I’m planning on making a short stop motion film for the first time, and I thought I’d ask you guys for some advice!
My idea was to build the head with sculpey, bake it, and then add eyebrows + moustache without baking them, in order to animate these parts afterwards. As an option, I thought about using magnets for brows + moustache, baking them as well, and having different versions of the moustache for replacement.
Will it work like that? How hard will it be to replace/reshape/move those parts on the face without accidentally moving the character? Will a homemade wire armature be too unstable for this?
I’ll be grateful for any help :)
Unbaked eyebrows - sounds like it could work. The only caution I can think of is that when unbaked Sculpey is left alone it gets a bit firm, so it might crack or peel off the first time you try moving it. But if, at the start of the shot, you knead the bits of Sculpey and get them nice and warm and flexible, they might work for you.
What I do is have a loop of thin (1mm diameter) armature wire coming out of the head, with the loop flattened so it is a T shape, and put a bit of Sculpey or latex onto the top of the T. It is like a semi-detached eyebrow, on a stalk, that can rotate to make a sad or angry look, or go up a bit for surprise, or down for concentration.
I have a puppet making tutorial that shows drilling and gluing the eyebrow wire into a hard epoxy putty putty at 01:40 - you could do the same with Sculpey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uG-ZIOXZ7w&t=1s There are a few heads at the start, just to show different materials. It includes a skeleton with Sculpey head and wire eyebrows built up with latex. (Skeleton can be seen doing a lot of "eyebrow acting" in a couple of mini-shorts on my channel, The Seventh Skol and SinbadSkeletonFightHD.)
You may not want to see the eyebrows sticking out like this, in which case your original idea is definitely worth trying.
With the moustache, the wire would be easier to hide, you could do it in 2 halves just like a pair of eyebrows, which would allow you to tilt the 2 sides up to something like a smile, or droop down, or just move both sides while the puppet is talking. I haven't ever done this, but I will keep it in mind for the next time I want to make a character with a mo.
I approached my facial animation in a similar way. The heads of my characters are rigid air-dry clay, and the brows / eyelids are plasticine. This clay won't dry over time, and sticks just fine to the rigid face. If you make your eyebrows and mustache out of brown plasticine, it'll be animatable because it sticks, but you can peel it or push it frame by frame easily.
Your face will be easier to animate without accidentally moving your figure if you make the head easily removable. Use 2 sizes of brass tubing that slip-fits at the neck joint, and remove the head each frame to move head features. It takes time, yes, but it gives good results.
YOu are on the right track. I used Sculpey for my main characters faces. I had planned to make molds but time and space was a factor. I used Plasticine for brows, pupils, mustaches,etc. One problem is Plasticine doesn't stick well to Sculpey, so remember, patience is the virtue of stopmo.
I used aluminum foil with Sculpey to keep weight down.