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In Fabrication

By Steve Leeper

3D Replacement Masks . . . and so it begins.

On 07, Mar 2015 | No Comments | In Fabrication | By Steve Leeper

One of the coolest innovations in animated film making  over the last few years is the use of 3D printing to create facial expressions for stop motion puppets.  With the cost of 3D printers and Scanners now in the “affordable” range, it opens up whole new possibilities for giving Br. Thomas a full range of animated expressions.

The following in a handful of images that document the initial casting process I used to get a perfect fit between a base head piece and the facial mask.


In up-coming posts I’ll be documenting the process of 3D Replacement Masks from casting the first mask directly from my original sculpture, to animating expressions in the computer, right through to the final stages of 3D printing and painting.

LAIKA Studio

In 2009 LAIKA Studio, with some help from stop-mo director Henry Selick, was the first to really push this technology in their stunning feature film Coraline (nominated for an Academy that year and should of won by a landslide).



In 2012 they followed up with ParaNorman (Academy nomination #2) adding full color to the printing process.


Last year, in their latest and 3rd offering (also an Academy nominee) Boxtrolls, you can see the technology advancing in leaps and bounds expanding the range of expression even further. A special shout out to my daughter Nikki who spent the summer of 2013 and an intern in LAIKA’s puppet fabrication department.  You can tell from the GIF below she did a wonderful job. 🙂  Actually Nikki’s contribution was tied more directly to Winnie’s costume but it’s not everyday that I get to drop Nikki’s name in my production blog. 🙂


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