Hey there folks!
It has been a busy fall with loads of work on my thesis, digital projects, side projects, Halloween crafting, and, oddly enough, sculpting.
I've always loved stop motion animation, and throughout high school and into college, I used to sculpt little figurines out of polymer clay. Towards the end of my sculptural dabblings, I began to add armatures, trying to figure out how to animate the characters. Alas, much of my experimentation failed with a whole bunch of broken dolls and models; baked polymer clay does not bend.
In any case, as I was browsing the course catalogue for an audit class this term, I came across a class on character design/building for stop motion animation!! Many exclamation points!!!
I signed up right away.
Thus far, the hardest part of the class was deciding which character to bring to life. After spending so much time on the Amelia Pepper comic over the summer, I ultimately decided on the Storyteller character. I decided on him rather than the Peddler because I realized that I could easily build his squat sidekick with polymer clay head/hands/legs/feet on a wire armature hidden beneath a sewn coat.
A refresher, The Storyteller and the Peddler:
Making the figures first involves sculpting the bodies onto a wire armature. (The heads are made separately because the materials differ.) Once the models are built, we're going to make plaster molds for the bodies and silicone molds for the heads and finally cast the puppets.
So I started sculpting the Storyteller with his clothes on, figuring I'd paint the clothing and sew him a coat and a hat. I stylized him a bunch, made him rather slim, and gave him some pretty big hands and feet.
If you look closely, however, you'll notice that my carefully sculpted little fellow has scratches and bite marks on him. When I brought him home to work on, my kitten - by which I do mean deadly ferocious panther - decided that the Storyteller was a fun new chew toy.
He wasn't terribly mangled, but enough so that I reconsidered my original plan of painting the clothing on my character. Ultimately, I decided that actually sewing/handbuilding him clothing would make for a much more exciting figure... so I scrapped the whole thing and stripped him down to his skivvies.
You also might be wondering why the little guy's hand has three fingers. Apparently, getting a decent amount of mobility in the hands and fingers is difficult if they're overcrowded... so for beginners, the teacher folks tell you to sculpt only three fingers and a thumb.
And finally, as I mentioned before, the head of the character gets sculpted and cast separately. Again, I added a bunch of detail because the character drawings are pretty simple and exaggerated his features - big ears, pointy chin, etc.
I spent much of today finishing up, read re-doing, his head. (The original, like his body, also had some odd little toothmarks and black hairs sticking out of it.) Tomorrow, I'll be building and pouring the mold.