Friday, 25 March 2011

Puppet Head sculpt- Mail Man

Recently, I have been working on the Mail Man's head. My brother Nathan and I have decided to make two full puppets for the Mail Man character so that we can both work on animating the character at the same time on two different sets. Both the puppets need to be exactly the same so I will me molding the character's head sculpt so that I can cast two sets of heads along with all the replaceable face pieces. Overall the head will consist of four parts, the hair/ears, the eyeball socket, the replaceable mouth and a replaceable forehead.
The head needs to be made from the inside out so to begin I had to make the eyeball socket. I wanted the socket to be made of silicone so that it grips the eyeballs firmly but also allows them to turn.
The aim was to create a silicone version of the grey plastiline shape shown above. The square brass tubing (K&S) will be where the socket locks in place, and the eyes are rough fast cast copies of the beads used in my Mail Man maquette.

This was then molded using plaster using a plastic cup. once the plaster had hardened the grey plastiline was removed along with the square brass tubing. The fast cast eyes stay in the plaster to create the eye socket shape.
After casting out an eye socket in silicone I realised that it's shape was too flat and wide to fit inside the characters head. I repeated the same process with a new plastiline socket shape that saved space and curved to the contours of the face. Below is a picture of this new socket along with a silicone cast version with the eyes in place.
The square brass tubing used to lock the socket in place is also used to slot the head onto the puppets neck armature. The character's neck will be cast in silicone and needed to slot into a hollow area in the head. To achieve this I roughed out the characters neck shape creating a solid tube shape where the neck will slot into the head. I then pushed Milliput (two part epoxy hardening clay) over this tube shape and the square brass tubing and left it to harden. I then removed the plastiline neck leaving a solid, hollow Milliput shape that the neck can slot into using the square brass tubing.
Above is a shot of of the silicone eye socket and Milliput head core next to my Plasticine maquette. It is important the the proportions of the inner head core match those of the original maquette, especially around the eyes and neck areas.  
The next step was to start bulking out the head shape that supports the silicone eye socket. It's a socket for a socket!
 This was sculpted using Super Sculpey firm. At this stage I baked the sculpt to harden it. I then applied a small amount of vasiline over the front surface of the face and pushed a thin layer a Milliput onto the face and around the eyes. The vasiline stops the Milliput from sticking to the sculpt so that it can be removed once hardend creating a mask. This mask was divided across the eyes creating a forehead and mouth section.
Now the four head sections have been created, but as you can see from the picture above, they need alot of work. The rest of the facial features now need to be added using super sculpey to rough out the basic shapes.
Above is a picture of the mail mans head with most of the features roughed out. The sculpt still needs a lot of work and details need to be added but all four major head components have been made. I think thats about enough for this post, but I'll continue the head sculpting process in part two.  
Tune in next time for another exciting edition! 


  1. Hi, you guys have a great blog! But i have a question, which silicone do you use?

    1. Thank you Anne.

      For the eye socket We used T20 silicone from
      We used the same silicone to cast out the rest of the body parts on both our puppets.

      DragonSkin by Smooth-On is another good option if you can find it.
      I can also recommend Silicone Skin from

      We've been using this recently to upgrade our puppets. We'll be writing about it soon.

      Hope this helps.


  2. Wow.., Im begining research on puppet design for my own short and came across this blog, by far the most impressive and comprehensive.

    I hope your film gets the attention it deserves.


  3. Mr. english nots good but im surprise with your work,im interesting in learn more about this head construction...can you help me?

    1. Hi Maito!
      Yes, I can help.
      What would you like to know?

  4. + Joshua Flynn - Hello!! Thanks for your work ,i have a question for this page : Is the gray head to take the mold for the silicone head?.Where can i buy T20 silicone for the eyes? I hope my languague is good written!!

  5. + Joshua Flynn - Hello!! Thanks for your work ,i have a question for this page : Is the gray head to take the mold for the silicone head?.Where can i buy T20 silicone for the eyes? I hope my languague is good written!!

    1. Hi Hrd 82!
      The grey (Super Sculpey firm clay) head was moulded using silicone. I then used that mould to create a solid resin casting using fast cast (polyurethane resin). You can find these processes in parts 2 and 3 on my blog.
      I usually buy my silicone from Tomps. Com or You'll have to see what's available near you. products are also a good option.
      If I were to make these puppets again I actually wouldn't bother making the silicone eye sockets. I've since discovered that solid eye sockets work better.
      Hope this helps!

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  7. sinceres felicitations pour ton succès !!! Thousands thanks for sharing this golden knowledge !...
    can you tell us more about theses new techniques about eyes sockets ? Thank you so much.