Vitruvius Update and New Armature Development

I am in the process of relocating my studio over the next month or two. I plan to hold off on further filming of the Vitruvius project until I have the studio and lighting re-assembled. I have some compositing elements that I can work on in the mean time and I’m also exploring a new armature setup for future projects.

My new armature development utilizes aluminum wire, plastic tubing, super glue, and 6-32 socket screws. I wanted an armature that is inexpensive, easy to build without a lot of equipment, and modular so I could easily replace arms or legs of the puppets without have to re-costume. I also wanted to move away from the epoxy stuff with all the potential toxicity issues it brings…not to mention its permanence which doesn’t allow for removable puppet limbs.


The photo above is of the first armature. I just got some plastic tubes (square and round) and my cordless drill and a tap to make threads in the holes.

  • Figure (a) shows the blocks of plastic tubing super glued together and the threaded holes for the screws which are clamping the wire in place.
  • Figure (b) shows the front with a horizontal strip of plastic glued across the blogs for reinforcement.
  • Figure (c) shows the plastic block with a slot drilled through for the T shaped tie down. The 2 lengths of leg wire go through the heel hole and are held in place via a screw in the back of the foot block.
  • Figure (d) is the whole armature view from the back.

The socket screws clamp down on the wire running through the tubes and holds it in place. The “bones” of the arms and legs are just plastic tubing that is like a drinking straw but much thicker. The joints between the bones are strips of craft foam tied in a knot to keep bones in place but allow flexibility. So far, the armature it is light weight and stronger than I anticipated which is good.

10 responses to “Vitruvius Update and New Armature Development”

  1. Hey! That’s a really intriguing armature design! What are these plastic tubes? Where do they come from, and what are they usually used for?

  2. its a very clean design.


  3. Thanks. I got it the tubes at the art shop. They are from and are used to build scale models. They have a list of dealers ( ), usually train or hobby shops, and if one is close by then you can visit and browse their selection.

  4. Looks nice! Is the tubing anything like the stuff used to pump oxygen in household aquariums?

  5. Uba, I haven’t looked at aquarium tubing but I think these tubes are more rigid. If you flex or bend them they crack or break but they are easy to score and snap for small lengths with fairly clean edges. The tubes are just over a foot long right out of the package.

  6. Grant!! This is an amazing innovation! Well done! I LOVE the fresh thinking! As you were listing your criteria for your ideal armature, I was mentally saying “check, check, check, yes!”.

    I think you may have hit upon a very doable solution for me too. Thank you!

  7. Shells — don’t forget to take note of scale. Your pups are maybe 18″ tall? Grant’s armatures look suitable for… 8″ pups? 10″? Something in that range, I should think.

    The principles ought to translate, though.

  8. Shelley and Sven – yes my pups are under 10″ and I’m experimenting with lightweight materials. The armature is intended for quick development used for short animation projects. It’s also designed for quick repair of broken wire parts. The arms are 1 strand of wire for example and will break over time but if that happens I just slide a new wire through the tubes and re-tighten.

    I can see a larger armature with this stuff being unstable especially if I were adding weight with fabric and sculpey or clay. I need to test the armature in an animation first as well since I haven’t done that yet. It’s all in the experimental stage at this point.

  9. Thanks, Sven, you are right, my biggest pupp is about 16″ but will possibly end up being hollow latex shell filled with polyfiberfill, no clay. I’m thinking a modified, heavier, perhaps twisted wire, version of Grant’s new design might be just the ticket. Tests to follow.

  10. Grant i have been using pollymorph low melt plastic for bones, it is cheap and you can re-use it as many times as you like it is also quite lite.