Sorry if this has been answered in-depth elsewhere, but after searching though countless other pages on here, all I came up with were decent answers attached to dead photo/vid links.
I am in the process of sculpting heads for my characters (an old man and a young boy) in plasticine to be molded in Ultracal and then cast in silicone. The thing I am unsure about is how to rig to animate the features of the silicone faces. There is no dialogue in my short, so I don't feel replacement parts are warranted. They just need to be able to express emotion. I'm leaning towards some kind of wire rig, but how do I go about doing that? And how do I animate the eye blinks?
I've only animated in clay before this, so your help is appreciated. I feel pretty confident about everything else except for this and the hair, which I'm sure I'll be asking about later, but one question at a time.
Ah, you must have been looking through the original handbook, which was transferred over from the old site, but the site itself is gone now, so the internal links don't work anymore.
Good news though - the information you're looking for is covered in Nick's tutorials:
Check his uploads for more - I believe this is the best one for the subject of embedding wires in the head for animatable features, but I think he touches on the subject briefly in one of the others as well.
Most often blinks are done by adding modeling clay eyelids only when needed - usually in a cycle of 2 or 3 in different positions - maybe 1/3 closed, 2/3 closed, then fully closed, then cycle back through them to open. General concensus says it's usually easier to make several pairs, almost like replacement eyelid animation, rather than keep adding clay and trying to sculpt them in place on the puppet. The hardest thing of course is to keep them thin enough and especially the edges, so that they don't look like huge thick wads of modeling clay that appear briefly at times covering the eyes.
Of course you can also make replacement cycles of eyelids from latex if you want, or add blinks in post production, and some ambitious puppetsmiths even go so far as to attempt some sort of rotating shells that swing around the eye inside the head. I wouldn't know how to go about that one.
Oops - just realized you said silicone - ok, you can't get modeling clay to stick to silicone, so probably the best blink method is in post. Somebody else might know another way.
.. And since you're asking about silicone, Nick has another video especially about that:
I posted some photos in another thread asking about eyeblinks - showing one of Isabel Peppard's silicone puppets in her film Butterflies. She made silicone replacement eyelids for blinking, held on by a dab of petroleum jelly. She also had wires inside for mouth movements.
My plasticine replacement eyelids are held on more by sticking to the eyeball than to the edge of the silicone, and do work on a silicone head, but the silicone eyelids could be better made, complete with eyelashes, and could be re-used throughout the shoot. My plasticine eyelids tended to self destruct when I peeled them off the eyeballs so I kept making new ones.
I used a fast set silicone such as Dragon Skin Q, with an accelerator and thixotropic additive to make it thick enough to sculpt. Alternatively you could try a silicone FX putty like 3rd Degree or Skin Tight. I basically just sculpted the putty onto the eyeballs and then waited till it set and repeated till I had a range of open and closed lids for blinking. Dragon Skin Q and Skin Tight are both available from distributors of Smooth On products. If you google 3rd Degree you should be able to find suppliers.
Basically any fast set sculptable silicone FX putty is good,
Long winded but I hope this helps:)