Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Walter is finally here!

The Walter Gloom puppet is finally finished! There are photos below, but there are higher quality images here:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unveiling Edna

I have finished the Edna Thorn puppet, and I'm rather pleased with her. She has no mouth yet because she will need a set of several replacement mouths so that she can display a range of emotions. Try to ignore that, although I know it makes her look a bit creepy.






If anyone is interested in how she was made, read on...

First I constructed an armature for her using aluminium armature wire and epoxy putty, with nuts in her feet for tie-down bolts and added the latex build-up head I described making in the previous post.

edna armature

I wrapped the armature in upholstery foam glued in place with Copydex (latex glue) and some hot glue. I used embroidery thread tied around her joints and waist to make contours, and wound lots of thread around her wrists and ankles to cover the wire. I then snipped the foam of her body into shape with sharp scissors.

edna nude

I covered her hands, arms and legs in a few coats of clear liquid latex (Copydex again) to form a skin, then continued to build up coats of coloured latex (tinted with Games Workshop model paint). Her gloves were built up with black latex, with some lace glued around the edges.

I cut up an old pair of fishnet tights up and sewed them onto Edna's legs with a seam up the back, then I dabbed watered-down liquid latex onto the stockings and let them dry, which left them rubberised and stuck firmly to Edna's legs. Edna's shoes were made of very soft leather (from an old jacket) glued then sewn to her feet.

I made her hair using three colours of fake nylon hair (blonde, dark brown and violet) carefully glued to her scalp bit by bit using watered down PVA glue then trimmed to shape. I wrapped lengths of watered-PVA soaked hair around pieces of aluminium wire and fixed the ends in place with elastic bands. Once they had dried I bent the wire into spirals and glued them to her head to form buns.

edna stockings

edna back

I made eyeballs for Edna (and Walt) using plastic beads from cheap jewellery. I drilled a circular indent into the centre of each bead to form the iris. I found that this was much easier to do after I made a basic drilling jig out of a few old bits of Meccano which allowed me to drill dead-centre each time:

drill jig


I then coloured the iris of the eyes with waterproof marker and scratched lines in them with a pin, and put a small blob of black plasticine to form the pupil, before covering it all with a convex lens of clear 5-minute epoxy resin. Just before it was fully cured I stuck a pinhole in the lens to allow me to move the eyes easily.

Edna's dress was made using the sleeve of a cotton-jersey top, painted on with watered down acrylic paints. I sewed the dress onto Edna, adding ribbon, lace and leather details. Edna's 'bling' is all cheap nasty costume jewellery - her belt is just black elastic with a big earring for the buckle, and her rings are more earrings, her earings are plastic pearls glued to wire. Her hairband is made from paperclips, beads and epoxy. The 'dead fox' was sewn using more soft leather used wrong-way-round to give a fur effect without the hassles of real fur.

And that's it...
I'll be back with photos once I've made Walter some clothes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Puppet Heads

Walter and Edna now have heads! No bodies yet, but that will come soon.
Here are the finished heads, made using the latex build up technique and working from James' designs. It is not a quick method by any means, but it does give good results. They look slightly sinister because they don't have mouths or eyebrows yet as these will be replaceable, allowing a greater range of expressions. They also have blank eyeballs in at the moment, but they will be replaced with more realistic ones. Edna is also bald, but I will be making her a rather elaborate hairpiece.

Here is how they were made. I took photos throughout the process, but I didn't photograph every layer of latex I applied as that would mean literally hundreds of photos. They took about two weeks to build, but most of this time was spent waiting for latex to dry! I should also say thanks to Nick Hilligoss, animator extraordinare, as it was by studying photos of his latex build-up puppets that I worked out how to build these.

Here is the original Walter prototype head that I made to experiment with the technique. I learned a lot, but wasn't happy with the eyes, and his ears are too small.

Materials for step one - aluminium foil, aluminium armature wire, polymer clay and sculpting tools.

Aluminium foil was used for the core of the heads to make them lighter than solid clay.

Sculpting a basic head shape using polymer clay over the ball of foil.

Heads ready to be baked.

Baked heads after a priming coat of plain liquid latex (Copydex).

During application of the first coat of dark coloured latex. The latex is tinted by adding a small amount of high pigment, low viscosity paint. I use Games Workshop model paint which works brilliantly. For thinner coats you can use a paint brush, but use cheap ones (but not so cheap that they lose bristles) because the brushes will be permanently ruined. Never use a brush that already has dried latex on it - it will ruin your work. Always test the colour and opacity of your latex mix by putting some on a light coloured piece of plastic and allowing to dry - it will be a very different colour than in its liquid state.

Thread wrapped around the neck, to thicken it.

After a few more coats of latex to give a thick latex base before the details are added.

Temporary eyeballs (white plastic beads) are added, and I began to build up eyelids and other details by dabbing latex onto the head using wooden cocktail sticks. Use a fresh stick as soon as the latex begins to dry out on it, or it will stick to the head.

Building up more details.

The first lighter coloured details added.

After a few coats of thinner, semi transparent liquid latex to smooth out the surface and even up the colour. Latex can be thinned with water - where I live the tap water works well, but if you have hard-water in your area, I'd use distilled water instead.

Lots more layers of latex added and details built up, using different shades of latex to give more depth.

Adding Edna's eyelashes by building up tiny dots of black latex at the edges of her eyelids. Also beginning to use many watered down coats of latex to create the skin-tones. Edna is much paler than Walter. She is in James' words, 'a glamour nana,' so I whilst applying her 'make-up' I tried to imagine a rather gothic looking version of Barbara Cartland - lots of white powder, and slightly too much blusher! The puppets also have 'panda eyes' as shown in James' designs.

Adding superficial details with watered tinted latex.

The finished heads after a light dusting of talc (I use baby powder, as it has no added ingredients) using a soft make-up brush. This stops the latex sticking to things quite so much, and also makes it 'fleshy' looking, as opposed to shiny.

A few of the many pots of different colours and thicknesses of tinted liquid latex I used on the puppet heads.

All the used wooden cocktail sticks and just some of the ruined brushes that were used during the process.

So there you go - how to make a latex build-up puppet head. It's just like painting in 3D, only stickier!

Coming soon: Making eyeballs, puppet bodies and latex build up hands.

Thursday, October 8, 2009



It has been some time since the last post regarding the progress on "Walter Gloom"

I have been working quite abit lately, to save for my new PC which will be the first installment in the eventual Studio Set up I will create.

Though more on that as it unfolds.

For now here is a sketch of Walter I drew this morning at 1am as I was having trouble sleeping.

Hope you enjoy.

And keep your eyes held open, as this page is about to get very, very active.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update! Concept Sketches

"Costume Design"

Walter Gloom"