Digital Sketchbook

My set design has a strange subject matter but I really liked doing it. I had trouble thinking what sizes to make the set as I seem to have no concept of size, but using my imagination and drawing skills in such a way made me remember what I love so much about animation. Imagining beyond our reality, and showing it in a different one.

Sets, Props and lighting


When designing a set, you need to take into account:

  • What sort of space has been given to the puppet?

  • What atmosphere do the sets give off?

  • How is the background shown? Ie, Photographic, hand-drawn.

  • Styling: Should be thinking about it all the while. Everything needs to be designed.

  • Understanding how the whole thing fits together.

  • Don’t always have to see the whole thing.

Most basic sets have 3 screens as this offers the most flexibility. One at the back, then two at angles to it on either side.

Have to always think about accessibility. Need to move the puppets within the set.

Depth: How far can you comfortably stretch. May be able to make another access point in a door or window.

Use G clamps to fit the screens together and to the table.

Consider rigging. Will you need wooden strips along the top to hang things from?

You will never have to work with a puppet under 6 inches.

Make the set around the puppet?

Create an atmosphere by using materials, textures.

If using green or blue screen, be aware of colours and reflective materials in the puppet.

1. Key light – Gives the set most of it’s light. Strong.

2. Fill light – Lessens the amount of shadow.

3. Back light -Makes the figure stand out.

Reccommended authors:

  • Barry JC Purves

  • Ken A Priebe

  • Susannah Shaw

Unfortunately, even though the armature worked, my puppet now had added weight, distributed weirdly from the plasticine and the clothing. This made him harder to move than I had hoped. He couldn’t balance well at all, and I had to manipulate the feet for a very long time before he managed to hold that position.

Making my Final Model

I used the basic armature that I had been using so far, only I made it larger. To compensate for this, I used a slightly thicker wire. I also used a tube of KNS in the milliput shoulders, so that the head could be attached and detached, instead of being modeled around the wire loop. I tested it’s walking abilities, and although it was stiffer than the wire I was used to, it worked well and didn’t take too much more time than the more flexible wire, to put it into position.

I put plasticine between the milliput sections for his shoulders and hips, to create something more substantial for me to attach clothes to. To make the clothes, I drew around the armature, then cut the shapes out the fabric with a little space from the line I had drawn, to where I cut. As I needed it to be tight, to avoid boiling, this was just enough material to attach all the pieces together, so they fit him quite close to the milliput. For the coat, I added a strip of wire around the hem at the bottom, so I had more control over it, and it wasn’t just moving about the place all the time. His head is a milliput skull with plasticine covering it, and I sculpted it the same as I sculpted the heads before him.

Overall, I was impressed at how well he ended up looking. Though he doesn’t measure up to the design, he isn’t a terrible representation, and based on the skill level and materials available, I am proud of my work.

Final Model Design

I enjoyed coming up with the concept for my final model. I liked wondering what kind of person it would be and how to best represent that through his looks, his clothes, his expressions, how I drew him. I liked inventing someone new. We had done the character sheets before, but this time round, I feel it’s improved. My lines are more confident and there’s no doubt about any aspect of him. He’s also a lot more ‘complicated’ than my other character I did this for, and the fact that they all look so similar, makes me more confident in my design abilities.

Model Making, session 3


The lesson started earlier today as last week, Gill couldn’t make it due to the snow, so we covered a lot and got individual tutorials. She went over the next step in out work. As we have covered most of the basic models and materials, she spoke to us about experimenting to make a more complicated puppet.

  • No need to fork out on expensive armatures.

  • Use replacement hands and heads.

  • Experiment with different finishes, not just plasticine.

  • Don’t have free flowing material or hair.

  • Use padding if it’s needed.

  • Put wires around the hem of skirts or coats so they don’t flap and you control the movement in them.

  • Make the armature, do a bit of animating, write down the problems. Overcome them.

  • Can use moulds for replacement heads, hands and mouths. (Mostly resin)

  • Cut KNS precisely.

  • BE CONFIDENT at using the tools and materials by practicing.


  • Glue: UHU, Copidex (textiles), Araldite.

  • Skin: Latex (stretchy), Super Sculpey (old), Fimo.

  • Fabric stiffener (purchase from haberdasher)


Make a final, finished puppet that you are happy with and that works well.

Screen Academy Wales


I got an email from the Screen Academy a few weeks ago letting me know about a placement on Tim Burton’s new animated feature film, ‘Frankenweenie’. Today was the deadline to send my CV and other information to them.

I am really excited about it. If I get a job there, it would be amazing. Tim Burton has influenced what I want to do with my life so much, and working in a London Studio at this point in time would mean I have the upper hand when I finish my degree. I would love to learn the ropes of the work I will have to take on when I finish this course. Also, it would just be an incredible experience to work on a feature film. The placement can last for up to 4 weeks, and I wouldn’t mind if it was that long, it would mean I learnt more about everything. It doesn’t say when I’ll hear back, but hopefully, when I do, it will be positive.

Armature animation tests:

Walk cycle 2: I was more conscious of everything needed to be moved this time. I moved the arms from the elbows as well as the shoulders, and I think they run a lot smoother, though maybe still not as free as I’d like. The body s a lot better in this effort, as it moves with the legs and arms. It looks slightly like he’s moonwalking but other than that, his leg movement is okay.

Armature animation tests:

Walk cycle 1: The body was too rigid and I wasn’t even thinking about making it move along with the body, I just assumed it would. The arms seem a little stiff too, and constantly in the same position as they move form side to side. I also think there’s too big of a gap between 2 of the frames.

Armature animation tests:

The first thing that struck me was how different it was to animating a ‘flat’ walk cycle in terms of what you have to think about. You need to consciously make the effort to make them look flowing. In 2D, the way you draw it, or the way you move the split pins normally creates that sort of, jelly-ish limbs effect. These armatures are so much more rigid.

Run cycle: I found this quite hard as picturing someone running then moving their body into that position are two different things. It looks like he’s running so fast, due to the over-exaggerated leaning forwards, and the way the back leg stretches out so far behind him. I think more frames are needed in this, and markings on where the feet should move back and forward to, to stop this ridiculous stretch my model seems to be doing.