File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 125


To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 02:09:33 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Easy Realistic Tree


I made a realistic tree for the short puppet film I'm still working on.
The technique is shockingly simple and I thought it might interest some 
people.
It works in small to medium sizes.
Be careful, and don't use the method when working with or around kids, the 
branches end in very fine wire, dangerous for the eys...

I started making it with the classic method of wrapping and branching a big 
braid of wire, finishing by adding  thinner wire for the end of each branch 
(the further you go the finer the branches).

But the size required demanded a much bigger trunk than the amount of wire I 
had could allow , so my colleague Daniel (also my boss on the project) had 
the brilliant idea of using a big cardboard tube as the trunk. He cut the 
tube in three sections at various angles, and we re-glued it to change the 
shape and angles of the trunk. From this I taped the wire on the trunk with 
packaging tape (clear box tape), bulked and re-shaped the branches and roots 
with crumpled aluminum foil (sometimes glued on with hot glue, mostly with 
tape).

Dan also suggested cutting wedges into the carboard tube to start the bigger 
branches and roots more naturally. I added tape on top of the foil,  and 
finished with two layers of brown paper towels The texture is very cool, 
although very simple, as it is all we needed for this project. Another tree 
could be made more detailed, by crumpling the "bark". The glue I used for 
the paper towels was Weldbond, diluted with water. Weldbond is perfect for 
this job, as it dries flexible (and stays that way as long as it doesn't get 
winter cold), so the branches are posable, without cracking!  There is a 
block of wood underneath the tree to allow for 4 screws to attach the tree 
to the sets, from underneath.

The tree was painted with a  wash of black "latex" housepaint with some of 
the same diluted Welbond, and wiped with a rag. A spray bottle of water made 
the whole job much subtler. Darkening the brown bark brought the whole tree 
together, making the black thinner wire look like it belongs on the tree.

The tree is lightweight, very strong, flexible with a nice natural movement 
to the branches.

The tree will be dimly lit, so doesn't require any detail paint job, but it 
already looks really good.
I am applying pressure to the authorities in the hopes that i may get to 
keep it for my studio...

Either way, I know how to make another one.


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