Puppet prize

Marc Spess and I are running an animation challenge at stopmotionmagic.com

This puppet is the prize. I created this puppet especially for this contest. I see so many animators with tons of heart and desire to animate but when they get started, their puppet just doesn’t do what they want it to do. I created this puppet using the same techniques I use for almost all of my puppets.

For this one, I started by sculpting a clay body. I use Prima clay. It is like Roma clay except Prima is sulfur free. I tried Roma but the sulfur smell gave my wife a headache.



When that was done, I made a silicon rubber mold in two parts of the body. Once the mold was complete, I brushed in mold builder latex that was tinted with green paint. I think the silicon rubber I used was this:



I then made a wire armature using annealled wire. The green areas are a two part sculpting putty called “green stuff”. The real name is kneadatite.


The wire is twisted in a hand drill before wrapped together. The wire is un-twisted at the ankles and knees to make it easier to bend while animating. The puppet is about 8″ tall to top of head.


For the muscles, I wrap the thin parts in athletic bandage tape (the springy soft stuff used underneath athletic wraps in sports), and for the body I cut a piece of cushion foam (like you would find in a chair cushion). The foam is slid around the wire and glued in place. I use Aleene’s tacky glue.



The feet are made from a piece of aluminum stock, cut to fit with a hacksaw, bandsaw, or dremel tool. The tie down hole is drilled and then tapped with a 8-32 screw thread. Then 4 tiny holes are drilled for the ankles wires to slip into. The wires go down through the holes, then are bent back to ensure they come out. The wires are covered with more green stuff.


I added some wire for toes, and green stuffed over it all. Then wrapped the leg wires with bandage wrap.


I gently peeled the skin out of the mold and glued on his chest using brush on latex. I held it in place with thread until it set. The arms were coated in brush on latex. Squirt some paint into little cup, add a teaspoon of latex, stir well, then dab it on the puppet. Apply a few coats to build it up. Let it dry between coats.

The head is more green stuff sculpted around the eyes. It is then painted with a brush on primer. I use model paints from Vallejo Acrylics. Most people know these as Games Workshop paints.


I don’t put latex on the head because it peels off too easily while moving the head around.


Apply the back and keep touching up the latex. I added antennae just to give you something else you could animate. The wire is attached to the head with green stuff as I formed the head. The balls on the end are just more green stuff.  Don’t look at the props, they are for my next film.


The eyes are doll eyes. New ones, not stolen from a doll by the way. The doll eyes came from a hobby store long ago in the doll making section.






So there you have it, one puppet built. It took several days while I waited for latex to dry and green stuff to harden. Good luck with the contest, maybe you will get to animate this frog/alien/bug guy.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

7 responses to “Puppet prize

  1. John, the amount you get done is amazing! I don’t know where you find the time, but it’s great that you do.


  2. Dang dood!

    excellent coverage again.

    Its all right there for anyone wanting to make a puppet.



  3. Nice puppet! What is the face made of? If it’s mold rubber, then that’s the smoothest paint job ever. If I had to guess, I’d say silicone.


  4. castlegardener

    The face is made of “green stuff”, a two part sculpting putty. The real name is Kneadatite.

    It is then primed with a brush on primer and then painted with the same color paint as I used to tint the latex.


  5. Great character John, a really nice puppet!


  6. Thanks John.

    Your puppets are really looking professional these days.


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