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Topic: Muppet Style Puppet - FINISHED! Huzzah. (Image Heavy)  (Read 18522 times)
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« on: January 09, 2012 10:06:33 AM »

This forum says completed projects, but I did not see a work in progress forum, perhaps a mod can move this there.

The Goods:
People I find like images first. So here we go.

And my second real puppet, Sandwich. A work in progress
Here he is all glued

Fitting the fleece

Fleece sewing in progress

The (long) Story:

About two years ago, I created a muppet style puppet. While trying to convince my non-crafty friend that he needed a hobby, he said that he would be interested in building a foam puppet. I've always thought that would would be neat too, so it was settled, we would each build a puppet. We found foam at a local craft store called Handcocks and purchased quite a bit of it. It was $10 a yard at the time, but we thought, or rather hoped, that it would be money well spent.

Foam in hand, we set off to find a pattern online a free pattern online. We failed and were just a bit discouraged. After much sadness, I remembered a technique I saw in a video tutorial. In high school I was interested in building a mascot head, and I watched this  girl build one without a pattern. (Here is the first part of her tutorial.). I never built the mascot head, but I stored the information just the same.

In the video, the girl uses hot glue, I did not however like this method as the bond wasn't strong, and it required moving faster than I was able. I read on a forum about using contact cement. Contact cement is a slow process, but it worked much better for me.  Before closing the seam, you must wait for the glue to dry, but when you press the edges together the seam is instant, no pinching and holding.

I do not think in three-dimensional seams and struggled greatly with building the head. It involved much trial and error, during which foam was removed, added, glued and repeated as necessary. It took many hours over many days, but it was worth it. Meatball was a success.

Unfortunately however, having free formed the puppet, the head was not exactly symmetrical and I had no pattern in which to replicate another puppet.

I've taken an animation class in which we learned 3d modeling, and I knew I could model the shape in my 3d program. The huge problem here was that I did not know how to make a flat pattern from it. I used various texturing tools, but they were not built for this purpose and produced terrible and unusable, results. I searched high and low, and found 2 programs that I thought would work.  One was Lectra's DesignConcept, and the second was Pepakura. DesignConcept is industry software, and I knew I could never justify it's hefty price tag. Pepakura however was a bit more affordable, though a bit more than I was hoping to pay.

Pepakura is for paper modeling, and as such cannot do smooth seams. I simplified my 3d geometry, and unfolded. The crude geometry led to heads with angular points. Though not perfect, the shapes produced were very much like I wanted.

I created several heads after Meatball, but none of which inspired me to put in the work to fleece and finish. There was one monster I did love, but I tried making the fleece pattern with as few seam lines as possible, and it became tedious and frustrating. I know now that what I was trying to do was impossible. If people could do it this way, they would. With school starting, and frustration plenty, I abandoned my puppet making.

A few days ago I finally saw the Muppet movie. I was hooked. Being a muppet of a man, I knew that I needed to make Meatball some friends.

I decided I wanted a more human character, and began to sketch up some ideas. After I settled on one, I modeled it in 3d and flattened it with Pepakura.

Having been away from puppet making for so long, I decided I wanted to refine my technique. I was determined not to have any pointy points on my puppet. To accomplish such a result, I imported the pattern into illustrator, and created curves. I have worked with  lines and curves since my initial build, and knew how to smooth the lines properly. I measured the lines in illustrator and created curves preserving line lengths and trying to maintain the general shape of the lines. I am pleased with the result.

I plan to update this thread as I go, and hope you will stay tuned.

The Future!

Having not had a pattern for my first puppet, I decided I would create a tutorial. Though I am a novice, self taught, and I am sure I don't do things properly, I thought I would contribute what I could. I wish I that I could have found an easy starting place, and would like to contribute one. I'm planning to make my pattern, and hope people will find it useful. I think I'll update the tutorial stage by stage as I go. Hopefully it turns out well.

I plan to finish stitching the skin on my current one, then start.  Hopefully I'll have the head tutorial up tomorrow. No promises though.

Update 01-11-12
I've finished the head. Might I just say that fake fur is the devil. I got hot glue in his hair. Dead-center front no less.  I am however pleased.

I wanted him to have dimples, but I put the mouth plate in crooked so this side has dimples way larger than I wanted, and the other side's are a bit smaller than desired.

Update: Finished - 04/20/2012

So I finished my puppet Sandwich today.

I decided to try something different than my last puppet, and I made the arm rods detachable. It was surprisingly easy, I just followed the instructions on this site.

Meatball (My first puppet) and Sandwich.

Everybody Panic!

And one for the shorties.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012 12:04:37 PM by TroubleT - Reason: added to featured projects :D » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012 12:51:38 PM »

wow! you do like to jump in at the deep end don't you? Thank you for sharing your process with us, all tip are very gratefully received in my case

Look twice, buy once. Nooooo
Look twice, decide I can make one instead.
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012 12:53:29 PM »

Awww, that's really cute! Great job!  Grin
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012 12:54:10 PM »

I would love to see your tutorial here!  I have always wanted to make a real puppet. Can't wait to see Sandwich completed.

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My Swaps:
Last completed swap: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2012 08:51:13 PM »

I'm still working on the tutorial, but familial obligations trump puppets.
Oh how I wish it was the other way around.
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012 02:39:16 PM »

Wow. I just hit "this rocks"! Please do update again. I would love to see the finished product, he's such a darling! I adore his hair!
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012 07:17:04 PM »

After a rather long hiatus, he is finished. Finished but naked.
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012 02:09:03 PM »

so cute.  he looks great

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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012 05:03:21 PM »

This is fantastic!! You are doing a grand job on your puppets!!   Shocked  Can't wait to see more!! He's very cute!! What kind of clothes are you looking to put on him?

Will do personal swaps!! I make Art Dolls/Junker Jane Dolls/Raggedy Ann & Andy Dolls/also TM Patches
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012 09:18:27 PM »

Oh my gosh he's wonderful!
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