In this post I'll be showing some images of modelling the son with Chavant Clay.
First of all I wrapped my puppet's armature in plumber's tape. I'd decided to sculpt over the armature so I could make sure the armature would definitely fit inside the the model, I wanted to protect the metal from getting clogged up with clay, and so I came up with the idea of wrapping it in plumbers tape as it's nice and flexible and wraps tight to the surface.
After wrapping the armature up, I padded it with an initial layer of Chavant Clay. This clay was used because it's sulphur-free and won't cause a chemical issue with the silicone that I plan to make the puppet from.
Placing some pieces of clay onto a piece of foil, then onto a hot water bottle works great for warming the clay and making it readily pliable whilst building up the sculpt.
I built up the clay into the basic form of the character. Then I tried adding the hands, I don't normally like three fingers on a character, but I tried it on this one. I still didn't like the three fingers on him so I changed it again to 4 fingers, 1 thumb. At this stage I was still waiting for the eyeballs to arrive so I put some temporary sockets in to see how it might look.
I sculpted in some heavy, male anatomy on the character, this shows the initial stages.
When the eyeballs arrived I tried out a few different sizes to see which ones worked best with my character. There was a selection of 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm eyeballs made of high density Delrin Plastic, I found that the 14mm worked best with my character. I scooped out some clay in the face, popped in the eyeballs and sculpted back into the face creating the eyebrow bone, a nose, and the start of a mouth.
Here I just made some quick temporary eye lids and pupils to see the kind of size I'd need to make for the real ones. The eyes will be drilled into with a very small drill so a pin can be used to move them during animation, also I'll paint some black pupils over the pin hole. The final versions will be a lot smoother and thinner so they look like they belong to the eyes better, rather than just stuck on.
You can also see the kind of size of the puppet against the size of my hand.
As this is the first time I've made a puppet there are bound to be mistakes. One being detachable arms and head. The reason being, these components will contain wire parts to the armature, the hands and the facial ares that move (mouth). I'm separating the whole arm as there will be a summer scene in the animation where the character will be wearing a t-shirt so the arms need to be visible without gaps where hands attach. The mistake I mention is where I sculpted the whole character, then had to dissect him to find joints and then repair the separate elements.
I've used a straw so there is enough of a gap, when it comes to joining the silicone parts together, for the chunky parts of the armature to get to the sockets inside.
I drew some sketches to figure out where to dislocate the shoulder as there were a couple of complications with this area, some of the armature parts were glued together so they couldn't be the parts that separate.
Here is an image of a temporary stand-in shoulder and arm joint (taken from my second puppet's armature) so I could keep track of where the joints and block-out areas would be.
I then put a piece of clay at the other end of the armature piece and a large straw around the whole joint to indicate where there would be a gap in the silicone so the detachable arm could slot back up into the joint.
Figure 13. shows how I had to take a lice from the character's shoulder to locate the joints to unscrew them for this process.
Then re-sculpted the seperate pieces to resemble their former shape ready for the next phase.
Below shows all of the pieces ready for the next step. The body, head and arms will now be finalised in shape, then smoothed ready for casting. The stand-in eyelids and pupils will be removed and final versions will be cast separately with different amounts of closure for blinks.