Friday, May 22, 2015

Body Building

Once the character's form was established over his armature with foam and masking tape, I needed a way to add more articulate shape to flesh him out. Some animators can build up with foam and latex for this but I wanted something I could control better and that would finish as if cast with paper into a mold, like the puppet's head had been.

My solution was a kid's play clay product by Crayola (no brand deal) called Model Magic. It's air dry and extremely lightweight, sculptable, although it's doesn't blend. I added a thin layer to my base and proceeded to add bulk where I wanted on the character's single, powerful, masculine arm. I added scaly texture into the clay with a sweater-covered button. Once his arm and chest were done I added a belly and some upper abdomen anatomy.

I was very happy with this technique for building puppet bodies and plan to use it ongoingly. The only caveat was that cracking and fissures appeared as the clay layer dried. This was resolved by filling in the valleys with glue-whetted paper until they disappeared, seen on the chest and shoulder lower right.

The whole human skin side was then finished with a single additional layer of paper and elastic glue. And his only hand finished. (head and turban fabric, still in progress, are being checked for size(s) above.)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Serpent Tail's Scales

Mood Fabrics, yeah, so they have this amazing selection of sequined fabrics. Things I never knew could exist. The month before, I had found an exquisite fine scale circular sequined piece there to use for the Mermaid's tail and intended to use it for the serpent sage's as well. But when I saw this larger fish scale like material in black all my alarm bells went off, had to have it. It was $80/yard so I bought the minimum of 1/4 yard for $20 and it covered his whole tail perfectly.

Above you can see some of my initial experiments in how I will be adding colors to it once installed on the puppet. Below shows how I applied the material to the puppet tail using needle and thread and Nova's super gel medium, pinned in place to dry.
Because it's fabric, it flexes beautifully with every direction and movement the serpent tail makes. I could never have placed each scale with such mathematical precision as this find has allowed. I used joss paper cut into lozenge-shaped hexagons for under-belly scales.

Upcoming posts will show how his human-half upper-body has been sculpted and head was finished....

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Urhu's Liquid Gold Robe

The Wise Serpent Musician's costume continues apace.

I have no clue where I got this piece of fabric, having a trace of memory that it may have been in a slew of things Constance gave me.

I'm using the inside of it, the "wrong" side. It was some sort of throw pillow case with a zipper and underneath these quilted applique reptilian/petal shapes are threadbare stars in wine. Covering them with colors from this character's palette, brings the whole piece, now stitched into a rectangle and lined in silk, into the realm of heavy, sacred, robing.

It's extremely thick and the way it's woven and never been exposed to air, gives it the appearance of liquid gold.

His turban, seen lower left, is made from a layer of opaque saffron silk and a matching sheer, both found at Mood.

When I stitched the two strips into a long finished band it seemed a shame to have two of the same color layered without being able to see there were two layers so I slipped pieces of dried grasses, twigs, a few faux leaves, and real roots in between them and stitched them into place.

Now when I wrap Urhu's head with it and the plants begin growing from it, at the end of the filmed story, they will subtly look as though they are emerging from a place of rich growing potential.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Don't Fence Me In

Had some hand-made paper flowers that weren't up to quality to use at the 1/3 scale main set size. So I flashed on how I could duplicate the fence at smaller scale(s) quite quickly and use them on those to help fill in areas of landscape logic when shooting upcoming scenes.

Above you see a portion of the main set foreground fence line, a length of it reduced by 46% or so and another, much smaller to be used on the backdrop to suggest fencing very far away.
 My down and dirty method was to make a scrim of clear packing tape on the backside of the main fence and to sketch the pickets and rails with a black marker. I then scanned the tracing and printed out whatever reduction I could get from the limited-settings on our printer. Cut these out of chipboard, textured, notched out the shapes, folded up the rails for dimension and planted them in small pieces of ground.

Then I chopped up old green fabric knits along with yellow art paper into scale scatter pieces. Applied them to the two new set pieces with matte medium which disappears completely when dry. Planted the less-good flowers on them and started setting up shots to see where they might be used in backgrounds, through windows, that sort of view, when needed.

Friday, May 08, 2015

"Maintenance Never Stops"

Finally made a fast grab and growl trip to my favorite paint shop anywhere, Nova Color Paint (no brand deal, just love them). Made a big haul of colors and mediums that I'd used up in Halfland, plus a few little gifties for artistic friends in less then 10 minutes. Want to go again and stay longer. Again, one of my most favorite places to visit in LA.

One thing I do when I get back home is to make a circle smear of the color purchased on the lids of the jars to both cover over where the shop marks the prices in black (I don't need to see prices in my face when I want to use an item. It can make me hesitate to use the stuff freely, even with Nova's minimal prices) and so I can see the colors at a glance from their stacked wire bins.

I keep my colors in groups of neutral/fleshes, warms, mediums, cools, dyes/tints, and metallics. Having the new stock made me go through and throw out any dried up bottles and to organize what's left nicely.

Another shop system task done recently, but that doesn't show as well, is seen to the right of the paints. I made dozens of stapled paper envelopes for each of the remaining-to-be-done reference image boards, filing them by character, by set piece, or by production area, and bound them with a bulldog clip labelled with each name.

This makes working on several puppets and or other areas for the films at once easier. I can just grab the needed over-sized packet, now sorted into three giant cardboard category folders, spread the image boards out onto a table or the floor and work. Before the bound envelopes and folders it was hard to keep the growing number of boards for each item together when retrieving and re-retrieving and re-re-retriving them.

As the free-range homeless, former Motown singer, criminal dude we used to pay to wash our car and sweep the stairways at the loft taught me, "Maintenance never stops."
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