I don't believe this is much different than any other puppeteer. To a certain extent I think we all build on what we know in our own way. In short, what I hope to demonstrate by this exercise is not how to build puppets, but how I built one particular puppet. This is intended as a demonstration rather than a tutorial. for all I know there are way better methods than mine. So far this is the best I've come up with.
In this demo I am building an old devil puppet for a video project I have in mind. The basic design will be a hand-and-rod puppet, similar in operation to "The Muppets", but hopefully quite different in overall effect. I know basically what I want, but I don't ordinarily work from a sketch so the process stays fresh and I allow myself to be open to discoveries. To make this post, each time I added something new, I would stop and photograph what I had just done. I edited out some of the smaller steps for brevity's sake. I will describe my methods and thought process at each photo. Hopefully the cumulative effect will be a relatively step-by-step document of the creation of this piece.
-Wood, leather and fabric to make the mouth part
-A roll of 1" thick medium-firm compression poly-foam. (This is slightly denser than I ordinarily use. I thought I'd try a different compression. It woks fine.)
-Pair of very sharp scissors
-Hot glue gun with high quality hot glue
I have recently become extremely choosy about the blend of hot glue stick that I use. Good hot glue makes a world of difference! You spend a lot less time clamping and swearing. It is more expensive to buy the really good stuff but you use less of it. I order mine online. The stuff you find at the craft stores is practically useless.
I took a small sheet of foam and glued it to the curved edge of the lower "jaw" I want this character to have a pointy chin with a big beard, so I left it bigger than I ordinarily would.
I add the cheekbones at this stage. This establishes the eye sockets. The basic planes of the face have been set at this point.
I like to have a "test eye" on hand throughout the process. It gives me a better notion of the final appearance and lets me know if my focus is where I want it. Some of you might recognize this as the heron puppet's original eye. If I don't have a spare resin cast eye around, sometimes I'll draw a pupil on a ping pong ball.
I know immediately that the ears are longer than I want, but I wait until I can see them in relation to the other features
As I want an old devil, I decided that I wanted long, twisty horns like an old goat's ("Old Goat" by the way is a really fun image search!). To get the twist I wanted out of sheet foam, I had to be inventive.
Stay tuned for more!