Probably the most traditional and best known medium for stop motion animation is Clay animation or claymation.
The good thing about clay animation is that you are only limited by your imagination. Clay is a very versatile medium. It can be moulded and shaped in to anything your imagination can come up with. It is sometimes broken into two different categories. Firstly, armature based models and secondly free form or shapeless or free form models. Armature based models involve some kind of skeletal structure covered with clay. These armatures are usually made of steel or wire. Whereas freeform stop motion animation does not use any internal skeletal structure.
What clay is best or would we recommend? Oil based Clay or Water Based Clay ?
Well any clay will work but some are easier to work with for a number of reasons. However we recommend oil based clay. There are a number of brands available for claymation such as Van Aiken. The other kind is water based clay. Water based clay is clay mixed with water. It is usually inexpensive but must be kept covered or it will dry out. Water based clay is easy to work when it has just the right amount of water, which is easy to manipulate.
Its disadvantages are equal to its advantages; it is often hard to control especially if a project goes into many days, it sags and separates easy, and it can’t be used with plastics, epoxies or polymers.
Oil based clay is clay mixed with oil or combinations of oils. Unlike water based clay it will not dry out when trying to do claymation, but it will oxidize over time and become difficult to work. Some oil based clays like plastina contain sulphur and can’t be used with silicone moulding compounds. Plastina can be sealed with a coating of sealer or shellac but any coating of this type will take away some of the character of the clay. Warming or preheating oil based clay will soften it and make it easy to work.
Some notes on Sculpey and premo.
Sculpey, Super Sculpey (Polymer based), Premo can be baked hard so they are good good for parts that will not need to flex such as torso and mouth / expression pieces that are use as replacement parts.When they are baked they it are no longer effected by heat of light. However Super Sculpey stays more workable until heated than the other two. Note also that Premo is shiny when moulded by hand.
According to Premo’s site and we concur.. “Premo! Sculpey quickly reaches a workable state with minimal conditioning and remains soft and pliable while
offering extra resistance without crumbling. Hint: Conditioning of all polymer clays may be facilitated with the use of a pasta machine. Simply cut the block in half and feed each half through the largest setting. Repeat 10 times more and your clay should be conditioned.
It is available in 32 colors, including a lustrous Gold and Silver, and a series of pearlescent colors. Its artists’ color palette is modeled after oil paint colors and designed to make color mixing a snap. Mix Premo! Sculpey with other polymer clay colors, powders or pigments for interesting colors and textural effects.”
Why not try to make a claymation character after watching this How to make a Claymation Character video.