Saturday, March 1, 2014

Shadow Puppet Tutorial #3: Cutting out the Jacob puppet

simple Jacob puppet, non-moving arm

This tutorial will show you how to make an expressive moving-arm shadow puppet and provide a free template for making the puppet.

For this tutorial, we will make Jacob, a Bible story character.

I edited The Story of Jacob from Genesis into a shadow puppet script, you can access the script here.

For performing the show, you will eventually want to make 2 Jacobs, one facing to the right and the other facing to the left.  You can see in the script which way he needs to face for each scene.

To cut out the puppet, you can access the printable template here.

Simple puppet:  If you want to make a simple puppet with no moving parts, cut out the puppet body on the solid lines, including his hand and wrist all as one piece. You won't need to cut out the other 2 arm pieces. I use scissors on the easy parts and finish the tricky parts with an exacto blade. See my previous post for pictures of the cutting process.

Moving-arm puppet: If you want to make a moving-arm puppet, you will need 2 small brads(preferably in a dark color) from a craft supply store. Cut out the puppet body with no wrists or hands (follow the dotted line), and cut out the 2 extra arm pieces separately. Put the 2 arm pieces together at the elbow joint. See dotted lines on template.
Elbow joint: Pierce through the upper and lower arm pieces and attach the brad. Don't pierce the body with this brad!!! Make sure the elbow bends freely.
Shoulder joint: Pierce the upper arm and body pieces with the brad; attach the upper arm to the body as shown.
The smooth heads of both brads should slide on the theatre screen (facing the audience).

Either way, your finished puppet will have just 1 hand. I don't recommend trying to give him 2 hands, it  makes the puppet too complicated.

Jacob template with optional moving arm

After you are finished cutting your puppet, check the script to see which way it needs to face. You will attach drinking straws to the puppeteer side of the puppet.  Before attaching the straws, it's a good idea to protect the cardstock. You can either laminate the whole puppet,  or just put a piece of shipping tape on the puppeteer side to protect the cardstock from repeated taping and untaping. (I don't permanently attach the straws; I tape them on just for the show and then remove them again when I put the puppets away. ) After protecting the card stock, tape on the straws for your show.  See my Puppet Theatre Tutorial for pictures of this.

 I hope you have fun with this! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Shadow Puppet Tutorial #2: How to make Shadow Puppets from cardstock

One of my Bible character shadow puppets
Here's a tutorial on how to transfer the design and cut your own shadow puppets from black card stock. I have been making shadow puppet shows since 2006. These puppets will fit my table top theatre, the link to the Shadow Puppet Theatre tutorial is here.

What you will need:

-Black card stock or poster board ( I'm using Recollections 65 lb black card stock from Michael's)
-White transfer paper (carbon paper)
-Sharp scissors
-Xacto knife
-cutting mat 'self healing'
-template or drawing

cardstock-- this package is 25 sheets of just black. I also use lightweight poster board for very large puppets.

 Transfer paper: (white carbon paper) you can't beat this stuff. I bought this little packet for under $2 about 10 years ago and hundreds of puppets later, I'm still using the original sheets. It also comes in black for your other projects.
Notice this paper has 2 sides, the whiter side is where the carbon is.

For the cutting: Oops!! I forgot to put my sharp scissors in this picture! I will show them to you later. For shadow puppets, I do most of the long cuts with scissors, and switch to the Xacto knife as needed.

People needing magnifying glasses: you know who you are.  I'm right there with you.

Okay, here we go!

1. Lay a piece of transfer paper over your black card stock. Make sure the whiter side is DOWN, touching the card stock.  Lay your template on top of the transfer paper. Make sure the entire image fits onto the transfer paper and card stock.

Making sure the puppet's feet will fit on there!

2. Trace over all the template lines with the pencil.

3. The image will be a white line on the black card stock.

4. Time to cut! Start with scissors. Take your time with the hands; they are so important. If you are doing moving-arm puppets, the emotions and actions are shown with puppet hands, so get them right. I usually cut the hands into 'mittens' first. Then go in and trim the fingers with either scissors or blade. You will feel like you are giving a puppet manicure!
first cut of a moving-arm puppet's forearm
cut into a 'mitten', ready to cut out the fingers