If you’re looking for a custom puppet built to your specification, Picture to Puppet can help. We also produce bulk orders of up to 50 puppets. All of our bespoke puppets are hand made in our Edinburgh studio to your exact specification. Our unique custom puppets can be based on picture, photo or description. We create likenesses of people or animals from photographs, build character puppets based on illustrations and design puppets to spec.
Ours is a highly personal bespoke service, and we can make your puppet to your exact specification. We offer a huge range of fabrics and unlimited sizes and styles to suit your needs. We’re highly skilled in capturing illustrative style and personal charisma 3D form.
We specialise in hand, rod and glove puppets, but work on many other types of puppet from time to time.
The price of our custom puppets varies according to the complexity of your design, but guideline prices are detailed below. Get in touch via our contact form, or email email@example.com for an exact quote.
Custom Hand Puppets
Full body puppet/prototype – From £260
Half body Hand Puppet – From £240
Ask about reduced prices for multiples of the same design
Transform a photo of someone into a lookalike puppet.
Our famous likeness puppets can be seen on stage and screen all over the world!
Optional extras include blinking eyes, moving eyebrows and wiggling ears!
- Available as hand puppet (from £295)
- Or a glove puppet (from £165)
Custom Glove Puppets
- are flatter than hand puppets
- have movable heads and legs
- are a maximum of 45cm tall.
- Designing and making a single puppet/prototype – from £105
- For a quantity of 10 – 100 – From £15 apiece
Optional Extras (hand puppets only):
Manual (lever operated) - £120 Animatronic - £215
Manual (lever operated) - £50 Animatronic - £145
£25 per hand
£35 per sleeve
Manual - £60 Animatronic - £155
Props for our Custom Puppets
We often make and source props for puppets as well as the puppets themselves. These may include glasses, swords, sheilds, wheelchairs, hockey sticks, footballs, the list is endless. We use a variety of materials from plastics to woods. Get in touch if you’re in need of a custom puppet prop!
Other Types Of Bespoke Puppets And Toys
If you can dream it, we can make it. We get asked to make marionettes, mascot costumes, jack in the boxes, finger puppets…
Timescale For Custom Puppets
Our standard lead time for custom builds is about 4-6 weeks, we also offer a 1-2 week speed build option which is 20% of your total order cost.
How To Order
How Our Custom Puppets Are Made
All of our bespoke puppets are handmade in our Edinburgh Studio by our small team of designer makers. Here is a bit about the process.
We begin by chatting with each customer about their requirements. The more information you’re able to give us, the closer we’ll be able to match your ideal puppet.
The next step is drawing the character in question out full size on a big piece of paper. We then cut a pattern out of paper before transferring it onto foam or fabric. For each of our bespoke puppets, we order fabrics in especially and often dye, print or embroider them for a close match. We often order a number of swatches in first to make sure we’ve got the best possible fabric for your custom puppet. Let us know if you’ve got a particular preference regarding fabrics or textures.
Our hand puppets often have foam head structures that we carve and sculpt to resemble your character with knives, glue and scissors. No two skulls are quite the same, each one is unique. We make fabric skins to go around them and alter them to fit the skull exactly. Some puppets work better without a foam structure and can be made instead with fabric and stuffed. Once we’ve got the puppet built, we hold it against the drawing and make any alterations until the size is just right.
The facial features for custom muppets can be either stitched or 3D plastic. Our stitched eyes can be very detailed and are appliques or embroidered on. Our hand painted plastic eyes can produce a humerous effect and we often use these for cartoon characters with round eyes. We paint them from inside and embed them into sockets carved into the skull. This is where the puppet starts to take on a character of its own! It’s amazing how tiny alterations to the positioning of an eye or an eyebrow can totally change the puppet’s personality from warm to cold or scary to funny. It’s taken years of practice to learn to capture personalities like this, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
Our comfortable and durable moving mouth mechanism is something we have perfected over many years. We make each mouth to size for our custom hand puppets. The mouths are reinforced with hard plastic and fitted into the head. We line it with a soft fabric and tape it to give maximum comfort and leverage to the user.
At this point, we fit any facial mechanisms. Our hand puppets have a movable mouth by default. In addition, we offer blinking eyes, movable eyebrows, moving ears and moving eyeballs. These are typically manual mechanisms made using wire, rods, levers and balls. We make them ourselves, and each one is individually made to fit the puppet. Often the skull needs to be reinforced to support the weight of the mechanism. Let us know before placing your order what facial mechanisms you would like.
Opening and Positioning
There are a number of places the opening for your hand can be located in your hand puppet. By default we would put it either at the back of the neck or at the lower back. Let us know if you have a preference – we’re always happy to accommodate. Where the opening should be ideally placed depends on how you would like to use the puppet.
The clothing for our puppets we often make ourselves, or sometimes we source and alter children’s clothes to fit. We’re all trained as dressmakers and costumiers and can make anything from miniature regency ballgowns to puppet spacesuits – just ask!
Hair for Puppets
We make hair in a variety of ways, depending on the style required. For short hair, we often use fur fabric of various lengths. For long hair, we either use synthetic wigs or make wool wigs. We spend a lot of time styling each puppet’s hair to get it as close as possible to the image. We also offer removable and interchangeable wigs, which can be held on with velcro.
Specific markings or tattoos we do by hand using a wide range of print and dying techniques.
We make props for our bespoke puppets from mouldable plastics and wood, before varnishing and painting them. We also source ready made props in many cases. Common requests include swords, shields, water pistols wheelchairs, sunglasses, bags, you name it, we do it. These are normally visual aids and not functional unless otherwise specified.
Finally we put all this together and put our finished custom puppet to the test! We photograph them and post them off to their new homes (which is often a bit of a wrench)! We often get attached to our creations, so we love it when customers keep in touch and let us know what the puppets are up to, and particularly to see pictures and videos of the puppets doing their jobs!