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After all of the tests I’ve made with silicone, I came to realise that a solid silicone body just wouldn’t work. It would be too thick which would make the joints unable to bend for animation. With this in mind, I decided to change the body from silicone to foam, with only certain body parts being made of silicone, eg. Head, Arms, Feet. I had already sculpted the majority of the body in clay, and the armature was inside, this meant finding the knee joints to remove the lower legs so I could keep the clay on the feet and removing the clay from the rest of the body to get to the armature.
After removing the feet and lower legs, I took photos of the body shape so I could re-create it with foam.
I removed the last of the clay and cut a large square of upholstery foam, on the foam I placed a card cut out of the previous body shape with the armature placed on top to make sure where everything would fit.
After I had drawn around the card, twice, making sure the back piece was drawn in reverse, I cut the two body halves out using a scalpel.
With the two halves cut to size, with a little excess for safety, I drew around the armature, making notes on where I’d cut gaps to allow the alan keys to slide in so I could re-tighten any joints during animation.
I cut a shallow groove where the armature drawing was so that the armature would fit snugly inside it. This leaves less room for unwanted movement on the inside of the foam.
After the first half was cut to shape, I cut into the second half so that the armature would fit perfectly inside the two halves when they are stuck together.
With the two halves snugly ready for the armature, I placed them together to make sure everything lined up. After this, I pushed some rods through the front piece, making sure they were in line to the joints that I would need access to with the alan key.
19. 21. 20.
I knew that heat melts this kind of foam, this is why I used metal rods that I would be able to heat. This however was taking too long, so I selected another rod, held it into the end of my soldering iron so it would heat up to a very hot temperature, then I would push each rod through with the hot rod to melt little holes all the way through the foam to create access points, that way each of the rods already excising was acting as a guide for the hot one.
These images show that the holes were successful and in all of the areas I needed them. The gaps left perfect access to the screws for the alan key to get to.
Once I was happy with all of the placements of the armature and of the holes, I used some contact adhesive to stick the two halves together, not sticking it to the armature itself though to avoid damage. Then I weighted it so the contact would be firm and left it to set.
Image 26 shows an alan key through the hole and perfectly slotting into the screw. With the two parts stuck together, I drew a basic body outline and started sculpting into the foam.
With a basic shape starting to take form, I used the clay arms and legs as guides to how thick I would need the arm and leg areas. I then drew on some guides and continued sculpting.
The larger sections of foam to be removed were done so using a scalpel, but the smaller neater trimming was done with scissors. Image 34 shows how I would test if there was too much foam ‘fat’ in the way to be able to animate the character or if he would just bounce back to the t-pose.
This is the stage of the foam body now. I will go ahead with making the silicone body parts before I trim any more to give me a better sense of scale and proportion, also, I will know better if he needs to go on a bit of a diet for animation purposes with the foam interfering with the joints.
Check out more about ‘Mother’s Days’ at: www.skygecko-nat.blogspot.com