Puppet Armature

Let’s look at how I create a stop motion puppet armature. Start with a basic sketch.

sketch

sketch

I use aluminum wire. I use 18 gauge for a puppet 6-10 inches tall. For my example, I will tape the wire with different colored tape so you can see how the wires intertwine. I don’t normally use colored tape. This is just for you readers.

taped wired

taped wired

Twist the first two pieces together to form the spine.

spine and arms and legs

spine and arms and legs

I create the spine, and the legs and arms with these first two strands of wire. This makes the legs and arms really secure.

blue wire

blue wire

The next wire is the blue wire. This starts at the hip area, then goes down each leg.

twist blue

twist blue

Twist the blue wire down each leg. Now you have two wires down each leg.

black wire

black wire

The next wire is the black wire. It starts at the neck, then goes down each arm. This will give two wires down each arm.

twisted black

twisted black

Next is a silver wire.

IMG_5483

The silver wire is next. This wire is folded in half at the head issue. Both ends of the wire go down the spine, then down each leg. This gives a head wire, another wire on the spine, and a third wire down each leg.

last wire is red and yellow

last wire is red and yellow

One last wire. This one is yellow and red. Begin at the shoulders, and go down each arm. This gives the third wire down each arm.

done

done

That is basically all the wires. Sometimes if the head is really heavy I might add another wire up the spine to the head. I untwist the wires from the elbow to the wrist to allow the wrists to twist easier.

I also untwist the wires from the knees to the ankles so the feet can twist easier in the finished puppet.

finished

finished

Leave the feet wires long so we can form feet. Leave the hand wires long so we can make hands.

I took some new wire and made my own armature without the tape. This is what it looks like.

my own

my own

You can see how the wires are left untwisted from the knees to the ankles, and from the elbows down to the wrists.

Multiple wires twisted together prevent against breakages. Aluminum wires bend easily without snapping. Sometimes people use epoxy putty or pieces or wood on the long bone areas like the thighs to prevent bending in the wrong areas. Sometimes you can just untwist the wires at the joint areas like the knees. The untwisted parts should bend easier than the twisted areas. I will cover the feet later.

This system of wires that I use, prevents loose wires in the shoulder area, keeps the spine pretty stiff, and gives pretty good support for the head. Most of my puppet friends prefer a wire armature now including Nick Hilligoss and Richard Svennson. They are cheap, easy to make, and still animate really well.

Go ahead, make a mess, make an armature, have some fun.

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