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Creating Cahaya - making a stop-motion puppet

The main character from my upcoming movie 'Not my tomatoes!' is Cahaya, a rebel 16-year-old girl who tries to safe the world from Nisha's fires. Cahaya's appearance was definitely the most difficult appearance to design. In this post, I will explain how I turned her into a stop-motion puppet.

Cahaya puppet - Not my tomatoes! by Claudia Muller. Stop-motion puppet Cahaya
Cahaya stop-motion puppet


The first thing I did was, of course, sketch. My first idea was to create realistic characters and 2D animate the entire movie. Then, I started experimenting with different shapes and used the meaning of different shapes and colour. Purple, for example, has a mysterious and inspirational meaning to it and a triangle which is upside down has something to do with chaos.

Cahaya sketches by Claudia Muller for the movie Not my tomatoes!
Sketches of a 2D Cahaya

Making the puppet

I started with making a 3D design of Cahaya's body/head in Autodesk's Tinkercad. Then I 3D printed it and started to think about the mechanism behind the movements of the limbs. This was a difficult part for me because normally clay and an expensive armature are used to create a stop-motion puppet. This wouldn't work for this character, and besides, I really don't like using clay. I have tried to use clay and iron wire, but it failed miserably. Then, I remembered Tinkercad has pre-designed connectors which can move. I used those to make the limbs, and this worked out just fine. To change her expression, I applied magnets to the inside of her head, and I used small magnets to connect the eyes and mouths, which have magnetic tape on the back, to the puppet. The magnetic tape wasn't strong enough to stick without the small magnets. I used these small magnets, those are really strong and small enough, so you don't notice them when filming the puppet.

Cahaya stop-motion puppet in progress - Not my tomatoes! by Claudia Muller
Cahaya puppet with limbs

Making clothes and hair

Then I had a puppet, but she still didn't have clothes or hair. The clothes I made with paper and tape. The hair was another problem, which I still haven't fixed. Cahaya now has temporary hair, which I made with yarn which I stuck onto cardboard with tape. This doesn't work properly, so I will have to fix that. I already have a solution for that: using grid mesh and somehow connecting the yarn to that. I will edit this post once I have finished that.


I finished the hair, I used a grid mesh and yarn. Now the hair doesn't fall apart, and it is so soft! It took a long time, but it was definitely worth it.


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