POSING THE PUPPET

Stop Motion is full of limitations. In CG, an animator can scale up or down and/or intersect their character to get the desired pose. Cel animators can draw any pose they imagine by shortening and exaggerating limbs; easily achieving Squash and Stretch. Stopmo animators don't have it so easy.  Unless their puppet is solely made of clay, they usually have to work with a character built with some kind of ball and socket or wire armature inside, restricting movement. Joints have their limit.  Limbs collide with the foam or silicone body. The trick is to find a way to work with these limitations.

 

Here is the puppet I am working with for this exercise, a basic human Stikfas toy. He's tiny, about 3" high so I can use Stikki Wax to attach him to the set. I can balance him on one leg easily enough because of his large feet. But as I bend his elbows, knees, ankles and neck, I quickly find the limits of his joints. Not a lot of flexibility but this lesson is all about working with those limitations. Orsen Welles once said "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations". I think about that quote often in application to stopmo, while always trying to push those limits.  

So get to it. Grab your puppet and find out what kind of poses you can get out of him. Photograph each key pose and give it a label: Happy, tired, curious, etc. If you run out of ideas, look thru some books or magazines. Animation books are filled with exactly the kind of poses you want. 


TIP

If you are working with a human type puppet, try to get into the pose yourself. Pay attention to where your weight is placed. Which leg are you standing on? Take a photo if you need to. Try to transfer the pose to your puppet.

In the slideshow below, you will see a few poses I came up with. If you're using an iPad, click this link to see the photos.

  

Finding that perfect still pose can take some time. I wasn't able to get everything I wanted.  I was aiming for good silhouette value, meaning: can the pose be clearly read in silhouette? The overall body of my puppet is bulky so I really had to work hard to achieve a readable pose. His legs and feet flare out, the elbows don't bend past 90 degrees and he doesn't have any fingers. So what have you discovered about your puppet from this exercise? Were you able to get the poses you wanted? Is your puppet flexible enough? Can your puppet's armature hold extreme poses? Now is a good time to make any modifications to your puppet, if you can, before continuing on.

 

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