So, Linda and I  have to build the bulk of the cast for Galaxy Scouts, so I figured I’d share some photos of the process of building Rodney, the first of our new crew.

The first thing we did was size Rodney’s jaw out of cardboard.  Many puppet crafters don’t agree that this was the place to start, and they very well might be right, but since I knew how big we wanted the mouth in relation to George and Stanley, that’s where we started.  We hot-glued elastic to what would eventually be the inside of the head so that he would be easier to operate for the puppeteer later.

We sized Rodney’s jaw out of cardboard, and then laid out a head pattern based on this design on a big piece of paper.  We cut it out, duplicated it, and then pieced the two halves together to see if it actually worked.

After some adjustment and repositioning of darts, we had a shape we were happy with, so we took paper Rodney apart, and cut the pattern out of 1″ foam.  Word to the wise, use half inch foam.  While the 1″ is awesome, it makes the final head stiffer, and a little more difficult for the puppeteer to operate.  Future cast members will all be half inch.

The next step was adhering the two halves of the skull together.  There are a hundred ways to do this.  997 of them work.  995 of them are annoyingly difficult.  Avoid hot glue.  It takes too long to cool/dry, and you’ll end up burning the hell out of your fingers.  Spray adhesive works, but it’s a bitch to apply without getting all over the rest of the skull.  Plus, the weaker craft sprays (which ARE easy to adjust) can slowly pull apart if your foam is too stiff (cough*1″*cough) so you have to reinforce it after the fact (hot glue DOES work well for this).  For the next round we’re going to be trying some DAP Contact Cement.  Less ability to make adjustments after the fact, but (supposedly) a much stronger hold.

Once Rodney’s head was assembled, we decided to add a coat of paint to it.  Because we had chosen a burnt velvet cloth to use as his skin, there were some spots where the foam would show through, and since the natural color of the cloth had a greenish tint, we went with yellow to lighten it up so that it wouldn’t wreak havoc on the green screen.  We went Com*Art Airbrush paint, thinned with water, and used a travel size spray bottle to apply it.

Once the bulk of the skull was completed, it was time to think about eyes.  We combined a couple different techniques to try to make them a little different than typical puppet eyes.  We took a pair of those spherical clear “fill ’em with memories” holiday ornaments, placed iris dots on the inside, then sprayed the inside white with a flat white spray paint.  We realized that we were going to need to build some eyebrow ridges on Rodney since he looked more surprised than angry, and he’s going to be playing the big, tough, mostly angry Tactical Officer on the show.

So we painted irises on the outside with oil paint, layering browns and yellows over a period of about two weeks (to give the layers time to dry). And at the same time built Rodney a set of angry looking eyebrow ridges.

Finally, it was time to give Rodney some skin.  And there you have him!

Now all we have to do is build him a body.

(Originally posted on Node)