Ok everyone, today we are going to make a latex skin for our puppet. But we don’t just want a regular buildup latex skin, we want some detail in it that we don’t think we can manage with just brushing it on.
The first thing you do is to make an armature (in this case it was a ball and socket but any armature will do), once you are happy with your armature then add a little cushion foam to help rough out the body shape. A lot of people will tell you to make the sculpt first but I did not know what the puppet looked like yet so I started with the armature. Here is the puppet with some foam.
Next I sculpted a clay body with the details that I wanted on the skin. Make the sculpt as close to the desired body shape as possible to help it fit better later. Most people for this step will use Roma Plastilina clay. I use Prima plastilina because it has no sulfur smell because my wife gets migraines from the smell of roma clay. You can probably use about any clay you desire for the sculpt. Once you have your sculpt, make a plaster mold of it. I made a one-piece mold very simply by just sculpting the front side of the creature, leaving the back flat. I took the finished sculpture and laid it flat on a piece of plastic. I took softer water based clay and made a dam around the sculpt and then poured in plaster of paris to fill the dam. Ron Cole (AnimatorIsomer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDW1NKIfgQQ
has a great set of mold making tutorials on youtube and stopmotion magic.
Once you have your plaster mold completed, pop out the clay and clean up the plaster mold. I then used an old paint brush to brush vaseline on the plaster as a mold release. Now take your mold builder latex and apply a thin coat in the mold. Let dry, add another, let dry, repeat 3 or 4 times. If you apply a little bit of powder to the latex before pulling it out of the mold it lessens the chance that it will stick to itself. Now all you have to do is peel out your new skin. Below is a photo of the clay sculpture, the plaster mold and the skin. I tinted the latex white with acrylic paint as I applied it.
Here is the mold on the bottom and the resulting latex skin on top.
Again all three sections.
Now lay your skin on your puppet and adjust the foam until the skin fits with no wrinkles or voids. Apply tacky glue or more latex on the back of the skin and lay it on the foam muscles. I wrap mine gently with thread just to hold it in place. I will remove the thread when the skin is securely glued to the foam.
The background by the way is from my new film.
There you go, pretty simple, it just takes a few steps, a few parts, and a desire to try something new.
So go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.