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justicerock Posted: Apr 10th 2008

I am new here,
and very new to this animation malarky..
however, i have been an avid watcher of a broad range of animation since I was born really.
Including the most brilliant aardman studios works.

I have a couple of questions regarding the design and making of armatures.

I would like to make an armature that is a simplistic replica of the normal human bone structure.
Especially in terms of the way the bones can/cant move.
I know there are ball and socket designs, however, i was wondering what people use to replicate rotational parts.
Also, I have heard of b+s armature kits.
Anyone know where i can buy one of these?

Please help.

Janique1 Posted: Apr 10th 2008

great, and welcome,

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Since you are very new.....

Stop motion animation is almost as old as film-making itself. The first instance of the technique can be credited to Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackman for The Humpty Dumpty Circus (1898), in which a toy circus of acrobats and animals comes to life. The Haunted Hotel (1907) is another stop motion film by James Stuart Blackton, and was a resounding success when released. Segundo de Chomons (1871-1929), from Spain, released Hotel Electrico later that same year, and used similar techniques as the Blackton film.

Anyway, you were asking how to get a ball and socket armature kits. For the best results I would machine my own ball and socket armature. You can customize the width, height and material of your armature for your needs. But if you are buying a kit, here are some good links.

The cheapest and weakest.....


The mid priced and nice.....

Animation supplies

The expensive and expected....

Animation supplies- professional

The best and no less...

Lionel Ivan Orozco's amazing custom made ART pieces...

Here is some inside INFO on armatures generally...

An armature is the inner frame of a stop motion puppet. Like you and me, we have a jointed skeleton inside us that supports our body mass. The skeleton helps us move and not slip around like a blob of jelly.

Because a skeleton enables us to support ourselves, stand up, move limbs without them bending unnaturally, we need a skeleton or armature our puppet.

A stop motion puppet's armature all depends on your film, character, budget and skill.

A simple wire armature requires only annealed aluminium armature wire for the spine, arms, legs and neck, epoxy putty or similar, a drill and some pliers.

The next step up would be a B&S armature. Ball and socket armatures can be hard to make by your self, if you don't have the right equipment. Ball and socket armatures are more similar to a human skeleton with socket joints in the shoulders, elbows, knees, ankles etc. You can get a much smoother fluid movement with B&S armatures.

If you lack the equipment and time to make your own, there are many ready made armatures out there to buy. There are links at the end of this post, where you can buy them. These armatures are also more robust and easy to use, with no problems like breaking wires or wire un-twisting.

How to make a wire armature:

A simple wire armature requires only annealed aluminium armature wire for the spine, arms, legs and neck, epoxy putty or similar, a drill and some pliers.

Firstly you need some alluminum wire. You can buy this at any decent art store or craft store.

Then you need some epoxy putty. This a clay like putty that dries ROCK hard after sculpting. The U.K type is called Milliput( google it)or if you can't get your hands on that just oven bake clay will be alright for a beginner.

If your puppet will have tie downs, you need nuts and screws. Tie downs are screws that come up from a hole in your set floor and screw into a nut in the puppet's feet. Then the screw is tightened against the floor with a wing nut or another nut.

To start off with you need to twist 2 strands of wire together. To do this quickly you can put 2 pieces side by side and screw the ends into the tip of the drill. Then you secure the other end with a vice or your foot and drill slowly, so they twist together.

The other way of doing this is getting one piece of wire, bending it in half. Putting a pencil into the bent over areaand wrapping the wire around so the pencil is secured in a loop. Then you put the other end in pliers and hold the handles tight or in a vice and then twist the pencil around.

You should make 4 pieces of twisted wire. One for the spine, one for the arms and one for the legs and one little piece for the head. Now you have to put them together. You take the spine piece and unravel the two twisted wires untill you have two lengths of single wire coming from both ends. Then you bend the arm length in half like a U and wrap the pieces coming off the end of the spine around the bend. You do EXACTLY the same for the legs.

Then you add epoxy putty or clay onto the chest and hip areas to build up those parts of the armature.

Type in STOPMOSHORTS in google and visit the first link. Go onto gallery at the top and then select tutorials in the options. There are a number of video tutorials there.


Nofby 8)

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

God, thats one biggy of a reply, lol.

J-Snake Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Hey justicerock Ball and socket armatures are pretty expencive the cheapest one that i can find is on e-bay for $149.75 and thats pretty cheap.On theres a book in the store that was righten by the founder of the site mark spess called Secrets of clay animation Revealed in it it tells you how you can make a ball and socket armature and it also tells you how to make an armature out of plastic that resembles muscles bolth look veary hard to do. what i recmond is just to use the good old Aluminum Wire Armature wich look like this...

Janique1 Posted: Apr 10th 2008

its is 1 of the longest!!!

Janique1 Posted: Apr 10th 2008

hi, j-snake!!!

J-Snake Posted: Apr 10th 2008


Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Armature in sculpting:

In sculpture, an armature is a framework around which the sculpture is built. This framework provides structure and stability, especially when a plastic material such as wax or clay is being used as the medium. When sculpting the human figure, the armature is analogous to the major skeleton and has essentially the same purpose: to hold the body erect.

An armature is often made of heavy, dark aluminium wire which is stiff, but can be bent and twisted into shape without much difficulty. The wire is affixed to a base which is usually made of wood. The artist then begins fleshing out the sculpture by adding wax or clay over the wire. Depending on the material and technique, the armature may be left buried within the sculpture but, if the sculpture is to be hollowed out for firing, it must1 be removed.

Large representational sculptures meant for outdoor display are typically fashioned of bronze or other types of sheet metal, and they require armatures for internal support and stability. For examnple, a large armature designed by Gustave Eiffel holds up the Statue of Liberty, a famous sculpture in the harbor of New York City. The armature can be seen from below by visitors to the base of the sculpture's interior.

An armature used in stop-motion animation is an articulated metal, wire or even wooden figure covered with material to build the character, but can be made to hold poses for extended periods of time.

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008


Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008


jordan Posted: Apr 10th 2008

i think your being abit of a know it all , & over-doing it slightly

Jada2 Posted: Apr 10th 2008

yes, i bit much, please dont!

cavor Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Here is an earlier Armature thread with a ball & Socket armature that cost me about £10 + loads of time and effort!!!

J-Snake Posted: Apr 10th 2008

really you can get a B & S armature for that cheap in the UK??

Janique1 Posted: Apr 10th 2008

stop it, nofby

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Guys, I'm just trying to help him. My last remark was a joke and you are taking it a bit seriously. I do not see how I being a know it all trying to help alot. I am offended about how you take me trying to help and giving alot of info, offensive and me being a 'know it all'.

I Really don't see why I bother to help if people make out of the air critisism like that. I can't believe that you think I'm showing off by helping someone. I'm really suprised...:O:-(

J-Snake Posted: Apr 10th 2008

nofby your help with the ball and socket armature was great but then you went off into all these other things. sometimes its better to give advice when someone ask for it.

katie Aardman Staff Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Nofby, perhaps it would have been better to post a link to Wikipedia ( rather than copying and pasting the whole article into the forums.

However, you were only trying to be helpful. Other forum members - please take it easy!

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Ok, I deleted the message.

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Sorry guys, I was trying to help him since he was totally new to the prospect of stop motion and how the industry works. I should have posted the link, but I was thinking it would be easier for people to read it if it was just there.

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

I won't help unless anyone asks from now on.

jordan Posted: Apr 10th 2008

sorry, its been such a bad day for me and i ended up blurting stuff out somewhere, :-(

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Its alright. It was my fault for posting too much info. Still friends.

jordan Posted: Apr 10th 2008

yup sure you keep coming out witha ll your info keep some secret tips for yourself hehe

Nofby Posted: Apr 10th 2008

Lol, 'The Secret Recipe'

KittyKitty Posted: Apr 23rd 2009

Hi Nofby, first off I'd like to thank you for your informative and helpful posts.

I'm wondering if you have ever purchased an armature from

Thank you.

666joshy666 Posted: Apr 23rd 2009

Does anyone know where I can get a ball and socket armature for Gromit?


P.S. Oh and can you make one from scratch?

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