Hey guys, 

It's been a very long time since I posted here or even perused the forum. But when I was first starting out in animation a good few years ago everyone was brilliantly helpful and knowledgable. So I was wondering if you guys could help me out with a potential technical model making hurdle of dough... 

I'm currently starting to map out my final film at Edinburgh College of Art and at the moment I'm tossing up the idea of creating it about a modern day baker. Firstly I should mention that it will be predominantly stop-motion but I'm not opposed to using Cinema 4D/3DS max for certain elements if necessary. I want the style of the film to be stylised but not in a 'home grown' kind of way. So I'm looking for a good technique of making realistic looking dough that could be kneaded and floured by a stop-motion... Any ideas would be fantastic!

Thank you all, it's nice to be posting again!


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If you want it to be animatable on the set, I think I would use plasticine for this. You can even make your own plasticine (easy to find on google), If you don't color it, it almost looks like actual dough, I guess.

But it depends on what you want to do. If you are only going to show one way to knead the dough, or nothing to fancy, you might want to go for replacement breads. Model the different dough positions in clay (the one that hardens, by air or oven) and animate the kneading by replacing the dough positions every frame.

For dough, You could try out using actual flour and water, but without the yeast added. That could work for a fairly short shot, but over a few hours it might dry up. Using glycerin instead of water would fix that, but I'm not sure what the texture would be. The puppet hands would not really apply the pressure to knead the dough, you would need to press it with your finger or a tool.
The trickiest part I can foresee, using a puppet with a wire armature, is keeping the hands pressed down on the dough - they tend to spring back and leave a gap because you can't push them further than you want and let them spring back into position. It's always been difficult to make my puppets pound on a table. I have sometimes used a wire around the wrist to pull the hand down formthe frames where it has to be actually touching the table.
Whole loaves of bread could be made from lots of things - super sculpey, plasticine, air dry clay, anynsculpting material, and painted with matte acrylic paint. Or make a mould and cast some loaves, if you need lots of them - depends on which takes longer, casting or modelling them by hand. Slices, where you see the porous texture of the bread inside, could be urethane foam. Some latex painted around the edge would make a crust.

As kneading dough is a pretty fast movement replacements might well be the easiest way to go. You could sculpt then bake 8-12 different positions of the dough with polymer clay (Fimo being a decent brand in the UK) and replace as needed. The fast movement mixed with the replacement animation should give very good results.
Another replacement idea, you could sculpt the dough and hands together as one piece and replace as you go along. More work there (I always struggle with sculpting hands) but that will probably give better visual results than just replacing the dough.

As Maarten said above, if you'd like it completely animatable on set, either clay or plasticine. This would depend on what the puppets hands are made of though. Would be best they were made from some kind of rubber.

As for the creating of the dough. I've made a load of bread for one of my future short films.

This book - Making Miniature Food and Market Stall by Angie Scarr - is probably the best I've read about making miniature food with clay.

I used the recipe in that book, with a few small changes, to make the bread in the picture below.

Not sure about writing that recipe on here, but basically using the following polymer clays. White with translucent white with a small amount of champagne and an even smaller amount of yellow (They are all names of Fimo colours). That creates the dough colour.

To get the texture on top, the bread stretching out and such, crunch up some aluminum foil so there is lots of edges to it and press it in to the unbaked clay.

To get the baked colour you can either used make-up, power foundation, or just crushed up soft pastels. Softly brush the power over the clay before baking, leaving the section where its stretched with a very thin coat only so the dough colour partly shows through. I think I used a light brown colour for the below bread, can't rememberFor the flour, maybe real flour or talcum powder. What ever looks best on camera I guess.

As a side note, related to bread but not this subject. You can use real bread dough to make all kinds of miniature foods with really effective results. It works just like real clay.




That book on making miniature food looks great!  It's 1:12, a smaller scale than most of us use, but the same materials and techniques would apply.


Ha, that bread looks great. So if you brush the pastel or make-up on the clay before baking, it won't come off afterwards?

Ah yes Nick, should have mentioned the book is aimed at 1/12 scale. Just doubling any measurements to bring it up to the 1/6 scale would do there. I just did a rough size outline for 1/6 scale on paper for whatever food was being created. And I forgot about the look inside thing on Amazon. It actually has the bread recipe up to view on there.

@ Maarten. As far as I remember it didn't come off no. You can either apply a generous amount to the unbaked clay and blow off the excess before baking or blow off after baking. I think I left it until after baking before blowing off the excess but it was a while ago so can't remember exactly. Most things tend to stick to the clay, which can sometimes be very annoying but is to the advantage here.

I should note about the make-up though. I'd recommend using crushed up soft pastels (used on the bread above) rather than that and I only mentioned it as female members of the house tend to have some and it is a good alternative to the soft pastels if you can't or don't have them available. There is some kinds of powder foundation that are glittery, that is no good here (but I guess might look okay for that caramelized looking bread). The matt kind is the one to use.

Thanks FK, I went and used the Look Inside to see the page on bread. 

I should have said before, your loaves are absolutely perfect!  I really like the way the crust seems to have stretched open a bit in the baking, to show a bit of texture underneath.  Well observed and well crafted!


Thanks for all the suggestions guys, that book on miniature food looks like it's going to come in handy. I came up with a way of making pliable 'kneadable' dough quite cheap.

So I filled a condom with wholemeal flour, tied it up at each end so it was a tight ball then sprayed it with some spray mount glue (for mounting posters on mountboard) and then rolled it around in the same wholemeal flour. Turned out quite good, I'll do some tests with it see if it's going to perish under the lights.


Wow, that really looks great!! Heh - it's weird how useful condoms are in stopmotion.. 

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