Yessica's Journey Blog

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Glueing and Fixing the Armature of the Magician

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© Copyright 2011 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text. Armature drawing in photos by Animation Supplies except for Head.

Making the armature was quite straight forward but does take time and care. It was good fun and very satisfying once the finished armature is complete. Make sure you use a ruler to measure the length of the metal rods used for the limbs accurately. File the ends properly or they won’t fit in the screw. Use plenty of araldite to glue the joints which do not move. Allow adequate time for glue to dry properly before moving the armature.

The hardest thing I found was glueing the balls on the end of the rods and glueing the rods in place with Loctite glue. I found that sometimes when I was testing the joints and wanted the joint screwed tightly the force would cause the ball to come unstuck which would be a problem. I reglued everything and waited longer for the glue to dry. I hope that this is sufficient to hold in place. Sometimes I also wanted the screw to tighten more.

With both of these armatures, including the one I bought from John Wright Modelmaking I am going to make sure after finishing the puppets body, that I have access to all the joints and armature in case anything needs adjusting or fixing. This means making the body in a way that you can access all joints and making clothing which can be taken on and off like a doll. With armatures I have made in the past I used wood and wire and made it from scratch and made the body and clothes permantly fixed to the body with little access to the armature. With ball and socket I think there is more need to have access because of all the joints, its a safer option.

More images to come of finished armature and a video of the making of it.

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Author: Anastacia

I am a freelance Animator and Illustrator. I am a Director/Producer and Animator of the Yessica's Journey Animation Project

6 thoughts on “Glueing and Fixing the Armature of the Magician

  1. Hello Anastacia.

    First thanks for your blog, it’s a great read 🙂

    I noticed that in the article above you talk about using two armature kits, one from John Wright’s and one from animation supplies (is that correct?) Other than the appreciable difference in price, what difference did you find with these two kits? I’m a mature stop-motion student about to build my first puppet with a ball and socket armature, so any advice/opinion/thoughts would be so useful to know.

    Thanks

    Emma

    • Hi Emma
      Sorry for the delay in replying to you and thanks so much for leaving me a comment. I am happy to help. I have got some other articles about the armatures and companies throughout my blog, I think in March and January which may interest you. There may be others in different months.

      John Wright Modelmaking is excellent and I can highly recommend them. The armatures which I have from this company are very well made, very strong and easy to adjust the joints using an allan key. They are excellent quality and one of the reasons I decided to use 3 armatures from this company is because I wanted to feel confident that the armatures would last and not break as my animation I am creating is quite long – it is vital that the armature is strong and you don’t want to keep fixing it. Also they can make an armature from your design of the character to any size and specification and therefore if you want quite a small body for a character for instance the joints are small and very refined. I have not animated with them yet but just from moving them around and making the clothes they are very well made, a work of art. They will also fix it if anything goes wrong. I think if you want quality and can afford it then this is definately worth looking into. Also if your stop motion is quite long and you have a lot of animating to do then quality is very important so the armature will last the duration of the film. You get what you pay for and the company is very helpful and can offer discounts to students. I did not get my armatures as a kit but had them made to my specification. I am not sure if you can buy it as a kit and make yourself. On my blogsite home page under links you will find the link to John Wright. I would recommend you ring them and have a chat.

      Animation Supplies. Again this is a very good company and the service is excellent. If you have any problems with the armature they will fix it for you which is great. I originally bought this armature for a character. It comes in a kit so you have to make the armature yourself. It is a very enjoyable and rewarding process and quite straight forward to make. It is quite satisfying to make your own armature from scratch. I found the armatures can only be a certain size, you can alter them but not if you want a small character. You are more fixed to the size of the armature which you can adjust in height and width but it is limited. Also the joints are quite big. I found this armature good for the price and for a short animation I think it would be fine. You have to be careful when applying the glue to the joints or it can come undone but they now have a special applicator which improves this. Again I have not animated with this but it did break several times mainly due to me not gluing it properly and the company kindly fixed it for me. I am not using this armature now as I bought all of my armatures from John Wright for the animation I am creating. If you can’t afford the more expensive one and your animation is short then this is very good value for money. I would suggest you ring this company also and have a chat. The link is on my articles and blogsite.

      I would also advise if you decide to go with either of these companies that you make the body and clothes so that you can easily take them off to get to the armature should you need to fix or adjust the joints.

      When I was a student in 2008 I made all my armatures myself from twisted wire and wood. It was a really enjoyable process and I did manage to animate quite a few characters. Sometimes they break so you just have to fix them. I have noticed that over the years the wire has weakened so if you want something to last you are better off getting a ball and socket armature.

      Anyway hope this helps, if you need any further help please do not hesitate to contact me. I am still very much learning myself so it is great to talk to someone else who is doing an animation. I looked at your website and blogsite and it is really great. I also like Jan Svankmajer, I put something on my blog about him and a link to an article which is so interesting. I am also a fan of Tim Burton.

      Best of luck with your animation Emma.

      Anastacia

    • Hi Emma

      Hope you got my reply to your question. Hope it helped.
      Anastacia

      • Hi Anastacia,

        Sorry for the slow reply, had a major college deadline and have only just surfaced! This is brilliant, thanks so much for the information. I will have a good read through your blog as it is packed with useful tips. As you say, different solutions will provide different benefits. So, the John Wright armatures seem better for bespoke, long duration, complex works – but come with a higher price tag. Whereas the Animation Supplies are kit-based, so are cheaper but offer less flexibility in terms of body design and are self-assemble. It’s good to hear that these companies are friendly and supportive, that makes all the difference!

        As I’m working to a tighter budget, I think I shall carefully consider both the design and shooting requirements. My character is humanoid, the overall film is under 4 minutes and the sequences therein are short, so I wonder if I could use either an armature kit or perhaps even a wire plugin armature that I could replace arms, legs, head before each sequence and support with rigs for more demanding movement… I guess I shall have to do some extensive prototyping and recces to see! But hey, that’s what I signed up for, to learn! Thanks for the feedback and its so great to not only meet another stop-motioner, but also a Svankmajer/Burton fan! Hurrah!!!!! Thanks again – Emma x

      • Hi Emma
        No problem, hope your college deadline went well. I am glad that you found the information useful. If you are working on a tighter budget and your film is not very long, so there is less animating of the characters, then using a kit would be fine or like you said a wire plug-in armature. I have never made a plug-in armature so please let me know how you get on as I would be interested and this sounds very good if you can plug-in the limbs. When I made my armatures at college I used hard wood for the chest and hips and then used twisted wire (make sure you get the right wire) and single strong wire. I glued all the wire in place using araldite glue which is very important as it is strong. Be careful not to scratch or nick the wire. The feet I made from milliput and the hands were made of wire and then I applied plaster fabric and latex. Use talc after so the latex does not stick. Also I added colour to the latex using liquid Acrylic. Heads I made varied from polystyrene balls and also air drying light clay, depends what size and look you want. You can use moulds and casts also. Everything should be made using light materials, nothing heavy.

        To animate at college I have used pins in the feet and magnets. When I used magnets I had no idea what I was doing and used a single sheet of metal for the floor which was wrong. It was very hard to use the magnets. The feet of the puppet much have metal on. I have since learned, after leaving college, that it is best to use perforated metal. It means you can use magnets or tie-downs. You can get different strengths of magnet. Also like you said you can use a rig but it means you will need to do a lot of editing afterwards, depending on what type of rig you use. Als depends what your puppet needs to do. I also once used an overhead rig with thin transparent thread which was quite good, but you have to test it out to get used to it.

        You can buy books to help which gives so much advice and information. These books I would recommend but there are many others. Got them from Amazon.
        Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation (Focal Press Visual Effects and Animation) by Susannah Shaw – recommended when I was a student
        The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation by Ken Priebe – bought this recently and it is brilliant, highly recommend it. I learned how to do a mould and cast.
        Basics Animation 04: Stop-motion by Barry Purves – Very good book, recommend this as well.

        I also think it is great to meet someone who loves stop-motion, it is such a creative process and to bring something to life which you have made is simply amazing. I think it is a very special artform and I prefer this look to 3D which for me is too slick and at times I think looks false. I like to see the join, the imperfections, the fact that it is made by hand makes it so unique. Stop motion involves so many creative processes which is why I love it – research, drawing the designs, model making, sculpture, painting, dressmaking, Computer editing, Photography, sound, the list goes on.

        Yes I am a fan of Svankmajer and Tim Burton. When I saw Corpse Bride by Tim Burton I just knew I wanted to do stop-motion. With the animation I am creating at the moment I was really inspired by ‘Vincent’ by Tim Burton.

        Anyway I wish you well with everything and looking forward to seeing your film.

        Anastacia

      • Hello!

        Yes, we’re being taught similar processes at college, although we’re using polymorph for the breast/hips. Air dried light clay sound interesting as a materials for heads, I may try that. Will absolutely let you know once I’ve built the plugin wire armature – are you on Facebook or animateclay.com at all? I’m also going to have a go at a simple armature for the face – poseable jaw/eyebrow, so wish me luck!!!

        Have all those books, love the Susannah Shaw (also recommended at college, I think she may have taught here once a while ago). I’m gleaning information on the wire plugin construction from her book and also the Priebe book, very useful for different processes. Barry Purves is wonderful also, loved his work as a kid (‘Wind In The Willows’ in particular, although ‘Chorlton and The Wheelies’ was, and still is, a huge favourite! I think he was involved in that…)

        Thanks so much again for your advice and encouragement, I’ll stay in touch for sure 🙂 All the very best – Emma x

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