Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Making A Stop Motion Armature

After researching different methods of making armatures for stop motion puppets, Paris and I came up with a method that worked with our limited budget and the requirements of the scene we will be animating. It's only a short seen so Perseus the puppet does not need to have a long lifespan.
After foraging for supplies we drew out a to scale plan of how the armature would look. We then used aluminium wire and shaped the wire from the foot, through the leg and up the spine, looping back down the spine and then all the way to the opposite foot, using our drawing as a template. We repeated this process another two times with separate bits of wire. We lined these three bits of wire up with one another and then loosely twisted them together so they became one entity. We then did the same for the arms, running a piece of wire from the start of one wrist to the next, then repeated that with another bit of wire, twisting the two pieces together at the end. 

Next, we got some epoxy putty which we created the bones from. Epoxy is pretty cool stuff (although according to the label it's pretty lethal too) it basically comes in a really soft form comprising of two chemical components which you mix together. Once they are mixed, they begin to harden, so you have a limited time to mold it into a shape you want and then it dries like rock. We sculpted a pelvis first and then the breast plate, which joined the arms to the body.  

We then sculpted the bones on the legs and arms, making sure there were large enough gaps of exposed wire between them so that the wire could bend. The exposed wire acts like the joints and the completely hard epoxy is the bones which makes sure the armature only bends in the right places. The hands came next, using thinner aluminium wire, we ran it around the shape of the hand and fingers, twisting the doubled up wire of the fingers loosely together. The hands were joined to the wrists with more epoxy, creating the shape of the palms in the process. 

So that was how we made our armature! Giving Perseus his very own working skeleton. To pad out the body, giving it the flesh, we used the stuffing you get in cuddly toys and then fastened this to the armature using strips of cloth, you can see in the image below that his leg has been fleshed out in this way. We now need to sort the feet out, so I'll post more armature progress when this has been done, but we are nearly there with it :) I've had a play around with the armature (how could I resist?) and it seems to work really well, so I'm really looking forward to giving it a head and seeing it come to life.

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