The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: Building Puppets: Part 1
As an alternative to tie-downs, you can use earth magnets embedded into the feet for the purpose of attaching to a metal platform on an animation set. Magnets are common on TV stop-motion productions, where animation scenes must be churned out quickly and the time-consuming practice of drilling holes into the set and covering them up would be inconvenient. Having a magnet in the foot can restrict the design choices because those strong enough to hold up a puppet are usually a bit large. Television characters in stop-motion (like Bob the Builder or David Pilkey’s Dragon) often are designed with large feet as a result. A character with medium-sized to tiny feet cannot likely be held up by a magnet alone, so tie-downs are a better choice in this situation.
To apply latex build-up to the hands, start by dipping the hand in a thin layer of liquid latex (Figure 3.26) and then applying tiny wisps of cotton to the base of the hand and around the fingers. The fingers are covered by applying a wisp of cotton to the bottom, allowing the latex to create some tack to it, and just rolling it around the wire with your finger (Figure 3.27). Applying more latex with a brush, the wrapped cotton will adhere itself a bit more. To create additional layers and a smooth shape to the fingertips, dipping them into the latex also helps (Figure 3.28), but not so much as to create clumps and fat fingers. Working over the hand and fingers with a small brush and continually building it up with tiny pieces of cotton will eventually create the desired thickness and shape of the hand (Figure 3.29). It is important to continue smoothing it out as much as possible with a brush or fingertip, and keeping plenty of space between the cracks of the fingers. This area in particular can easily collect clumps of cotton and latex, which can result in a stubby look to the fingers if not kept separated. Eventually, the latex may become too wet to work with, without falling apart and getting clumpy. It is best to know when to stop and let the latex dry a bit because it can still be easily tweaked, sculpted, and finessed when it is semi-wet but not yet dry (Figure 3.30). With hand designs as well, keep in mind the aesthetic quality of varying the lengths of the fingers. Whether or not you create a realistic hand (four fingers and a thumb) or a stylized hand (three fingers and a thumb), keep in mind that the middle finger is longer than the others, and the pinky is smaller. Creating all fingers the same length tends to make hands look more like rakes or forks.