2012 in review

didn’t post anything new in 2012 but did have a lot of visitors despite thisšŸ™‚

I have sinceĀ dismantledĀ the iYa creature as it never looked how I wanted it too… I plan to re-do it… I’m just being too picky as I want it to be great… but sometimes being too picky means that it stays in the ‘to-do’ pile… funny how that pile is getting bigger and bigger… new resolution perhaps to finish theĀ uncompletedĀ projects!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Clara: as mentioned by ‘Owl Knit You’

My friend Emily over at Owl Knit You has posted about my puppets a couple of times now… weird to hear about my work in someone else’s words!

ps: Clara’s new blog and new updated website is at http://www.clarasanimatedworld.co.uk
and the Vimeo Video site (with ‘outtakes’/clips etc) can be found at http://vimeo.com/user1538079/videos

Clara: The Final Word for Now I posted a while ago about my friend Lenny Carter. She makes the most amazing puppets (among other things!) She just graduated with a 1st from London College of Communication. I went to see her degree show the other day and saw the final incarnation of Clara. Clara is a misunderstood young girl, who feels as though she’s being manipulated by the people around her. In response, she creates her own world to which she can escape reality. Clara is th ā€¦ Read More

via Owl Knit You

Workshops with a real live puppetician…


I’ll be spending this Saturday and Sunday at The Film & Video Workshop in North London with BAFTA Award winning Animation Director Kevin Griffiths.

Puppet making 2 day workshop and then the Stop Motion Animation evening course (5 evenings) after that so hopefully I’ll learn something useful.

It will be nice to actually see someone create stop motion rather than just watch youtube or DVD extras or reading books on the subject.

I’ll post up some pics once I’ve done the workshops

Kevin Griffiths teaches at different venues – you can visit his website here: The Puppetician


the puppet weekend was interesting and I definitely picked up some tips and tricks… here’s the puppet I made – I’m wondering if the noisy neighbours who kept me up all night made me so bad that it manifested into this character?

She is sporting an old sock for a dress and actual tights on her legs… fur is left over from Clara’s friend the iYa which seemed to work rather well… looks like she has a lot of grey hair.

The head is shaped polystyrene and the feet are a type of foam that can be found in air filters (?) but rather than having tie-downs in the feet these light weight puppets can be pinned to a foamboard ‘stage’.

As I didn’t plan the character as I just wanted to learn general techniques the arms of the character could have been better (plus never using that type of foam/trimming technique before)… needs better trimming and more layers of latex plus big ‘bingo winged’ arms would have been good… I added a ‘tattoo’ to her fingers (the ‘hate’ fitting just right on the four fingered hand!) and a love heart with DAD written underneath on her arm… lol.

The Mouth is just drawn on to some sticky labels which didn’t stick very well… I later added furry eyebrows… was hoping for a monobrow but the fur fabric is a loose weaved and fell apart when cut into small pieces.

meet Edna - but she prefers to be called 'Eddie'

meet Edna – but she prefers to be called ‘Eddie’

The mobile phone pic makes the ‘skin’ better than it actually is… made this one in an evening but the face was a pain to do… epoxy putty layer over a polystyrene ball – I wanted moving eyes… they do move but it’s awkward. The arms are too stumpy… and he has no eyebrows as yet… the mouth is a replacement type… just supersculpey and then a little bit of whitetack to hold it in place… ‘Eddie’ and the little ‘%*@Ā£’ share mouths (!?!)

This kid was suppose to be a ‘hoodie’ type but I didn’t have any cloth that would fit this look… I thought I had some thin material that was denim coloured for baggy jeans but I think it’s been cleared out… so I used felt … makes his legs look fat, lol. His jumper is also an old sock… recycling at it’s best!!

The foul mouthed little &%@Ā£

tutor and tutee…

puppet making can be rather messy!

Martina’s busty lady puppet

The following evening class was creating a storyboard and simple set to animate our own mini film…
here’s a small clip of Eddie… the shuddering isn’t on the origianl footage… just the vimeo uploaded version… grrrr…

and the kid… I ran out of time on this one… so will shoot it again… hopefully better this time ;-P


ta da… (Chapter One)

Chapter One of Clara’s Animated World comic…

well… ok… count this as first try as I had some issues with rendering and I couldn’t open any sound editing software (I don’t know why – after having hard drive failure for months I’ve become some what scared of trying to fix things computer wise) I ended up handing in this version for my final project – BA Digital Media Design course.

I have never used After Effects except to render some footage out a year or so ago (I can’t remember) so suddenly having to figure out how to create all the panels (9 panels in their own compositions and then the main page composition) masks which required animating, rotoscoping the live footage (nightmare!)… some of the compositions had 35 layers with multiple mask layers within those… I really was confused at the end… I started off rather organised and the bedroom, kitchen and hallway were the first panels created (I think you can tell as the others are slightly dodgy!)

I was on the verge of getting a first but I doubt that will happen – each year I got a first for my practical projects and slightly lower for written work… this year my written work has improved (83% for the Dissertation and 90% for another paper) but my practical stuff has been less than! the previous practical was also stop motion and faffing over the brief (very unclear) and hard drive failure meant the final piece was awful… it has been deleted! and this one has no sound… the walk cycles went funny… the panels pop and jump and I thought I’d removed the weird clock wobble… I think my still images were too large which might be the reason why my DVD Pro software didn’t work and the renders got corrupted… anyway this is the version that got handed in… I hope to fix the problems soon…


I should find out the grade soon… I’m still hoping that I may scrape a first but I really can’t tell… the final project is 40 credits and I just don’t think it got a first!

first steps…

are always dodgy looking… except babies tend to look cute… doesn’t work for anyone else though.

I used Dragon stop motion software – which worked out well as my iMac hard drive failed (3rd time in 2 years!) and Apple replaced it with a 27″ iMac but the wireless keyboard doesn’t come with a keypad… but Dragon software does come with a keypad… cool. sorry… tangent moment…

I used Muybridge’s walk cycle images to help place the legs in the right place – well that was the theory anyway.

here’s the first try.

I then realised that I’d forgotten to put her coat on.. .the 3rd panel of the animated comic shows Clara getting her coat and leaving the house – so I had to reshoot the walk sequence with the coat on. I was hoping that I could just flip the animation for the walk back but the bag would be on the wrong side so I had to do another walk cycle facing the other way.

I rather like Dragon software – I was going to try my friends copy of stop motion pro but after faffing for ages then realised it isn’t compatible with Canon DSLR’sĀ  – I’d just spent Ā£200 on a Canon Rebel especially for doing stop motion work so I had to sell that on ebay and buy the Canon 500D (sold two older digital cameras which made up the cost of the 500D… my mini animation has effectively cost me Ā£600 if you factor in the software and DSLR… but then Clara’s cost must be over Ā£100 … Ā£80 just for the armature) this is an expensive ‘hobby’ lol.

Iya – skinned but is then reborn…

me… melodramatically… nooooo

It got too difficult to continue the latch-hooking of the original Iya creature… I just couldn’t face it anymore so I brought some long pelt fake fur off ebay.

I also found someone who sold loc-line – a plastic tubing that is similar to what was used in some dolls a few years back… really difficult to get hold off – the seller is in the US and was very helpful (I may post up the link later)

Iya remake with loc-line armature

still not happy with the eye but after spending a long time searching for bouncing balls (I have several eyeball boucy balls now but they look awful) and then visiting the 4D modelling shop (near London Bridge) and spent a fair amount on spheres I ended up using the eye/ball that was used in this creature (made by Sithel on Ravelry) (can’t find a picture… my promises of posting up later never happen… but then I don’t specify a particular year … so not quite a lie!)

as breaking apart the plastic segments (you can buy some kind of key thingy but it costs about Ā£35 which is just not logical) I ended up using wire fixed to the armature (epoxy putty and brass tubing helped) but I made the wires too short.

I really didn’t know what to do with all the feet or how to get the creature to move… here’s a dodgy videošŸ˜€

Clara’s worst nightmare…

is being a dolly!
who wants to be empty, shallow and made of cheap plastic anyway… oh… actually I could think of a fair few people who do!! ;-P

I wanted Clara to feel like a puppet/dolly in her nightmare so tried making one.

Illustration of Clara for doll version

Illustration of Clara for doll version

Clara and t-shirt printed rag doll version

Clara and t-shirt printed rag doll version

I used photoshop to go over a photograph of Clara sprawled out on the floor and then printed a test version onto t-shirt printing paper – A4 size which was rather small but as I said it was mostly to test the idea.

In the above version I added a wire armature so that it could be manipulated into the stop motion but then thought that would be difficult to animate – and as Clara is a stop motion doll I figured that a graphic version in the nightmare would help viewers to see that she doesn’t feel her usual solid self… unfortunately, I’ve not used After Effects and the animation didn’t come out as I wanted… but I still plan to try and make some simple rag dolls of Clara and then a simple version of Iya as well.

Once I’ve fixed the problems with the cloth doll version I would like to make a screen print version – the t-shirt printer paper is shiny and plastic – it rubs off and also makes the cloth quiet stiff which is not want I want. I have one of those screen printing kits which I’ve been itching to try out for ages so hopefully I’ll sort the problems out soon… ie: the neck is awful and it also looks like she’s wearing shorts!

OMG… Clara suffers massive burns to her head!


I wanted to make a mold of Clara’s head which would hopefully help me re-create her with moving eyes – personality and character are said to be in the eyes and Clara looks a little blank sometimes so I think eyeballs would help her in lots of ways.

well after creating a mold and pulling the original head the broken eye piece fell off (it was fixed with glue and then sealed with a matt medium) so I added some more super sculpey and baked the head to cure the clay… well… do I regret that!


head before corner of the eye broke off

head before corner of the eye broke off



trying to remake the head...

trying to remake the head…


You can see extra heads in the above image… and a paper machie version – the one with an eye cut out was a layer of latex… just for experimentation!

one burnt... one 'raw'

one burnt… one ‘raw’

I remade a head which looked awful so I tried another and thought it looked ok… until 24 hours later lots of cracks appearedšŸ˜¦

cracks appeared 24 hours later :-(

cracks appeared 24 hours lateršŸ˜¦

I tried adding a thin layer on top and cured that in the oven but it looked awful… so after 3 tries I decided to try one more time…

I was using a rather deep mold of Clara’s head and this distorted the soft clay when it was pulled out… this time I used, what I’d considered a rubbish mold that just covered the facial features and had the old broken eye bit… but I just smoothed and gently teased the clay into place… phew it worked.

four heads better than one

four heads better than one

Clara's new head and her puppet

Clara’s new head and her puppet

The head that ended up with all the cracks had looked ok but was slightly larger than the original head. This meant that the wig of hair was too small. Instead of just remaking the whole wig I cut out all the hair so I was left with the crochet skull ‘cap’ and re-threaded yarn into it… but the final head that worked was the same size as the original so the hair was cut down to the original size again… I basically just wasted weeks over one tiny broken eye piece… GARGH!

(but her head is slightly better… even if the hair isn’t but I don’t think it’s obvious!) *rolls eyes*

Clara mentioned on blog!

My Friend Emily at Owl Knit You (blog) mentions Clara and my puppets… it’s rather weird having someone write about your work – you try to convince yourself that it’s perfectly sane but apparently it’s not ;-P

feel free to pop over and say hi!

Owl Knit You blog Banner

I’ve recently tried designing Emily’s Artist card and here’s two ideas…

she has yet to choose as we want to take more pictures of a crochet ‘web’ dress that she has created. Took months to make!

Owl Knit You business card mock-up

Owl Knit You business card mock up

You can see Emily’s ‘web’ dress images here…


Owl Knit You – Crochet web dress

completed… well sort of!

Here is the Teaser… so many issues – frames jump a little too much, for some reason final cut shifted some images over!?! I’ve been trying to line them up but yet manage to miss some or it’s done it again… not sure which.

I’m not very good with creating audio soundtracks so it’s just a small segment of Pink’s, ‘Conversation with my 13 year old self’ playing over and over again… was going to use some other small clips of songs but they didn’t fit with the clip being so short.

I’ve uploaded it to the main website but it’s playing incredibly slow – it’s compressed down to a flash file of 3mb.

here’s the video… just in case playing it on the main page was too painful for youšŸ™‚

oh… I’ve created a facebook fan page anyone can join… linky

Just for the sake of seeing if there’s any difference playing through youtube… I’ll post up both the .mov file and .flv file on youtube (rather than uploading to my website).

compressed .flv file video

noncompressed .mov file video

HUGE difference… so how do you put a quality looking video on a website?????? grrrr…

nightšŸ™‚ or morning… whichever!

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