Insider 4/7/2010 - Brian Dugas

I talked a bit in my last blog about creating armatures for sculpting and over my next two blogs I will be discussing the process of crafting your own armatures.

This is the armature I use most often. It’s a standard size and can be used as is for female figures or can be “squeezed” out to make much larger figures. I mentioned this last time, but this time I will demonstrate.

The squeezing process! I use a pair of flat round-nose pliers that have a built in spring for resistance. The spring makes it much easier on the hands. I (gently) elongate the limbs, torso, and neck, being very careful to maintain proportion and not be so heavy-handed as to break it. Try to do it evenly so the end result is clean and square. If you just mash out the limbs, it can damage and weaken the armature.

Here are the two next to one another for comparison. You can see that I’ve clipped off the bottom tab and used a pen to black in the areas where I squeezed the armature.

This is a shot of the armature ready to be posed. It’s important to be careful and clean when making the armature. Accuracy and proportion are important as well. Think of it as the foundation for a building: if you’re sloppy or you rush it, you are more likely to run into problems later. If an armature breaks, chuck it! DO NOT try and fix it. You’ll waste more time repairing it than if you had just started over. Not to mention, you run the risk of the armature failing later in the process, usually at the worst time and place possible!

Having a gesture drawing to work from certainly helps. Once you’ve made a few (hundred) you won’t really need one, though. Getting the pose right can be tricky. It’s an exercise in exaggeration, not subtlety. Exaggerate the pose so that the original pose is not lost or covered up after you apply the “flesh” or clothes and armor. When you’re adding material, you may find your pose is quickly turning into a guy/gal waiting in line if you aren’t careful. For those just starting, it helps to get a friend or loved one to strike a pose for you, even if you have a drawing you’re working from. When you are finished you should have a very clear, recognizable version of what you want the final to look like. A really good armature is almost a work of art unto itself!

In the next part I will cover the steps to bulk out your armature.

Til next time!