Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Artist

New stuff! My newest film "The Artist" is alive on youtube and vimeo. Check it out!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Leather Bag

I have found that, at least when working in small scale, leather is very easy to work with. It is flexible enough to get almost any shape you want, yet stiff enough to hold that shape. It also takes to super glue very well. Anyway, I needed a few vintage leather bags for a scene and did not want to spend any money on them.

To do this, I cut up an old laptop case for the body, and an old belt for the sides. The belt leather is quite a bit thicker and will help the bag to stand on it's own. I then ironed folds in the leather to define the edges of the bag.

Using super glue, I glued the first piece of the belt leather to the bottom of the bag.

I then glued the sides in place...

and glued the sides to the front...

and finally back of the bag. Very simple.

I wanted to add straps to give it a little more character so I cut some thin strips of leather out of the old laptop case.

I took a paper clip and bent it around the rounded edge of a pair of needle nose pliers to make...

tiny metal loops for the straps.

I then glued the rings into the small straps...

and glued them to the front of the bag. I glued the long straps to the backside of the bag and threaded them through the metal loops on the front. Finally, I added a metal button to the front flap.

Using sand paper, I roughed up the leather to make it look well used. And that's it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tiny Books!

It turns out that making a tiny book is almost exactly the same as a making a regular size one. The only difference is that when making a real book you want to use acid free everything (ie. paper, ink, glue, fabric etc...) so it will not degrade over time. But I don't need this to last forever, so I am just using whatever I have around.

I started by cutting out a cover out of cardboard, a stack of pages out of newsprint and an endsheet out of 80# paper. The endsheet needs to be sturdier than the rest of the pages because it will be holding the pages to the cover.

I cut the endsheet slightly smaller than the cover then folded it to match.

I then glued the pages into the endsheet starting with the spine and then the front and back pages. I then trimmed the excess on the face, head and foot.

Next, I cut a piece of fabric for the outside cover.

I trimmed the fabric so I could fold it around the cover without too much of it overlapping.

If this where a regular sized book, you would want to use glue for this part, but it's not so.... I used double stick tape to attach the fabric to the cover. You can see the tape is a little bit shiney on the cardboard.

I did use glue to attach the endsheet and pages to the inside of the cover. I did not want the tape to be visible around the seams.

And that's it!

I should mention that this book was made to be seen. It will in the foreground for most of the animation. I made several other books to sit on the shelves in the background. Because the background books are not meant to be seen close up, I did not put nearly as much work into them as I did this one. Most of those books are just a cardboard shell with foam inside to give them volume. And that is a pun.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tiny Furniture (Book Shelves)

Basically, I needed some furniture to occupy an office set I was building for an upcoming animation. In the past I haven't spent a lot of time on the furniture (and you can tell) so this time I decided to step it up a bit. I started with some 1/4" plywood and cut out the various pieces I needed.

I wanted to make these shelves "Fancy" so I added a bevel to the front edge of the top and bottom pieces.

I used my my homemade Dremel router table to make the bevel.

Router tables for the Dremel are fairly easy to make and it do a very good job. Here's a shot of the underside.

The bevel is a little grainy but with a little sanding...

I started assembling the pieces one by one.

I added a little wood glue on the edge. When working on something this small, It really helps to blot the glue with a rag before putting the pieces together. This helps to rid the piece of excess glue.

I used 1/4" braid nails to secure the pieces together. The nails a so small that I needed to start them with a pair of needle nose pliers.

I picked up this tiny hammer in the wood craft section at Menards. It works really well on the braid nails.

Using a punch, I inset the nails so they won't be visible.

I filled the tiny holes with wood putty and sanded the whole piece.

To continue with the "Fancy" theme I stained the wood with a dark reddish stain. I got quite a bit on my workbench so I decided to stain that too. Well, maybe decided isn't the right word.

I wanted the final piece to look like it had been used so I only added two coats of polyurethane. This should make it look shinier in some spots than others.

Finally, I drilled a hole in the bottom of the piece to secure it to the floor.

After a little "roughing up" the finished shelf is ready for action.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oslo Opera House Model

I got call from ArtOrg the other day and they needed an animation for a video project they were working on. They wanted to use Legos to display a quilt on the Oslo Opera House. So... I needed to make a model of the Oslo Opera House for the short.

As you can see the building is very angular. I decided to use rigid foam insulation because of the many flat surfaces and sharp corners. The insulation is easy to cut and surprisingly strong.

I started by cutting out the basic shapes using a diagram of the roof and used duct tape to secure the pieces together. 

It all came together much easier than I could have imagined. Once the pieces were cut out I was able to prop them up and "magic whooshing sound" Opera House.

The one drawback to using rigid insulation is that you cannot use spray paint to paint it. The chemical propellent will melt the surface of the insulation. But... if you do it right you can get some cool stone like effects. I started by priming the model with regular water based house paint primer. I used a 2" wide brush the paint on the primer and left plenty of pink steaks on the model. I then add a coat of white spray paint.

The spray paint melted the insulation that shown through the primer. I then used some granite textured spray paint to give the unmelted surfaces a little more texture.

And then, I got a little carried away with the spray paint and melted more of the model than I wanted. So I used some spackle to fill in the larger holes that I had melted with the paint. The upside to this was that the spackle smoothed out some of the seams created by the duct tape.

I used latex house paint for the final layer. This will help keep the spackle from flaking off and it doesn't look too bad either.

For the windows I just used plexiglass. It's easy to cut and very few people can actually tell the difference. The supports were made from left over bits of rigid insulation.

Here is the finished model with Legos. We used Micro Figs so the scale would be more accurate.

I used flour to simulate snow which looked great, but turned out to be very difficult to work with when animating. It tends to stick to everything it touches, including my camera.

Here's a link to the finished animation.

Childrens Gift to Norway

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hands - Redux - Part II

The hands I made in the previous post turned out to be a little large for my character. So... I made a new pair using the the old hands (the first pair I made) as a mold.

There is still a bit of seem that I will have to deal with later. 

They work very well. They hold their position and are easily moved. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hands - Redux

I decided to have another go at the hands for my model. I had planned to make gloves for my original hands but found that I lack the sewing skills to do so. This time around I decided to cast the hands in rubber over an animation wire frame. The rubber should be flexible enough to allow movement yet rigid enough to keep it's form.

I started by building a model of a hand out of clay.

I used a simple wire frame to start,

then built up the hand using the clay. Once the clay dried, I cleaned up the shape a bit with sand paper and smoothed out the surface.

The next step is to make a mold of the hand. I used Sculpey brand clay for the mold because it is a little flexible after it cures. This comes in handy when putting the two sides of the mold together. Also, Sculpey cures in about 15 minutes in the oven so you don't have to wait overnight for it to dry. I baked the bottom side of the mold first.

After the bottom side cooled, I put the model hand back into the finished mold and formed the top over it. You must be very careful not overlap the top side and the bottom side. You want them to be flush, but they need to come apart in the end.

I baked both the top, bottom and the hand together in the oven. This way I could be sure the top will hold it's shape while curing. After the mold cooled I pulled it apart, and set aside the model hand.

Next I needed to add a release agent to the mold so the rubber would not stick. I like vaseline because it does not pool at the bottom of the mold once applied. I covered every surface where the rubber would come in contact with the mold with vaseline. The next step was to build a wire armature. I used animation wire to form a hand shape that was slightly smaller than the mold. 

I used duct tape to secure the two sides of the mold.

The seam around the edge of the mold must be sealed. I wrapped the entire mold in tape, then used a clamp to set it upright. I did not put much pressure on the clamp because it was in danger of breaking the mold.

The rubber I used for the hands is called Poly PT Flex 60. It is a two part system, you mix 1 part a with 1 part b and pour into your mold. Very simple.

Once set, the color of the Poly PT Flex 60 is kind of a transparent amber, which is not the color I wanted. I added pigment to part a of the mix to change the color to black. You can buy pigment for liquid rubber but it is kind of expensive so I used oil paint. There are a number of dyes you can use to change the color of the rubber as long as they don't contain any water. The chemicals in the liquid rubber convert the water into carbon dioxide creating thousands of tiny bubbles, which will ruin your day. The rubber turns into a very slow, but unstoppable, volcano.

After adding part b, I mixed the two parts thoroughly, and poured the mix into the mold. I used an alligator clip to suspend the animation wire in the rubber mixture.

I let the rubber cure for about an hour before removing the tape and slowly pulling apart the mold. 

One freaky alien hand done, one to go.