Cranbersher’s Guide to Stop Motion | Felt Puppets: The Armature

Hello everyone! I hope your day’s going well, and welcome to first episode of Cranbersher’s Guide! The first two episodes will be the steps to go about making a felt puppet like you see here. And like the ones I’ve used in the fan animations and whatnot. Now I’ve already got one of myself and plenty of these… So I think it’s time to make someone new! Just as a reminder I am not a professional. Everything I’m gonna be showing you is basically just stuff I’ve figured out from experience and book-learnin’, So there’s probably better ways to do this but this is just how I do it. So this first episode will focus on making the skeleton or “Armature”. Which is really the only reason the puppet can move and hold its position at all. Without it, it would just be another flip-floppy plushy! So let’s start! First off, just draw your character! Now this step is gonna be pretty vague since I’m not really gonna tell you exactly what your character’s gonna look like. That’s really up to you. I encourage you to, like, experiment and come up with your own interesting character to work with, even if it’s not exactly 100% humanoid, a lot of the following steps can be adapted to suit whatever you come up with. So it’s not a big deal. But just remember: The puppets can’t be too tall or too heavy otherwise the wire of the armature might not be able to handle it, So, keep it around 8 inches at most. 9 if you’re… feeling lucky. All right, moving on! Once you’ve got you character drawn out and whatnot however many ways…and what they’re gonna look like and stuff like that… If it’s based on a real person it probably shouldn’t be that hard. Draw their basic shape, facing forward in a “T-Pose” (Arms outward) with all the inner bits as well showing inside of them. Uhm, try to do this as symmetrically as possible. I recommend… Folding the paper in half and drawing one half and then using a lightbox or more likely a sunny window to trace the other half. And then you’re ready to do the thing! Also, this piece of paper you drew your character on probably won’t survive the process… So if you wanna keep it for future things…uh… Make a copy or two. So you’re gonna need galvanized wire, 19 and 20 gauge, 2 well nuts, 2 screws, 2 wing nuts all with the same thread count… Not thread count… that’s…that’s sheets. 2 well nuts, 2 screws, 2 wing nuts, all with the same thread size, Baking clay, wire cutters, needle-nose pliers, A drill, hot-glue gun, and epoxy putty. Just so you know the epoxy putty smells really bad… Like, seriously, really bad. Like, seriou- Firstly is to cut off 2 pieces of 19 gauge wire, each around maybe 20 inches or so? It doesn’t really have to be particularly exact. Just, you know, two long pieces! These will end up being the legs and the spine. Do the same with the 20 gauge wire, 2 pieces, 20 inches and whatnot… and this is gonna be for the arms and the head. Then you take the drill and secure the two ends of the wire in the chuck, holding the bend with the needle-nose pliers. This is gonna twist the wire around itself, making a double helix kind of thingy And, uh, aside from looking cooler it just makes the wire stronger so…. so it’s a good thing. Now once you’re done with doing that, it’s time to actually build the body parts! So you can cut down your two 19 gauge strands to about 6 inches or so, uhm.. This should leave some excess strands behind Which you can leave off to the side for later, and probably use one of them for the spine! Now, this is where the well nuts come in. See, puppets don’t really have a very good sense of balance even on two legs, So you screw their feet into the worktable so they don’t fall over while you’re animating, And cause many a sleepless night pondering what could have been……. So in order for this to be possible, we need to securely attach the well nut to the leg wire. And to do this, we bend a small, loopy hook that wraps around the nut snugly, Something like this: But obviously it’s not just gonna magically stay like that, that would be too easy! So now it’s time for the lovely epoxy putty! The putty should have instructions on how to use it properly, so power through the aroma, and sculpt the putty around the two pieces to hold them together! The epoxy does tend to harden pretty quicky, so be speedy, but careful. The putty won’t fully set for quite a while now, So now that you’re finished with them dandy feeties, you can put them aside and prepare for the next step. LET’S DO IT! So now that you’ve finished the legs and you got them out of the way, You can bring back your 20 gauge strand for the torso! So cut one strand in half… As about as half as you can get it, by eyeballin’ it, And you’re gonna wanna bend one end of each piece to make little hooks that’ll help the wire stay locked in the epoxy putty for eons to come!… Well… maybe not that long, but still. Now with the other strand use your reference drawing to make the loop of the head. Once you come full circle (see cuz it’s circle cuz it’s a loop) uhm.. Just wrap the wire around the neck portion and you’re good to go! Cut the neck down to size, but remember to leave a tiny bit more for an itty-bitty hook! If you cut too much off, you will have too little neck and too much hook… This will make you sad. You’re almost ready to bring back that sweet, sweet epoxy! But wait! What about the spine?! You…you take one of the excess 19 gauge pieces and.. and guess what..? You make a lil HOOK! Okay now you’re ready! Get another chunk out and mix away! I recommend putting a blob of it down first to squish all the bits into, and then, Use the rest to cover the top! The wire might move around slightly as you mold the putty around it so just… adjust accordingly. Now you won’t be able to do anything else until the epoxy is hardened enough to work with, which takes about 15 minutes or so, so we’ll jus- EHHHHHHHHH Now it’s time to join everything together! So now you’re just gonna…. Eh… Ih.. Okay! Now just cut down the legs and the end of the spine, do the hook thing with them all, and epoxy it up like you did before, and you’re done! Only thing that’s left now is sculpting out the head, but right now it’s probably a good idea to let the epoxy completely 100% harden over night so… EEEEHHHHHH eeeyou know its a pretty good time to maybe go outside and somethin oh no it’s raining okay we’ll just play tiddley-winks or something uhsum- Okay it’s time to do the head! So since we made the loop to let us move the head side to side, We’ll need to sculpt the head in two halves, the front and the back! Take your baking clay and sculpt up some.. “Headishperes”…. …I’m so sorry just… god that was awful.. You’re gonna experiment with sculpting the shape of your head until you find something you’re happy with. This is very much a trial and error process. If something doesn’t work well this time, remember it for the next time and improve your skills! PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! Once your head is sculpted, if you wanted to remake the character in the future, I suggest keeping your original sculpt as reference to re-sculpt the pieces in the future. Once you’re satisfied, go ahead and pop that sucker in the oven while paying attention to the baking instructions of course, so you don’t burn your house down! And then- And now everything is nice and hard and…. Wait… what did I just say- Line up the front head piece with the armature in go to town with hot glue gun letting it set slightly before gluing in the back piece, then fill in the gaps with more glue! As you can see here I’m being an idiot and smoothing out the very, very hot glue with my finger. Like an idiot. D…Don’t be me, please. Once the hot glue cools, you will have your very own armature! Now I know it doesn’t look like much, but that’s where the fun part come in…NEXT TIME. All right that’s it for this episode! Thank you so much for watching I hope you enjoyed! Stay tuned for the next part, and I will see you in the future. Thanks for watching and take care!

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