Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by LEWIMATIONS, on 2006-05-06 12:52:09

Making A Tunnel

Hi!! I'm working on a movie at the moment that involves a tunnel... i need to make a tunnel that is dug out of a celler wall, I only need about 2ft of tunnel sticking out of the wall but i don't know how to make a realistic look soil effect so that it looks like its crudely dug... any ideas would be really really helpful!!

Posted by Milkyway M16, on 2006-05-08 18:22:36

Hey! What I would do is use actual dirt (but remove the worms from it first) and just spray an adhesive on the surface of the tunnel and sprinkle dirt on the inside. Then you could use more adhesive and build up littile mounds and things like that. Another option would be to buy some fake dirt a a local crafts store and use the same tecnique. The last thing that you could do is make it out of clay. You would have to make the basic "rough" shape of the tunnel first. Then you could take some scraping tool (I use the ends of a couple of wires twisted together) and scrape the clay vertically, horizontally, and if you want, even diagonally, until you have a nice dirt effect. Then for an added measure, take a needle and poke small shallow holes in the clay however closely spaced you want them. This creates a nice dirt effect that I was pleased with. These tecniques might take some trial and error to obtain the look that you want, but I think it's worth it. Variations of these methods could also be used. Hope this helped! -Eric

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-05-08 19:49:42

I would first make the shape out of plaster and fibreglass matting (or plaster bandage) over chicken wire, to get an uneven shape. You can add more wet plaster and stipple it with the brush for more texture. Then I would put on a layer of brownish dirt-coloured paint, and sprinkle dirt, coarse sawdust, or vermiculite onto the wet paint and let it dry. Then I'd do some thin washes and dry-brushing in different shades to get a nicer look. Finally I might spray glue it and sprinkle more dirt over the top. The termite mound interior uses vermiculite, which has quite large particles. It needed a coarse over-scale texture since the termites are supposed to be tiny: Another method is to make the tunnel from cardboard, and get some of that gap-filling polyurethane foam in a can to build up some interesting lumpy shapes. Then carve away bits if needed, and paint and add dirt or sawdust as before.

Posted by Strider, on 2006-05-09 00:00:26

Crumbled cork from a corkboard makes great and very lightweight dirt clods that can be glued to your set. Nick, what is vermiculite? Do you know another word for it? ********************* Ok, did a quick Google, and turns out it's a soil conditioner sold in bags for adding to gardens and such.

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-05-09 01:36:59

That's the stuff. Also you may have seen it in old B-grade movies, it floats on water so it's used for quicksand. Real quicksand is much finer and smoother, but vermiculite used to be the standard stuff in the old serials. It's cheap and available. easy to clean up, and low tech - easy for the actor to stand in a water tank with the stuff on top, and slowly bend their knees to simulate sinking down. (Possibly in Krull? Not sure.)

Posted by LEWIMATIONS, on 2006-05-09 03:40:29

Hi!!! thanks to everyone for replying, some really good ideas!! i really like your termite mound Nick!! It looks really nice, so you used vermictulite? did you crumble it up? it worked really well... in the photo theres a little termite pulling a cart over a bridge, how did you make the cart? because the tunnel is going to have a little train of coal trucks!! crumbled corks sounds a good idea, I'll probably just ended up using all your ideas! I'm also biulding a cross section of the tunnel which my models are going to have to stand and walk on would the plaster bandage stand the weight? also I'd have to drill tie down holes... I'll post some pics when its done!!

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-05-09 04:08:11

I use 12mm (1/2") particle board for the floor where the puppets walk. Plaster bandage isn't stong enough for tiedowns on its own. Thicker layers of plaster with fibreglass matting built up to 6mm (1/4") are ok for tiedowns, if you don't want the floor to be flat. Vermiculite comes as a bag of loose stuff, you don't have to crumble it. Crumbed cork bits would look very similar. Stuff like cork, vermiculite, or sawdust, is better than sand because it won't wreck your drill bits if you have to drill tiedown holes after you've put it on. The little ore carts are made of wood and 3mm thick plywood, I think maybe with some thin Balsa wood on the surface. (Balsa is soft, so it can be aged with a wire brush along the grain to make it like old weathered wood.) The axles are 1/4" wooden dowel, the wheels are cut from a bigger diameter dowel.

Posted by LEWIMATIONS, on 2006-05-09 07:12:33

Thanks for the info Nick!! I'd like the floor to be uneven to look like its roughly dug, is the fibreglass matting easy to use? beacause I've heard it's really nasty stuff to work with x( you were saying the vermiculite come as a bag of loose stuff, I'm in England and here it only comes in like 1cm balls, i supose i could crumble it up :-( !! That cart is great!! for the walls in that shot did you use fibreglass matting? It looks great! What are the models made out of, they've got a brilliant shape and texture to them!! These are my two charecters in the movie!! Thanks

Posted by Strider, on 2006-05-09 17:09:59

Wow, your sets (as well as the puppets) look fantastic! Great props/setpieces and nice textures. As for working with fiberglass matting, the reason people usually say fiberglass is so awful to work with is because of the stinky (toxic) resin that's normally used with it. If you don't use the resin but instead use plaster, you do away with that problem, though the matting itself is still scratchy/prickly (maybe that's what you were refering to). Nick has also mentioned using fiberglass [i]cloth[/i] instead of the matting, which I believe is less nasty/scratchy.

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-05-09 20:16:55

I don't have much of a problem handling the matting. It's when you've made something in fibreglass, then have to saw or sand it, the combination of the resin and the glassfibre makes this horrible itchy dust. And the wet resin stinks. You can also use strips of open weave hessian (burlap) fabric to reinforce the plaster, if you don't like the matting. Some hessian/burlap is tightly woven for sandbags, so the sand doesn't leak out, don't use that, the wet plaster needs to penetrate and wet it. If you had a mine, with little cars running on rails, then at least the middle of the tunnel would have a flat floor for the rails. You can add lumps and texture, but a bit of ply or partical board underneath for strength would be fine. Then the rounded sides would curve in so they blend in to the floor. It wouldn't be a wide flat floor with walls at right angles. The termites are foam latex, except their hands which are liquid latex buildup. Eron Sheean sculpted a mean looking soldier termite in plasticine, and made the mould. I forget who cast and painted the 2 soldiers seen here. The worker termites were made the same way. I have done a tunnel in polyester resin and glassfibre, the nesting burrow of the sooty shearwater, for wildlife filming. I got the actual sand from the nesting site, dried it, then painted on a layer of wet resin and spread the sand onto that to coat it. It had to match perfectly, but have concealed windows for lights and cameras, and be weatherproof. No need for that with stopmotion sets usually.

Posted by LEWIMATIONS, on 2006-05-10 04:42:46

Thanks so much for all the really helpful info!! I'm going to start building today so I'll post some pics!! I'll probably try the burlap and plaster method. thanks again for all the info :D

Posted by LEWIMATIONS, on 2006-05-15 08:57:58

I finnally got a picture of my tunnel!! In the end I used papermache cover with brown paint, and it looks great!! I'm going to use fibre-glass matting for the cross section of the tunnel because it needs to hold models and I need to drill tie down holes ect. Thanks!!

Posted by Milkyway M16, on 2006-05-15 20:30:32

That looks great! I'm glad it turned out. I hope you have fun animating it! -Eric