Armature Development

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I’ve been working on my armature development for the current project. The picture above ( click to enlarge) is of my latest armature tests. I’ve been using the aluminum wire and epoxy putty to make the skeleton of the armature then I use Sculpey Super Flex Bake & Bend to add muscles and body mass. The feet are sculpted from the epoxy which is stronger than Sculpey and can withstand the stress of the tie down when animating and also allows me to use my Dremel to cut a hole through the foot for the tie down without cracking or crumbling. I finish by applying about 4 coats of liquid latex using the build up method to create a skin over the body. I add a small amount of Liquitex acrylic paint to the latex to give the body a uniform color and then I use the same acrylic paint without the latex to coat the feet.

I got the aluminum for this round of armature testing from Misterart. The brand I got is called Jack Richeson Almaloy Armature Wire and so far I love it. The wire seems very strong but very easy to move and doesn’t seem to have much spring at all.

As shown in the picture, I have also begun experimenting with a modification of the tie-down design posted by Nick Hilligoss. The idea is to create a plunger mechanism using a spring that will hold the puppet down without having to screw or unscrew the wing-nut between shots. With the spring I just insert the tie-down through the floor of the set, up through the hole in the foot and then turn and release. The spring tries to decompress and the result is a clamping action. The idea is to get a tie down that works faster for things like walk cycles so I can keep animating and spend less time with screwing the tie down.

The spring clamps the tie-down in place. It’s actually pretty sturdy and I have to apply some force to get the puppet to spin on it’s Y axis or heading. I also plan to experiment with making tiny pencil registration mark on the foot and floor of the set so if the character is moved and shifts it’s heading I can realign it for the shot.