Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Almost done this puppet costume. Boots aren't quite done - they need edging around the feet, and soles. But they're close.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lord William is coming along pretty good.

I'm getting sick of making puppets. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Waistcoat in progress. It's going to look like it's really straining at the waist.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The hardest part of the costume is done; the inner shirt contour thing, and the heavy jacket. It was pretty tricky, but I got through it in one go, without screwing up and having to redo anything. With Cornelisz, I remade the sleeves four times.

It's fun using these three hundred year old patterns - you can see their secret hidden logic when you put them together.

Jacket in progress. This is probably going to be the hardest costume, because of the bulky stomach. The white thing is the stiff undershirt base - i'm tailoring it to the contours. Once it has enough layers of fabic on it, it should hold its shape.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Some of my patterns, ready for printing.

After scaling up my pattern, I print or draw it out, and cut out a rough working copy to see how it fits. I adjust that, then finalize my pattern. The top image is an HDR test of Lord William's jacket material, dyed. I thought I botched it, but the unevenness looks neat-o. I like the idea of nobody in this film looking too clean or even.

Before I started making costumes, I assumed i'd go and and buy various coloured fabrics for various clothing items, sew them together, and that'd be it. Not at all. I've found that only cotton accepts colouring well, and is glue-able. So the process has been to use an assortment of cottons of different weight. I then laminate them together to control the stiffness of various parts of the costume (very important). I then colour them with various mediums, which all give their own level of stiffness. Even in a huge fabric store, there never seeems to be the right colourin the right type of frabric. Regular drawing ink works well, and doesn't increase the stiffness. Acrylic ink (due to the resin) makes it very stiff and crusty. Oil stain looks weathered, and makes it moderately stiff.

I almost feel guilty doing the fun part of the puppets first (costume) rather than the tedious robot heads. But i'm still waiting for clay to dry.

Johannes' and Lord William's jackets (justacorps). I'm feeling pretty pro with the puppet process now - I just do it, instead of sitting there scratching my head for days and staring into space.
This here's an earlier version of Johannes. He's since had his chest mass reduced. But he's done now.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wooden Armatures

I've determined the limit of my wooden armatures. They're not as good as metal ones. Specifically, the joints can't be made super-tight. We're planning on having the armatures suspended in mid-air via a steel rod at all times. They won't ever have to be tied down to a floor. Though they can be (there's holes in the boots for screws). That means they won't have to support their own weight in dramatic over-balanced poses. The joints can't be quite tightened enough to lock them down and make them immovable. Though i've got other Mgyver ways to do that (taping brass rods under clothing). It's possible they could have been lock-down-able with a much harder wood, like maple, but hardwood ain't workable with hand tools. And they're more than good enough for what we intend to do with them.

On the bright side, they're very fast to make, are super cheap, are endlessly correctable, and weigh nothing. They're so fast to make, they're almost disposable.

In the remote chance anyone reading this wants to make one, here's some technical particulars:

Scale is 1:3 (i.e. a 6' person would be 2' high in this scale).
Wood is mahogany plywood, about 1/4" thick.
Balls are generic wooden balls available at hobby shops. They come with the holes in them. No idea what they're actually for.
Connecting rods are 5/32" brass or aluminum (lower legs are brass). They fit perfectly into said wooden balls.
Connecting rods are glues into wooden balls with 2 part 5 minute epoxy glue.

#6 - 1" metal bolts
#6 metal nuts
#6 washers
#6 Nylon insert lock nuts

Body mass is 1" thick insulating foam.
Foam is glued to itself and wood with 5 minute epoxy putty.

That's about it.

This here is Johannes. He's quite a bit shorter than Cornelisz, and skinnier than anybody. He doesn't do squat in the movie. Just stands around looking worried, and getting attacked by birds.

Found a still easier way to make the body mass - start with one big-ass piece. It's also alot easier to see what i'm doing, body-shape wise.

That's it - Lord William's body is done. Going to start either his or Johannes' costume tommorrow. Maybe both. Here's some sexy poses.

He can't bend all that much - can't do anything super dramatic. After consulting my storyboards, I determined that he barely moves at all in the film. Very stiff snobby posture, and lots of sitting around in chairs. So I was able to preserve alot of his body-mass shape, without having to cut away too much (to allow movement).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Lord William came out pretty huge once I put the foam body mass on. Wasn't expecting him to be so Sumo-ish. But he's slimming down once I have at the contours with a utility knife. The styrofoam is a bit annoying - lots of little staticy bits flying around sticking to things. But it's dirt cheap, weighs nothing, and is easy to carve & add on to. Though I wish I had a fast-acting glue for it. Two-part five minute epoxy is the only thing i've found that works. Everything else eats the foam, or is vastly too slow drying.

His height is just right - a bit shorter than Cornelisz.
Wee armature joints, and my scaled body mass reference for Lord William.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Things are happening pretty fast. Finished two wooden armatures today; took about 4 or 5hours each. Only one minor screw-up to slow me down. I've got my design routine pretty down; I scaled him down (this is Lord William, slightly shorter and pretty hefty), built my armature components, drew them to scale in photoshop, and then figured out the foam body contours. Which I then print out and use for reference. His top chest-area is going to be a bit thicker, neck will be thicker, as will the arms. But this is enough to start carving.

The clay head is an earlier version of Lord William, but you get the idea. He's since become a little less 'The Penguin'-esque. But i've got the jowly over-fed big-gut baroque thing going, I think.
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