Inspired by the story ‘The Distance of the Moon’ by Italo Calvino I have decided to narrate the story through stop motion animation. I also aim to work on most elements by myself and use this project as a reason to learn and adapt my skills.


Within the texture development part of this project, my main focus was on making a suitable texture for the moon part of the set. Alongside this, I ran my character development project too as an extension of my written dissertation. Due to the time limitations, I set to picking out only one character from the story and bringing their soul to life from my point of view.


I love spending time making physical things. Whittling, sculpting, bookbinding, ring making and the list can go on. This is a skill I want to carry forward with this project hence I decided to make the set myself. It just felt obvious that the moon surface was to be made out of wood, it's sturdy and with enough practice, you can make the material look organic. Though I have picked up lots of knowledge with this medium, it didn’t feel right to go into the project choosing just anything as suitable. Therefore I started by conducted research and experiments to move me one step closer to having a lovely little set to animate on.

Prewarning, this is going to be a long project that just allows me the freedom to make at my pace as I go along with my creative life.


As with all projects I began with research (if my italic subtitle didn’t make that obvious). Walking around Liverpool taking photos of anything classed as wood, taking markings and collecting scraps of veneer. It’s so interesting that in a small way you won’t ever see the same pattern of wood twice. Likewise with our fingerprints! Burlwood caught my eye at this point after finding a beautiful golden ash veneer. The faults, inconsistency and swirls felt similar to how the cheesy moon in the story is described. I felt at this point it was important to follow that route and maybe try to recreate my swirls. I was still open to different colours for the moon at this point, hence went further to experiment with different coloured wood. A cheesy moon doesn’t have to be yellow, it could be fancy like blue cheese or simply a little mouldy...EW.


It finally came round to the fun stuff, making! I drew up a quick storyboard interpreting one small scene and went forward to illustrating some possible textures. Then came the graft, as mentioned previously I could not decide on colours yet so got a range of different species of wood and glued them together. This included some oak, ash, padauk, Zebrano, maple, wenge and more. It was a task to carve into certain woods whereas some just carved like butter. I used the Dremel tool, a range of chisels and finished up with good old hand sanding up to about 1000grit. Then applied any old finish I had lying around to the piece. Upon reflection, more research and experiment must be done with finishes to bring out the depth of the wood. All a massive learning curve for me nevertheless. I tried out different patterns from the sketches I made up and personally felt the textures stood out better on the lighter species of wood like ash and maple.


Looking at my tests I now know I want to achieve a swirly/wavy pattern as I was most fond of my first two wood pannels. Combining them will create a lovely texture to compliment the wooziness of the story. After finishing this development project I want to move forward with making larger wood pieces with my ideal textures/colours. I have also since been researching CNC tools which could help guide along the carving process of this project. Though, nothing beats the texture of hand carving so I think I’ll stick to having a balance of both.


It is such a fun task to take a character and make it my own. This is just the start of one massive journey into character design and eventually, I want movable puppets which can interact on a set. Before that though, I needed to establish a certain base aesthetic to go forward. Naturally, I chose the character known only as of the deaf cousin. He has this underdog, silent cool guy type of persona but is still known as the deaf cousin only. So I felt it was fitting to give him an edgy tough-guy look.

Just to get a better understanding of the deaf community I spoke to people with better knowledge and researched online too. It’s an important value to me as an Asian woman to try and make characters that don’t represent just one look so this character may end up evolving even more with feedback.

Breaking it down

The main point to make is that my characters have hollowed out eyes with no eyeballs but I thought considering he has a loss of hearing he can then evolve the ability to have better vision as a stronger sense. Mimicking the way a family member I know can read lips better since he struggles to hear now. As you look closer to the deaf cousin you can see one ear is smaller than the other indicating he is deaf. This is also inspired by people in my community I met.

Away from the obvious, it was time to embrace his rough look. The characters in the story are all sailors who harvest cheese from the moon therefore the overalls, which were a last-minute choice, just felt so fitting. Something he can easily move about in and store cheese in - I may or may not know that cheese storing fact from personal experience...

As I ran this project alongside the texture development I thought it would be a good theme to keep with the look of wood as it goes well with skin tones too. There is a range of wood tones and they are all beautiful in their way!

My next steps are to develop a puppet which can be moved around. I have already started to familiarise myself with the materials needed.