3 Tips for Beginning Puppeteers (and a Reminder for the Rest of Us)

In this post, I want to share three important fundamentals that if done properly will help your puppet look more lifelike.

  1. When people talk, they drop their lower jaw, so your puppet needs to do the same. To do that, you need to drop your thumb when talking with the puppet. The normal tendency is to raise your fingers because that’s a lot easier, so you have to train yourself to drop the lower jaw. Try working a puppet in front of a mirror and pay close attention to the mouth. Practice dropping the lower jaw even if it means speaking slower than normal. Make note of how it feels and transfer that into the stage. The good news is that once you’ve learned to drop the lower jaw and do it enough, it becomes a habit.
  2. Use proper lip synchronization. Have you ever watched a movie or TV show where the words and mouth movement don’t line up? It is very distracting isn’t it? The same is true for puppets. You should open and close the mouth for each syllable. Again, practicing in front of a mirror is a big help in learning proper lip sync.
  3. As people talk together, they tend to move a bit. Sometimes it’s shuffling their feet back and forth, using arm or hand gestures, or moving slightly. If you stay in one position for a while, it becomes uncomfortable and causes you to move a bit. Carry that over to your puppet; it shouldn’t stand still like a stone statue but should have some slight movements. They need to be slight or they can become a distraction.

There you have it, three quick fundamentals that are important if you want your puppet to appear lifelike.

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