Cry Me a River...of Hair Gel and Epoxy

So I've come to the a point in the story where the Hollow Boy needs to shed a few tears. Water naturally doesn't lend itself to being easily handled or animated convincingly in the stop-motion process. So I had to figure out what type of material or combination of materials would look realistic enough to create the illusion of liquid, be easily animatable and stay consistent throughout the frame by frame animation.

I did a fair amount of research both online, stopmotionanimation.com is an excellent resource, as well as going frame by frame through various stop-motion films to see which techniques they used. I noticed that many of the films tended to use tear shapes that were made from a clear, hardened material. The effect that I specifically had in mind for the Hollow Boy's tears was a combination of utilizing these same solid tear shapes while still maintaining the "wet" look for natural tear tracks and puddles. These were the two materials I ended up using for the creation of that effect:

For the actual tears I used the stuff the on the left. It's a 5 minute epoxy which can be found at most general hardware stores that when mixed and dried will hold it's shape and look very much like liquid. For the tear tracks and puddle effect I use a watered down hair gel. I found this sample pack in my medicine cabinet but any non-colored gel will do, the less viscus it is the better since it will be easier to animate.   

You'll also need some thin wire to prop the tear shapes up once they've dried, (24 gauge), and a piece of wax paper to shape the tear and splash shapes on so that they can be easily removed.

Here's a bunch of different splash shapes I experimented with. Try to keep in mind that these shapes have to work in a sequence so allow that to inform you on what kind of shapes you'll need to make.

Once the shapes are completely dry carefully peel them off and glue a small piece of wire to the back with a hot glue gun.

Here's one of the sequence of shapes I used. It's good to make multiple splash sequences if you plan on having more than one splash, it gives the effect more of a natural and less symmetrical look than if you just kept cycling the same animation. It's also helpful to run a test on the different shapes you've made to see which ones look the most convincing.

For the first part of animation above I basically animated a drop of hair gel on the Hollow Boy's hand with a very thin straw. I just blew the drop further down his hand frame by frame until it reached the bottom where I then used a hardened epoxy tear to drip and fall off of his hand. In the second cut I continued the animation of the falling epoxy tear until it hit the ground where the splash becomes a combination of the replacement epoxy splash shapes and hair gel for the growing puddle. Things that were achieved in post were the small circular drops following the splash and the removal of the wire that supported the falling drops.