Dog from Half-Life 2

This is a working prototype for a 3/4 size puppet of Dog from Half-Life 2. Unfortunately most of the base structure of this prototype is now scrapped, as it was never meant to last. When I have space and a couple of months spare I plan on making him again from the ground up as a finished, working theatrical piece. Realistically, this probably won't happen for a few years.

This prototype is mostly made from fibreglassed paper and plastazote foam to ensure a lightweight model. He weighed about 10kg in total.

To ensure that my model was going to be as accurate as possible, I managed to extract the model of Dog from the game itself, and then converted it into a format compatible with Pepakura - a papercrafting program. I then sectioned up the model and started the unfolding process, which took a very long time due to the size of the model that meant I couldn't fully plan before starting the build. This created problems later but this was only a prototype and I had very limited time.

started out by making a maquette of the leg in plastazote foam using Evo-Stik contact adhesive to test the theory.

I used this same technique to make almost the entirety of the lower body - this gave it a flexibility and range of movement that fibreglass doesn't have. It does make it a lot harder to paint, however. I was planning on using latex mixed with acrylic paint as it doesn't crack when flexed. Getting a metallic finish with latex is very tricky though (I have been told), as metallic acrylic paints have particles of metal suspended in them, which which when flexed will create friction and cause the latex to degrade very quickly. Fine for perhaps a day of use but no good if a piece needs to last. An alternative might be to prime it all in Isoflex roofing primer, a fantastic base for acrylic paints.

This is me wearing the pelvis and legs. The pelvis is attached to a belt around my waist and my feet are in an old pair of shoes I stuck inside the feet of Dog. I hardly have to puppeteer when my movements are directly translated like this, though everything has to be exaggerated because Dog would have a much bigger stride than me.

The spinal parts would be attached to the hole you can see on the pelvis and to another hole on the underside of the body, suspended between the two with fabric so that it can move freely.

The neck was cobbled together from some cardboard tubing and thicker plastazote foam and the head was pep'd and fibreglassed like the rest of the body.

Normally projects which use Pepakura are finished with car body filler to round off the sharp edges working with paper leaves but I needed to cut down on weight as much as I could so I manually edited the patterns as I was cutting them out to make them more rounded.

PVC pipes were used for the arm joints and for parts of the right arm. For the real thing I plan to make a more complete skeleton from PVC pipe to give the model more structural integrity - this model couldn't have taken much punishment and wouldn't have lasted more than a few hours of use.

I also used PVC piping to attach the torso to a backpack which I wore. A more substantial harness would need to be made to properly distribute weight for the final piece. This would probably be attached to and include some variation of a climbing harness which the pelvis piece could also clip onto.

The arms were controlled by attaching a pair of crutches to the lower arms. This could be improved upon by making the contact point at the wrists and having the contact point free floating, to give a better range of movement.

The arms were attached to each other through the body cavity using chained cable ties which gave them a great range of movement and could be tightened to be just so. It also made them easily detachable as they could be released very quickly by simply cutting a cable tie. The legs were attached in the same way through the pelvis.

Here is a picture of the upper body in my living room at the time. As you can see, he took up rather a lot of room...

I worked for 7 weeks from dawn to dusk and spent about £20 on this project. I was given the plastazote foam, resin and fibreglass, I scavenged the PVC pipes. The largest expenditure would have been the card for the body and arms. The rest I spent on brushes for the resin, a cheap backpack and the cable ties.

Some more pictures of me in the full puppet:


millie said...

that is a beast! i like it muchly x

Cross Tyreck said...

Huge project!! Cant wait to see the next one.

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