Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Creating an Armature

Okay, creating an armature. First, here's the shopping list:

Armature Wire (1/16'')
Annealed Steel Wire (I used a gauge of 24)- finger armatures
K+S Tubing (3/16'' diameter)
Nuts, bolts, wing nuts (on of each per foot, all of same size. Mine say XS6-32x2.)
Propoxy20 or Epoxy Putty
5 Minute Epoxy
A table with holes in it (holes bigger than the bolt, but smaller than the nut)
Pliers, wire cutter
Hand Drill

The first thing to do is to twist the wire. Do this by folding a strand in half and then tightening one end into the drill and have a friend hold the other end with a pair of pliers. Twist the wire together until it looks like it does in the pictures. The reason for this is so that the strength of the wire is doubled. The reason you do this over simply using 1/8'' wire is so that if one fails the other will still be there.

Now, cut your wire so that you have one that will be the spine. This should be much longer than the actual spine. It should go from just past the butt to a good inch above the head for safekeeping. Use your mold/ drawing of puppet for measurements.

Next, use one piece for the legs,
by bending them with the top bend looking like this:

(See instructions for tie downs by scrolling down in this post)

Make sure to leave much more room in the feet than needed. Fold the extra wire on the butt end around the legs.

Now get out your propoxy or epoxy putty. These come as a two part putty, in a tube shape, with a light color for the inside and a dark color on the outside. Cut the epoxy (not the long way) and knead it together until the putty is all one color. There should be no marbling. Once the putty is kneaded you have about 5 minutes of working time. Use the putty to put the legs and spine together. Make sure to work it into the cracks and holes of the armature. Another very important thing is to make sure the armature sticks out of the sides of the putty, not out of the corner. If it sticks out of the corner, it creates a very fine point for bending that weakens the wire faster.

Now we create the wire for the arms. Remember, you should be using the mold to scale everything. Leave the wire a little bit long on the hands, you can always cut it. Where the arm wire crosses the spine wire, put a dip in the wire.

Create an opening in the spine by using two pliers, twisting the wire loose.

Put the arms wire throug
h the hole and once again apply propoxy or plumbers epoxy in the same manner as the legs. This time make sure it sticks out the top of the epoxy, not the corners or side.

Now we create the hands. The easy thing about computer 3d work is that once you create one hand, you simply mirror it to create the other. But nooooo, this is stop motion. I used the annealed steel wire for the hands, it's supposed to last longer. I twisted it as well and made sure they fit into the hand mold. Create a palm with propoxy (or, as always, plumbers). Do not attach them yet to the armature.

(not attached, I have a temporary 5 minute epoxy dab holding it)

We need to now make bones. These are created by the K+S tubing. Make sure to leave plenty of room for the joints, more is better than less. Marking where you'll put the bones on the wire with a sharpie aint a bad idea.

Mix up some 5 minute epoxy, glob it on the wire where the bones go, and put the bones on. Once again, make sure this matches up with your mold.

Now we can attach the hands. Cut the wire accordingly and attach the hands with some propoxy. Try not to make the wrists too bulky, though.

Now we need to put in the tie downs. This was a check and guess process to match up with the hole that exists in the mold. First thing, we need a table with holes in it. The hole should be larger than the bolt, but smaller than the nut's diameter. With the wing nut on the bolt, down an inch or so, (with the "wings" of the wing nut facing the head of the bolt) dip the first half inch or so of the bolt into vaseline. This is our releasing agent, it will ensure that the epoxy doesn't stick to the bolt. We don't need too much vaseline for this.
Put the bolt through the bottom of the table (so that the wing nut is below the table.) With it sticking out, attach the nut to the bolt, just so that the bolt doesn't stick out of the nut, but the nut should securely be on the bolt.
Wrap the extra wire for the foot around the bolt (leave the extra wire in case you've placed the hole wrong.)

Wrap the wire tight, then take the bolt out. Take it to your mold and check to see that the hole, where the nut will sit above, matches with the hole in the mold left for the nut. Now get it right.
Bring the armature back to the table and wrap it around the bolt again. Attach the nut. With it secure around the bolt, tighten the wing nut tight. Mix up some 5 minute epoxy and apply it to the bolt generously. Don't let too much get on the table. It's not a bad idea to put some vaseline on the table before attaching the wire and nut and bolt (once again, not too much, it just gets messy.) After hardening, cover it again with a medium/thin layer of propoxy. Once that has hardened remove the bolt. You now have a tie down. Do the same thing with the other foot.
Make sure the foot fits in the mold, if you have to shave some off, that's fine.

I'm pretty sure you now have an armature. Don't worry about the head.

IMPORTANT NOTE: On the off, off chance that someone is creating this along with reading this blog, you need to reinforce the ankles. I've already started animation and I found the ankles to be too weak. I would use some 8th inch wire in addition to the doubled 16th inch wire. Make sure it is is connected securely to the foot and the lower leg "bone" Twist it with the wire.
Also, I reinforced the spine by adding an 8th inch wire as well.

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