11SC – Sept 2015 Production

Fairy tales are one of my favorite things, whether Disney bastardizes them or not. True, the Grimm Brothers gave us the source material but in our modern days, Disney has made them memorable and romantic.

This works for me because I can base my characters on Disney’s versions, which are instantly recognizable (in hindsight, I was wrong about this) and don’t require much explanation or fuss.

And for my money, my puppet Robin makes a great dwarf!

Dwarfs in blender

My original concept had the seven dwarfs breaking into Gheppeto’s workshop to steal Pinocchio, for use as a slave-boy in the mines. But Pinocchio is a puppet, so the dwarfs need an alternative power source. Doc is pretty sure plutonium is the answer!


My attempts to build the workshop fell flat. Then I remembered Andrew Price, BlenderGuru, did a tutorial on making a cave. I figured this would be a great setting for the dwarfs – down in the mines with a rail and minecart.

The result is, to me, really beautiful.

Minecart Cave

Minecart cave

Angry Dwarf


Now how to squeeze 7 dwarfs, Pinocchio and Jiminy Crickets into this tight space? Believe me, I tried. I’m settling for only 5 dwarfs, and even this may be too many. We can assume Bashful was too shy to show his face and Sneezy is allergic to work so he’s back at the cottage with Snow White. Cleaning the house, probably.

Transparent Background in Blender

I’ve written about this previously and it’s great to revisit the topic. If your camera is locked down, you should really render your character animation with a transparent background so you can easily layer the single-frame background below the animation.

Mine Shaft in Blender

transparent background in blender


I just started creating shapes, not worrying about an exact replica. Just something familiar.

Pinocchio in blender


This was a little more complex – adding caps, shirts and beards to each.

Dwarfs in blender

While only two characters are speaking, their beards need to move with their mouths. Some “beard bones” were added to the rig in edit mode and each has a “Copy Location” constraint, which makes them move when the jaw bone moves.

Sleepy Dwarf beard armature

The shirts were modeled from the original Robin mesh. There’s a great way of attaching them to the rig (at least this worked for me as long as the newly created shirt already had the vertex groups in it from the original model).

  1. Select shirt
  2. Shift + select Armature (in object mode!)
  3. Control + P – Armature Deform with Empty Groups

From there, the clothing moved perfectly with the armature.


I’m not sure this will actually come to fruition, but he is in the storyboard and in production.


I always start my animation projects with the lip sync and not the posing.  Lots of people think this is backward and I understand their arguments.  However, I want a clean lip-sync and the best way for me to accomplish this is when the character is standing perfectly still and facing forward – not buzzing all over the place.  The lip sync can always be adjusted later, if needed, to fit a particular pose or last-minute idea.

So Sleepy and Doc are my two speaking characters – one seeing Pinocchio for the first time, the other determining how to make it work. Dopey has a scene-stealing performance while Angry and Happy have cameos.

Doc Dopey and Angry

Dwarfs in blender

Sleepy Dwarf and Pinocchio

Dwarfs in blender

My overall composition and framing are in a constant state of flux. The rendered image looks really good so I wonder if my camera angles and/or movement should be more cinematic. Often times, simpler is better so I’m juggling options.


My expectations with the voting are staying fairly low. This concept has a lot going on and potentially some things that are distracting. I will probably get knocked for spending too much time on render/lighting and not enough on the actual animation. But I may gain a point or two for creativity, so who knows. I’m just so happy to have been able to do the work, and bring some of my favorite characters to life in a way I’ve never seen before.

The deadline is September 30th – I will meet it, but it’s going to be tight. If you are currently accepting the 11SecondClub animation challenge, I wish you the very best of luck with your project!