Sunday, 28 April 2013

Manny Puppet: Balsa underwear

I noticed that when I started to work on something on the computer, doing a 3D model a a computer graphic, I gradually become shy of returning into the "real thing": working with my hands on concrete, material stuff becomes daunting. It's like walking into cold water... it takes time to get used to a less forgiving world without any "undo's", and also it takes time for the mind to settle for a more pragmatic (and somewhat less perfectionist) decision making process.

So let's put aside z-Brush and 3D modeling and return to what we came here for: playing with puppets. What goes below is largely inspired by the blog of Joshua Flynn.

The idea is to block out the volume of Manny around this mechanical metal armature. Most of his boddy will be blocked out with soft material, but in order to be able to grab and manipulate the puppet, it is important that some parts stay reasonably hard: The torso, and the pelvis.

Balsa wood is easy to shape and to adjust around the armature.

Then these wooden parts are glued around the armature and some soft moss are added to legs, and above the shoulder. I have left some wholes in place where I need to access the screw to tighten the ball-joint of the armature.

In order to provide a smooth support for the Reaper's tunic, I have cut one extra layer of foam from a flat sheet in order to do some sort of t-shirt.

Next we will have to learn so sew. I purchased some nice black fabric but have little idea on what to do with it.

Probably with have to enroll some help on the next part...


  1. Stop motion being the realm of animating in the physical world, you need to plan ahead as much as possible. But no amount of planning ahead can avaid all obstacles and setbacks; stop motion is all about problem solving and learning by doing. As soon as you get comfortable with the fact that things will go wrong along the way, the lest daunting it will be. Nonetheless, try to plan ahead and see down the road as much as possible.

    As for clothing, if you want to have puppets that look good and can be shot from every angle, you need to build the clothes similarly to how real clothes are built. Seams that patterned the same way real clothes are patterned will ensure the fabric and puppet clothing will move the same way real clothing does. You might need to find someone who has experience making dolls clothes, or learn how to sew yourself. You can look up doll clothing tutorials online.

    If you have multiple puppets for different shots or are planning to have removable clothes, you can cheat shots by having fabric simply velcroed, pinned, or glued to the back of the puppet, for shots where the back is not going to be seen.

    You'll probably have to put cardboard, foam and/or wire under the fabric in order to reducing "boiling" between shots. If you need a swishy robe to move and be animated itself, you'll probably need to put wire underneath to give you control over the fabric movement.

    1. Thanks Dead End for your always insightful comments. As you can see I made good use of one of the link that you provided me with earlier... The flynn brother blog is an amazing resource.

      I will soon publish a picture of my first animation puppet either: I have to confess that I took the shortcut of some help from someone who was less daunted by a needle than me and she gave Manny a great reaper robe. So stay tuned for the next post!

  2. Bonne chance dans cet énorme projet!

    1. Merci... je crois que ma premiere poupée est bientôt achevée... On va pouvoir enfin passer aux choses sérieuses!

  3. Hey, man! I see you don't get as much feedback as you deserve so I decided to write this short comment. I love to visit your blog once in a while just to see the amazing progress you always show off. It's amazing how dedicated you are to the project. I can't wait for the final results, but just the mere WIP photos and notes are a reason to step by and get interested.

    Please, don't ever stop doing what you're doing, cause it's just inspirating :D

    1. Thanks for the post. I don't complain about the lack of comment, quite the contrary actually, I am always amazed to see that I am being followed, given the fact that my progress are so slow. For those who read this blog, they must fell like the project itself is in stop-mo... I am trying not to think too much about the end result but just to try to get to the next little progress. Talking of which, stay tuned for my next post... I am very happy about my last micro-achievement.
      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Every little bits help.

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