Tag: Animation

10 DIY tips for sculpting custom character parts with ModiBot

ModiBot has become a critical starting point for many people's creative projects, including stopmotion animation, scene photography, custom action figures, and both digital and hands-on character design.

More and more, creators want to design and sculpt their own ModiBot-compatible parts. This is the best place to start.

 

1. Match the correct ModiBot kit to your sculpting material

Not all ModiBots work with certain materials. Once you have determined what material you'd like to sculpt with, it's best to choose the ModiBot kit that supports sculpting that those materials. **Its possible that there is no ModiBot kit to support the material you are most familiar with.

CAUTION: Avoid using oil or plastic-based clays with the classic MO kit because these will make the plastic (especially the joints) brittle and prone to breakage.

ModiBot Mo, the original ModiBot kit, is made of PETG plastic like water and soda bottles. Its a tough durable plastic, but it doesn't react well to the chemicals or solvents in some sculpting materials.

Original Mo kit works best with- 2-part epoxy, Masking or washi tape, 3Doodler or other handheld 3d filament extruders.

ModiBot Mo+ (plus) kit is made of durable polypropylene plastic and is more durable when used with some paints and solvents. This toughness, especially when heated, allows Mo+ kits to be used with polyclay and a wider variety of materials.

Mo+ works best with- Polyclay compounds (like Fimo or Sculpey), 2-part epoxy, masking or washi tape, 3Doodler

      2. Assemble and test all your joints before starting

      Ball joints create a lot of pressure on their first assembly. Make sure you assemble the figure and test the movement of all the joints prior to sculpting. This will prevent you from starting a sculpt on a part that is already broken or weak.

      BONUS TIP: If a part cracks or breaks during assembly, no worries, we will replace them. Contact us at mo@modibot.com with a picture of your broken part (so we know exactly which part and color you need) and your shipping address. We'll get a replacement out in the mail to you asap!

         3. Try a test part to get a feel for your materials and process

        ModiBot Mo and Mo+ kits both come with extra ball and socket parts so you can try your hand before committing to a single body part. This is especially smart for working on epoxy and polyclay projects due to the amount of time you will commit to the project. T

        BONUS TIP: These extra ball and socket parts can also be used to create your own designs for heads, hands, feet or even large elements like extra arms or wings!

        4. Consider the size and weight of your pieces

        ModiBot joints are strong and durable when assembled, but they have a limit to their ability. Creating excessively long or heavy parts can reduce the effectiveness of each joint. A general rule of thumb is- the longer the part, the more you should reduce its weight.

        If your are considering large, dynamic parts like long arms or wings, do some testing with materials to make the part weight more manageable. Aluminum foil or wire can be a simple way to create structure or mass without creating a lot of weight.

        BONUS TIP: Large hands/feet or hand-held accessories can put the most stress on your ModiBot joints. Consider fabricating large accessories with balsa wood or styrene 

        5. Work each sculpted part as a separate element

        Most sculpting is worked as a single integral piece. If you are wanting to maintain the movement of the joints, it's best to work each part as a singular element. This approach makes it a bit tougher to see how the entire sculpt will look, but it will prevent you from destroying a bunch of work as you try to unsnap connected parts.

        6. Work in layers

        Developing a process is important, and one of the most important ways to manage the work is to take small steps, this will allow you to make improvements and modifications as you go vs. trying to get each part right on the first try.

        Working slowly allows you to work the entire design more as a whole than by finishing each part and then moving on to the next.

        BONUS TIP: One additional benefit of working in layers is that you can start with a rough sculpt of each part to get a feel for the proportion of the piece. Roughing out your design in bunched up aluminum foil can help you get a feel for each part's size and proportion.

        7. Allow clearance for sockets to flex

        Its best to leave room around the sockets so they can flex as you assemble the joints. When you bury the sockets in dense material it can prevent you from assembling all your work. Its best to leave at least 1-3 mm of socket material showing surrounding each joint.

        BONUS TIP: Be careful of making your sculpt too thin surrounding your sockets. Some materials may not be as flexible as the socket material, causing thin layers of material to crack and flake-off during part assembly.

        8. Do Not bake parts while assembled

         If you are using polyclay and heating your parts, the most important thing to remember is- DO NOT BAKE YOUR PARTS WHILE THEY ARE ASSEMBLED. This WILL stretch your joints and prevent them from maintaining a tight grip. No one wants floppy joints (unless you are trying to make a marionette that is. ;)

        BONUS TIP: If you are sculpting figures WITHOUT joints, ModiBot Mo+ works great as a full-figure sculpting armature. This approach allows you to define a great pose using the Mo figure and then burying Mo inside of a full-body sculpt. If you choose to work this way, it can be best to define your pose and then use some glue to 'lock' the joints in place before adding your sculpting medium.

        9. Always bake parts at the recommended temperature

        The ModiBot Mo+ kit has been tested to around 280 degrees F. When sculpting in polyclay, follow the recommended baking instructions for your material type. Using a heat gun or baking the parts at higher temperatures could damage the look and/or function of the parts. For best results, avoid over-heating the parts. 

        WARNING!: Use extreme caution when using an oven. Handling hot parts can cause burns. Use tongs or an oven mitt when handling hot parts.

        10. Whooops! Salvaging a part

        Accidents happen. Parts may get dropped and crack, joints may get over-stretched or we may just find out that the part we made is too heavy to allow the joints to remain posable. When those accidents happen, you should try to save the work you have done.

        It's possible to cut a ModiBot part out of the original sculpt by carefully using plastic snips. Cutting off one end of the part (socket or ball) can allow you too free the sculpted piece from the ModiBot armature. In some cases you may be able to cut the part in half using a small modeling or coping saw. Its best to use a vise and hand protection when separating a sculpt from its armature.

        Once you have freed the sculpted portion you can make modifications and reattach to another ModiBot part.

        Thanks for tuning-in. Watch this space for more creative project tips and best of luck on your next project!

        New 3d printable, ModiBot 'Character Creator' parts released at Tinkercad.com

        Just in time for the New Year, ModiBot has released a variety of new 3D printable action accessories, storytelling props and rigging fixtures for stopmotion animation.

        Each image has a 3d viewer that will allow you to orbit around the items and zoom in to see the details. Just click the title to 'Copy and Tinker' them or just download the 3d print files from our profile at Tinkercad.com or stop by and check out our Thingiverse designs for even more printable ModiBot files.

        Martial Arsenal- A slew of Japanese, printable weapons for your next training video or streetfight, including new wrapped staff accessory.

         

        Arm/Leg sleeve set- Add some bulk to your 'bots, or just a bit of color with these snap-on arm and leg covers.

         

        Tutu- Yes, a tutu! How many weapons and male-themed accessories have we made? It's time we started to introduce some accessories for animating a wider variety of diverse and spectacular feats of human physicality.

         

        Buccaneer theme accessory set- Shiver me timbers! Need some pirate-themed props and costuming for your Mo. Here's a bit to get you started.

         

        Screw-mount base for stopmotion- Now you can print your own secure surface mount for creating an external animation rig. It has a ball attachment for using extra arm and leg parts for capturing action cycles and acrobatics.

         

        Umbrella kit- Last, but not least, we've had a surprising amount of requests for an umbrella. Maybe we'll get to some amazing 'Singin' in the Rain' shorts? Who knows?

        Simple stopmotion set-up using MoBility torso and two Mo figures

        ModiBot is extremely versatile for a wide variety of diy projects, but did you know it’s also a great way to jump in and try your hand at stopmotion animation? 

        Enter the MoBility Torso Kit- I’ve updated our high-articulation torsos to allow users to plug a ball into the spin of a Mo figure. This torso has 5 additional points of articulation not found on the basic Mo figures. So upgrading your Mo figure is a snap, by just switching out the basic torso with the MoBility upgrade. This torso gives your figure that extra bounce needed for telling a believably expressive story and includes an additional attachment point in the spine which is perfect for adding an external support rig. 

        This additional rig set-up is what give your movements life by providing support when the figure is on a single foot or hanging in the air. The adaptive rig is easy to make using a second Mo figure kit and can be clamped down to a table edge using simple clamps or clips. Additional arm/leg segments can be added or removed to change the length in difficult shots. As an added bonus, try using the bright green figure for green screen effects and to make it easy to remove the rig in post-production. 

        Once you learn the basics of animation, the Mo figure offers an easy jumping-off point for designing and fabricating your own animation character puppets. Light-weight materials work the best, so consider using things like pipe cleaners, masking tape or simple cloth to flesh out your designs. If you have access to a 3d printer, we also offer some simple, printable upgrades to change the look of your figure and add some props for telling your story. The sky’s the limit!

        You can find the Mobility torso kit in white located here in our shop or choose from  variety of colors available on demand at our ModiBot Custom Shop at Shapeways . If you'd like buy the entire kit, you can grab it all in the ModiBot Stopmotion Starter Set.

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        Green screen animation technique- Featured artist: Mauricio Lozano

        Green screen animation technique This clip below from Mauricio Lozano features several higher-level animation techniques. The first is filming against a green screen. This compositing technique allows you to crop out the background and replace the it with a photograph or 3d modeled scene. As you can see from the final composite, this technique is […]

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        Diy figure stand for animation and aerial posing

        Here’s a quick tip for better action and flying poses- Use leftover parts or reassemble another Mo figure to build your own diy figure stand.  

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        Mo as a simple stop motion animation armature

        ModiBot Mo works great as a stop motion animation armature. It’s amazing to see how much time, passion and hard work Mike put into this short. I love that you can’t even see the bots beneath and the hand-made clothing truly brings the animation to life. Great work, Mike. Really inspiring! See more of his […]

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