During the first semester of my third bachelor year in animation, I made my first stop-motion puppets for my short IN A HURRY. This project was a test for my graduation film MY LABEL. I wanted to try out some techniques for puppets so I would not have to make puppets for the first time for my graduation film. After experimenting with cotton fabric, I decided to work with felt, as this material does not tear as fast as cotton.
I made three puppets for purchased a professional armature which I still had to assemble myself. For the other two puppets I made armatures from scratch.
During the making of the puppets for IN A HURRY I learned a lot about the process so I could make a better version for my bachelor graduation film MY LABEL (watch a preview here).
I discovered that I could animate far better with the armatures I had made myself than with the professional armature. So I decided to not invest in professional armatures anymore. These come in handy with professional films and dolls that have to do very specific, difficult movements, but they had no added value with my dolls and animation.
However, I loved the look of the puppets in IN A HURRY so I used the same material (felt) for the skin and hair.
In both films the puppets had immobile facial features. I could only show emotions with eyebrows, mouth shapes (which I sewed on their faces with cotton thread) and body language.
In MY LABEL I still sewed the mouth of the puppets, but I used felt for the eyebrows. This gave the puppets a more natural and charismatic look.
The hands do not have separate fingers, except for the thumb. The character is able to fold his fingers, which was enough for the actions they had to perform with their hands.
I was really satisfied with the end result. The felt gave the puppets the childish look they needed and makes them really lovable, despite their unrealistic appearance.
For my short ADA & ODILE the making of the puppets was a technical challenge. I had the idea of making their heads in clay and hands in silicone. These are two materials I had never worked with. Even with sculpting with other materials I had no experience. There was a good chance that the idea would not succeed.
But it did. The puppets do not have a fully finished appearance, but they are more beautiful than I would have hoped for and I am proud of my creations. And in my opinion, their imperfect appearance gives extra charm to the handmade feeling of stop motion.
Before I started animating I participated in a three-day workshop with my teacher Emma De Swaef, where I tested the armature of my puppets. This way I could feel how the puppets move before I started animating for real.