Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by AstridAnimatie, on 2010-11-01 12:20:27

How to make ice

Hi all I am figuring out how to create a ice palace. I like the ice to be transparent and in natural shapes. For example the natural effect of a frozen waterfall and ice cave. I make my settings of anything: clay, fabric, foam, paint, and all things that other people would call rubbish. Who could give me some advice? Astrid

Posted by Boy Oyng, on 2010-11-01 18:09:10

I would use a variety of transparent, translucent, and (a few) opaque materials, such as frosted plastic containers, clear acrylic plastic (e.g., plexiglas / perspex), rigid white plastic foam, and clear epoxy resin. I'd probably also create artwork (either in a computer or by hand) to composite into the scenes' backgrounds and foregrounds. And of course, there's always glass (be careful). Here's a link to one brand of epoxy resin: Some of these materials are expensive! Not exactly rubbish, I'm afraid. Hope you'll post pics of your progress. EDIT: Another thought that would be cheap... I wonder if you could make some things out of sugar, melted and/or crystallized. And then you could eat your set... Rock salt, too?

Posted by Isomer, on 2010-11-01 19:55:33

I got one! How about creating the walls out of something rigid and white (maybe translucent like the plastic from a milk container) and then cover it in layers of bunched-up cling food wrap? You could use cellophane tape to adhere it to the surface. The reason I suggest something translucent for the structure beneath it is because I think it would look more like ice if you had a light source behind it. If you can find something to color the light source a very light pale blue, that would help convey COLD. Another thing you could use for the substructure would be styrofoam, if it's thin enough it will allow light through also.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-11-01 20:24:44

All I can come up with is slight variations on what has already been suggested. You could sculpt a shape out of clay, seal it, maybe with a layer of cling wrap over it,then put on several coats of clear resin. I'd use some fibreglass maybe - it would cloud it a bit, but it would still be translucent. Then I'd try to build it up with clear coats. Once it is hardened you could take the clay out. It would have a hollow back. A shape made of crumpled cellophane might also work as a core, and could leave that in. Or aluminium foil, which would reflect light back, then maybe cellophane or cling wrap over that, then several coats of clear resin to make a smooth surface. Or - sculpt the shape, make a silicone mould, then lay up fibreglass and resin in that. Or if it's a small mould, pour in clear casting resin so it's a solid transparent piece. Or - get rods and thick sheets of clear perspex (plexiglass, acrylic sheet). Carve shapes - I've used this for icicles - with bandsaw and belt sander, or just sandpaper of files. Pass a hot flame over the surface to glaze it and take out the sanding marks. Some people have suggested hot glue - all the hot glue I can find is too milky - it goes clear when it heats up, but goes cloudy again as it cools and sets. But apparently there is some that is more clear in the US somewhere. That would be great for drips and runs over the surface. Polystyrene foam is great for ice shapes - easy to carve into icebergs. It's white, not clear, but big ice formations are often like that - snow that has slowly compacted into ice. You can hot-wire it, or carve with sharp knives. I use an old kitchen knife that was heated up, and the blade bent into a curve. It needs to be constantly sharpened on the belt sander or grinding stone. I do rocks with it, but ice is similar only white. (Actually, parts could be sprayed with a hint of blue.) Then, small things like icicles that are more transparent can be stuck on the surface. They can be backlit and give it that icy look.

Posted by AstridAnimatie, on 2010-11-02 04:59:05

Thanks for all the great advice! I am excited to have experiments with the several suggested techniques. I do have a collection of transparent, translucent opaque food wraps like plastic containers, bottles and cups. Normally I glue or tape these together and cover it with clay paint or fabrics. I've got also blue filters for the (back) lightening source. aluminium foil, doesn't that reflect too much? f.e. when moving the DSLR camera? I got one of Nikon and flickers when I use reflecting materials or too bright colors of moving characters. I think most of the materials are available in the Netherlands where I live. I like the idea of sculpting and put on coats of clear resin. Form X has all kinds of resins. Is there a specific clear resin I could use? I found "Wilsor" polyester resin for fibre glass and epoxy resin, less expensive to try (20 euro/1 liter) and available in normal (craft/model) shops and wholesale trades. I did some moulding and casting in the past. I used PU rubber and silicones for puppet hands and feet. It's very expensive and time consuming (depends maybe on the choice of materials) Are there cheaper materials? Does the knife need to be heated to work with polystyrene foam/styrofoam? My styrofoam shapes used to be very crumbling, not that smooth. Therefore I cut shapes out of foam from an old mattress. Unfortunately that's not transparent. I don't have a bandsaw or belt sander. Maybe something at my wishlist. Ofcourse I will put pictures of the progress at the topic. I think it will be a great ice palace in stopmotion!

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-11-02 20:43:34

You can carve polystyrene foam with a knife if you keep it sharp - it does not need to be hot. It actually helps to use coarse sandpaper, that creates many small teeth on the knife so it is more like a saw - but a very fine saw. A normal saw will cut it, but does make lots of crumbs. I make some rocks from styrene foam in this video of building a cave set: The smoothest way to cut the foam is with a hot wire. I think Marc Spess may have a hot wire tool at his Animate Clay site ... just a minute, I will look. Yes - here it is: That will look more like ice, if you cut it with a hot wire tool. I also used some 2-part urethane foam, which makes runs and drips like flowing lava. It is yellow, but it could be painted white with shades of blue, then coated with clear resin. It might make some kinds of ice shapes like a flowing glacier. Polyester resin will eat the polystyrene foam! But epoxy resin is safe to use on it. So if you want to use polystyrene foam and coat it with polyester resin, you need several coats of water-based paint on it first, to protect it. Or a coat of epoxy resin first. Do not use enamel paint (that mixes with turpentine), that will also dissolve it. When I made this set, I used plexiglass for the icicles, and salt for the snow. I found that if I sprayed a little water on the salt it would form a crust. I don't know if it would form a thicker, clear layer with more spraying, but it might be worth experimenting with. Melting sugar might also be worth testing - perhaps you could pour it over the carved shapes?

Posted by Isomer, on 2010-11-02 21:04:54

The Ice Age Glacier I created for the Back To The Future ride was carved out of open cell rigid urethane foam sheets. the sheets of foam were about 4 inches thick but, because it was the open cell stuff, light penetrated through it just fine. We carved as much detail as we could in the foam and then coated it with paraffin wax. We melted the wax in a double-boiler and just painted it on with regular house paint brushes. After that, we carved details into it with regular sculpting tools for cracks and hard edges. To smooth over areas I wanted to appear glossy, I would pass over it with a heat gun to lightly remelt the surface. It was later dusted with baking soda and glass micro-spheres for snow.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-11-03 02:30:17

Parafin wax! Yes! Of course. Rigid urethane foam sheets.... never seen those. Are they white? That glacier looks like - an actual glacier! I've been to a couple, and you've nailed it! Beautiful work!

Posted by Isomer, on 2010-11-03 07:19:56

Thanks! Yes it's white, It's that really rigid foam that can be used for insulation. It's really easy to carve and sand. When you sand it, the flakes that fall off are great for making fake snow with. this stuff... EDIT - HA! I misspelled 'structure' in that photo. It's early in the morning here, eyes are still blurry, sorry. :P