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feet slip while walking  (Read 4002 times)
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« on: August 14, 2018, 03:35:46 pm »

Hey everybody,
I'm new on this forum and I'm a beginner in the world of puppetry.
I'm finishing my first marionette but it's not walking well...
Maybe it's me that I don't know how to move it well. But more probably it's a problem of construction...

When I raise a foot, it don't go very high, and the other one slips on the floor, so it'd difficult to walk realisticly.

Maybe the upper leg is too short ?
Maybe the feet are to light ? (they are in foam rubber with wooden soles)
If I glue some air chamber under the foot ?

Somebody can explain me the running through thread which goes from the top o the toe to the knee ? would it help ?

Thank you very much !!
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2018, 06:44:55 am »

The shortness of the upper leg could be some of the issue, but yes it sounds like maybe the feet are two light. I always added lead weights to the heel of my marionettes. I would buy fishing weights and then pound the flat and glue them into the heal.  One reason to glue them in the heal was to make sure the foot would hang level.  Do the toes drop when the marionette is suspended off the ground? The ideal is if it hangs level. 

The run through might help you some since the legs are short. The string is tied off to the top of the foot then runs through the front of the lower leg and out the back just below knee. You then to back in above the knee and out. Now when the string is pulled it helps not only to keep the tip of the foot up but assist in bending the knees some.

Another thing that can effect the bend of the knee is the costuming. I made the mistake of using jeans material for a puppet once.  I should have found a lighter weight material that looked like jeans because it was too stiff and restricted the leg movement. Never bother to change it with the puppet though since the stiff legs kind of became part of it's character. Smiley

Great looking puppet and welcome to Puppets and Stuff.
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2018, 09:54:44 pm »

What would help with us giving you more accurate advice is if you could maybe do a video of your walk so we can see exactly where the foot is sliding and so forth.

I agree with Shawn though, it is a great looking puppet.
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2018, 11:13:27 am »

Thank you for your answers !
So I will definitly put some weights on the heals... (and I will remove the weight that I put on the toe)

Yes the toes drop when the marionette is suspended off the ground. This is allowed by a cut in the back of the shoes.

Maybe should I restrict this movement ??

The sole in rubber are a good idea ?

I tried the run through string (with other legs just for the test) but I don't like the way the legs are mooving. It's weird how the knee blend exageratly and the toe go to high.

And when it goes down very close to the initial position, so the puppet is not mooving foreward... And it don't resolve the problem of sliping.

For the costume I used velvet... so yes, maybe it's too stiff...

And thank you for the compliment about my puppet !! It encourage me to carry on...

I will make a video as soon as I can
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2018, 06:38:05 am »

No you do not want to restrict the movement of the ankle.  Remember a human can flex their foot and point the toe. Smiley

Rubber soles are fine. No need to change that. I've used rubber, leather, felt and other materials it is purely an esthetic and convenience choice.  Should not effect the movement that much. Now it is true that rubber may grip a bit more then say a felt sole, and that may to some extent effect things. I might use a felt sole on a dancer that I wanted to be able to make the foot slide a bit more.

Getting the weight and balance is the most important thing. I put weight in the hips of my marionettes so that they are centered and grounded. In the heels, some times at the elbows are other locations weight can be added.  It really depends on the individual puppet.

Stringing a marionette is an art.  It takes trial and error. Your run through is working how it is intended but perhaps the placement is off just a bit.  Lowering where the string enters the front of the lower leg could change the whole action when the string is pulled. The length of the string can also make a difference on some movements and how taught the string is when hanging in a neutral position.  Now it looks like you are working in wood so changing the location of a run through is going to be a bit hard. I work in papermache' and even stuffed cloth tubes. This makes it easier for me to experiment and change location of my strings. This also effects my run through since there is different tensions on the string depending on a where I run it through.  If my upper leg is a fiber filled cloth tube and my lower leg a hollow paper tube then the string is going to have more resistance where it runs through the upper leg. This can actually lessen the amount the toe would rise when I pull the string.

Control types can affect the movement of your puppet also.  I prefer an airplane control because I think I can get more movement out of them compared to a fish or upright controller.  Others prefer having the preciseness of movement that a vertical control can offer.

The fact that your upper leg looks to be a bit short compared to the lower is affecting why your foot does not move forward to much when the leg is raised.  Again take a human example.  I am a pretty tall person 6' 3"  my stride is much longer that that of some of my friends. So quite often I have to shorten my stride when walking with them. Now am I better because my stride is longer... no.  Perhaps for this marionette you should embrace their difference and make it part of their character. Smiley

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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2018, 07:16:33 am »

ok !! thank you for these precious information and tips !!
I will try few modifications and see what works best...
(PS : I use an airplane controler)
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2018, 04:14:25 am »

ok ! here is the video !!
what do you think about it ? I'll glad every kind of tip to improve the walk...
thank you !!
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 06:19:49 am »

Not too bad. I think that with practice it'll get better. Couple things. Still needs more weight in heel I think. Do you have a butt string on the puppet? Notice how the puppet's body swings left to right when he walks? Both elbow and butt strings can help that. Something to remember also is that since your puppet is shorter... all marionettes are... they can't cover as much ground as a human. Don't expect him to be able to keep up with your stride. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2018, 07:05:32 am »

Ok, so I know what I have to do now : practice practice and practice...

I have a butt string. I's a single string attached from the butt to the back of the controler, and it's loose. I don't understand how it can help...
The marionete have also 2 elbow strings that go to both tops of a bar that is attached to the controler with a string from the center of the bar. How it affect the body swing when walking ?

To walk the marionette, I use the detachable leg bar, while I move the main controler up and down at each step. Is it correct ?

Do you notice how the hear sometimes swings back and forth ? I don't like very much. I mean, it's too much ! How can I reduce that ?
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2018, 06:29:26 am »

You might try adjusting your butt string again so there is a bit more tension. For elbow strings I normally ran them up to a short bar about the size of the one you are using, but instead of being a drop bar I attached it vertically so on a pivot to the main control and then the elbow strings attach to the end hanging down at the same place. You are trying to create a three point tension or triangle. I've heard it explained in the past that if you took a ball and suspended it by a single string you would not have control and it would just spin on the string, but if you attached two strings to each side and one to the back you would then have more control over it. None of this is really an exact science and take some experimentation. At least for me it always was. I know some builders have exact measurements and plans they follow but I never worked that way. You well start to figure out certain things that help your builds as you continue working though.

You are right it takes practice there is no doubt about it. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2018, 08:32:54 am »

Do you mean something like this ?? (3 différent methods...)

for the first and second methods, when I lean the head in the side, the shoulder lean too...
the second one allows me to lean the head down

The third one don't have the horizontal bar so I can move the head without moving the shoulder...
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2018, 06:04:11 am »

I attach the shoulders to a bar like you have your elbows attached now. Suspended below the main control by a cord. The head is attached to a bar that is solid to the main control. That way the control can tilt left and right to make the head move without affecting the shoulders.  Then my elbows are right behind that on a pivot like you show in the third image. So order of controls for each are head, shoulders then elbows.
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