Hello,

Lately I've been experiencing making a stop motion puppet for the first time !

I only have to animate the arms and head of my puppet.

As a first step, I made an aluminium wire and epoxy putty armature that seems okay.

I was trying to get a very detailed appearence to the hands and the face of my character, so I chose sculpt them in plastiline. I chose ivory plastiline from Herbin, with a medium hardness:

https://www.amazon.fr/Plastiline-duret%C3%A9-55-coloris-ivoire/dp/B...

I thought of covering my armature with this clay too, as I've read in other forums that it was a good choice for a stop motion puppet because it woudn't dry or crack as other clays. Moreover my character has to be partially naked and I thought the plastiline's texture was nice to imitate skin.

I colored my clay with a red pigment to get a pale flesh tone, and this step went fine too.

Although when my I started putting clay on the armature and began moving the arm, the clay immediately cracked on the articulation. It clearly seems to come from the hardness of the clay that looks way too hard for me, but I've read that you should use hard plastiline when doing an animation puppet.

I could re-heat my plastiline with a hair-dryer every time I have to move my character so this way it wouldn't crack, but I feel like this would be a loss of time...

I also thought of softening my plastiline by adding some oil of vaseline to it, but I'm afraid it will be too soft to sculpt small details.

I probably made some begginer's mistake, but I can't tell where.

If people with a longer experience of puppet-making with plastiline have any idea of what might be the problem here, I would be happy to take any suggestion !!

Thank you in advance and have a nice day :)

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I recommend you use "Puppet Putty" plasticine. It is hard but don't crack and don't stain your fingers. The problem is it's out of stock now. The good new is it's formuled by Don Carlson who is member of this site. May be he could say when will be available again.

I added vaseline petroleum jelly to some plasticine that was many years old and had dried out a bit. I melted it in a low temp oven, then mixed in the vaseline, and let it cool. It worked very well  to soften it. I would add just a little to start, see how that feels, then add a little more if you want it softer.  

But i use plasticine to sculpt and make moulds, then I cast in silicone or foam latex and animate the rubber puppet.  I don't do clay animation, so I can't say how much you would want to soften it to use as an animating material.  Some breaking of the plasticine is to be expected, or squishing it out of shape, and you have to keep smoothing and re-sculpting as you go.  (That's why I don't animate with plasticine, I like skin texture and detail, so I want a material where I don't lose that when I touch it with my fingers to animate it.  But i appreciate great clay animation when I see it done by others!)

There are brands of plasticine used by clay animators, like Newplast.  Depends on where you live.

Thank you for your detailed answers !

I put vaseline in my clay and I think it's kind of working, so I'll try to make something out of it for now, even though it's not precisely the style I was hopping for.

I have to finish this project quite fast so I'll check all the brands you suggested for my next experiences (it is due in one month and I have to get delivered in europe).

I think my mistake was taking clay instead of silicone for detailed parts, so next time I'll just try using the right material ahah.

Though for now the costume making and other steps are going fine so I still have hopes that i'll like the result :) 

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