Progress on the Krampus puppet was slow going once I got to the hands and the liquid latex buildup. Wasn’t a hard process, just slow. Each application of latex requires a half hour or more wait time as it dries. Tedious as all hell and not a very precise technique.
Materials aren’t all that special. I used liquid latex that I purchased at a Halloween shop, some super cheap acrylic paint from Michaels, and a crap paintbrush. Acrylic paint seems to work really well for tinting the latex. I just squeezed a dollop into a small prep bowl full of the liquid latex and stirred. I found out later that the latex dries darker than it looks in the bowl, so I probably could’ve used less paint. Some online resources say to mix the paint with ammonia to thin it out, but it didn’t seem necessary.
The tedium starts with using the paintbrush to cover the wire fingers and the epoxy putty hand with latex. You don’t want to add too much at one time, otherwise it drips badly and takes longer to dry. I used painter’s tape to keep stray latex off the fur. God knows I don’t want to have to redo the damn fur. To speed up the drying time I used a hair dryer set on low. I got this one at the thrift store for $3!
Next I added some fur to the back of the hand so as to cover up the sleeve transition. I might add some more later. This really is a lot of trial and error. It occurred to me after I was done that I probably should have used epoxy putty to make little finger bones on the hands. The fingers are a bit too Micky Mouse rubber hose arm-like. I’m pretty sure stripping off this fingers and starting over wouldn’t be all that difficult.
While I was waiting around for latex to dry, I found one of the first experimental puppets I ever made. I used this guy to test out materials and to see if I could stitch my own puppet clothes. The results are a bit egregious. The guy in the suit was a bit more successful in the clothing department. Instead of hand stitching, I used fabric glue. Of course that suit was the 4th try and took DAYS to make. I built these guys 3 or so years ago and lost interest after I realized how long it would take to build a full cast of characters.
Because I’m a little impatient, I built a small animation table to do a quick test. MDF, a couple pieces of scrap 2x4s, and some shitty zinc screws. So help me, I’d like to punch the guy that thought zinc was a good material to make screws out of. I’ve had this fancy new software, Dagonframe, for the last few weeks and have yet to test it out! Now’s a good opportunity. It will let see if it is worth going ahead with the project. If the armature sucks, then I can think about how to fix it…or scrap it.
My animation skills leave much to be desired, but at least the rig works! The puppet holds its positions fairly well and the model isn’t giving me grief when I try to pose it. I guess all that practice with the other puppets taught me a few lessons, after all. The software is fantastic. Stable as hell and very intuitive. I can’t understand why most graphics software has such a long learning curve. Dragonframe is ridiculously easy for program that needs to interface with camera hardware, its own USB keypad, not to mention motion control interfaces and light dimming interfaces. Super cool shit, I gotta say.
Next step in the project is building the head and neck. I’d like to have articulated goat ears and a movable jaw. No clue how to do that effectively, but as I said in the earlier blog, I’ll wing it! Seems to have worked so far.