Building Armatures for Clay Animation

This covers the process of building wire armatures for characters that will be animated. Note you will need 14 and 28 guage steel wire, magic sculpt ( a 2 part resin ), wood and paint. It is important to paint the resin after it has hardened because over time, it may cause discoloration to the clay.

Wire armatures are not as durable as ball and socket armatures - these are for short term projects. The ball and socket armatures, if well made, may also offer more control over subtle movements.

1. Overview

The wire armature is built by winding the wire together. I found threaded hardware pieces that can be epoxied to the wire to lock down the figure to a base for animation .

I make plywood platforms that the figures may be solidly mounted to. Notice the screws and the epoxy covered feet. Wax paper was used so that the resin would not stick to the base.

After the wire armature is complete, I add magic sculpt, a 2 part resin that hardens in about 45 minutes. It can be smoothed with water, and becomes completely hard in about 6 hours. Once hardened, it may be drilled and carved. I will add a coat of acrylic paint, then add the clay. The acrylic paint prevents the clay from becoming discolored.

I mount the platform to my table with FunTak (the blue stuff that temporarily hangs posters on walls). The base is painted black so that it does not reflect light.

In this shot, only from the waist up, I am using a handy arm to support the figure for his pacing walk. I have made tick marks on the arm so that I can move him in even increments and allow him to be free of the base because it was not necessary to show the whole figure in this shot.

Joshua Mosley ©2002