Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by Graeme, on 2008-03-29 04:15:18

Heavenly clouds

Hi All, I want to put some 'real' clouds into a scene which will be a digital painting of a scene of some gates in the sky. I was thinking of using cotton wool against a green screen then layering it. Has anyone got any better ideas for a material ? Thanks Graeme

Posted by Strider, on 2008-03-29 07:44:56

Polyester fiberfill might work better. Cotton wool tends to be very tightly compacted, and look pretty solid and heavy for clouds, but fiberfill looks a bit fluffier.

Posted by Graeme, on 2008-03-29 08:48:42

Thanks Mike, I'll try that material out. Graeme

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-03-29 19:32:06

I just had to make a bunch of cotton wool clouds, and they turned out pretty good. I didn't shoot greenscreen, I used a blue sky coloured backdrop so traces of blue in the cloud will look all right. I hung the cotton on a bit of coathanger wire, so the clouds were on their side, and lit from the side. Then I turned the images 90 degrees, so they became horizontal clouds with the light from above. 2 samples:

Posted by Strider, on 2008-03-30 00:55:01

Wow.... well, you probably couldn't do THAT with fiberfill!!! Cotton can definitely be 'sculpted' better!

Posted by Graeme, on 2008-03-30 03:24:30

Nick that looks really impressive, and what was I thinking about with green screen (I use green most of the time with video) it has to be blue to get the correct lighting effect. Now you have some prefabricated clouds for when you want them. Graeme :-)

Posted by Isomer, on 2008-03-30 09:51:36

WOW! Those are the BEST hand made clouds I ever did see! I see movement in those things, Please tell me that you copied them from photos and didn't just make them up from memory. Clouds are one of those images that no matter how much time I spend studying them, I just can't make them look real in a painting or sculpture without reference material. Envy, envy and more envy. I'm AMAZED!

Posted by Graeme, on 2008-03-30 13:30:30

Also sculpting faces in clouds would be interesting....... G:-)

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-03-31 04:53:57

I didn't use reference material. But I've painted that kind of fluffy cloud on sky backcloths before. I vaguely remember seeing pics of much grander cloudscapes done for feature films using cotton - but these were for the little kids section of the ABC TV website where everything is bright and happy.

Posted by McTodd, on 2008-04-30 02:09:58

This is probably far too late for the original poster, but it might be useful for future reference. Terry Gilliam's films 'Brazil' and 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' used cotton wool clouds and painted backgrounds for large-scale sequences. According to Cinefex No.38 (from which I pinched the attached scans), large frameworks covered with mesh were used, which then had the cotton wool applied.

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-04-30 05:06:04

Thanks for those pics! I knew I had seen something like that done with cotton clouds. I half remembered a view from high up, like from an airplane, and I think that shot from Brasil must be it.

Posted by McTodd, on 2008-04-30 13:29:50

[div class="dcquote"]...I half remembered a view from high up, like from an airplane, and I think that shot from Brasil must be it. [/div] That will have been during Sam's Dream, which (IIRC) had lots of dramatic swooping shots from all sorts of angles. BTW, nice clouds, Nick, in your earlier post. Below is another method (using 'fibrecill', whatever that is, an internet search reveals nothing - probably like the stuff they use in duvets) from the book 'Special Effects: The History & Technique' by Richard Rickitt - I've included the caption, which explains all...

Posted by Graeme, on 2008-04-30 14:22:27

Hi Guys thanks for all that info. Heres where I have got to so far. I used nicks technique, The cotton wall was pleated and tightly compressed and was a pain to mould correctly ( I need to get some better stuff so I can redo the shot) so for the moment I have comped it in a Photoshop matte I did previously by cloning my physical cottonwool shot in a layer over the top. This is at the end of my short so I have a bit more time to mess around. Thanks again for all the info, I have just dug out my copy of Brazil and will be watching that later, must be at least 4 years since I last saw it thanks for the mention :) G

Posted by Isomer, on 2008-04-30 14:40:42

The links you left didn't work, the message I got when I clicked on them said that the files were not available and may have been removed. Even though I've posted many pictures on this site, I always check them myself after I post them (links too) just to make sure I didn't screw it up. Please try posting the pics again, I'd like to see how it's going. Seeing how great the cotton and wool clouds look, makes me think I'll never paint a sky for a background again! ************EDIT************** Yay! you got it fixed before I even finished writing this post. Thanks.

Posted by Graeme, on 2008-05-01 02:11:22

yes Ron I had some problems uploading and I had to delelete them, also I posted one as a text file so I was messing around for about 15 mins. As you can see from the photo of the cotton wool the lighting needs to be spot on (not the case in this one). my local chemist only had this pleated stuff which has ridges in it the idea being that you have the 'convienience' of only pulling of a set amount so its not ideal. I need to get some different stuff.

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-05-01 02:41:39

"Fibrecill" might just be a typo for Fibrefill (or Fiberfill): I imagine it would work perfectly well. I'm amazed at the scale of the clouds on the full-size set. Mine were only about 18" long. The pleating sounds like a pain. Don't they know it's for making clouds? The cotton I got was very compressed, and expands enormously. I'm still using a pack I got at the chemist 10 years ago. It isn't pleated.

Posted by McTodd, on 2008-05-16 16:43:09

[div class="dcquote"]"Fibrecill" might just be a typo for Fibrefill (or Fiberfill): imagine it would work perfectly well.[/div] Ah, that makes sense, thanks! And now, with my customarily impeccable timing, some more clouds... A mad chap called WrongBoy (aka Will Bishop-Stephens), makes extraordinary sculptures, with lots of billowing, cottony clouds! Of particular note in this regard are the sculptures 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' and, er, 'Clouds'... He is also, by the by, a mad animator... ;-)

Posted by Strider, on 2008-05-16 23:04:20

Wow, that's some wildly inventive stuff!!!