Hey everyone! I'm working on a short for a college class and had a question about giving the puppets a certain look.

In this story, the characters are made of candy; one character has a lollipop head, another is candy corn, and there may even be a licorice monster (yes, a licorice monster).

While I'm considering just using modeling clay for simplicity reasons (time and budget are pretty tight), I was wondering if there is a simple way to make them look more like actual candy - Would I add a glaze, for example? Using real candy may not work, as the characters have human-like and creature-like designs that would be a challenge to work with.

At any rate, if I'm not able to achieve a perfect look now, I'll definitely be using these characters again later. I appreciate any thoughts in advance!

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If you are trying to avoid making molds and all that stuff, Sculpey's Bake & Bend might work nice for licorice. Just sculpt around a wire and bake it. There are a bunch of different glazes you could try, but I'm not sure how they would react to being animated. Do some tests and see how they hold up when handled and bent repeatedly. Sculpey also makes "translucent" clay that you might be able to use for a lollipop? But it might be too opaque.

The one that might present problems would be the lollipop. Does it need to be translucent? If so you could find a clear plastic sphere or ball the right size and paint it with glass paint, but then of course you're stuck with a plain sphere shape that you could stick features on. A more involved process would e to sculpt it and cast it in epoxy resin using the transparent tinting agents they sell for that purpose. That way he could have a translucent face, but it wouldn't be able to move. UNLESS of course you wanted to go all out and sculpt and cast replacement heads or faces or replacement features (mouth, eyes, etc) to stick on. For me personally I wouldn't think the effect of translucency would be worth the effort or the limitations - I'd see how good you can make it look just sculpting it from super sculpey or something and paint it and then put a few layers of Krylon crystal clear or something over it. 

For the candy corn same thing, sculpt it from anything and paint it - that doesn't even need to look shiny. In fact shiny presents problems when you try to photograph it - big areas of glare that look pure white. Or little white dots all over wherever there's a point of reflected light. I think I would try some experiments -just set some transparent shiny things out, aim your lights at them and take some pictures - see how good it looks. Depending on your lighting setup and camera you might be able to pull it off. 

As for this licorice monster- maybe find some wire with red or  black insulation on it. For whip licorice use single strands, or for Twizzlers twist a few together. Or if you can't find wires the right size with the right kind of insulation dip them in latex colored with acrylic paint. 

Wow, thank you guys for such informative responses! This all definitely motivates me to start on animation tests.

I should've been more clear; the main character has a swirl-lollipop head, so it doesn't need to be translucent. (But I can still use those tips later on for other characters!)  I'll definitely try experimenting with some types of glaze.

Another upcoming challenge will be giving the licorice monster a scary face.

When I think of licorice, the first shape that comes to mind is a flexible cylinder, a bit thicker than a pencil, sometimes with grooves along it, or a twist. The second thing I picture is licorice allsorts, a cube with layers of black and colours. Silicone would be good at reproducing either of those. It depends on the character design, and if it has a moving mouth, and how you want that to work. An Allsorts block could be a hard material, with replacement mouths, or it could be silicone with wire inside and a mouth that opens along the line between a black and coloured layer. As a puppet, the block could be a head/body with arms and legs added, or the licorice block could just be the head on a bigger body, perhaps with clothing covering it so the body could be built-up foam. Anyway, hard to say what to use without a sense of the style of characters you are making.
Plasticine would be good for plain solid colours, but if there were swirls or stripes of colour they would get mangled as you move and smooth the clay. Not sure what a swirl lollipop is - I'm picturing a disc about 2" diameter, with a swirly colour pattern in it kind of radiating out from the centre? or it might be a sculpted swirl like a soft serve ice cream? Which reminds me someone has made a film where the characters are ice cream, called Creamers or something like that. They had some Making Of photos about 2 or 3 years ago I think. The film is in festivals, or possibly online by now.

Hey guys! 3 months later, I wanted to let you know that this short is nearly complete! The only thing that really changed is that there's no licorice monster, but the licorice does make an appearance...

I plan to post it to the site this week. I appreciate the advice, it was inspiring!

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