In this film the elfin heroine fights a firebreathing, flying dragon-insect-something -a "dragon fly", quite simply. Previously I have built all my animation puppets using latex, sometimes reinforced with cotton to achieve a leathery, shell-like feel to certain parts of a puppet's anatomy. I've used this particular technique for insect-like or crustacean creatures. For the dragon fly I decided to cast the hard parts of its body in plastic and cover the joints with latex.
This monster was sort of inspired by the works of Swedish horror/fairy tale artist Hans Arnold. Check out his web page and you'll see what I mean.
The head of the dragon fly was sculpted in Chavant and a mold in Dragon Skin Q silicone rubber was created for it. The head was cast in SmoothCast 325 plastic. Spikes were added to the back of the head using Apoxie sculpt and a flexible lower jaw was built up with wool string and latex over aluminum wire.
The body was done the same way as the head, with holes drilled out for attaching the legs and the wings. The tail was created by wrapping yarn around aluminum wire and adding cast patches of latex skin from existing skin molds over that. The horns were also cast in latex from different old "monster" plaster molds. Recycle if you can; it saves both time and money!
The wings were a bit of a bother to make. I had to sculpt them as thin as I possibly could and create a silicone mold for them. I say "them" but of course I mean "it". I only sculpted one wing and cast four duplicates in plastic.
The legs were easier to do (I think I did all six in about twenty minutes) and created the way I do all puppet armatures -braiding aluminum wire attaching one end to a power drill and holding the other with pliers. The stiff parts of each leg was built up with Friendly Plastic. Normally this construction would then be covered by foam rubber, latex and paint.
Here are the finished legs and wings attached to the body. I really should do something about the floor in my workshop!
Because in the film the monster blows its own head off at the end. I attached a short screw to the end of the puppet's neck, so I could screw its head on and off the body (the creature being headless after the explosion). The eyes are bought from a taxidermist's supply house.
The finished puppet was painted with acrylic airbrush paints. The joints for the wings and the legs were covered with sewing string and tinted latex.
For animation the puppet was mounted on a flexible support rod. It was simply two thick pieces of aluminum wire braided together and stuck to a block of wood. The wire was covered with thick, soft string painted blue. Thus the support rod could be keyed out with the background.
Two stills from the film showing the fire fly on the prowl in the woods where I shot most of this project. Atmospheric filters and motion blur have also been added. In the last photo the heroine has shot a pine cone-tipped arrow into the snout of the monster, which acts practically like a flame thrower, and jamming it. So I guess you can figure out what happens next. KA-BOOM!