The ‘Clay Mates’ are a new line of stop-motion inspired puppets, built for Adobe Character Animator. Each puppet is carefully sculpted in clay. Photographed then assembled in Adobe Photoshop. The puppet is then rigged in Adobe Character Animator – ready to be animated. Overall, the process takes about a week and a half to create each puppet. A long process – but one that produces a charming puppet!
In this breakdown we will look at the process involved in creating these exciting new puppets.
Before sculpting, wooden head-rods were created to support the puppet heads. These hold the head in place while being sculpted and also keep the head fixed when photographing each element.
Alfoil sheeting is turned into a tight ball, upon which the clay is applied.
Each head was sculpted using SCULPEY Clay.
Sculpey is great for this purpose as it remains pliable and doesn’t dry out (much). Elements that do not need to be sculpted (like the eyeballs and teeth) are baked hard in a conventional oven.
To sculpt the clay you need tools. For these a set of sculpey tools were purchased that had various plastic and metal blades.
Before photographing, the camera is locked in place on a tripod. Lighting is created with locked-down lamps to maintain consistent lighting throughout the photographic session.
The heads are first photographed as a blank, and then each element is added and photographed. Eyebrows, moustaches, hair, eyes are carefully applied and photographed individually.
The ElectroPuppet office had eyelids and eyebrows turning up all over the place!
We created mouth sets for each character. Each mouth has to be photographed in place. Then removed and the next mouth photographed.
To make elements for the body (like the neck, arms and hands), we constructed an armature skeleton, which has twisted wire hands. Once we apply clay, we can then position the hand in various poses before photographing them.
Clothing is created by photographing a human model in the ‘A’ position. We also photograph any accessories like jackets, hats and glasses during this time.
Every element then has to be extracted from the background. This takes subtle work. Even though we have carefully photographed each element, they still require a lot of pixel-by-pixel work to achieve a puppet that looks and animates in a professional way.Shadows and lighting have to be recreated to look just right.
Then it is time to rig the puppets in Adobe Character Animator and create all the triggers and actions like all our ElectroPuppets!