Students on the NFTS Model Making for Animation Diploma have been busy learning the craft of puppet making with tuition and support from top sculptor and puppet maker, Joe Holman. Joe works regularly for course partner, animation producers and puppet makers, Mackinnon and Saunders and has worked on puppets for popular TV shows such as Postman Pat and Bob the Builder and feature films such as Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.

Joe has taken time out of his busy schedule and is spending several weeks with the students to help with the course’s ‘Introduction to Puppet Making Module’. During the module, students build a 1:6 scale animatable puppet to their own design. They learn the process of designing for puppet making and work with ball and socket and wire armatures and make costumes and props to go with their puppets.

The ball and socket armatures the students are working with are made by one of our experienced industry contacts, Julian Clark Studios. Students learn how to make adjustments to the armature such as changing the length of the limbs. Plastacine is used to sculpt and mould a maquette around a wire armature and then a ball and socket armature is added into the mould for movement.

The puppet designs the students have chosen are wide ranging – some are inspired by Mad Max and some are more suitable for children! The next plan is for the Model Making students to collaborate with the Directing Animation MA students to do some animation tests with the puppets prior to starting their graduation films. We are hopeful that next year we will be able to do some animation tests prior to starting work on the graduation.

For more information about the Model Making for Animation Diploma, please visit