Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Puppet Head Sculpt- Mail Man Part II

Today I'm going to continue going through the Puppet head sculpting process which I started HERE.

The Mail Mans head has been roughed out using Super Sculpey firm and all the removable face sections are working correctly. The next step was to clean up the sculpt to make it more presentable and aestheticly pleasing. I sculpted the head working from a large collection of referance images and maquettes I had close at hand displayed around my desk in order to capture the right details for the character.
Below is a picture of the sculpt with more detail added to the hair.
I roughly sculpted the character's mouth in a smile in order the get the correct positioning for the teeth. The upper set of teeth need to stay in a fixed postion while animating the characters lip sync. Only the bottom row of teeth would move when talking because of the way the jaw is hinged. Once I was happy with the positioning of the upper teeth, I removed the lips and carved out an area around the mouth. I then added datail to the upper row of teeth and eye areas. The sculpt ws then ready to bake to harden it.
Above is a picture of the final head sculpt. Areas of the face have been sanded to give the seams of the replacement parts a flush finish and to smooth the sculpt. I know the character has a goofy grin now, but later on I will be able to add lips and the lower set of teeth to resin cast copies of the mouth pieces in order to give the character different expressions and mouth shapes. The same process will be used to change the characters brow.
The sculpt is now ready to be moulded in silicone.
The first step was to plan how each peace of the sculpt will be moulded. Small cones of Sculpey were glue gunned onto each part to create pour spouts. These spouts are where the resin will later be poured when casting.
Next, The mould boxes were made using panels of foam board, glue gunned together.
For the moulds I used RTV silicone. Before pouring, I painted a layer of the silicone onto each part of the sculpt with a brush to make sure all the datails are captured and to reduce the amount of air bubbles.
I then filled the moulds with silicone using the 'bombs away' method where you pour the silicone from a height creating a thin stream. The fact that the stream is so thin causes any bubbles in the silicone to pop, reducing the amount of air bubbles in your mould. Air bubbles can be created when mixing the catalyst into the silicone rubber and can cause details to be lost. The best way to avaoid air bubbles is to put the silicone into a vacume chamber to de-gas. When pouring the silicone it is also important to pour the silicone into the corner of the mould box, not over the sculpt, and to let the silicone slowly flow up and around the sculpt.

Above is a picture of the three silicone moulds cured and out of the mould boxes. The sculpt has been cut out of the silicone using a scalple blade. I have cut around half of the mould in a zig zag pattern so that they snap shut and lock back together in the correct position. I chose this meathod of moulding opposed to a two part mould because it's quicker and creates less of a seam line.

The next stage is to start casting out copies of the head in resin.
I used Fast Cast resin because it cures quickly and is not too expensive. The resin is mixed in two equal parts. Below is a picture of my first casting. The pieces came out quite niclely. It actually looks like white chocolate!
As you have probably noticed, it looks like my character has been in a fight with those missing teeth. An air bubble must have been caught in the mould when casting. This problem was easily fixed by angling the mould differently while I poured the resin. The next set came out fine. And the next set, and the next set...

This is how many sets of faces I've cast so far. There will be two Mail Man puppets made for the film so only two Hair/ear parts where needed. The pour spouts were cut off using a rotary tool and the seam line were cleaned up. The moulds were cut in a way so that the seam lines are on the back of the masks and won't be seen.
The next stage will be to sculpt the different brow and mouth expressions for the replacement parts and to paint each head. But I think this post has gone on long enough so that'll have to wait until part III.
Until next time...


  1. Holy Jebus!!!! You and your brother have some really disgustingly amazing work.
    I've just read through both blogs and all I can say "Daaaaaamn"
    How is it possible to feel so inspired and at the same time feel like I've been kicked in the balls!

    Awesome work mate! Looking forward to seeing more!

  2. Hi Ben,
    Thank you very much. And I know how you feel.
    I've been looking through your work and it feels like you've just kicked me back!

    I loved the ghost in your film 'Till death do us part' and the camera moves were amazing. Also the design work on your page,Great work!

  3. Hi Josh! Many thanks for checking out my page, tis most appreciated.

    I thought you and your brother would enjoy this video I found

    It's titled 'the history of the maquette' with Kent Melton, Damon Bard, Ruben Procopio and quite a few other brilliant panelists. Although it starts of as the history but it turns into a general chat. It is pretty amazing though

    I posted it on the stop motion forum but nobody has given it any love so I hope you guys find it interesting!

    Hope all is going well

  4. Just found your blog from WOW, very impressed. Did you and your brother start off as sculptors? Your sculpts on the other website are phenomenal; I especially love the Sweeney Todd and the awesome barber's chair. Did you attend school for sculpting?

  5. Absolutely fantastic work from both of you!!! Your sculpts are top notch too. Very discriptive blog. Excellent work and very inspiring

  6. Ben- Thats a great video, good find! Thanks for sharing it with me.

    Duane- We actually started off with animation when we were younger, making stop-motion shorts of our toys moving. Our sculpting started later on. I haven't been to any sculpting schools, It's more of a self taught hobby really,The sculptures on our website where made in our spare time as presents for our family mostly. I'm currently on my 3rd year of an animation course, but the sculpting practice definatly benefits the model making side of things.

    Pete- Thank you very much :)

  7. Wow Josh, you're like me in that sense then--self taught hobby. Great sculpting, very clean and angular. Looks closer to being carved or machined, which is always a challenging look and something I always strive for. Inspiring!

  8. Hey Josh, both you and your brother do absolutely fantastic work, and I really appreciate you detailing your methodology. I have one question though, what brand and model of RTV silicone and Fast Cast Resin do you use?

    1. Hello,

      Thanks a lot!

      We used the T28 silicone from Tiranti for moulding the head parts.

      Another option would be this silicone from Tomps. It's a bit cheaper and very good.

      You can also buy Fast cast resin on either of those two sites, so you can compine the shipping with the silicone.
      Or you can get some very good fast cast from here-

      Hope this helps,


  9. What is the whitish head made out of

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The white head was cast in Fast Cast resin.
      It's a type of polyurethane resin.
      I gave a few examples of where you can get it in my comments above ^