Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Introducing Topsy and Rex

Yesterday, I pushed back my keyboard and mouse and made space for some plasticine modelling.

I have been sent Dinosaurs in Space to review and having familiarised myself with what it was all about, my next task was to make the stars of my stop-motion film, Topsy the triceratops and Rex the (no surprises) T Rex.

I started with Topsy. I watched the tutorial on the website and felt fairly confident that I could do this. With just my hands and two double ended modelling tools, I could turn formless green, white and black  plasticine into a characterful little jurassic film star.

I do suffer with cold hands so it took quite a lot of squishing to warm the plasticine up enough to make it workable. The thing to remember about making models for stop-motion animation is that they need to be made from one piece of plasticine. Making the head, legs, body and tail separately and joining them together is a recipe for disaster. It is pretty much a given that at least one (probably more) body part will fall off as the model is manipulated during filming. The appendages need to be pulled and coaxed out of the single lump. It is tricky but the plasticine is very forgiving and an oversized leg can have material dragged from it to compensate for an undersized head! Once I had my plasticine warm and workable, I was surprised that in only 5minutes, I had a basic shape that I was reasonably happy with.

From that basic shape, you can smooth and tweak until you are satisfied. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I was in danger of smoothing and tweaking my dinosaur out of existence. Luckily for Topsy, I had a time limit. My little boy needed picking up from nursery soon so I decided to move onto the next stage - adding the details.

Wiping your hands with a baby wipe when you switch colours prevents cross cotamination and keeps the model looking crisp. As shown in the tutorial, I added horns, bulgy eyes and claws with white plasticine, cut a slit for the mouth then finally, added a black tongue and tiny balls of black for the pupil which brought the whole thing magically to life.

Some time later, spurred on by my success, I had a go at Rex. I found it harder to get the basic shape right - the head never seemed chunky enough - but I perservered. I wasn't all that happy with how the teeth turned out but overall it wasn't too bad and if my children were to stand any chance of being fed, I really had to leave it and get on with cooking the dinner.

However your dinosaurs turn out, they are your unique creation. Every little defect adds character. Be proud and get ready to start filming!

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