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Colin armature complete

Three of the main characters in “Dolls” are a trio of adorable stop-motion animated teddies called Colin (a horse), Philip (a teddy bear) and Margherita (a ragdoll).

To make the teddies, our sponsors Animation Toolkit kindly donated 3 of their newly redeveloped Pro Armature Kits, developed by Ray Harryhausen. These armatures will become the skeletons of the puppets.

Here’s one of the containers they arrived in: an old fashioned film reel tin. Love it!

Film can

The grand opening revealed the contents:

Armature parts

It felt a bit daunting at first as there were so many tiny pieces to put together, but once we got into it it was quite straightforward to visualise its skeleton and where we would need to place the joints.

We initially built them without gluing them together to allow for mistakes, as once the Locktite glue has dried there’s no going back! In these pre-glue photos they look a bit floppy and unstable:

Colin armature pre-glued

Philip armature pre-glue

After making some minor adjustments we took the plunge and glued them together:

Colin armature complete 2

Philip armature complete

As you can see, they all look a lot more robust now and feel very strong and animatable!

The next stage was skinning the puppets. We bought a memory foam pillow from Primark, cut it into strips, dipped it into latex and latex thickener, then wrapped it around the armatures.

Skinning the armatures

Unfortunately, it didn’t bind as well as we hoped it would: only just enough to hold it together. We were hoping we could shape it more, but since we’re covering them with fur and canvas it’s not so much of a problem.

Skinned armatures

Colin and Philip’s mouths will need to be able to move during the animation process, which means that for the next stage we’ll be making a skull and thread wire for the jaw to make it animateable. We’ll be posting more tutorials as we finish off the puppets.

Our next entry will cover creating plaster cast models, which we’ll be using to replicate the limbs of our main (human) character in the animated scenes. Look out for it next Monday!

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