Hello,

It's been a while since I've posted here. I made a post about a year ago on a basic stop motion setup. Well, I haven't been doing stop motion for about a year now, because I've been practicing drawing and doing other things. I hope I can consistently practice this year to see improvement a year from now.

But! I'm back to do stop motion animation again, and I was wondering if some people could give me feedback on my animations? I've been starting off with the basics, so I'm not doing any advanced animations yet.

Here is a bouncing ball animation that I made. I shot it on ones at first, then I put it on two's. (I just shot this a few hours ago if you are wondering)

Thank you!

Porter

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All refreshed now! It occurred to me it would be a good idea to make a list of good general puppet making supplies for the type of puppets you're doing. I'll put down my first thoughts here and possibly add more later if I think of anything, and other people might also add to it. Since so far you're doing human puppets wearing clothes, that's what this is focused on. And I'm just dashing this off the top of my head.

Almaloy wire - It's an aluminum alloy as the name implies, and is the most flexible kind of wire I'm aware of, that will last the longest for bending back and forth many times. Don't buy what's just called aluminum wire at a hardware store - that will be anodized (work hardened) to make it weatherproof, which makes it more brittle. Get it from an art supply or craft store that carries sculpting supplies - it's sold for making armatures for clay sculptures. If you buy aluminum wire form a craft store you want to look for words like soft or annealed (softened). 

You want several sizes - the most useful overall being 16 gauge, which is 1/16" thickness. Gauge refers to how many times it can be wrapped around something before it reaches one inch in length, hence 1/16" thickness. This size comes in big coils like 20 feet long - get one. 

You also want a smaller coil of 1/8" armature wire for rigging and something much thinner than the 16 gauge for making fingers etc. I'll post some details in a followup later today - need to check some resources. 

Epoxy Putties - one of life's necessities for puppet makers. You want several different kinds, based on their working time mostly. I like to always have a tube or 2 of the 5 minute stuff, one steel filled for strength and one unfilled, usually white. Also the same for 20 minute epoxies - get a steel filled and a non filled. You want the 5 minute types for those quick jobs like building pelvis or chest blocks over wire - something internal to the puppet that doesn't need to look good but needs to cure quickly so you can get on with the work sometime today. Use a 20 minute variety if you think you need a little more time for critical sculpting/shaping. These can be bought at a hardware store.

Then also get some kind of longer setting stuff from an art/craft store, like Aves Apoxy Sculpt or Magic Sculpt. These are much finer grained, so can be sculpted much better, and give you a working time somewhere in the vicinity of 25 to 45 minutes if I remember right. This is for stuff that will be seen on the surface - you can make heads with it or whatever - and of course these are also useful for props as well as puppets. I'll often make a quick core piece from 5 minute epoxy putty just to secure something and then when that's set put some Aves over it for final shaping and sculpting.

Get a box of Nitrile gloves for working with epoxy putty. It's toxic and you don't want it getting into your skin much. Also keep a little plastic cup of water on hand as you work - when this stuff starts to get sticky dip your tools/fingers in water so it doesn't stick to them. You can also smooth over it with a wet finger to get a nice glasslike finish.

To be continued after breakfast.. 

Hey Strider, thank you for responding. Probably should have gone to sleep though! 

I didn't realize until now that you were the guy who made those animation test I viewed a year ago. I always loved those test, and I also love your radke puppets. I decided to dive deeper into the building the radke puppets page and there is a lot of good information in there. Thank you. 

So, I think I would want to do a build up puppet Nick's style. Using mattress foam on the body, but only using latex on the hands, maybe the arms, and probably a head.

I definitely felt frustrated with animating with clay. I want to try out animating on glass, kind of like the short film called Wax by the Sander's guy. I love that style. But back to clay, I feel okay with it if I'm using simple characters. I would love to maybe try out Will Vintons style, I admire that style.

But something I'm realizing, is that by the time I want to animate, I've spent all this time on puppet building that my animation comes out sloppy and I just lose the desire to animate. Especially with clay, like my george puppet, I spent 4 hours sculpting it and by the time it was time to animate I felt drained and then realized it was too top heavy.

I want to have a focus on animation, but I want to make a good looking puppet. Maybe I need to learn more about balancing what to do.

So I was looking on monster maker's website, and I think that gallon of RD-407 would be good? Now I'm reading forum post on how latex can be too thick or thin, not to go with the mold builder latex at the craft store, etc. Not too sure on what to buy, and then you mentioned PAX paint. I'm just getting more confused. ;-) I assume I should probably have a good $100-200 for getting started in latex build up puppet making.

Anyways, thank you for your response. I really appreciate all the good advice. Any more critiques on the animation test by the way? I want to keep improving, shot by shot. 

Thanks again,

Porter

EDIT: Whoops! Didn't see your reply! Sorry about that!

Are you trying to build a puppet and animate with it all in one day??!!  

I don't think I ever got a puppet done in 4 hours - more like 4 days usually, if not 4 weeks for the more ambitious ones (maybe 4 months.. ). But I realize you're just doing tests and your puppets are very incomplete now. I can reassure you, and this is something I thought of after making one of my early posts on this thread, when we were talking about animator's patience - everything will change when you're through this early period of experimentation and learning the essentials of puppet making. Right now you don't have any end goals beyond wanting to learn a lot of stuff, but when you've gotten sufficiently through the early learning curves and figured out good ways to build puppets that work for you, then your animation tests will naturally become more of a focus and you'll be willing to put more time into them so they get better. Also you'll get tired of seeing 2 second tests and start wanting to see puppets doing more ambitious things. It's a hierarchy of learning. And after you've gotten the hang of basic animation and how to make things move around with some expressiveness, you'll want to start making them act and tell little pieces of stories rather than just take a couple of steps. That's how my evolution has gone - increasing bit by bit. Isolated actions, then little pieces of stories, then individual scenes, and I haven't yet made it to complete stories, well aside from Terror in the Pumpkin Patch.

I don't think you need a gallon of anything - and I don't know what that product was you mentioned - is it a liquid latex? Unless you're making hundreds of puppets that would last you many years and probably turn all gloppy and too thick to use before you're a tenth of the way through it. You just need a little bottle of liquid latex - you'll be able to make many puppets with it trust me. Mold builder is fine if you want to brush it on thickly, but if you want to do dipping or pour it on, then you'll want to get either dipping latex or slip casting latex.They're much more liquid and need to be built up in many successive coats. For the early attention deficit experiments in puppet building mold builder is probably a better choice - it's what most of us started with and then if you get more serious and are willing to put in more work and time to get better results, go with dipping latex or slip casting latex. But you don't need gallons of it. I'd go with 4 oz bottles if you can find them, or the smallest size you can get. Often that's a pint or a quart. Way more than you need, but you have to go with what's available. 

Here's the adhesive I use for making PAX paint: Pro-Tac @ Monstermakers 

If you decide you need it, just get the 2 oz or 4 oz bottle - it will last for a pretty long time. But like I said, you probably don't need it at first, just tint your latex. 

Yeah, if you go through the comments on those blog posts for the Radke puppets, there's a lot of great additional information. As always, those who are willing to dig deep will get the better rewards. Those who skim the surface get the cliff notes. 

"So, I think I would want to do a build up puppet Nick's style. Using mattress foam on the body, but only using latex on the hands, maybe the arms, and probably a head."

That's also my method, though not the head part. For heads I follow more of the Eastern Euro puppetfilm approach, hard sculpted heads with no moving parts, and the expression is done through pantomime and cinematic storytelling techniques. 

Here is the latex that I used for the Radke puppets: Paint Base @ Monstermakers

Wow, they used to sell it in 4 oz bottles - now it looks like the smallest size is 32 oz. Way more than you would need unless you're running a puppet production factory. Their paint base is actually just liquid latex of the thin variety, with no added fillers, the same as the dipping and slip casting latex, but what I liked was that I could buy it in such small bottles that would last through a dozen puppets or so. You could probably contact them and ask if you could get a 4 oz bottle - they may well be willing to do that.

Though I suppose the good thing about having a quart of liquid latex is you've got plenty for if you want to fill a container and do some dipping buildup. With the little 4 oz bottles all you can really do is dripping. 

"I assume I should probably have a good $100-200 for getting started in latex build up puppet making."

I don't look at it like that - it's more like every now and then you buy some more supplies and that increases your capabilities. If you want to make puppets only using wire, epoxy putty, and sports wrap, with heads of clay or epoxy putty, you can do that pretty cheap. Then later get some latex and some pro adhesive to make PAX paint, and you'll be able to make rubber heads and arms and paint them how you want. Just keep upgrading as you go. That way it isn't all like one huge investment. 

I took another look at your clips, and my critique would be - keep going!! It's hard to critique such brief clips that are just super basic moves. It's when you start putting a few moves together to get some acting that it starts to get more interesting. But like I said, for what they are, they look decent. You need to just crank out a bunch of these little tests to learn how to make things work, and then you'll be ready for longer sustained clips. These are really just for your own study and self-evaluation. 

Here is a light flesh colored liquid latex in a 4.5 oz size: Mehron Liquid Latex

It's already a good flesh color, so no need to either tint it or make paint. This would be a nice simple all-around solution. 

It doesn't say whether it has fillers or not, but that's not really all that important. If it does have fillers like the Mold Builder latex (I suspect it does), it's still good for making puppets with. The fillers are to keep it from dripping off when applied to vertical surfaces, so it's good for brushing on. It would also work fine for dipping I think, just go on a bit thicker and not require as many layers. 

If you want to get a filler-free latex, here's a quart of it: Dipping Latex @ MonsterMakers

Strider, 

Sorry for the late reply. I got caught up with some other things lately. Thank you for a very detailed and thoughtful response. 

So, lately I've been sticking with clay still, and I've actually started to make some longer test shots with simple characters acting. I am now doing shots up to 6-10 seconds, but I've decided to step down from 24FPS to 15FPS. I realized I'm just doing things too fast, and I'm not ready for 24FPS yet. I might start shooting at 24FPS again sometime soon though, but I feel pretty safe with 15FPS for now. 

Like you said, I really need to slow down. I want to put my time into making a good looking puppet that isn't really just a "Test" puppet. It might make things more interesting to give it a costume and unique head shape, etc. Since I don't really have any major goals like you said, I think its safe for me to explore right now, see what part of the production process I like. I still want to put a focus on animation, but, I'll just explore and see what happens. :)

Anyways, I think I want to give latex puppet making a shot more seriously now. So I think I want to buy a quart of dipping latex from monster makers, then just buy acrylic paint from my local craft store to tint it. I got the armature wire and mattress foam and epoxy putty covered. But the last thing that's been my biggest worry, is learning how to sew clothes for a puppet. I have no clue what to do there. Maybe I should just buy doll clothes?

I'm going to make a summer 2016 compilation of all my test shots I've made in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned. :)

Thanks again for the advice. I really appreciate it. 

Porter

Oh, absolutely work at 15 fps! I usually work at 12, which feels just right to me. Now that you've done 24 for a while everything else will be a total breeze! That experience should lay the impatience to rest.

For making clothes, I got an out of print book by Susanna Oroyan called Finishing the Figure, which is about making clothes for one of a kind art dolls - which are very much like puppets. One part of that book told me everything I needed to know. Basically she said you can just rough cut pieces of cloth somewhat bigger than you need them to be and pin them onto the puppet using a lot of pins so it's almost like it's stitched in place. This lets you sort of test fit it and see if it's going to work. If it needs some adjustment, go ahead and do it and re-pin. Once it seems satisfactory, hand stitch along the pins and remove them as you go. As you finish stitching each piece (like a shirt or a vest or whatever) peel it off and turn it inside-out and voila - now the stitching is on the inside, where it needs to be! Of course, if you're using some kind of fabric that's printed on one side but not the other, then you need to start by placing it inside-out on the puppet so when you flip it later it will end up right-side out. Does that make sense? 

It's ridiculously simple, and it means you don't need to make patterns or understand how to piece things together the way a seamstress would or anything, you just do whatever works. I got myself a thread kit in multiple colors so I can match whatever fabric I use - I actually bought bobbins rather than full sized spools of thread, which will last through many outfits. For anybody who doesn't know, a bobbin is a much smaller spool of thread that goes inside a sewing machine - for weird complicated reasons. But all we need to know is, it's thread and it works. 

I also had to look up hand stitching tutorials online - I just use a super simple stitch for everything and you just have to learn how to tie off the end of a stitch before you cut the thread off. 

For hems, like at the ends of sleeves or pants legs, I just fold the fabric back and glue it down with a flexible glue like Elmer's or Tacky Glue (which is the same thing only thicker). 

I covered some of this in my Radke puppet demos on my blog - on fact on this post: So Close!

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