Friday, 25 April 2014

How to Make Big Puppet Feet

I'd always planned for Atlatl to have elephant feet. This was inspired by the Tromble, one of the creatures from Dougal Dixon's speculative evolution book The New Dinosaurs:

Unfortunately, I'd never made wearable puppet feet before, so I had no idea how to go about it.

Mermaid Theatre to the rescue once again! When I was at Animotion, Production Manager Deb MacLean showed me the dinosaur feet from their show When Dinosaurs Dine By Moonlight, and I used these as the basis for Atlatl's feet.

First I traced my own feet (in sneakers) onto two large blocks of thick foam I'd gotten from my friend Nicole. I stuck a bamboo skewer through the foam at various points in the outline so I could reconstruct the same shape on the bottom.

Then I cut it out.

I traced a line on the inside of the hole to mark where the top of my shoe reached. Then I took the front half of the piece I cut out --

-- and trimmed the bottom of it to match that line. I glued it back into where I'd cut it from, and I now had something that would hold my foot in.

I wasn't sure exactly how big (or precisely what shape) I wanted the foot to be, so I started by drawing the largest oval I could, figuring I could trim it down later. I drew the same oval on the underside, too, and cut off the corners of the block.

Then I cut along the outline of the oval on the top and bottom.

Then I took my scissors and made a zillion tiny little cuts on the sides of the block until it was as smooth and round as I could reasonably get it.

To make the sole, I traced the foot onto a sheet of one-inch foam that my friends Allison and Chris gave me. I cut it out and glued it onto the bottom.

And there it is! I put both feet on and practiced walking around, feeling like I was wearing giant bedroom slippers. (You can see that I've added a cylinder of one-inch foam to the top of the right foot to start building the lower leg; I'm not sure if I'll keep what I've got or rebuild it differently.)

I found that because of their size, the only way for the feet to not trip over each other is for me to take big, galumphing steps. I'll have to decide if that's right for the character, or if I want to make the feet skinnier so they can move more easily past each other.