The Mail Man's leather satchel is quite an important prop for the character and plays an interesting part in our film. It also needed to be animatable and easy to control because I wanted the bag to swing and flow behind the Mailman when he is running, adding some nice secondary motion to the character's movements. In order to achieve this, the bag needed to be very light weight.
The balso was then carved and sanded into shape, using my sculpted maquette as referance. I also added some small K&S brass tubing to the back, glued in place with two part epoxy. This is where I'll later rig the bag to be animatable. I made both bags (one for each of the two Mailman puppets) at the same time to keep them identical.
Next, I used a rotart tool to carve down into the top surface of the balsa, creating a lip around the edge, giving the bag some depth. This was then painted black using acrylics. It wasn't nesisary to make the bag completly hollow, this was just in case the camera ever peeks under the edges of the bag flap, and to create the illusion of depth.
The next stage was to cover the basla with a fake leather-like material. Originally I planned to sculpt the main body of the bag from Sculpey, but later decided against it to keep the weight down and achieve a more realistic texture with a leathery material. The shapes for the bags panels were first roughed out in paper to create templates and then cut out from the leather material. These were then glued in place using contact adhesive.
The bag strap was created in a similar way in order to allow it to be animated. One strand of thin copper wire was added to a small leather-like strap and covered with a thin strip of brown card. This stiffened the strap and allowed it to be controlled and repositionable. This copper wire is easy to bend, holds it's shape and should last longer than aluminium wire which tends to break after too much use.
To finish things off I added some straps to the opening flap and punched some buckle holes into them.
Here is one of the finished bags.
The shape of the bag was created to look distorted as if it was full, heavy and sagging in the middle as it appeares on my maquette. I'm pleased with the way the leather-like material turned out and I think it looks far more convincing than if I had simply sculpted it.
This is how it looks on the puppet. The bag is also curved to fit around his leg.
For some reason I didn't include buckles on the bag of my sculped maquette and I was toying with the idea of adding them to these bags, but they just didn't look right and made things look cluttered and busy. So I decide to keep them simple and as they are. If anyone asks...I'll say that the bag is left open for easy access and that the buckle straps are tucked inside. What...you don't believe me?
To give more control to the movment of the bag when animating, I decided to add a rig going from the Mailman's waist to the back of the bag. This was made using two strands of the copper wire twisted together and attatched with two part epoxy to K&S brass tubing.
A flap was cut into the leather to give access to the K&S rig point in the bag, and a small slit was cut in the Mailman's trousers to reach the K&S in the puppets hip. This rig, along with the wire in the strap, should help lift the bag away from the Mailman when running. This can be seen in the picture below. The wire support will later be painted out of any frames in which it is visable.
The Mailman's hat is not featured in the film as much as the bag because he loses it fairly early on in the animation....what can I say, he's no Indiana Jones. because of this I decided to only make the one hat for the puppet we use near the start of the film.
And finally here is a shot of the puppet adorning his newly aquired effects.
Next I'll be posting more pictures of the finished puppet's along with the theatre usher, set pictures and eventually, the filming process.
Thanks for looking.