Archive for the ‘WIP’ Category

So as you may know from my previous post, Learning From Stoopid Buddy, I am learning puppet fabrication and animation from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to give it a read first.

Photo Jul 08, 7 18 24 PM

Here are the casts de-molded. The jewel cut is a little hard to see, but it’s basically a zigzag pattern cut into the silicone. The castings now need to be cleaned, sanded, and primed with the flashing removed (those little pegs you see).

Photo Jul 18, 6 37 05 AM

Photo Jul 18, 6 37 18 AM

Once that’s done, I painted the head and jaw and attached them. The flappy jaw is imbedded in the head with a pair of lashed wires attached with Cold Weld. If it breaks, it will be fairly simple to fix. The eyes are going to have “floating” pupils (flat discs attached with sticky wax). The whites look creepy though, I know.

Photo Jul 18, 6 36 25 AM

Photo Jul 18, 6 36 08 AM

So this is skipping ahead a little as I didn’t have time to take pics of the bare foam body buildup, but here is her body after it was covered with colored latex and painted. The liquid latex was laid over the foam in layers on top of a covering of foam tape.

Photo Jul 18, 8 52 16 AM

Photo Jul 18, 8 52 32 AM

And here she is with more costuming details. The body has also been flocked at this point to give her more of a “fuzzy caterpillar” look. You will also notice the head off to the right side. Her antennae (wires with foam and latex built up like the rest of the body) have been attached, along with her funny “mohawk” of yarn hair, which is stiffened and attached to dense foam.

Photo Jul 21, 12 49 57 AM

Photo Jul 21, 12 51 27 AM

Photo Jul 21, 12 51 42 AM

Photo Jul 21, 1 12 45 AM

All that was left was to put it all together, so there ya go! I really enjoy the “Muppety” look of her. I could hide the sides of the jaw with some foam tape and latex, but I am rather fond of the obvious hinge. I think it adds to the charm. She WILL, however, be getting some hard-cast eyelids with the eyelashes to make them animatable. Right now, there is just colored sticky wax there with the lashes stuck to it as a placeholder. Also, her dress needs more work. Admittedly my sewing skills could use some pointers, but I can make it look better with a little more time.

Photo Jul 21, 12 56 40 AM

Stoopid Buddy Stoodios is awesome, but I’m sure you knew that. If not, here’s proof.

Photo Jul 19, 11 25 49 PM

Now I just have to clean up my mess – in preparation for the next build, which will most likely be Bookworm. 🙂

The Animation class is continuing for a few more weeks, so I am still producing material for that and will be discussing it in another update very soon. The videos are still private, but I will see if that changes at any point. It’s been super fun and educational and I’ve loved every minute of it!


It’s been a little bit, but here I am with what I think is an exciting update. I haven’t gone into it yet, but I am spending my summer studying both stop-motion animation and character fabrication with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios in Burbank, CA! I am actually about halfway through the sessions, but I’ve been so busy between traveling out here and doing the actual work, that my update had to wait a while. That, and I wanted to have something solid to show when I did.

Unfortunately, I did have to sign a NDA, so I have limits on what I can share publicly. As much as I would love to show and tell you about all of the very cool things I’ve seen behind the scenes, I can’t. Suffice it to say that Stoopid Buddy is neck-deep in lots of REALLY nice and fun stuff! Actually, if you haven’t seen the tour that Wil Wheaton did on his show recently with Seth Green, you should check that out. It will give you some idea.

In character fabrication, we started out with planning our original character puppet while learning the basics of Stoopid Buddy’s process. For our puppets, we are going with the build-up technique. Built on a wire armature bundle derived from the Stoodio’s developed method, we are then going to sculpt the body from foam and coat that with latex. My character, as you might imagine if you’ve been following along, is one of the main characters from my thesis. It is the Caterpillar here and here. I felt that she would present a true and proper challenge while standing out in her own, unique way.

Here is the armature build. It is a combination of various gauges of aluminum and steel wire for flexibility, strength and memory, bound together and wrapped/lashed tightly with string and adhesive. Body blocks are formed from epoxy and contain the tie downs at the ends, also bonded to the wires contained within. It is still pre-hands here, but they will be formed from another bundle of steel wires lashed to the wrist loops. The neck and leg wires are intentionally left long at this point to allow for working room while forming and adhering the foam body. The legs were a bit tricky and took a previous test to settle, but this form should work fine. There is actually a ‘notch’ at the top of each leg arch encased in the epoxy to help prevent the wire from coming loose and shifting back and forth or side to side.



So I did not get a picture of my head sculpt before it went in, but these are the silicone box molds before they are cut open. Just a bunch of foam board cut to size and hot glued together. The silicone we used was Mold Max, a pretty common one for this purpose. The pins you see sticking out of the sides are to mark the position of the sculpt inside. Unfortunately, my sculpt didn’t make it out in one piece (not unusual), but it was done in Chavant NSP.



And here are the molds cut open. This involved literally cutting the silicone with a surgical blade slowly in what is known as a “jewel cut” until the sculpt is reached. The jewel cut pattern/texture helps seal and hold the mold together when the head is cast. This was an interesting process, as I’ve never quite attempted it before. An interesting alternative to the two-part molds I used for “Grandpa”. Of course the silicone molds are a “soft” mold, which is more suitable for our heads, which are going to be cast in hard plastic. In my case, the Caterpillar will have what is known as a “flappy jaw”, which means she will have a hinged jaw that can be animated. That is why there are two molds here instead of just one, as the jaw naturally needs to be cast separately.

At this point, the heads have been cast and we will be de-molding them next week. Then the real fun of painting and finishing them begins. As you can see, there is much more work to be done before a finished puppet emerges, but I am enjoying the ride!

As far as the animation class goes, I am restricted from sharing the majority of the work as we are using actual Stoopid Buddy puppets to animate. However, if you are interested in seeing it, I would be happy to give you the password to view it privately. We started out with some general exercises to get the fundamentals down, but now we are getting into performance-based material, which is really fun! The current collection is on Vimeo here, but keep in mind you need the password from me to watch.

That’s it for now! Keep checking in! I will have much more to share on this and other topics soon.

Thesis Character CG Models

Posted: March 26, 2014 in modeling, thesis, WIP
Tags: ,

The CG models of the two main characters are progressing full speed ahead! They are being done in ZBrush, which I’m getting a hand with from a more experienced user. Most of my models have been done directly in Maya up to this point.


The Bookworm with his book bag.


Caterpillar in-progress shot.

Caterpillar with her wild "hair".

Caterpillar with her wild “hair”.

Unfortunately, I was not chosen for the grants I applied for, so I will have to reconsider my choice of stop-motion for the animation. I am now researching alternatives, specifically CG animation done in a style to emulate stop-motion. I recently saw the Lego Movie, and I was quite impressed with the look that they achieved with that film. I have not ruled out the possibility of creating physical models of the characters later for fun, though, if time and money allows. Might be neat conversation pieces for the finished short. 😉

Texturing and rigging are up next!

Thesis Environment Designs

Posted: February 24, 2014 in thesis, WIP

Here we have, as promised, the environment designs for the house interiors in color! Created, once again, with the help of Juliet H. I think they reflect the characters’ personalities very well. What do you think?

Bookworm's bedroom.

Bookworm’s bedroom.

Bookworm's hallway leading to kitchen area.

Bookworm’s hallway leading to kitchen area.

Bookworm's hallway leading to front door.

Bookworm’s hallway leading to front door.

Bookworm's kitchen.

Bookworm’s kitchen.

Bookworm's living room area/study.

Bookworm’s living room area/study.

Bookworm's chair in the living room - different view.

Bookworm’s chair in the living room – different view.

Caterpillar's hallway area!

Caterpillar’s hallway area!

Caterpillar's living room area.

Caterpillar’s living room area.

Caterpillar's kitchen.

Caterpillar’s kitchen.

Caterpillar's bedroom!

Caterpillar’s bedroom!

I am still proceeding with the intention to complete this as a stop motion/CG hybrid film, although some of this is contingent on the ability to secure funding for the more expensive bits. I have applied for production grant money, so hopefully some of that will work out. I have also worked out a preliminary budget and begun production planning accordingly. It is amazing how much the Producing class I am currently in has been directly useful this quarter. 🙂

As always, constructive criticism/feedback is very welcome! Thanks!

I’ve started in with my thesis project, and although the script, storyboards and animatic are (almost) completely done, I am keeping the story to myself and a select few others for now. I do, however, have several character and environment designs to share. These were created in collaboration with a very talented freelance designer named Juliet H.


This is my Bookworm character. He is very much what his ‘name’ implies. He is the main character in this little film.


This is the Caterpillar. She is a bit of a free spirit who tries to enjoy life, but with a kind heart.


The Bookworm’s house. I know the apple can be a little cliche, but I really like the style on this. I just feel it fits his personality, and it works well in their treetop home.


The Caterpillar’s home. A little whimsical, like her. Also fits with her nature and the larger environment.

The interiors of the houses will be worked out shortly. We don’t actually see any of the inside of the Caterpillar’s house as the story is now, but it’s good to have it anyway. The more developed things are, the more real they feel, IMO.

I am honestly still debating whether or not to do this stop-motion or CG. I would love to do it stop-motion, but it would be a huge amount of work to complete on my own within the one year timeframe. The school would prefer I do it CG, but they are not forcing me to do so. Of course, I can combine the two, which is what I may end up doing. We’ll see. In the meantime, if you have any opinion on the matter or any feedback on these designs, fire away! I’ll be working on the color palettes and finishing “Grandpa”. 😉

“Grandpa” Shot

Posted: June 20, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP


This is an excerpt from my stop motion “Grandpa”, now in post-production. I particularly like this shot, so I am sharing it as a tease. I hope to have this completely done within the next couple of months, if not sooner. So excited!

“Grandpa” Continues

Posted: March 27, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP
Tags: ,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s been a little while, but “Grandpa” pre-production is finally just about to wrap up. There are some odds and ends to address, but I’m pretty ready to dive into animated bliss. I’ve encountered lots of challenges on this piece so far, and I’m sure they’ll be more before it’s done, but I’m determined to make it the absolute best it can be. Hopefully, my next post will be some shots in-progress. For now, here are a few pics of the finished Boy and Grandpa puppets (with some temporary clay shoes). If you’re not on WordPress and you cannot see the slideshow, click on the link in the post’s title to go directly to my blog. Take a look and be back soon!

Building "Grandpa"

Posted: November 30, 2012 in stop-motion, WIP

The “Grandpa” project is coming along and I have other images to share down the twisty road, but here’s the start on the Boy character’s head sculpt in plasticine. He looks kinda scary right now. 😉 The ball-and-socket armatures are from kits that came in about a zillion pieces and had to be cut to size with a hacksaw and then assembled. Fun stuff! The frumpy suit top in the background is for my reference and is… well… too frumpy for the character. That’s more costume fun for down that twisty road I mentioned earlier.

And no trying to figure out what’s on my shelves and walls in the back, either! I’m watching you! 8-o

Wow. February just came and went in a hurry, didn’t it? Ah well. I’ve been busy, and I’m here again to share more storyboard/animatic stuffs with you all. The first is my final take on the music project began in my last post. Some changes, some deletions and tightening up of the edit and there ya go:

Keep in mind there was a strict time limit imposed on this piece that we had to work within, otherwise I could have drawn out the suspense of the opening. As always, let me know your thoughts.

The next bit is actually the first, rough animatic of my final, which I hope to eventually turn into my Masters thesis project. Some of you may recognize this as “Grandpa”, the personal project I mentioned before. This class has really freed me up to go ahead and develop it further, with lots of feedback from folks who have never seen or heard of it before. It’s been great! This has no sound yet, BTW:

Again, this is a first rough and hopefully gets the idea across. It will look much prettier and have audio by the time I’m done with it. Suggestions, thoughts, comments – but not suggestive comments 😉 – welcome!

That’s my bit of animation insanity for now. Catch you soon!

The Final

Posted: December 21, 2011 in animations, WIP

This is my final for the class I’ve been posting work from. The requirements were that it needed to be hand-drawn in Flash (of course), that it needed to be over 15 seconds in length, that it needed to include at least three of the principles we’ve been covering and that it had to include… a narwhal. Yes, you read that right. A narwhal. Bizarre, eh? Well, it did make for some interesting projects. My take is still a WIP that I plan to keep working on in my spare time, but the whole story is there. The animation’s just a bit rough in parts and needs to be punched up in others. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it!

Also, we got some fantastic news last week! Mike is going to be a spring intern at Nickelodeon Animation! I can’t say I’m not at least a little jealous, 😉 but I’m more excited for him. If you haven’t already, check out his blog at Man Bytes Blog. I’m sure he’ll be posting some bits of his experiences starting towards the end of January.

Happy Holidays! ‘Til next time!