armature building

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

        OR

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.