Making the Film

Making Tommy

The main puppet of Tommy was constructed throughout 2009.


Tommy started out life as a Professional Armature Kit which I purchased from Animation Supplies (You can buy the kit HERE). I sketched up some ideas and made some measurements to ensure the armature was cut to size and assembled correctly.


The head was carved from blue upholstery foam and then painted with acrylics, his hair was made from some surplus brown velvet and his eyes are acrylic eyes which can also be purchased from Animation Supplies.


After various trials to find the perfect material, Tommy's hands were eventually made from thin foam make-up pads.


Tommy's uniform and cap were made from felt, with a ribbon belt and putties. His gloves were made from a pair of old (washed) socks.


Tommy is animated using a magnetic tie-down system, meaning he has metal feet and plates on the bottom of his boots which are held into place on sets using incredibly strong magnets. 

Constructing the Trench

The trench was initially made by shaping fine chicken wire attached to a wooden frame. The wire was then covered in mud rock (Similar to what you’d get in a plaster cast for a broken limb), followed by plenty of Plaster of Paris.


To get the effect of mud, I combined brown paint, compost and PVA glue and spread it across the dried plaster.


The puddles and wet patches, were achieved by using a bottle of ‘modelling water’ and the snow used in later scenes was standard modelling snow powder.

Making the Headstones

The film ends in the modern day, focusing on a very small Commonwealth War Graves inspired cemetery.


Making the headstones was quite a test for steady hands! Each one measures about 3 inches tall and is made from foam card.


Once cut, the headstones were painted with white acrylic; when they had dried the details were lightly sketched on with pencil and then carefully inked with fine detail. 

The headstones were gently pinned into place in the cemetery, followed by a layer of a thinner mud mix (similar to what I used on the trench). Each headstone had to be held in place for at least 24 hours to allow it to dry and be secure.

Making The Cross of Sacrifice

Any CWGC Cemetery with over 40 graves features a Cross of Sacrifice, which was designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield to represent the faith of the majority. The CWGC has more information on the design and features of their cemeteries HERE.

My model cemetery is much smaller than 40 grave. However, to me, the Cross is quite an integral part of a majority of the cemeteries as you walk around the Battlefields and this is the reason I have added it to my cemetery set.

The cross was cut and shaped from foam packing material, foam board and card. Once I had the basic shape, this model was then covered in plaster and left to harden. The model was then smoothed and the parts assembled and glued into place. The cross was then painted with white acrylic.

The bronze sword was made from finely cut foam board, painted with acrylic and glued to the cross. 

The final detail to be painted was the green residue from the weathering of the bronze on the white of the cross.

Constructing the Cemetery

Tempsford Vale Cemetery is very loosely based on the look of the many Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries around the world from various conflicts.

Initial construction of the cemetery took place in early 2014.

The base of the cemetery is hardboard, covered in a sheet of static flock model grass.

The walls were made from foam card, covered in dolls house brick wall paper and finished with white paint and weathered with watercolour and acrylic paint. The walls were then all attached together to create a horseshoe shape and mounted onto my mud mix in a small trench made around the edge of the flock grass on the hardboard base. The entrance columns were constructed from thin card, coated in brick paper, painted and then mounted in place at either end of the wall.

The gates are a very simplified design of the ones I photographed at Beaumont Hamel British Cemetery in the Somme. I made various attempts to make these gates, failing each time. I then remembered as a child watching my Grandfather making some very intricate dollhouse furniture and how he used to draw out a design onto thin paper then loosely tack the wood to it with some PVA glue. He would then glue it with some strong wood glue at the joints, leave it 24 hours and then gently soak the paper off. I tried this technique and it worked! The gates were then painted and very gently pinned into place on the entrance columns. 

The finishing touches to the cemetery were a small cemetery register that was made from cardboard, painted and mounted on the right entrance column, some small flowers for the graves (poppies and irises) which were made from tissue paper and thin wire and finally some small British Royal Legion Remembrance Crosses, which were made from thin wood and paper. 

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