Friday, 19 December 2008

'Tis the season to be jolly...

Yes, it's that time of the year again, and even McTodd isn't totally immune from its effects, so here's my own e-card to set you in the mood...

Meanwhile, due to the fact that after today I'm away from work for three whole weeks, and I don't have the interweb at home, this'll be yer lot until around mid-January!

Hopefully, by then I'll have loads of exciting things to report...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Every breath you take

Finally, something tangible to show!

I have completed the main section of the breathing mechanism for the Martian. At its heart is a threaded bolt which causes a wing-nut to move back and forth when the bolt is rotated. This wing-nut then pushes out two hinged arms on either side. An elastic band connecting the arms then pulls them back in when the direction of the wing-nut is reversed (by rotating the bolt the other way). In practise, I suspect the elastic sides of the animation puppet would push the arms back in without the elastic band, but it's there for the video demonstrations below.

The mechanism is incomplete, insofar as it would have to be attached to a pair of 'breast-plates' which will conform to the shape of the Martian's body. The basic mechanism as shown could also be used in puppets of quadruped creatures, such as certain herbivorous dinosaurs.

To give an idea of size, the threaded bolt is around three-inches (75mm) in length, and it was animated with one complete turn of the bolt per frame, at 25fps.

The basic mechanism is shown, as viewed from above, in the schematic diagram:

And this video shows the mechanism's action:

While this one reveals the inner part of the mechanism, with the arms hinged out of the way, just about showing the piece of square plastic epoxied to the wing-nut which prevents it from turning and losing contact with the hinged arms:

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Sniffle, snuffle, cough, hack...

Well, not much progress to report, other than to say that Christmas is truly on the way as I have been suffering from a horrible cold and bad chest, experiencing various free drinky events at work, and building almost all of a friend's flat-pack furniture for his new bloody flat.

Coming back to proper fillum preparation, however, I am building the Martian's breathing mechanism, and I've made his six tentacles but have yet to attach them and cover them with their final textured skin.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Not a Little Green Man...

Progress is slow at the moment, but apart from designing a breathing mechanism to go inside the Martian puppet, I have been experimenting with colouring the skin.

There are many ways to paint latex puppets, the most popular of which is to use PAX (a mixture of artists' acrylic paints, such as Liquitex, and a prosthetic adhesive called ProsAide, of which the non-sticky version, NoTack, is said to be the best).

However, I decided to opt for colouring the latex itself with the base colour, and will use PAX later to dull down the uniform colouring and add character. I added some latex colourant (available from the model supplies shop 4D in Aldgate, London) to a batch of liquid latex and cast new skins.

The rest of the liquid latex can be kept in an air-tight container and will be used to colour the tentacles and make new skin sections to patch the main puppet skins when the model is finally put together.

Meanwhile, this is what the main skins look like...