Hi guys !

It's been a while since I came here to post anything. Now I'm working on my next stop motion short and I'd like to share what I've done so far and get advices.

I've built this stone giant but now I have some doubts about the possibility to animate him as it is. He's just going to walk and have small amplitude movements. But I want to be able to move him and keep most of the stones in place and avoid them to bend (in the case of a silicone puppet) or to block each other (in case of a more rigid component).


Has anyone done this kind of puppet and have a tip for me ?
Thank you

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That's a really cool and interesting design! I would probably make his legs out of heavier pieces to ensure that you'll have the weight there to do other poses and such.

That's a great looking concept! 

You can have a supposedly rigid statue, like Ray's Talos, Kali, or ship's figurehead, that actually does bend - those were foam latex.  I guess the fact that it flexed was part of the magic.  But yours looks more like it is made of pieces, so I guess you want one piece to move against another, like a metal robot might.

You could have one made of a rigid material with gaps at the joints, enough to let the joints move.  Careful shaping of the pieces either side of the joint could help, so they seem to overlap.  I've done puppets with epoxy putty and Super Sculpey over armature wire, which I wanted to look like carved marionettes, but still animate with full motion.  I had to leave a bit more room for the wire to bend.  With a skeleton, I made the bones from epoxy putty, but extended them at the ends with cushion foam and latex so the gaps didn't look so big, but allowing some flexing near the joint.  Because it was wire, it needed about 10mm so the wire didn't always bend in one tiny spot, but I made it look more like 3mm.

The limbs are quite thick, so it will need a sturdy armature.  I usually use 2 strands of 3mm armature wire for legs and spine, but for a silicone sumo wrestler that was very heavy I needed 3 strands.  The waist won't be a problem since there is no fat belly.  Since the arms are also thick, a couple of strands of 3mm would probably be needed there too - I found my usual 5 strands of 1.5mm wire weren't enough for a really muscular monster, the shoulders resisted and wouldn't move as far as I wanted without springing back.  Adding a couple more strands doesn't help much, it needs thicker wire.  

If you are going ball and socket, there is room in there for larger ball joints, even at the ankle which is usually slim but takes the most weight, so they should be ok.  I always aim for an armature that can support the puppet by one foot, even way off balance.

I've never had to do this, but you could do worse than take a look at how figma figures like this are articulated.

Thank you all, that's very helpful ! And I'm glad you like the design.

@Moonshine
Yes I guess they'll be heavier than the rest of the body but just to be safe I'll probably put tie-downs.

@Nick
Harryhausen's puppets are great but, as you pointed out, this one is more about pieces moving against one another. Overlaping pieces would be great as they would avoid huge gaps between the stones near the articulations. It seems to be the best for shoulders but I could go another way for the waist.

Does the flexibility of the bones appeared in the animation or was it so mild you couldn't see it ? Oh and I'd love to see your carved puppet.

I'll start with wire (a thick one) and see how it's working out but ball and socket armature will stay an option, for sure.

@John
Indeed, that could be an inspiration. Thank you for the link !

I like it!

Thank you Angus !

The "carved" puppets - actually modelled in Super Sculpey - are the Adam and Eve puppets in this short:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lfqTk_v5Kk&t=3s 

The skeleton can be seen in action in this little promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcyunk_gezc    You can't see the bones bend.

Always a pleasure to watch your videos Nick !

I'll try something and come back to show you if it's working.

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