While it needn’t be obvious to the audience, I called the three characters (in order of appearance) the Nurse, the Patient, and the Doctor. (In truth, it’s the Doctor’s hands we see first). Despite by background as an illustrator, I didn’t make any sketches or concept art, but instead tried to let my eyes and hands do the design during construction.
The Nurse’s dress form body was purchased from a dollhouse supply store (they came in sets of two, so I had a spare just in case). Small files were used to rough up the body prior to dry brushing, Using thread to cover the clay that attached her head to her body played out well in the last scene, an unforseen benefit. The thread was rubbed with clay dirt for texture. Her “bracelets” are rubber gaskets from the innermost guts of a DVD player. Her skull is cast from a bird called a bee eater. She was the lightest weight character, having a hollow plastic body and tiny contact points with the ground. Mosts shots in which you can’t see her wheeled base, she’s gaffer-taped to the ground.
The Patient was a Figma figure wrapped in Coban, which was stained with India ink. Her character was meant to be the one that was the most different from the set dressing and the design elements in the other characters. She’s dirtied, but not yet worn by age and duty. The figure was lightly painted with washes and dry brushing, but the effect was so subtle you really don’t see it on camera. Her right arm kept popping out of its shoulder socket, causing some improvisational shooting angles and unexpected picture cuts. Her replacement head is a skull cast from a fruit bat. The neck attachment for the skull was pretty sketchy; I had to shoot some super glue on the seam between the neck and shoulders, and I was surprised how well it cemented the Sculpey clay to the torso. She was held down to surfaces using Blue Tack or, when she sits upright, her feet are gaffer taped to a miniature “apple box” that is also taped to the floor.
The parts of the Doctor seen onscreen are goosenecks from a small clip-on dual LED lamp and a pair of hands from a Body Kun figure, washed and dry brushed. The hands fit over 1/8” aluminum armature wire in the ends of the goosenecks, with Sculpey on the ends. However, I had to use thread to keep the hands from falling off, but that established a consistent visual language with the design of the Nurse’s neck. Out of frame, the Doctor is a mess. His “body” exists just to act as a counterweight and base. A steel L-bracket is the base, with foamcore beneath as a “skid pad.” A galvanized steel pipe cap is the main weight, glued to the L-bracket. The arms are glued into small ceramic spacers we had left over from a construction project. It’s all adhered with hot glue and E5000, and designed to sit below the animation stage.