Ok guys, so after a very stressful week I have a devil puppet made from silicone. However the weight of the puppet is ridiculous and he doesn't bend mush at the torso, which is a royal pain as he will be sitting for many shots!
the limbs and the head mechanism work well but I am now thinking i may need to take some time out and have a real think about remaking the whole thing from a different material. I have never used foam latex before but I assume it would be far lighter and have bend better in thick sections compared to silicone? The other method I was thinking about would be to skin the mold with a layer of standard latex and then backfill will a very soft expanding polyurethane flex foam.
It is a real shame because I have spent so much time and money on trying to make this the best puppet I have created but I am thinking further down the line that animating will be too tricky in its current silicone form. If anybody has any ideas they want to share then as always your input is valued. Thanks.
That looks magnificent! I hope it's good to animate. Now you've got the hang of that method, I think if you use it again, actually sculpting some wrinkles and folds into the clay master in places you know will flex will minimise the 'folding' effect that tends to go with urethane foam/latex skin 'hybrid' construction.
Yeah I think that would definitely help next time. Although I don't actually mind the wrinkles as much as I though I would, I was anticipating the worst but they don't detract to much. This is a great cheap method for casting, a little of that foam goes a long way! Need to redesign the wings, add some horns and finish him up, but pleased I took the risk with ripping the armature out of the silicone one.
I dont suppose you have any tips of matting down latex and stretchi paints? they seem to leave a slight gloss. I tried a little dusting of talc but it seemed to have little effect.
Ah, well, as long as you're happy with it that's all that counts! I only mentioned it in case you were getting very pronounced unwanted folding on account of the clay master having been sculpted originally with a different final casting material in mind.
I don't know 'stretchi paints', is that a specific brand? When I paint latex-on-urethane foam type puppets, I use good old fashioned Pax paint, made from No-Tack ProsAide and artists' acrylics. I then dust down with talc and have no problems with stickiness, this also kills the glossiness.
Ah cool I have some ProsAide low tack here, I still find its quite tacky before talc though! Stretchi paints are made by Trylon. I used some stretchi paints and their latex colourant before and was very impressed, although not sure if its just a prosaide mix too? there's some description here
I know what you mean, I think if i were to go back and add some wrinkles then it would definitely help. Will try to add a few for Cerberus when I get round to casting him.
Pax made with No-Tack ProsAide and paint - give it a day or two after talcing and you'll notice the stickiness is almost gone. Hard to say what Stretchi paint is even from that link. However, I hadn't realised Trylon make it - funnily enough I use Trylon's latex colourants to tint latex before making skins with it, to give them a base-colour prior to finishing with Pax etc.
Cerberus looks great, good luck with him!
I love the style of these puppets, especially the Devil. His face and the way you're going about the replacement mouths is terrific. I can't wait 'til we see some photos of the sets.
Wow, that's fast work, and it came out looking great!!
I don't think I'd sculpt wrinkles in so much as the natural flats and folds that are already in real body parts because they have to bend there. Nature has taken care of that for us already - though since foam and rubber don't bend as well as muscle and skin we might have to slightly exaggerate here and there. Ray always made sure to sculpt these natural folds in wherever they were needed, as well as occasionally putting in wrinkles for something like a dinosaur tail (well ok - more like ridges rather than wrinkles actually, but they serve the same purpose).
Here - I found a picture online that demonstrates these surfaces on a human arm and did a little sketchover:
Aside from the flat scooped-out lines I indicated here, also note the way the forms curve (bulge of the bicep, etc) - people have a tendency to minimize these curves when sculpting puppets and make everything look tubular with only very slight curves and often without sculpting in the fold lines. I figure, if nature does it, we should follow suit - who knows how to design a moving body better, right?
By leaving these forms out of a sculpt we're actually creating a puppet that has to wrinkle like crazy to try to duplicate the bending of a real arm or leg.
Also note - the segments of the arm aren't really round in cross section - they're somewhat flattened out - the way this arm is held the upper arm is flattened horizontally and the forearm vertically. Due to the way the bicep curves in to that flat fold and the corresponding flat area there on the forearm they're automatically going to flatten out correctly when the elbow is bent. And the flat underside of the upper arm fits nicely against the scooped-out armpit area. I never cease to be amazed at the economy and functionality of anatomical design.
I was like a second too late with my last edit and it didn't show up. Frustrating! Let me try to remember it and re-write it as well as I can..
Arms and legs aren't actually round in cross-section, the segments are slightly squashed flat. In the picture above you can see it - the upper arm is squashed a little horizontally and the forearm vertically - this helps them to fit together when compressed (when the elbow is bent). Also notice the curving surface of the bicep when it gets near the fold flattens out, so it will fit nicely against the corresponding flat in the forearm.
About the armpit - notice how skinny the arm gets right at the shoulder joint (aside from the actual deltoid muscle itself - the big shoulder muscle). People who aren't well versed in artistic anatomy have a tendency to think the arm is thicker here, I suppose because they're thinking about the shoulder muscle but don't really understand it's shape. But if you look at the picture and visually remove the deltoid, the arm is pretty skinny there and flattened a bit. Segments of the arms and legs are literally shaped a lot like a chicken drumstick! Bony knobs at the ends (the joints) with muscles swelling out in between.
Now look closely at the shape of the underside of the upper arm - formed by the tricep mostly. In fact - imagine the arm laid across the top of a big console TV, with the upper corner nestled into the armpit. The underside of the arm is not flat - the corner of the TV won't actually make contact with the armpit (unless you force the flesh to squash, as it will do pretty easily). See - the armpit is sort of scooped-out, and the underside of the arm there is flat. Notice the fold in the flesh is pushed way up inside the form of the arm and a bit into the side of the torso. Well, the chest muscle and the shoulder blade form little 'wings' around it, but in between them the armpit is actually a little scooped out pit. It doesn't actually dig into the shape of the ribcage - it's rather that the ribcage itself is sloping inward there to become the base of the neck - the shoulders are wedge shapes built onto the ribcage (but this is getting pretty technical now). the important thing is to understand that the armpit is actually a pit, but don't over-exaggerate it. Understanding this will help you to create the right forms there that will bend nicely.
Hope you don't mind Will, I took the liberty of doing a paintover on your puppet's arm to show how I would sculpt one in the future to make it bend-friendly:
Note that, as well as bringing the armpit area up sharply into a well-defined crease, I also brought the front edge of the shoulder muscle back a ways towards the torso. Essentially I'm trying to make that joint area itself the skinniest part of that section of the arm (almost as if you're tightly wrapping thread around it there) , bringing the sculpted-in relief slots close together top and bottom so there's less rubber to have to push around right where it will bend. I also did the wrist.
Well explained Strider, thanks for the visuals as well. Strangely enough the original sculpt had arms similar to the ones you have photoshopped, however I thought they looked over slightly exaggerated and so opted to refine them due to the puppet originally intended to be cast in silicone. I have to say that what you have displayed would have worked brilliantly for the whole latex/ flex foam method. I did try to be relatively anatomically aware, but the armpit would have definitely have benefited from being thinner and more scooped out. I tried to model the bicep and forearm with differing muscle mass and a small crease and although not as pronounced as you have suggested in the picture, this area does bend more realistically when animated semi correctly! what i mean by this is that there is a double joint in the elbow so moving only one ball bearing and attached rod provides only one wrinkle, where as if i just grab the arm and bend, both ends of the joint could move meaning the wrinkles are more pronounced. After looking at your diagram Strider I would certainly use your advice if I had to remake the puppet, although I think the stress of doing this again may kill me!