Designing a puppet

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Designing a puppet

Postby CvdC » 16 Oct 2006, 01:49

This is an experiment in using this board. I hope it is useful.

Over the last couple of years I have been trying to design puppets that retain some of the character of the orginal sketches.
I have found that digital technology has enabled this process to be quite straightforward.
Thumbnail Sketches
It is always good to sit down and over the course of a few idle moments, or at boring meetings, sketch puppet characters. Give no thought to the practicalities, just try to stretch your imagination and capture the character. These sketches are quite disposable so don't be precious.
Later you will evaluate them and select a few for further development.

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Refined drawing

Postby CvdC » 16 Oct 2006, 01:55

Refining the Drawing

Once you have discovered your perfect design in sketch form the next step is to transfer it into lines that are at the correct scale and sufficiently precise to cut out of wood.
The trick is to retain as much of the character of the sketch as you can so that the finished puppet will be as close as possible.
What I do is scan the sketch and open it up in a drawing program. I use Adobe Illustrator.
Here is a devil sketch with the lines traced.
Image
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Developing the drawing

Postby CvdC » 16 Oct 2006, 02:04

These lines can then be scaled to the exact same size as the puppet head will be so when you have finished the drawing you can print out full size drawings ready to transfer to the wood.
Using the drawing program also allows you to tweek any line or curve to correct anything that doesn't look right.
Looking at this drawing I can tell that there is too much wood in front of the neck. This means the weight will be forward and the head will not balance on the finger.
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Orthographic projection

Postby CvdC » 16 Oct 2006, 02:15

Orthographic Projection

Next we use projection lines to develop the front face of the head.
Image
The blue lines in the above illustration are the projection lines that carry across the position of the features from the profile to the front view.
The width is marked out. The green vertiacl line is where I estimate the centre of gravity is for the head. I will have to adjust the position of the neck so that it fits here.
The picture below shows how the projection lines work.
Image

During this stage there is a lot of going backwards and forwards from profile to front to make each suit the other. Here I have drawn only half the face. Later I will copy and flip these lines to make the full face. Then I may do even more adjustment.

When carving I will refer back to original sketch.

It is a process that works well for me. I am now about to carve a set of puppets with a lot more character than I have previously. A sort of Roselia set, if you know what I mean. This will be for adult night shows so I want them quite gothic. I will use this process to make sure I get what I imagine to end up in the completed puppet.
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the devil

Postby CvdC » 12 Dec 2006, 21:07

Image

This is the devil.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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Postby James » 12 Dec 2006, 21:44

Your best so far I think Chris. Congrats!
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The Devil

Postby Sean Keohane » 13 Dec 2006, 01:35

Very good, Chris -- appropiately infernal! And his face is not unlike that of Mr Punch's... but then, there would be a resemblance between those two, eh?

One thought, Chris, might be to give the devil a pair of very puffy, round satin pantaloons on the outside of his gown, and have the legs project from there... rather like the short breeches you give your Punch and Ketch figures, only with each short leg shaped like a ball. The devil's leg could be visible until just above the knee. Just a thought on flexibility, though I suspect you're only using the devil's legs for dangling in case you hang him at the end of a show.

There are Czech devil puppets which have one leg in hose, with a pointy-toed shoe, and a carved goat's leg, with exposed hoof, for the second leg... though I suppose one could do two goat legs as well, if so inclined!

Great devil,
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Postby James » 13 Dec 2006, 01:56

Richard Coombs has a rather fine devil with carved legs, photos of which are in the gallery.
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Postby Chris » 13 Dec 2006, 11:53

I presume as the legs wont show when the puppet is in action they are there for when Punch twirls him on his stick?
It's good to squawk!
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correct

Postby CvdC » 13 Dec 2006, 21:24

Thankyou James.

Yes Chris you presume correctly.

This is the first of a complete set I am carving for a particular performer/performance.
I carve the Devil first to pay his due. I am now scared of him since being injured during a show. He sort of plays the devil as an overacting theatrical type relishing the role. And finishes up on the end of Punch's stick.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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