• J.Walker

Armature Making: Continued

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Continuing from yesterday, I did a bit of research on whether or not a heat gun has the ability to melt solder in order to continue making my armature as I have a heat gun. Some websites said that it was possible along as the heat gun was set to the highest setting, so I decided to test it out.

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Setting up in the same way as I did yesterday, I put 2 ceramic block against each other, one flat one standing, to help direct the heat from the gun away from the door frame. The heat from the gun was enough to melt the solder and turn the K&S red, although not as bright at a blowtorch would.


The most challenging part of actually using the heat gun was the air coming from the heat gun kept blowing the K&S pieces and the cut bits of solder away. I sacrificed a pair of my good tweezers, as I didn't have a longer set, in order to maintain the position of the K&S and the solder while contorting my arm so that I didn't feel any heat and burn myself.


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Once I had all the K&S soldered onto the metal plates, I then took them inside and gave them a good clean using fresh water. Once that was done I set them aside to air dry and began re working my armature design.


My original armature design was made for a hybrid 3D ball and socket armature. Using the first design, I placed a new piece of paper over it and placed the chest and waist plates in the same position on the original design and drew a simplified version to work from. I made sure to keep the arms and legs the same length, and re-drew the length of the spine as it needed adaption because of the size of the metals plates.

Due to the change from ball and socket to wire, I have to re-design how I do the joints.

This video is a fun way of showing the simple mechanics of how a ball and socket armature join works.


With a ball and socket armature, 2 complimentary components work together to give a fluid movement, as the video shows. In industry standard armatures, the structure of a ball and socket joint are a lot more complex as the range of motion needs to be wide, while at the same time strong enough to ensure that the joint doesn't move without being manipulated by the animator.


The joint works similarly to our own elbows, with the movement solely being made at this point. However in a wire armature, it is the wire itself that bends to give movement. Because wire has the ability to be flexible at any point, I needed to decide where I want the joints for the elbows, knees and ankles. Once I decided where the natural position of joint fell along the length of the arms and legs, I needed to make the choice of what parts of the wire I don't want to move without limiting the range of motion.


To prevent the wire bending were I don't want it to, I measured out and cut 4 x 10mm lengths of circular K&S to act as bones for the bicep and forearm. For the thighs I cut 2 x 20mm pieces, and the calves 2 x 15mm. The K&S will slide over the wire comfortably and will need to be stuck in place using epoxy resin.


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Starting with the spine, I realised that the triple twisted 20mm wire wouldn't fit well into the K&S. I had to re-twist 2 pieces of 16mm wire and use that for the spine, using epoxy resin to fix it to the chest and waist plate.


While the resin dried, I remade the wires for the arms and legs because my earlier ones were too short. I glued the K&S along the length of each arm for the bicep and the forearm and left it on the side to dry.


While the arms dried, I put the long pie for the legs through the K&S on the metal plate and glued it in place. When that was dry, I bend the wire at either side of the K&S on the waist plate to make 'hips' and slipped the smaller pieces of K&S along each leg and glued them to form the thighs and calves.


At this point, the only parts of the armature I need to do it attach the feet. I can't do it until all the Resin is dry so I moved onto the hands.


Using the thin wire I twisted yesterday I cut it into 5 strands and twisted them the form a trunk, and the individual strands coming off with be the fingers. I quickly realised that the trunk was far too wide to fit into any of the K&S that I have.


I went back to the main armature and bend the bottom of the wire of the legs to make the feet. First sliding the larger foot plate and then the smaller one, I applied more resin to the feet plates, making sure that each foot had the same distance in-between each part so that it would be symmetrical. I then cut the excess wire from the tip of the toes and applied more epoxy resin to the tips to ensure they were fully glued.


Returning to my hands, I tried to squish them into a thinner shape to attempt to push them into the K&S, it didn't work. I then tried to cut some of the individual strands of wire in the trunk to thin it out, it also didn't work. The structure wasn't stable enough for me to actually use the hands in the armature.


Thinking back to how Mario made his 3D printed hands, I decided to try and do it with a square of metal.

Mario 3D printed a shape that resembled the palm of a hand, with holes in it to glue to wire finger in place. So to replicate this, I cut a very rough palm out of the same metal I used to form my chest and waist plates. I clamped it down and drilled through to form the holes for the fingers. The metal was too strong for my Dremel, and instead of drilling a hole through it, the metal warped and formed a dome where the drill went in.


Next I cut 1cm piece of K&S and clamped it, using the drill bit I drilled 3 holes through the top side, the middle hole goes through to the opposing side allowing for a piece of wire to go all the way through the K&S. On the under side of the K&S I also cut slits on either end.


With the holes and slits cut, I sanded down the sharper edges made from drilling.


The K&S piece is now complete for the hand. The three pieces of wire are now slid through the three holes. The middle wire is used for the middle finger and the wrist. The two other wires are bent halfway along their length to form the other digits on the hand, bending around the end of the K&S.











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