I talk about some of these things in-depth on my blog, but I wanted to separate out my work on this so interested parties can easily see it gathered together, if they wish. This is some of the pre-production/development work I did on "Grandpa", my most recent short stop-motion work in progress. This required a lot of research on my part, as it was/is the first time I am working with ball-and-socket, silicone-based pro level puppets. A sense of realism is important to the project. If you are interested, the animatic/story reel can be viewed under  "Animatics and Storyboards" in my Portfolio. Also note that the Issuu embeds of certain items are Flash-based, so if you don't see anything in that spot, that's probably why.
This is a collection of visual reference images (photos of elements for shape, size, feel, mood and so on) that I assembled to explore the concept and how to approach it. They were gathered from public sources.
Some research into the props and clothing styles that will be needed later. I am leaning towards a more 'churchlike' bench and a slighly deeper, more traditional coffin design.
One of my first concept drawings of the Boy character. A fundamental idea of how he will look and what he will wear.
Another early concept drawing of the Grandpa character. Fundamentals of appearance and character.
This is the Boy character's head, modeled in Maya. This helps me lock down the style and visualize the character's features three dimensionally before I go into the sculpting phase. He is currently very hairless, as hair is not required here. I plan to give these characters "wigs" of hair later.
The Grandpa character's head, modeled in Maya. He is hairless as well, although the finished product is not going to have much hair, either. Again, this helps my lock down the character design and visualize him from all angles before sculpting.
A simple CG model of the Grandpa character. I wanted to examine proportions and movement.
A basic CG model done in Maya of the coffin to explore the shape and possibly use for build reference (most likely from plywood and other light materials) later.
Since I had them both, I decided to recreate the shot in the animatic with Grandpa lying in the coffin with the CG models to further examine my scales and shot placement.
A lighting/color style frame with a basic Boy character CG model in Maya. This is being explored as a choice for the opening scene. 
Another style frame for lighting/color in Maya of the bench scene.
I have chosen to go with ball-and-socket armatures to have the best possible quality and durability in my characters. However, I do not currently have access to a machine shop, so I had to decide on part kits that I could both afford and that would give me the results I want. I chose these Animation Supplies kits. They come as a little bag of hardware bits, so I still get to do all of the basic machining, cutting, gluing and assembling to my own proportions.

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