Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ball & Socket Armatures - Finished

      After several weeks of work I've finally finished making my new ball and socket armatures. My plan is to replace the aluminium wire armatures that are currently in my 'Roy' and 'Elle' puppets. This should make them more resilient and professional. You can read about my aluminium wire armatures HERE.
The two armatures featured below follow identical designs but have different proportions to suit the male and female characters. I've wanted to make  full ball and socket armatures for a long time and I really pleased with how these turned out. I got a little trigger happy with my camera so expect lots of pictures.

'Roy' Male Ball & Socket Armature

First of all we have Roy's new armature. He's build from a mixture of steel and K&S square brass tubing. It has 24 points of articulation that are controlled by 17 screws around the body for tension adjustments.

He has a double ball and socket waist and sing ball jointed head, neck, shoulders, arms, hips, legs and ankles. His elbows, knees and toes and hinge joints.

       I tried to position the figure in interesting, dynamic poses but by the time I got to that last picture my creativity fizzled and I went for the cheesy 'whats that in the distance' pose. I kind of like it, plus his white hands make him look like a really skinny mime artist.
The puppet wasn't tied down to the floor for these pictures. He's just balancing by himself. The feet have a M3 nuts in the toe to allow the character to be bolted to the set. Just like in my wire armatures the K&S allows the puppet to be disassembled. The feet and hands slide off for maintenance and repairs. The hands are made from aluminium wire with a Milliput palm. You can read about how I make puppet hands HERE.

The turn around picture above shows the armature from various angles. click the image to embiggen!

'Elle' Female Ball & Socket Armature

Now we move on to the female armature for 'Elle'. This was more challenging to make due to her slender physique. The hinge joints for the elbows and knees are made from a thinner steel to save as much space as possible.
I tried to pose the armature to give it a more feminine vibe. If ,like my brother Josh, you find yourself thinking  'thats one sexy lookin armature' then I think you need to get out more.
Both armatures have K&S tubing soldered onto the hips. These act as rig points just in case the puppet needs external support. ( For example if a character is jumping or running and needs to be held off the ground.)
The biggest difference in this armature is the feet. 'Elle' wears high heels and her feet are much smaller than 'Roy's'. Its always very challenging building things to be smaller. To get around this problem I made a new ankle joint that wound fit inside her small feet. Because she's wearing heels there's no toe joint but there is an M3 nut for tie downs.
In the picture above I was going for a casual sitting down look, rather than 'I hurt my knee'. You be the judge.
Just like before, click the image to embiggen this cromulent turnaround picture!
Comparison Shots

Finally he's some comparison shots so you can see the differences between the two armatures.

Below I photographed them standing next to the wire puppets. Hopefully this shows how they fit inside the characters. My next stage is to start bulking out the armatures with foam and casting them inside new silicone limbs to make 'Roy & Elle Mark II'

That's all for today. Hope you found this post interesting.
Stay tuned for more developments.



  1. .....And let me respond by...... O.O
    seriously I don't know what to say! They're incredible! :)

  2. Spectacular armatures. Smooth as silk. If it's true that puppet animation is only as good as the armature, then you're films will be of the finest possible made.

  3. That's the sexiest armature I've ever seen, which really upsets me

  4. Finally, an interesting blog; actually building things that aren't digital. Neat.

  5. Thanks for the kind words everyone :)

    Shelley - I wouldn't say smooth as silk but they should be an improvment over wire armatures. I think is would be more realistic to say puppet animation is only as good as the animator. I good animator could get beautiful movement out of a potatoe. I hope these new armatures improve the quality of my animation.

    Fish - Don't worry. I can give you the name of a good doctor. Did wonders for Josh. After some daylight and fresh air supplements he was cured.

    Ted - Howdy, Wow you've got a great collection of work. I'm a big fan of CGI. I've tried building things digitally before, but I kept wanting to poke the computer screen, eventually I surrendered and stuck with pushing clay. :)

  6. Flynn Bros, you are amazing. This kind of puppets, these armatures, these sets... all are brilliant!

    Talking about the armatures, I must say that I love the female one. I never thought in the making of the armature of the female feet with the shape of the heels.

    Also, I want to recommend these websites of armature makers (maybe you know most of them):
    - Tom Brierton: http://www.tombriertonarmatures.com/
    - Carlos Padilla:
    - Nick Pledge:
    - Lionel Ivan Orozco:


  7. DAaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyuum!! You chaps make me sick! I think for the sake of my sanity you should both get much crapper!

    Yours sincerely
    A very envious chappy ;)

  8. I'm going to attempt to make similar armatures to these...but I'm having real trouble finding the 6mmx3mm steel bar you mentioned (didn't find it in our b&q), could you possibly link me? thanks :)

  9. Fish- Thats odd, they don't seem to have it on their website. The closest I found is 10mm x 2mm.

    I remember seeing a much larger selection in store compared to their website. Is it possible they where out of stock?

    Mr Whitehouse - I've got a plan. If I make a crap decision and mess up the film, I can say I did it on purpose for the sake of your health. You're my offical scapegoat.

    Adrian - Thanks for the links. I haven't seen those before. :)

  10. Beautiful workmanship!
    How much better do you think they move / animate than aluminium wire armatures?
    Curious about the design of the hips...I take it the pelvis is split and swivels?
    I'm building some brass (K%S) and steel armatures presently, too, and am inspired your your progress.

  11. you guys are really top notch at every aspect of stop motion!! well done again.


  12. Great armatures!
    K&S tubing is magical stuff!

  13. Wow. They're ace! Any chance you could show a close up of the feet? I'd like to see how you made them.

    1. Hi Suraya,
      I'm glad you like my armatures.
      Sorry I don't have any bigger pics of the feet.
      They are made up of 3 parts and I will quickly try and explane how.
      1. steel foot plates like the one made in this post
      2. A ball and socket joint at the ankle-
      3. A hinge joint for toe movement.

      The single ball joint and hinge joint were soldered onto the steel foot plates and presto...one puppet foot. Do the same for the other foot and your good to go.
      Hope this helps

  14. Thanks! That's really helpful. Cheers.

  15. Just wanted to say the descriptions and photos of the process of making the puppets you've shown has answered so many questions I've had for years about animation puppets.

  16. Hi Caitlin
    Thanks, Im glad I could help.
    I had a look at you portfolio. Wow your sculpts are fantastic. Great work.

  17. + Nathan Flynn -

    The female armature is very perfect!!! Love the way you make the hands and feets for the male and female,You could keep the differences in between armatures.So i think that the female has very interesting proportions between another types of skeletons

  18. + Nathan Flynn -

    The female armature is very perfect!!! Love the way you make the hands and feets for the male and female,You could keep the differences in between armatures.So i think that the female has very interesting proportions between another types of skeletons

  19. Where do you get your joints? I've been looking all over with little success.