If the sculpting bug has bitten you, then sooner or later you are going to need to be able to make your own armatures.
In this comic strip styled tutorial I will show you how I go about making one of these armatures for a 32mm scale humanoid. I will be making one using a “heroic” set of proportions. A lot needs to be said about anatomy and proportions, but for todays purpose these will not be fundamentally necessary.
What do you need?
1 - steel wire (here I’m using a 0.7mm diameter)
2 - anatomy template
3 - bendy pliers (you will need two pairs, one with a pointy head, and the other preferably a flat head)
4 - heavy duty wire cutters (do you need these explained? )
5 - superglue (cyanoacrylate glue) + greenstuff
6 - solder wire and a blowtorch (I’ll be using this option in this tutorial)
Let's get started!
Using the wire cutters, I cut two lengths of wire.
One approximately 20cm, this will make the torso and the legs; the second approximately 15cm, this will be for the arms.
As you go through the stages this will appear to be a
big waste of wire, but there is method in the madness...
Using my pointy nose pliers I grab roughly the center of the torso & leg wire...
... and bend the wire into a tight “U” shape.
Then still using the pliers I squash the bend in the wire to end up with something like this:
I grab the wire using the flat-headed pliers
just below my reference mark. Now I grab
the “head” end with my other pair of pliers,
and twist until...
... I obtain something like this.
I check my work against the template before moving on. If needed I can either add a twist or two (if I need to increase the length of the spine), or I can unwind the spine a bit (if I got a bit over excited...)
Now I grab my armature with the flat-headed pliers, with one side of these pliers on the line corresponding to the base of the spine...
... and using my fingers I bend the “legs” out by about 90°
Once again I check my work against the template. Then I mark the points for the “hip” joints.
Using the pointy pliers, I grab one “leg” just below the “hip” mark as shown....
... and bend using my finger into roughly a 90° angle.
I repeat the process on the other “leg”, and I end up with something like this.
Once again I check my work against the template. Then I mark the point where the arm section meets the spine.
Now using some blu-tack: I fix my legs&torso part to a spare piece of wood...
... then tack the “arms” wire over the torso, taking care that it sits neatly on the mark I made previously:
Now at this point you could use a drop of superglue to fix the arm bar to the torso, and then dress that joint with greenstuff. I, on the other hand, am going a more radical way by using the blowtorch and some solder wire.
The reason being I have had a few unfortunate accidents in the past where my greenstuff and superglue did not
hold properly and gave way quite a way into the sculpting process. This meant that the sculpt was lost. So I play
it safe now.
Also I like using the blowtorch, it amuses me greatly...
I now end up with this. I will now file away the excess solder...
...to obtain this.
Now that my armature structure is complete I can put in the final anatomical reference points. These reference points are mainly the major joints (knees, elbows, heels, wrists, shoulders).
I mark the joints out using my template, rotating my armature each time to minimise the risk of asymmetry.