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Creating a Foam Puppet for Animation (Dragon)

There are a lot of different ways to make the figures in a stop motion animation project. In this tutorial I show you the process of making one out of foam. Its a quick and easy way to make them and it looks pretty good.

I make a foam dragon for an installment in the dragonslayer series of animations.


This picture shows the completed animated dragon alongside the dragonslayer.

The miniature dragon and dragonslayer


The miniature animated t rex

Does this method of making a stop motion puppet work? It sure does. Here is a Tyrannosaurus rex made by Camo using these techniques! So, if you want to give it a try I say go for it! You can see more about this T-Rex and how Camo made it right here: Making a T-Rex for stop motion.


The foam dragon on the set

Okay, the first thing you need to think about when making a stop motion puppet is the size and scale of it. This dragon will be inside a temple so I have placed an early form of it into the temple so I can get a sense for the proper size and scale. I also used the 12 inch dragonslayer figure. You want to make sure the size is about right and it will be able to move around within the space you are shooting the animation.


Getting the scale of the dragon

The very first thing to do is make some sketches to the scale you want.


Starting the wire armature

Then I twisted twelve gauge wire into pairs and laid it out on the sketch so I could create an armature that will be the skeleton system under the foam.


The dragon wire armature

Here is a look at the completed wire armature. There is a wire for each of the appendages that will move including a wire for the upper head and the lower jaw.


How to attach the wires

Use a pair of pliers to tie the various wires together very tightly into knots.


Add epoxy to seal joints

These joints are still prone to coming loose so you should apply some kind of a hardening clay epoxy to them to insure they stay tight.


Using JB weld

I used a couple of different materials including steel stik and JB Weld. They are two part epoxy putties where you mix the two parts together so they form a clay. With time it hardens. Out of these two I like the steel stik the best. The JB Weld is a bit wet and loose.

Most two part epoxies will be fine for this and in a pinch you could even use some kind of a glue.


Attaching a nut for the feet

Now let's take a look at the feet of the animated puppet. This is very important.

With a stop motion puppet you will need to secure the feet down to the surface of the scene. This is so it doesn't move and so you can lift the legs one at a time.

We do this with a nut and a bolt. Each foot has to have a nut in it. I will explain this more in a moment.

For now understand that I put a nut in each foot as shown in the picture to the left.


Add JB weld for the foot

Then I applied a good amount of the two part epoxy to secure the nut right into place. Be sure not to cover up any of the threading on the nut. You will have to get a bolt into that!


The bolts

I used 10-24 nuts and bolts. The bolts are three inches long.


Starting the making of the dragon

NextOkay, the wire armature under the dragon is done and we are ready to start adding the foam to shape this dragon out. Let's continue on with the tutorial


The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation

I have this book and love it. It is an advanced book.

The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation


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