Greetings!

I have been working as a 3D animator for about 6 years now, working mostly freelance and only a few inhouse jobs.  For 2013 I have some money to invest in more education, and I've decided to take the 6 month stop motion program over at www.animationateam.com (taught by Chuck Duke).  Class won't start til mid Feb, so I've decided to dive in head first during any freetime I have from work.

So far I have built my first puppet, and named him Hosley.  There are so many things I would do different next time, but I need to do some anim tests first...haha.  I may go back and fix the hands since after painting on bad colored latex they got really big fast.  But that can be fixed later, my goal now is to do a walk cycle and some motion tests.

Anyway, enough rambling, here are some pics of the puppet progress so far:

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final puppet....next step will be a walk cycle....

Hah! That looks great! Really nice work for a 1st attempt! 

One problem I can already tell you you'll run into, and this is something it seems everybody needs to learn the hard way - when he bends or stretches even slightly the sleeves will pull back and reveal the foam beyond where the latex extends on his arms. You'll probably have the same problem with the hem of the shirt revealing his skin above the top of the pants too (depending on how high they go), and with his ankles showing. You'll quickly learn to expect clothing to pull apart way farther than you first think it will - you want to extend the skin much farther than you think it needs to go, and also make clothes with some extra length. 

Also, did you just use a single thickness of wire? I bet on your next one you'll be using 3 for the spine and legs and 2 for the arms and neck. That seems to be another lesson people always learn the hard way. But hey, this is the way you learn it, right? By making puppets and animating them. Looking forward to seeing him in motion! 

Thanks Strider!  Great advice on the wires and the clothes.  Next time I will try to make clothes instead of using doll clothes. 

Yeah, learned a lot by just doing it and finishing what I started.  I'm trying not to do the workflow problems I get when doing personal 3D stuff.  I always spend too much time trying to make the best model and rig, etc....then when it's time to animte I am so bored with the character that I lose interest...haha.  So I'm trying to avoid that with my entry into stop motion, so that I can just learn from my mistakes quickly and just wait to improve things on the next puppet.

So here is my first animation.  I just jumped in, no planning and did what I could with the 50 frame limit in the Dragonframe trial.  I had a lot of fun!  The puppet didn't hold up in some parts, but thats part of learning right...haha. 

With no further delay, here's the video:



Dieter Wagner said:

I always spend too much time trying to make the best model and rig, etc....then when it's time to animte I am so bored with the character that I lose interest...haha.  So I'm trying to avoid that with my entry into stop motion...

You're doing it the right way! Great test - in fact I gotta say, the puppet and the animation look really good - not just for a 1st attempt, but good in general. I guess it helps if you're already a 3d animator. 

One bit of advice about posting really short clips on YouTube - the same principle applies as with puppet clothes - always make them extra long. Put something on the beginning and end like a little title and closing credits, or just a black header and tail or something, otherwise before the youtube text clears (you know - "Use ESC key to exit fullscreen" and then the scroll bar across the bottom finally disappears) your clip is already over. Sometimes it even a good idea to loop your clip several times if it's really short, so people can see it a few times without going through the hassle of hitting the repeat key and getting knocked out of the experience each time. 

Doll clothes eh? Ok, then I take back what I almost said about how well-made the clothes look!  I was amazed at how good the collar on the shirt looks. 

But still I recommend painting some latex skin on his belly - like all the way from the mid thighs to mid chest for when that shirt pulls up. I'd also run his arm skin at least to the elbow - a little past is better. Cloth wrapped around for socks is a good idea too. 

How did you rig him for that jump?

Thanks again for the advice, great stuff!  And the nice comments about the animation.

I'll be sure to adjust the video or maybe loop it like you said a few times.

As for rigging, well...if you look at the few frames i had a roll of 1/8 inch wire, so i just pulled out a few inches of it and placed it on the ground to hold him...haha.  i just sort of came up with it on the fly, had no idea what i was going to do in the shot.  I let the puppet figure it out.  I guess it wasn't really rigged, cause it couldn't support his weight, I just used it to prop him up when needed. 

Thanks again!

Looped Video for better viewing:

Good resourcefulness - it's good to be able to come up with solutions on the spur of the moment like that, and I didn't even notice the wire in the shot. 

I take back a little of what I said - not any of the compliments, but the part about running his skin past the elbow and the hip joints. That isn't necessary, and in fact you want to keep rubber away from those joints if at all possible because it's just one more layer of stuff to gum up the works. If it's just foam and fabric at the joints they work much better. So just go right up to the elbows and a little ways down below the belt line. 

I like the shoes (and the entire thing, actually)


Any tips on constructing good shoes?

Thanks Andy!

The shoes are just clay.  I made a wood block for the heel, then drilled a hole in the front of it and made a loop with armature wire. I used plumbers putty to cement a tie down nut into the loop.  I shaped the plumbers putty like the end of the shoe.  Then I just covered the entire thing in orange clay and added white clay for the details. 

That worked ok for this short test, but the shoe clay really started to crack and stuff as I animated....but that could be normal...haha.  Not sure since it's my first attempt.

I think this is a really good start to stop motion. Nice character. Good job on his movement.  In your test, the lighting was too bright on frame 1 and frame 27.

Ya I've had similar experience with clay...cracking/drying out. 
I read that a good material to use is Hydrospan. The puppet department for robot chicken uses this by taking molds from existing sculpts and then either growing or shrinking stuff to save a lot of time by not having to sculpt from scratch.

My next approach will probably be foam latex first, though.

The reason I brought up the shoes, is I want my shoes (or feet rather) to bend at the toes for a more realistic effect. Maybe I can use one of the b & s joints I ordered for the feet also.

FWIW, you can get cheap ball/socket joints from a device called Helping Hands.
I got 3 of them on Amazon for 18 bucks, totaling 12 b & s joints.

You can get them locally, but more expensive, from Radioshack.


Dieter Wagner said:

Thanks Andy!

The shoes are just clay.  I made a wood block for the heel, then drilled a hole in the front of it and made a loop with armature wire. I used plumbers putty to cement a tie down nut into the loop.  I shaped the plumbers putty like the end of the shoe.  Then I just covered the entire thing in orange clay and added white clay for the details. 

That worked ok for this short test, but the shoe clay really started to crack and stuff as I animated....but that could be normal...haha.  Not sure since it's my first attempt.

I forgot to mention Plasti-Dip, which can be bought at most hardware stores, is great for coating the joints and still being flexible..while adding strength. I like to use it on the hands/fingers as well. Food for thought.

Thanks again Andy for the info!

I just started on a new puppet, this one has served it's purpose...haha.  So many things I will do different this time around.  I plan on gluing foam to the foot rig, then sculpt it to a shoe shape and just paint a few layers of colored liquid latex over it.  I want to use the same concept for the hands too.  This time I have a simple cg character that I designed that I want to build, so I have much more reference this time around. 

Here's the start of the new head:

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