Thursday, 3 February 2011

Puppet FAIL.

I wasn't going to post this, but I haven't updated in a while. Below you can see the latest failed attempt at a goblin. Before I dipped in latex, the puppet was spot-on. The proportions were all nice and it was feather light due to it being made from upholstery foam, then wrapped in bandages. For some reason I didn't take any photos of the pre-dipped phase.

Then it all went tits.

The latex soaked into the bandages too much (perhaps I should have foreseen this), resulting in a very heavy body and I couldn't achieve the 'smooth' finish I was hoping for. The right arm became detached from the wooden chest block - probably because I used metal epoxy, which set rock-hard but didn't bond to the wood. The right leg came loose from its wooden block too - same reason. Overall, it just didn't look the way I wanted it to. Back to the drawing board. Oh, and the latex dried much darker than I had anticipated, despite adding gallons of white pigment. After I finish the puppet I'm doing now, I think I'll get back to the Dragonskin silicone. I'm losing faith in liquid latex.

Quite a big puppet. About 13 inches.

I don't like the face. It's too generic.


  1. Not a bad attempt! I made a giant head the same way and with the same result. Latex is tricky stuff to be sure! BUT, with every experiment, you're learning what works best for you. Keep going!!!

  2. As Jon said, even if your not happy with the results, you gain experience and you improve your techniques.

    It seems that the major parts are going pretty well, so it's just a matter of fine tuning some parts.

    Don't give up man !

  3. Thanks for your support chaps :D

  4. No such thing as a fail. It succeeded marvelously as a LEARNING EXPERIENCE!

    Now you know what not to do next time!! (sorry... )

    Ok, 1 big lesson to come away from this with... never depend on any kind of adhesive to attach anything... you always want a good secure mechanical/physical connection, then the adhesive is just there to re-inforce it. Your wire armature should be one solid piece... everything securely twisted together so it can't come apart... then you just use epoxy putty to create the shapes for your hip block and chest block.

    Also, when you're going to put liquid latex on... try taking a very thin stretched-out layer of surgical cotton (sold in rolls at the drug store). Pull off little pieces and sort of pull them open gently with your fingers... openng them out and thinning them as much as you can. You should end up with a thin, light wispy little sheet of it. Lay this on a prt of your puppet, maybe use a little dab of liquid latex to spot-weld it down in a few places to hold the edge as you work. Now dip a finger of one hand into your latex (which is already tinted the color you want).

    GENTLY stroke the latex onto the cotton 'skin' - moving in the direction of the 'grain' or 'fiber' of the cotton. It helps to hold down the edge with a finger of your holding hand while you do this. It will get pretty hairy at times... you'll get some weird latex-and-cotton tumors and ropes that you didn't want... you'll have to perform surgery on the spot while holding the puppet in one hand and with latex rapidly drying on your finger of the other hand... but it can be done. You can sometimes grab some scissors and cut off a piece that won't cooperate, or just push it down and push it around as well as you can, try to make it disappear into the surface of the puppet.

    Keep going like this... adding small pieces of cotton as you go.

    When you're done with each section, or when you feel the latex on your finger beginning to dry (it starts to turn cold... I like the way it feels) then take a quick break and rub your finger with your other hand rapidly back and forth a few times . The latex will dry instantly and roll off - you'll end up pulling it off like a... well, a condom actually. A little custom-made finger condom. It's actually quite fun.

  5. Crikey! That's the longest blog comment I've ever seen! Thanks for the advice and helpful tips, Mike. If you hadn't already told me your middle name, I'd have guessed it was Jesus, or Samaritan, or Optimist - you get the picture. "No such thing as fail" - I'm gonna make a banner!

  6. ... it's actually "Ghandhausen", but don't tell anybody! ;)

  7. $#%^&&*!!!

    ... That was supposed to be Ghandihausen. I hate when a joke is ruined by a speeling eerer!

  8. Question- is this liquid latex the store bought stuff, or the balloon rubber? I want to make some puppets out of the stuff. There is a video filter I found that actually smooths out rough-looking puppets, so that might be an option. I used it on Blue Alien Summer throughout the entire thing to make the sculpting a little less gritty (a combination of the DSLR capturing more detail than I wanted and the lighting being very contrasty). Being a filter, it will work on any video...I've got a way to add motion blur without buying anything too, if you want it.

    I like the second puppet because it shows your determination to get it the way you wanted it, but the first one is cool too. I can't even tell you how many things I deemed weren't good enough to show. Lots of early animation tests.

  9. Hey, Don! I don't actually remember what kind of latex it is. It's in an unmarked container, about 5 litres, maybe more. I think I bought it on eBay from a special FX make-up seller. It must be the stuff they paint onto skin. It's quite thin stuff, probably a similar consistency to full-fat milk. I also bought some thickener, which is like a gloopy clear glue(I usually add about 5% to the latex, but I don't always use it), and some tints, but I've since used acrylic and poster paints to colour the latex. They work!

    I'm not sure how much it matters which latex you get, though I've only used this one kind. The technique you use to apply it will give different effects. I like the smooth surface you get from dipping the puppet in, shaking off excess and building-up several thin layers.

    This puppet has now been thrown in the trash. I've made 4 more since and they get slightly better each time.

    I'm interested in your motion blur technique... though I'm not at such an advanced stage of production to be using it just yet.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  10. Since I'm crappy at making fabric costumes, I'm wondering if the rubber couldn't be brushed on a dipped puppet, like paint. Wouldn't mind the brush strokes...The main thing is getting a plastic-looking body. This might be a weird idea, but...maybe the body could be baked Super Sculpey, and the arms and legs could be liquid latex? Ideally, I'd want to make the whole puppet out of the same material, so I don't mind spending a lot of time on painting it to get the details. My puppet body style is minimalistic, so it would simply echo anything I did with clay. Even painted model magic bodies...with rubber arms. Hey, now there's an idea!

  11. Hey, Don. All the methods you described sound like they'd work, though I'd probably dab on latex with a sponge if I was painting it. I often use a mixture of materials making puppets, but I think the main thing is having a solid armature. Having a hard body will restrict movement in the spine, don't forget. It all depends on what you need your puppet to do.

    Also, liquid latex will stick better to rough-textured and porous surfaces. It tends to drip off smooth, hard surfaces like sculpey. That's probably an obvious statement, but just in case.