Wednesday, 11 September 2013

11. Good Dog!

The dog was probably my favourite puppet to make. I collected lots of reference images of Bull Terriers as I really like the shape of their heads, there is something about them that looks a lot like a puppet or an illustration to me - slightly unreal. Also I wanted to base it on a breed of dog that could look both vicious, or friendly/appealing simply by use of body language i.e. the way it was puppeteered. 

This puppet is slightly different to the three main characters, as it is a glove puppet. I enjoyed making it quite detailed, crafting everything from the teeth and moveable tongue, to the collar complete with buckles and studs, chain and clip. I hinged the tongue at the back of the mouth with chamois leather (just like the main puppet's elbow joints), so it wouldn't look stiff when the puppet 'barked'. I left the neck open at the back for quite a while because when I put the puppet on for the first time I instinctively shook it - and the body followed the head with that slight delay that happens when a real dog shakes. I loved this effect so much that I knew I had to make sure I didn't ruin it by making the back of the neck stiff i.e. finishing it with cardboard. In the end, once again I used chamois. The material was tough enough to hold it's shape and not make the neck look too weird by collapsing inwards, but also flexible enough to allow the shaking movement to happen. I only attached the chamois to the head (using a hot glue gun - one of my essential pieces of kit) and then simply tucked it down inside the neck leaving it free to move. (Next to the glue gun sticks, chamois was my biggest cost in making the puppets at around about £12).

Typically and rather frustratingly, I had to edit out the bit where the dog shakes, sits down and pants, a lovely bit of puppeteering by the way, to make the film flow better. I guess I'll have to make a reel of out takes!

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