that every puppet is different and thus will need a different shaped hold, there are hundreds of ways to make molds for projects like this some can be much more complex then the one I am currently showing you. so this is just one possible way to make one of these molds. if you wish to see others simply type in stop motion molds into google and have a look at how different they can come.
next step finishing the mold
Step 5: Making Stone
the hold material we are using here is called Ultracal 30 it is a gypsum stone material a lot like basic concrete however this stuff is made to capture incredible detail and works faster and easier then ordinary concrete (never use concrete for molds) Ultracal is useful because it can be used on its own as a mold or can be reinforced by burlap or other fibres to make it extremely strong and it can be heated in an oven for use with foam latex materials. in our case here I used the ultracal on its own as it will not need much reinforcement or heating.
the mixture for this material is roughy 100 powder to 30 water. this can be tweeked a bit to achieve thicker or thinner batches, but note that warmer water makes it solidify faster so be aware of your temperature and time. this stuff heats up quite a bit while it is curing so be careful when you handle it let it cool before you crack it open (usualy takes about 30-50 mins)
WARNING: never ever dump powder or liquid leftovers into sinks, never try to wash away any sort of excess into a sink, use a water filled bucket off to the side, this stuff will solidify once in contact with water, no matter what the ratio it will eventually solidify, and you do not want any of this stuff gunking up your sink traps its a very very expensive fix.
once you have spatulated one side with the stone (it should be atleast an inch or 2 thick) and it has hardened flip it over and prep the other side for stone. what you want to do here is flip it over and remove the clay wall you built up but keep the puppet in the hold next get a brush and whipe vasoline all over the stone to ensure that the next batch of stone does not stick to the stone already hardened. also you will want to make pry points to be able to stick a chisel or screw driver inside your mold to help take it apart. to do this just take a thin piece of clay and play it near a few spaces on the edge.
now pour on more stone and watch it an make sure it stays where you want it to and when its solid pry it open!!
Step 6: Pry It Open!
this is as simple as it sounds
just pull the two halves away from each other and clean out the clay inside ... really search the tight and hard to reach spaces
also take off all the clay off your armature he doesn't need that skin now
this is an easy step isn't it?
next step pour your material!
Step 7: Pouring Your Material
now that its all clean and your armature is free we must get it ready for its final skin
first you must float your armature what this means is to get your armature to float in that centre point of your hold so the material can fill all around it. thats where those exposed wires which are now grooves in the mold can help. set your arms in those spaces. the eyes can also be put right into the mold in this case because i has them locked into the mold and they fit perfectly in the groove in my head armature so they help float the head area. for the legs however it was more difficult and what we do here is simply get some black thread and put it under the legs and across the mold and to keep them there i use some super glue to keep them stuck down, don't worry they wont interfere with the mold closing cus they are so thin and it will be easy to cut them away when its done.
now for this mold i drilled a hole in the back area and this is so i can keep the mold closed and have some small vent holes and just simply pour the liquid silicone into the closed mold and wait for it to cure. in other case you can simply pour or brush in your material seperately in two pieces and then quickly squish them together but in this case i am using a very viscous silicone so i knew this would work better.
now I mix the silicone with some green silicone tint, there are specific tints for silicones make sure not to use anything else. also i always just tint one part of the silicone before i mix the two components together that way i can still control my colour for longer. when your happy with the colour you pour it into the mold. in my case i made a funnel out of paper and put clay at the bottom to hold it up that way i can leave it hands free, always make just a tiny bit more then you will need just incase of leaks or un for seen issues, also it helps to have some extra exposed so you can keep track of when your silicone is cured.
once this is all done you can pull out the work of art.
Step 8: Freeing the Puppet!
upon full curing this silicone is very soft and stretchy and still has a nice translucency. now the task at hand is to trim all the excess off and clean up the puppet. use either a sharp Xacto blade or small scissors to trim the edges if there are any major fixes needed you can make small batches of silicone and tint them and fill in gaps or holes or marks, i mixed up a few different colour silicones to add some colour and battle marks to this guy, there are a few different ways to paint silicone after its cured you can use fuse fx silicone paints or pyscho paint, also in a pinch you can use small bits of an alcohol based makeup palette to get a few last colours in there.
then make some clothes or find some clothes from old dolls and you pretty much have a finished stop motion puppet or possible toy/sculpture. I would like to mention that while i used silicone you can use a variety of other materials including: latex, foam latex, poly foam and even plastic if you make cuts in certain areas. the point of this is to experiment and have fun and create something that is going to make you smile. there is no limit to what you can make, the only limit is in your own imagination.
for the materials that I have used here I went to place in toronto ontario called sculpture supply canada
here you can many materials in which you can create almost anything, so do your research, check out examples of others work and get to it.
Step 9: PHOTOSHOOT!!!
here is my gummy bear warrior taking on the gummy worms and gummy snakes!
hope you enjoyed this instructable and please vote for me in the contest it would be greatly appreciated