Im about to build the wings for my Harpya-creature and have some questions for all the great puppet-makers here. I have a hard time deciding on how to approach it.

My idea was to cover the wings armature with thin foam to have something to glue the feathers on. But Im afraid that it will be to thick. So im thinking about removing the foam and maybe gluing directly on the wires, or maybe buy and apply thinner foam.

I want the result to be as realistic as possible.

The wings as they are now:

http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/photo/183240-442193339155693-208...

http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/photo/wings?context=user

the body before the feathers were glued:

http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/photo/harpya-6?context=user

The armature:

http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/photo/harpya?context=user

Anybody that has made realistic wings out of feathers? Any tips? Do you know how others have made it? Examples?

Every piece of help would be very appriciated :)

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I'm making a raven in slightly over 1:6 scale (probably closer to 1/4), and I had saved two wings from a dead backbird to provide the wing feathers. But they were still too large, too wide in proportion, and too rounded at the tips, for the look I wanted. You might find the same thing with your feathers.
Possibly you could trim the edges and re-shape them, but I thought that might lose the natural look of the edges. So I made feathers by glueing thin black tissue paper on either side of thin armature wire, sandwiching it in the middle. It was a tissue paper for wrapping, from somerhing I got at a Japanese shop I think, not a fluffy tissue for blowing your nose. I accepted an artificial look as a trade-off for getting the shapes I wanted. I did score fine lines along the sides of each feather with a hard pencil, and cut little notches along the edges.

I didn't put any foam on the wings - the overlapping feathers already add more bulk to the wings than I needed. I wanted them to open out for flight, and fold up as neatly as possible when the raven lands. The wires for each feather come out from the mass of wires twisted together for the arm bones, like lots and lots of fingers.
I'm typing on an iPad and don't have any photos, but I will post one later from my real computer.
With real feathers, the central shaft of each feather is hollow, so it may be possible to cut the end and insert a wire. I think I used my finest 0.6mm wire.

Ok, here's the raven wing under construction, from a year and a half ago.

Folding the wings does not happen as smoothly and naturally as when a bird does it without thinking.  I have to adjust a few individual feathers each frame, to make sure they don't jam.  The armature wire is essential for positioning them, and I think it would help with real feathers if they were glued onto wire as well.  But I haven't actually tried it.

Strangely, I am suddenly looking at making and animating a harpy for someone else's film  - but they have supplied a very different design from yours or the classic bird bodied/human headed harpy.  It's more like a female human body shape with bat wings and claws, so easier to make!    So it won't be any use for the scene I eventually want to do with classic harpies flying over the river Styx (or Acheron).  That will need the same approach that I am using for Nevermore here.

Where my Raven really fails is the body feathers - I resorted to fur fabric on the back, but couldn't wrap it all the way around without it getting too fat.  I tried flocking on the breast, which looked crappy, then covered that with uneven tufts of fur trimmed from the backing.  I think the better approach might have been to sculpt the body in clay, with a smooth feathered texture, since they tend to lay flat and look pretty aerodynamic.  The alternative is lots of overlapping real body feathers if it is meant to look real, or hundreds of tissue paper scales if I wanted to keep it consistent with the wings, but I'll have to live with what I have made.

i am also designing a bird of a much more fantasical nature than the raven- looks awesome- but if youre looking for feathers im looking into false eye lash feathers which are tiny

One thing you can look into is faux flowers ..pick somePedels) with the right shape and paint them to the color you want or if your lucky you may fine something just the right color.

Thank you for all the helpful tips..! :) This bird of yours looks amazing.. like all of your work. I will try to find a good size feathers for the large parts of the wing and see if I can glue the wire inside them :)
Will see if I fins similar tissuepaper and try out for the smaller parts.

Thanks for the great help

StopmoNick said:

Ok, here's the raven wing under construction, from a year and a half ago.

Folding the wings does not happen as smoothly and naturally as when a bird does it without thinking.  I have to adjust a few individual feathers each frame, to make sure they don't jam.  The armature wire is essential for positioning them, and I think it would help with real feathers if they were glued onto wire as well.  But I haven't actually tried it.

Strangely, I am suddenly looking at making and animating a harpy for someone else's film  - but they have supplied a very different design from yours or the classic bird bodied/human headed harpy.  It's more like a female human body shape with bat wings and claws, so easier to make!    So it won't be any use for the scene I eventually want to do with classic harpies flying over the river Styx (or Acheron).  That will need the same approach that I am using for Nevermore here.

This might also be a good idea for the smaller feathers :)

Greyguy said:

One thing you can look into is faux flowers ..pick somePedels) with the right shape and paint them to the color you want or if your lucky you may fine something just the right color.

Do you know any good store that sells them?

mikefallek said:

i am also designing a bird of a much more fantasical nature than the raven- looks awesome- but if youre looking for feathers im looking into false eye lash feathers which are tiny

Feather eyelashes... why would you even know about that?     They do look useful, but could get expensive if you need a lot.

I asked my Avian Motion Consultants if they would mind me plucking some feathers for puppetmaking, but they said it wasn't in their job description!

haha yes ^^ The tissueversion is alot cheaper

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