I came across a nicely described page on how to make a stop motion armature puppet recently by a guy called Kevin Forbes. It’s a real straight forward no nonsense how to tutorial on creating the puppet on a budget. He kindly agreed to allow me to reproduce some of his tips here. Thanks Kevin. Kevin used plastilina, some hardening clay for eyeballs and teeth, two tubes of plumbers epoxy, two spools of armature (aluminium) wire , some wooden dowels, a plank of wood, some nuts and bolts and some modelling /scupting tools.

Kevins Materials

Kevins Materials

I like the way Kevin has laid everything out here ready to make is claymation puppet. Really well organised. The first step in the process is making the internal armature.  Kevin uses aluminium wire though he does not specify the gauge. ( Marc Spess sells this type fo wire on his Claymation Website )Normally you use annealed aluminum armature wire 16 or 18 gauge. But I am not sure what he has used here. Either way you begin by winding the wire on itself to form a double layer. Typically you sketch out the character size on a piece of A4 paper and match the stickman to that figure. Kevin shows us his sketch of the below with the stop motion armature completed.  Kevin hot glued the wire together from three double wrapped lengths. One for the legs, one for the body and one for the arms. He also wrapped and glued in a pair of nuts to use for tieing down the feet. There is an alternative this using tie downs and then is to use “big feet”. Something which I will write about in another blog entry or online article.

Kevin's Sketch is close to his Puppet!

Kevin

Now Kevin uses his plumbers epoxy to cover the areas that will not bend. In other words leave the elbow ,knee ,kneck, wrist joints etc uncovered to allow for movement. A note here from Kevin about epoxy … “Plumber’s epoxy comes as a two-coloured stick. You break off a piece, knead it, and work like mad to mould it into whatever shape you need. You have to work quickly because it hardens in about 5 minutes. It also stinks, and “contains a chemical that is known to the State of California to cause cancer”. I used gloves and sat by the window :)” He may have a point here about plumbers epoxy. Certain brands of it are not available in some countries or states of the US. But I use it carefully in a well ventilated room. After all petrol or Gas as Americans call it also has toxic cancer causing fumes but we all use! So just take care with it. Also some brands claim that they are non toxic some shop around.

Plumbers Epoxy

Plumbers Epoxy

So taking a piece of plumber’s epoxy you mold it in to a piece big enough to cover the body sections as shown by the below image of Kevins stop motion puppet. At this  point you are supposed to double boil or heat the hardening clay to apply over the armature. You can experiment with this yourself but I find often it is sufficient to warm the clay up by giving it a good kneading!

Epoxy covered puppet
Epoxy covered puppet
Finished Claymation Character

Finished Claymation Character

The layers of clay are built up gradually and a final soft non hardening (remember) layer to finish. Kevin reckons his character is a bit mis-proportioned but I do not agree. I think his character turned out very well indeed.  He then did a quick stop motion movie test with the character which I think also turned out very well indeed. Good job Kevin.

Click Here to See his test stop motion.