This was the first time I tried to build a puppet that looked like someone and I wanted to make sure I really captured the likeness of Kevin and Jason. If I didn’t get it right it the short film wouldn’t work. I had made a few puppets before by using clay and wire, but the weight of the clay was always an issue. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have that issue with these puppets. They needed to be very light weight and hold up from quite a bit of animation.
Step 1: I drew a cartoony version of Kevin and Jason. I had thought about what abilities I had with puppet making and made sure to stick to things I knew I could accomplish. Simple eyes, basic head shapes, clothing to cover most of the body, etc.
Step 2: I started shaping the head out of balsa wood. I kept the front of the face fairly flat so that the eyes and mouth shapes would stay in place easily. I sculpted the hair and beard from Bake-N-Stretch sculpey clay. Once I liked the shapes I baked them in the oven and the super glued them to the balsa wood.
Step 3: I then sketched lightly where the armature would be over my drawings. I made hips and shoulder blocks out of balsa wood. Then cut wire to approximate the armature. Thanks to www.AnimateClay.com, who donated quite a bit of wire for me to finish all my puppets.
Step 4: Once the armatures were together, I used foam to shape out the bodies. I glued them in place and then trimmed them with small scissors, where needed.
Step 5: The clothing was next. I really just pieced together clothing with permanent seam tape. Jays’ pants were hand sewn after making a rough template with a piece of paper. I knew the characters were facing camera most of the time, so there are seams hidden on the backside. Kevin’s lower legs were balsa wood. The shoes are just cut pieces from felt material squares that you can pick up at any arts and craft type store. The feet are actually two different styles, but both are from www.animationtoolkit.co.uk
One has the “foot ball joint” and the other “basic wire steel foot kit” . After the feet were glued to the leg wires, I just glued the felt to them and built up the shoes.
Step 6: For the hands I made the fingers from small wire twisted it around a palm sized thicker wire center. After the wire shape of the hand was finished I wrapped it with flesh colored athletic wrap. I then dipped the hands in liquid latex, let it dry, then dipped again, etc….until the fingers built up enough shape. In order to paint dried liquid latex you need to make PAX paint, and then after it dries you blot it down with corn starch. Here is a great tutorial on it!
Step 7: Finished puppets on set! I share an office at a screen printing studio and they totally hooked me up with printing my puppet shirts. InkFloyd does amazing work!