Housewife Model Skinned
I have skinned the Housewife model almost completely now. There are some minor adjustments to make, but the vast majority is out of the way now. To skin the dress, I've created a series of joints that work together to fan out and spread the dress, giving me considerably more flexibility around how it can animated, as well as eliminating clipping issues with the legs. Its not perfect, but for the moment, it'll serve it's purpose.
As for the Puppet model, I've already skinned the rigid components of the character, I.e, the forearms, calves, head, jaw and hair. This was literally a case of just binding the components directly to their allocated joints and leaving it at that. As they do not bend or stretch, there was no need to modify the skin weights in any way, an absolutely huge time saver. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to export the skin weights of the dress from the Housewife model and apply them to the Puppet, completing the skinning process in a matter of minutes, although we'll see how that goes.
If all goes smoothly, I should have both characters skinned and rigged, with full controls and basic blend shape expressions, by thursday, ready to figure out how to create the Puppet's strings during my tutorial.
Below is the playblast of the skinned Housewife character, as well as a couple of detail shots of the dress' rig construction.