The Magic of Aardman education resource

From sketch to clay: making your own claymation character

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Drawing your characters

“Drawing is the starting point, the top of a massive pyramid”

– Nick Park

Sketch your character before you make it out of plasticine. Your character is three dimensional so draw it from different angles: from the front, the side and behind. Use the creating a character worksheet to get started.

Watch: Nick Park from Aardman shows you how to animate Gromit from Wallace and Gromit in this video.

Listen: You can hear the Aardman team talking about the importance of drawing in episode two of ACMI’s Wallace & Gromit and Friends podcast: https://www.acmi.net.au/ideas/listen/wallace-gromit-exhibition-podcast/

Building your claymation characters

Creating an armature for your character

Once you’re happy with the design of your character, you need a frame for your character. These are called armatures.

An armature acts like your character’s skeleton; it will help hold it together and make your character’s limbs and other body parts move realistically.

You need to be resourceful. Toothpicks work well, as does shaping a skeleton out of aluminium fool. Soft wire or small, strong pipe cleaners are also effective.

Toothpicks can be useful in creating an armature for your character, particularly for arms, legs, and spines.

You can create an armature out of aluminium foil as well. You can then put plasticine on top.

As you create your character, do a ‘standing test’ every few minutes. Start with legs and torso; if your character falls over, change the design. Make the legs thicker or the body thinner.

Don’t make your character top heavy. If all the weight is in the head, body and arms, it will probably topple over.

Listen: Learn how to mould plasticine from the Aardman team in episode three of ACMI’s Wallace & Gromit and friends podcast:  https://www.acmi.net.au/ideas/listen/wallace-gromit-exhibition-podcast/

Making your character expressive

Make interchangeable features for expressions – different sets of eyes, eyebrows, and mouths mean you can add all kinds of facial expressions to your character to show your audience what it is thinking and feeling.

Complete the second page of the create a character worksheet to figure out how your character’s range of emotions will look.

When it comes time to make your character expressive, use the worksheet as a reference.

Next module

Create a cracking contraption

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