Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You can see how this works.

It's a bit awkward to use, but in retrospect, i'm pretty lucky to have made anything that actually works at all in any sense. It was a bit overambitious to attempt this kind of animatable head. So i'm going to count my blessings and move on.

Drilled all the peg holes, slapped the mask on. and did a quick test. A little crude, but not bad. The eyebrows didn't work - I omitted to hollow out the resin shell behind the attachments - i.e. they bulge out & get stuck. But it works.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here's a quick little test using the aforementioned pin system. Not too shabby - this was done with only 3 holes. Should be smoother with double that at least. The whole skin of the face moves to an excessive degree, but that'll be corrected. Pretty sure this is gonna be my official wire-pulling system.

Here's the solution - i'm a little unsure about it. It seems a bit too simple, almost goofy. It's just a belaying pin. Tie the string to a pin, and stick it in a little hole. To pull the string more, take it out and stick it in the next hole. It seems crude, but it has its advantages - it's easy to tie the string at the appropriate tension, and the holes can be exactly located after tieing the string to the pin. No accidental looseness or leeway with the line.

The disadvantages - i'm a little worried that reaching in and relocating the pin will be hard to do without moving the puppet's head unintentionally. Secondly, even with carefully located tiny holes, i'm only going to have about 7 frames maximum to execute a facial movement.

But who gives a shit - it works and it's easy. I'd like to be more robotic and less nautical, but hey. What can you do.

Well, my plan of winding up the facial control lines with bolts (threaded through nuts in the top) didn't work at all. Not sure what the hell I was thinking. Of course, when you wind the string on the bolts, there's no tension to keep them wound. They just unwind. As well, the mess of hardware and strings and the trouble of tieing strings among a mess of hardware makes it unworkable.

I solved the 'attaching lines to the latex' problem. I tied the line to a tiny little washer, glues that to a little piece of latex, and then glued that on. It stays good enough, but they can be torn off (making them repositionable and test-able). Once established in their final spots, i'm going to coat them in latex to really bond them on there.

I did find a solution to the first problem though. Sort of.

The above picture is the top of the head with a pool of resin, to fill all the unneeded test holes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There's a good face-yank. Still not maximum tugging, but getting there. The left cheek (your left) is being pulled, in case you weren't sure what was going on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here we go, some genuine facial expressions! Hoo-ray! top left is pretty sweet. Nice eyebrow lift. Top right (brow furrowing) aint so hot - can barely tell it moved. But it works. And i'll improve it. Bottom right works pretty good too - was expecting it to suck ass and look glitchy. It can be pulled further, but it was all I could do with my hands full with the camera.

It's looking pretty robotic and sciency back there now. Awesome.
I realized that I need to install more nuts in the top of the head, but still have access to it. So I chopped the back half of the resin shell in two, and resined it to the front half.
As i'm doing this, i'm keeping in mind future acces and repairs - i've got to be able to get back inside when shit breaks. Which i'm sure it will. I'm thinking that the 'skin' will be glued to the shell as little as possible, if at all. And the lower-back part of the head will bolt on, instead of being resined on.
Facial Controls
The skin-yankers are turning out to be easier than I thought. There's been glitches - the lines seemed to be firmly attached to the 'skin', but some of them popped off unexpectedly. Not because of the tension from pulling them, but because I bent them the wrong way, and the Krazy glue seemed to have cracked.
But the principle works. Here's how kids! The forehead lines run upwards (the direction they need to be pulled in), through little holes, and to bolts at the top. The bolts are inside nuts (expoxied to the shell). The lines will be pulled by winding them up on the bolts. They're allen-key bolts, and will be accessed through the top of the hat. Gonna be a trap door up there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Did a little test for Cornelisz; hair, beard, hat, etc. I made his face dark to hide the eyes. They need a bit more work. It's really hard to cut and trim liquid latex. I'm going to try woodcarving tools.

I think he looks pretty ominous. He's not going to be so goth looking though; my aesthetic is going to be dark, greasy leather that blends with the studio.
I've found that the neck has to elongate to allow it to incline foward and back properly. This gets pretty complicated; it means another joint at the base of the neck, that I have access to when animating. And the head has to be able to move up and down on a rod of some sort. And, I have to be able to tighten the head to the rod very firmly. This makes things a little awkward for animation; I can hardly tighten and loosen the joint for every frame while animating. It will need to be tight, as the rubber mask/neck will be attached to the shoulders, which will create alot of stretchy tension when I extend the head along the theoretical rod.

There's one simple thing i'm going to try; there's a type of electrical wire covering you can buy at hardware stores that is pretty stiff, and bends like vertabrae. I'm going to go look at the stuff before I try to get too complicated.

Today was turning out pretty productive, but it turned into alot of head scratching and photoshopping.
I did a quick PS test to see how far above the neck the head should be. Then I started fiddling around with the layers, to see how well it would flex on the neck joint. It wouldn't have moved very much at all, had I done it the way I planned to; just a little gentle incline forward and back.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I didn't bring pictures, but I buffed the fixed mask (to remove the sheen), recut the eyes and mouth, and installed the teeth. You don't see much of them, but they're there. Also repainted and lacqered the eyeballs. Also did the resining for the back half of the head. Going to be joining the two halves together, next working day. After that, it's just a matter of attaching a line to pull the brow up and down. Going to try lines in the mouth too.

Then I get to install a beard.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After ruining my test mask, I got to do something i've wanted to try for a while; pouring a coat of lightly tinted liquid latex over the whole thing. Worked pretty good - it's nice and smooth now, and it fixed some of the little glitches from the casting process. Just needs to be buffed to remove the sheen.

I'm still making another mask, though. As a backup in case this one gets wrecked.
Not terribly thrilled with the job I did on the eyes. Liked him better when he had squinty Spaghetti Western eyeballs. As well, the rubber mask has been getting quite dirty and stained. I therefore decided to make another one (a pretty quick process) and use this one to play around on. I tried painting it with acrylics and liquid latex. Didn't work at all - the skin has to be be very smooth - any surface texture shows up to a great degree with high-angle lighting.
Eyeballs. After drilling the holes, I stuck my eyeballs in them, then formed a piece of sculpy behind them. After baking it solid, I trimmed it with a dremel tool. I'll epoxy it into place when i'm done fiddling.

Friday, January 09, 2009

He talks! The mouth opens more than this, but you get the idea. Eyes are coming out okay. Need to recut the shape of them - they look a little gimpy. The basics are going to be moving eyes and up & down mouth. After I have those finished, i'm gonna work a little more on some other facial expressions. If possible. The resin shell looks pretty beat up, but it works. There was quite a bit of breaking and fixing going on.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I had some pictures, but I can't upload them to the crappy old cafe computer i'm on.

I've got an animatable mouth now (used armature wire on the jaw). Also cut out the eye holes. Looks allright. Not fantastic, but allright. I'm expecting the head to look alot better when I paint it. I've been doind research on how it's done; think i'm going to try something different. I'm going to try either pastels (the powdery kind) or actual make up. Should be fun buying that. Then i'm going to spray it with drawing fixative. Should work good.

I'm almost done fiddling around with this head. After that, things should get alot easier - no more really tough technical problems. I'm feeling like this stage is the top of the roller coaster; after I get past this hard part, things should happen really fast. Hopefully.
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