Friday, November 23, 2007

Making a Mechanical Puppet Mask

So for Halloween I decided to take a goalie mask and turn it into a mechanical puppet that would operate on my head. I was planning to use my old pirate costume that I had purchased last year as the start. Here is the process as I was able to record. (Please note that the last few steps I was not able to record with my camera since I was literally working on it up to the last minute before a little parade that I was leading).

I purchased a $30.00 ball hockey helmet with neck guard and started to modify it. I drilled small holes in the neck guard and the helmet itself. The neck gurad would act as the lower jaw of my puppet. I then attached them together using scews and washers (so they could easily slide open and shut).

These are the screws and hardware that I used. I just grabbed stuff that I thought might work.

I made sure to add enough washers to allow my lower jsaw to open and close without touching the actual mask. The jaw moved very nicely.

Next I added two more hole to the back of the "jaw". These two holes would fasten the metal plate that I found to act as a lever for the mech.

I then attached the metal plate with a nut and bolt. I added another loger screw to the mask itself and added a spring bewteen the two.

The spring is what would give me the tension to keep the jaw in a closed position.

I added foam to the bottom jaw to have a base for my mouthplate that I would add later. Note that there is more than enough clearance so that the foam would not impeed the jaw movement.

I then took a length of brass tubing (can be purchased at any hobby store), I don't know the size but it fit the wire I was planning to use.

Next I glued the tubing to the metal facemask of the mask using a two part epoxy.

To create a base with which to sew my material to, I contact cemented some 1/4 inch foam to the mask, leaving eye openings.

I then took a piece of thin metal rod/wire and bent it into the deired shape and soldered it in place.

On the other side of the jaw I attached another metal plate (as I did to the Spring side) but this time I attaced the end of a bike cable to it. The black sleeve of the cable would then be attached to the eyehook that was secured in place. The eye hook gave the cable the distance from the mask that it needed to work.

I then built up the mouth by adding a thin (blue) foam mouthplate, lower foam lip, foam cubes for thickness at the back of the head and two strainers spray painted black for the eyes. After trying sunglasses, I found that these were much easier to see with.

Next it was time to patterns the skin. I decided to grab a bit of cheap poly fleece to use for my rough pattern and draped it over the mask. I cut away material to make it fit.

Here is the rough pattern. I like to take this and transfer it to card stock. I then make it symmertical and neat. That is then used as my pattern to trace onto my fabric of choice. This time it would be some old left over antron that I have wanted to use up for a while.

I draped the antron fleece over the mask and began to hand sew it all together. Unfortunately I was in a rush and the photos stop here. What I can say is that I carved a foam nose and covered that with fabric. Then attached all of the features.

I had wanted to use a push control mech which it has right now, but I soon learned that the spring was stronger than I had anticipated. I will be soon chnaging the mech contril to a standard bike break system. It is much stronger and durable. Here is an example of what I mean.

And finally, here is the finished mask (well almost). I do plan to add details, shadows, etc. with an airbrush, but you get a generally good idea of how it looks. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Puppet for Sale

So in my attempt to start anew with my company I have stilll more puppets to sell off. Here is the latest one. He was made for a never created short film idea. Let's see who the lucky duck is that will get him.