I have a character that's going to be in different scenarios throughout my planned series of mini-films. 1/8th scale, so around 9 inches tall. The costumes vary all over the place, from sleek sci-fi to cliffhanging adventurer, to regular every day jeans and t-shirt style clothing. 

On one hand, sculpting outfits directly on the figure means making a mold for every possible costume and painting. Lots of work.

On the other hand, having one "naked" puppet means sewing each individual costume. The last time I tried sewing was back in the ancient days of Home Economics class in high school and all that really proved was that I was no seamstress, lol. Lots of work. (The idea of sewing scares the bonkers out of me, but it feels like "Yeah! Conquer that fear!" also)

Right now, I think sewn outfits are the way to go, but I was wondering what everyone thinks about the subject?

Thanks for any feedback.

Dennis

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no advice to offer yet, but have had the same dilemma and come up with the same outcome, though I have heard that fabric glue should suffice, rather than sewing, if that's any better?  be interested to see your progress if you want to update along the way :)

The fabric glue technique, I'd forgotten about that! Thanks for the reminder. I remember reading how that was done some time ago when I was researching this topic before. Foggy brain skills on my part, lol.

I have collected several different fabric pieces from the scraps bin at the local big box store and I can "borrow" a Ken doll from my daughters to practice that on.

That might be the best way to go, too. None of the segments are going to be very long, so the outfits wouldn't need to survive a full-on, full-length production schedule, hmmmm......processing...processing...

I'll do a little experimenting and I'll definitely post my progress along the way. ;) 

   

Sculpting clothing can work.  I mostly sew fabric costumes, inside out much the same way real clothing is sewn, with a combination of machine and hand stitching.  I've gotten fairly good at jeans, but suck at shirts, the collars are difficult.  In some cases I have designed the puppets to take standard 12" action figure costumes, which I can get from eBay, especially in the Action Figures>military and adventure section.  (Especially good for suits, which are really hard to make so they don't look like they are made of old horse blankets sewn up with rawhide.  It needs material which is thinner and lighter than the real suiting, so it can scale down.)  But that means the body proportions are pretty much restricted to normal, and the scale to 1:6.  I can make heads and hands a little bigger but I can't go with really stylised figures like the Boxtrolls puppets, or 9" tall puppets like you are planning.

You can sculpt the outfit in plasticine, make a plaster mould, and cast it in hollow latex, so it goes on the same body, rather than sculpting each new outfit as a whole new puppet.  It's best to sculpt in natural looking folds where the closing bends, like at knees and elbows, so the rubber will fold the way you want it to.  Painting in solid colour is fairly easy, but of course stripes or checks or floral patterns would be a lot more work compared to finding a fabric.  I've only done this for very specialised costumes like a space suit, and for hats and shoes.  But a friend made little latex waistcoats for mole puppets by this sculpting and liquid latex casting method, and they looked great.

Interesting ideas, thanks Nick. I'm probably going to have to experiment with each of these different techniques to see which works best for me. One of the outfits will most likely be a suit, so that has me a little anxious to begin with.

Already dreaming big and putting the cart before the horse, the results look great in my imagination, BUT I know the road to that destination is much, much longer than I anticipate it being, lol. I need to remind myself: "baby steps!". 

I was just watching the Chiodo Bros. video from Stan Winston where they talk about found clothing and how Mattel has a legal-lock on their materials, fabrics and patterns and how it's best to stay away from Barbie and Ken clothes, at least for commercial productions, maybe not so much for personal projects. I wasn't aware that. 

Another issue to consider: Real fabric will cause "noise" when shot because of the fabric hair shifted each time it is touch. Travis Knight of Laika explained how they solve it by coating the fabric with transparent silicone. 

Ignatiuslayola, I recall hearing that, but I can't remember where I heard it. Was it in the Coraline extras?

I did a couple of tests over the weekend. 1st Test was making a masking tape pattern of a Ken doll's leg. This would be a skin-tight or spandex pattern, no overlap for seams. The 2nd Test, I took a piece of duck cloth and spray glued it to a piece of aluminum foil, wrapped it around my finger and bent it like it was a knee joint. (The Ken doll's knees really did not want to bend, so I gave up on that). The combination material seems to hold it's shape rather well because of the added stiffness of the foil and it makes really nice folds and creases, especially behind the knee.

(And because I haven't uploaded pics in forever, I can't figure out how to get it to show up here instead of a link, ugh)

[URL=http://s429.photobucket.com/user/JediDeni/media/Stop%20Motion/fabric_test_tape_test_zps0reld068.jpg.html][IMG]http://i429.photobucket.com/albums/qq16/JediDeni/Stop%20Motion/fabr...[/IMG][/URL]

I glue paper onto aluminium foil when I want to animate the page turning. And it can work if you want to animate fabric flapping in the breeze, or you can put armature wire along the edge for the same purpose. But if you grab the puppet there, the foil or wire will squish in, and stay in. Each time you grab it, it will change a little. If you just want to animate an arm bending, you actually want the clothing to bounce back in the places where you grab it, or to be so snug it can't squish in when you grab it.

Thanks Nick, you gave me an idea, so I'm just thinking out loud here:

I wonder if a combination of foil and foam might work? Foil in the areas where I want wrinkles and folds, like knees and elbows. Then a thin layer of foam in the areas that get handled so that it bounces back (if the fabric is not a snug fit against the puppet contact point otherwise). Just enough to give it a squish or flex with a rebound effect.

It might end up looking like a hodgepodge on the inside of the costume, but as long as it looks and acts "normal" on the outside, I'd be happy with that.

Lots more experimenting for sure, lol.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhpq7-c911A Here is the link. He called it "boiling" or "chatter" effect. You can see it in Coraline when there is a close up shot of her pants. I'm sure certain fabric performed better than others


Dennis Heinzeroth said:

Ignatiuslayola, I recall hearing that, but I can't remember where I heard it. Was it in the Coraline extras?

I did a couple of tests over the weekend. 1st Test was making a masking tape pattern of a Ken doll's leg. This would be a skin-tight or spandex pattern, no overlap for seams. The 2nd Test, I took a piece of duck cloth and spray glued it to a piece of aluminum foil, wrapped it around my finger and bent it like it was a knee joint. (The Ken doll's knees really did not want to bend, so I gave up on that). The combination material seems to hold it's shape rather well because of the added stiffness of the foil and it makes really nice folds and creases, especially behind the knee.

(And because I haven't uploaded pics in forever, I can't figure out how to get it to show up here instead of a link, ugh)

[URL=http://s429.photobucket.com/user/JediDeni/media/Stop%20Motion/fabric_test_tape_test_zps0reld068.jpg.html][IMG]http://i429.photobucket.com/albums/qq16/JediDeni/Stop%20Motion/fabr...[/IMG][/URL]

Aaahh, thanks! I hadn't seen this video before. I wish they had added way more of this stuff in the extra features on the dvd.

He said they used Tyvek covered with silk. Tyvek is the material used in house-wrap to weatherproof the walls. I would not have guessed they used that stuff in a million years. I wonder if I have any left over from my workshop? I'll have to go rummage later, but I think whatever I had left was tossed out. Fingers crossed.

Dennis, thanks for starting this discussion. I'm following with keen interest, as I'm at the exact same stage as you. Just ordered some Tyvek!  Keep updating on progress - I need all the help I can get!

You're welcome! 

I did have some left over Tyvek so I spray glued some to another piece of the same duck cloth I used with the foil. It's more "robust"(?) than the aluminum foil, if I can use that word. The foil flexes and creases more easily, but isn't as durable. After playing around with it (the aluminum foil/duck cloth combo), there was some spots that lifted and separated from the cloth.

On the other hand, the Tyvek is thicker, so it is a bit stiffer and more hardy. I don't think it has a "grain" to it, but I feel like I should condition the combination material by breaking it in (like running it over a table edge in multiple directions to give it a bit more flexibility). Not quite sure as I haven't done that yet. That'll be my next experiment. I wonder if conditioning it would decrease its ability to hold a crease? 

If there was some way to combine the two, I'm sure LAIKA would have figured it out by now, lol. 

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