It's been a while since my last post, so I think I'll bet back into the swing of things by continuing with the process of creating the Mail Man character's head. You can find my previous posts about the puppet head sculpting process through the following links- Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3.
So far the two puppet heads have been cast, along with all the magnetic, replaceable face pieces, which have also been given different expressions using Super Scupley, sculpted onto each piece. The next stage is to test the sculpting on each replaceable face piece to see if they work on camera.
Pictured above is a small set up I created on my desk to photograph each of the face pieces. The main puppet head part was secured in place and in turn every replaceable face piece was attached and photographed. Using a laptop I could then flick through each image, checking how well each expression transitioned from the next. I was also looking out for any sculpting errors or unwanted bulges that needed changing, which I could then quickly correct at my desk and re-photograph.
Once I was happy with with each piece, they were baked in an oven to harden the Super Sulpey clay. After cooling, I could then start sanding each of the parts to make them extra smooth and remove any small bumps around the seam of the sculpted mouths.
I started with a more coarse sandpaper and slowly worked my way up to a higher grit sandpaper, finishing with a very fine wetordry paper. The pieces were then ready for the painting process.
Next, The first coat of primer was applied. I decided to use a matt, white primer because I didn't want the parts to become too shiny, and white is a good good base colour for the flesh tone. A darker primer might have caused the final flesh tone to be less vibrant.
The first coat was only lightly misted on, to help bring out the surface detail. Any small imperfections all of a sudden become visible and can now be corrected. That means more sanding!
On a few of the faces, small seam lines appeared where the Sculpey mouth joined to the resin face. Most of the time these disappeared with a bit more sanding.
In some cases they needed filling. For this I used Super glue, lightly flooding the seam and letting it dry. The glue dried quickly and could then be sanded flush to the surface, making the seam...ta daaaaaa....disappear!
The faces could then be re-primed, misting on each coat until evenly covered. Once dry, I gave the faces a skin tone using a matt flesh coloured spray.
Pictured above are the mouth pieces once prayed, dried with all masking removed. The next step is to add all the details to the mouth and teeth.
Colours were added using acrylic paints. I used a small brush to paint the inside of each mouth black first, followed by an off white of the teeth. The detail of the hair was brought out by dry brushing a lighter brown over a darker base colour creating highlights and depth.
To bring some variation to the skin I decided to use chalk pastels. This was used to add subtle gradients of colour and give the skin a healthy glow.
I used a pink coloured pastel to add a rosiness to the cheeks and around the eyes. The chalks are scratched onto paper to create a small pile up of dust. Using a small stiff brush, I dusted the chalk dust onto the surface where I wanted the colour and slowly, in a circular motion worked in the dust. This was then sealed using a dull coat spray (I use Testor's Dull Coat). The colour can be built up in layers and different chalk dusts can be mixed to create more colours.
Above is a picture of the puppets face with chalk pastels added. The effect is subtle, but makes a big difference. Both sets of eyes have also been created by drilling holes for the iris and pupil using a rotary tool. They were then painted with acrylics and covered in gloss to create a shine. The eyes will later be controlled and positioned using a pin to turn the eye in the socket.
The Mail Man's eye browns were sculpted using Super Sculpey Bake & Bend clay. This clay bakes in the oven like regular sculpey, however, It remains flexible like rubber. This should prevent the eyes brows from snapping since they are so small and delicate. They were also sculpted in the correct colour clay so they wont need painting, and the colour won't scratch off. The eye brows will be moved onto each replaceable brow piece in use during filming, and will be held in place using tacky wax. this will also allow the eye brows to be moved and animated on the brow.
The Finished Puppet Head
Here is a picture of all the parts of the puppets head, painted and finished.
There are twenty mouth pieces for the two puppets, along with five different brows for each head.
Here are a few images of the Mail Man with different expressions.
In post production the seam across the eyes will be removed.
All is going well so far, Nathan's puppet of our actress character 'Elle' is looking very nice. This head sculpt has also been a lot of fun to make, but the fun is not over yet.
Thanks for looking!