Sunday, April 14, 2013

How to Assemble Paper Models

Here is a video of how to assemble the paper models I have been writing about. I figured this part would be easier to show, rather than trying to describe it.

Here is a list of materials you will need:

Wire- available at craft stores and hardware stores. Avoid the wire in the jewelry section; it is too stiff, and too expensive. Floral wire works really well and comes in several thicknesses, or gauges.

Glue gun - low temperature or two temperature (use the low setting). You can touch the low temp glue after a few seconds.

Glue sticks - make sure you get the ones that fit your glue gun. I like the big ones myself. They last longer. Also make sure they are the right temperature. I try to get dual temp ones.

Wire cutters/needle nose pliers- can be found at any hardware or craft store. I got a set of three at Wal-mart for less than $5.

Putting the models together is not hard, as long as you are a little organized. Work on the biggest pieces first, then put them all together. I usually start with the head and trunk, using one long wire as the spine. Then make each limb. If you leave wires sticking out of the feet, they can stick into foam and stand up. Make sure you have enough wire sticking out at the end that connects to the body to make a little loop so it wont slide out of the glue.

For really small parts, you can also get really fine floral wire. This is especially useful in hands, since you can sandwich it between two layers of paper so you can get more flexible and realistic hands.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Being Lazy...

To get some posts done on my other blog, and my new wordpress blog I made so I could show my students how to do it, I'm posting my animation tutorials over there too..... yup. Lazy.

Paper animation Part 2!

In my last post, I explained how to make the parts for a paper stop motion animation model. Now I'll show how to paint them. I also use colored pencils sometimes, for the details.

Last time, we got to the point of tracing out each moving part and numbering them. Trace one more copy of your original, onto more substantial paper. This will be your color scheme. If you haven't picked out your colors yet, this is your chance to make multiple copies and experiment. James Gurney, the author and illustrator of Dinotopia, has a lot of good advice about color schemes in his book Color and Light. A good rule of thumb is to stick to 3 or 4 colors per character, with one of those colors in contrast to the others.

Small to medium brushes are nice for this, and they should be fairly soft, but not really floppy like the brown or sable watercolor brushes. I like synthetic brushes because they last longer too. It's really important not to make your watercolors too wet. I usually use one or two brushfuls of water to wet my main paint color, and make a little puddle in the lid of my watercolor set. (My favorite brands are Prang and Guitar. Crayola is actually very good too. Avoid Roseart at all costs - they are pale and wimpy.) Don't use the straight paint color unless you want a really bright color, although that might be good for a superhero. I usually make Westerns and/or ghost stories, so I like muted colors. I always mix my paint in the lid, and I leave the mixed colors in there so I can rewet and mix them later. That way I don't have to use black to darken my colors, which I find muddies them. Browns and purples are better if you need to darken a color. There is also a watercolor called Paynes Gray that comes in squeezy tubes, and it's a very lovely alternative to black. That's the only expensive watercolor I buy. *

Here are my brushes and one of my messy paint lids, with some wet brown paint:

You can see how I mixed the old dried dark brown and dark blue paint into the new brown paint to get a more interesting color.

Do a light, flat layer of paint on your copied drawing. Keep a scrap piece of cardstock handy to test your colors on before putting them on your actual picture.

Once that's dry, add darker shades around the edges to give the figure some depth. Also, you can bring out details and textures. I blended the shading in more on his pants, since they are a rough wool, and I used a hard edge on his leather jacket and boots, since leather has some shine to it. To blend the shading, put a very small amount of plain water on the picture first, then carefully add your darker color. Use a thin line, since it will spread into the damp area, and you can always add more later. For the harder edge, simply paint a darker color over the dried paint. For the darker colors you can also just use less water for a thicker paint. The areas farthest to the back of the character will be the darkest (the wrapped around scarf, the underarms and flares on the jodhpurs)

Once you have decided on your color scheme, use the same colors on the individual parts. Since they're going to be cut out, you don't have to stay in the lines!

Next: Cutting and gluing!

*Besides my squeezy tube of Paynes Gray, I have discovered that Prang's powdered tempera paints are absolutely gorgeous. They have a velvety texture and muted colors that I really like, but they are very hard to find. They are what I used on all the characters and backgrounds in Ghost Train.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Paper Animation How-to

Now that I'm all done making things for and vending at Wild Wild West Con II, I'm going to put a couple of art tutorials on here. It's not specifically steampunk, but one of the animations I did this way was, so it counts. This will be a series (we know how that goes, but this one at least has a natural progression to keep me on task). For starters, here are my two actually good animations.

First, the models. I like to make mine out of paper. It is much easier to work with than clay, especially under hot lights, and it is much much cheaper than proper machined armatures with rubber skins. You can make them look exactly how you want. I also like how it looks like moving illustrations in a way that other models don't. That fits my style a lot better, since my background is in drawing.

Actually no! First, the storyboards. You don't want to start anything else without a storyboard, or you will do lots of extra work. So do your storyboards. They don't have to be fancy. The main disadvantage of paper characters is that you have to make one model for each angel you see them from, sometimes up to 8 just for the full body. If you make extra models for closeups, it gets even more out of hand. There are several spots in Ghost Train where I made large models for just one shot. This madness can be kept to a minimum with the clever use of storyboards. If you never see the back of a character, for example, don't make the back view model.

Anyway, once you have planned your story out, select the character and angle that appears most. Draw the character in a neutral pose, using the simplest design you can. Then trace or copy it. Never ever ever mark, color, or cut your original drawing. On the copy, break the design down into simple shapes, and draw a dotted line where there they will overlap. Like this:

The numbers will be important for gluing all the parts in the right spot when they are cut out. Then trace each part onto heavy paper, like Bristol or watercolor paper. If your models are small, like under 4 inches, normal cardstock or even index cards will do, but they are too floppy for bigger models. It is hard to trace on thick paper - you need a light behind it. They make light tables specifically for this purpose, and you can get them at most art supply stores, or you can just use the flashlight app on an iPad, or an actual flashlight under the glass from a picture frame.

Make sure you get enough overlap on your parts, and number them as you go. You'll end up with a little exploded version of your character, like a kit, waiting to be painted and assembled.

Next: how to color it and put it together.

p.s. It's a good idea to number each piece on the back as well.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pretentious, yes, but I like it too.

An announcement: I was reading some PG Wodehouse, and another book from the 20s called Free Air, and I noticed that they sometimes wrote 'phone, instead of phone, using the apostrophe to acknowledge the abbreviation of telephone. So I shall call this my 'blog. My other blog will still be called a blog. That is all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nifty Goggles

Here is a lovely tutorial on how to make some very sturdy goggles. I wish I had a way to cut metal, cuz I'd be all over these. Although, it occurs to me, since she painted the outside metal bits of hers anyway, couldn't she have used PVC plumbing bits and used an ordinary saw? Of course, if I could cut metal, I'd make everything out of metal, so there you go. I may try these with PVC though.... Also, metal straps are very uncomfortable, but leather is easy enough to come by. I have so many things to make before Wild Wild West Con.....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hooray for History Fans!

And I mean fans in the fangirl/fangent/otakuish sense. Hmm. I just realized something. I used "fangent" to mean a tangent indulged in by fans (a more random and less canonical relative of the fan theory) but when paired with fangirl, it could also be a gentleman who is a fan. This all makes me very happy.


Not as happy as this web comic, which I stumbled across by way of Twitter (because random steampunk tidbits soothe my fevered brow better than actual sleep {my brow is fevered because I recently became a computer teacher, while keeping my part-time job at Barnes and Noble.})

It reminds me in a way of Five Fists of Science, but, dare I say(?) better. I feel that there should be a question mark in the previous sentence, so I put one in. And I do dare say it, because FFoS is pretty entertaining, but kind of meh. Any hoo, "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" is about Charles Babbage, creator of the first computer, and Ada Lovelace, creator of the first computer program. Apparently they fight crime? It's fantastic.

Even more fantastic (but actually less fantastic inasmuch as it's actually true) are all the links to Primary Source Documents by about the protagonists. I dare not start clicking on any more of them tonight or I really won't get any sleep. And then I won't be able to set up the computers for next week's classes. Maybe I should give the middle school kids a project later to research the history of computers on the interwebz. Whoever can go back the farthest gets a prize.

Of course, depending on how broadly one defines computers, there were even earlier examples of machines that used basic logic, but not to do math. So, since a computer ought to compute, the Difference Engine was the first one.