Thursday, 10 September 2015

Nausicaa Mark II: Planning is Important!

After sharing my work so far with fellow puppet makers (who also happen to be big fans of Nausicaa), it was brought to my attention that the armature I had made wasn't quite suitable for her character. I had been focusing so strongly on how to encorporate soft sculpture with an armature that I hadn't thought enough about her specific proportions, which are very different from the standard human skeleton.

Nausicaa has an oversized head, very large feet, a teeny tiny waist, extra-long lower legs - the list goes on. Despite my hard work on my first armature it seemed fruitless to use it for my Nausicaa puppet, and so I started re-planning. It began with going through the film and taking a lot of screen shots, my best reference material:


This is ther perfect front-on reference for her face and torso shape. See what I mean about the waist?

Then I began re-drafting my scale drawings, but this time starting with the 'finished' Nausicaa look and working backwards. That way I knew that the body beneath the clothes would have to be a bit slimmer, and the armature would have to work with the body shape.


So firstly the costumed layer is drawn. The tracing paper didn't like being photographed, but hopefully you can see Nausicaa is wearing a tunic with gloves, leggings and big boot covers.


From this I worked out the fleshed out nude version.


By doing this, I knew that the armature I designed underneath would fit the desired body proportions. As you can see, it's quite a bit different from my original design.


I did the same for all three layers for the side view. All the while I'm trying to keep my scale drawings as accurate as possible to Nausicaa in the film.


So it was time to build! I began by cutting and preparing all of the pieces I needed to make the armature and laying them out on my front-on armature drawing.


The new ribcage and pelvis are carved from blocks of plastazote foam, which is a very high density but also extremely lightweight foam. It was simple enough to carved with just a scalpel and mini files. I'm trying zote as an alternative to wire for soft sculpture, because its more accurate and less fiddly to shape. I also think the solidness of it will be more suitable for animating.


It was time to start glueing the pieces together. As you can see, the zote foam cores are sliced down the middle and hollowed out where necessary to accomodate the K&S brass tubing inside.


Putting the legs together is always satisfying.


I made the feet in the same way as my last armature, the copper toes secured with milliput and embedded with M3 nuts for tie-downs. I'm using a scale foot drawing to make sure that the toes are in the right position on the foot.


The final detail which I didn't get onto with my last armature are the hands. I'm using double ball joints for the wrists, because I want that twist so the hands can be positioned palm-side up or down. I'm using a double-twist of copper wire for the fingers, which is a bit stronger than aluminium but still holds its shape well.


The hand is made strong and secure with milliput. There are tiny M2 nuts placed in the centre of the wrists for potentially holding props.


I'm much happier with my second armature attempt. I think it will work very nicely for Nausicaa's proportions.


One last step was adding rig points to the pelvis. There's one in the front, one in the side and one facing downwards at the back so she can be slotted onto Kai's back.


Taking the time to plan very carefully is a valuable lesson learnt! Now I can get on with sculpting Nausicaa's head, Kai's feet and his beak.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my work again,  and look out for my next post soon!

1 comment:

  1. + Rachel Brown- You give me an idea of how can make my own hands, i know 4 ways to make hands yet!!But the way you make your hands is so wonderful.

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