Learning Stop Motion Animation / Aprendiendo animación
Updated: Apr 27
Hello and welcome to my blog. I haven't written much lately but I haven't been idle. I have spent the last few months learning how to do stop motion animation. My intention is to create fun videos that aid Spanish language learning. This is still a work in progress but I wanted to share with you what I have learnt up to now.
I want to thank all those people that share tutorials online, because without them I wouldn't have known where to start.
Creating a stop motion animation puppet
The first thing to do to create a fully articulate puppet is to build an armature from aluminium wire ( I buy it online, I couldn't find the correct wire in DIY stores or garden centres). It must be aluminium because other wires, like steel are very hard to mold. I use:
For the body aluminium armature wire size 1.6 mm
For the fingers 0.56 mm aluminium wire, although I have bought 0.71 mm wire to try. I double the wire to make the fingers.
Epoxy putty (I buy this online too but I you can also get it in DIY stores) to make the bones. As you can see in the second picture.
To give the armature the right proportions I drew the sketches below, basically you repeat the same measurements 8 times and then split the one for the neck and chest into 2. You then wind the wire following the sketch.
You can watch the video where I learnt how to make the stop motion armature here and on this other video it explains how to calculate the dimensions of the sketch and how to build a wire armature. I used a mixture of both tutorials, as the second one is not specifically stop motion. Still I recommend both, they are really well explained and in depth.
Felting and animating the face
Exploring some of my ideas online I came across a lady that did felting online tutorials. Initially I was looking how to make a horse with paper, I do not recommend origami, it is so difficult. Anyway I discovered needle felting, fell in love with it and decided I wanted to use felting for my stop motion animation puppet. I based the puppet on my logo.
As it is my first time, I gave my puppet felted eyes and mouth to then discover to my horror that to animate the face and give it expression you need to change the eyes and mouth. I saw yet another tutorial and they made the eyes and mouth out of paper and attached them to the puppet with Vaseline. Good lesson for my next puppet but I had to solve the problem with this puppet unless I wanted to undo the whole face (and I really, really didn't want to do that). So I decided to felt different expressions onto a small piece of felt the same colour as the puppet's face, as you can see in the pictures. It works quite well but I have to felt and unfelt for each expression...
The hands are quite important and I love that all the fingers move, you can put them in so many different positions and it's great fun. My kids loved it! A doll that they can fully articulate (I had to make a bespoke puppet for one of my daughters). It does have it challenges though. I recommend doubling the wire and then following the sketch to create the fingers, wrap the leftover wire up to the arm and put epoxy putty in what would have been the palm of the hand.
If you are using felt I recommend you either use PVA glue to wrap the felt around each finger ( I shall try this myself next time), felt the fingers and then fix the felt by sewing around each finger (this is what I did this time) or forget about the felt and you can use a glue called sugru to mold the fingers I saw a video making the hands that way). I have used sugru for the feet, as I explain in the next section.
Ah! This is quite a challenge and I don't have the answer for making the puppet stand up on two feet, or even better stand up on one leg! (So if you have a solution please put it in the comments below). I first tried using T-nuts, with this method you need to drill holes onto a board and then attach the T-nut into a screw in the foot and make your puppet walk by repeating the process. It didn't work for me because the epoxy putty got into the screw. So what I have done is put some sugru glue to make the feet bigger (very important to give your puppet big enough feet to make sure the puppet stands on its own) and I will attach it with blue tack.
I toyed with the idea of using magnets, but I need to explore that further. At the moment the animation I have made (my very first proper one) the puppet doesn't need to walk!!!
Technology / apps for animation
Another hurdle. I looked at different programs and cameras and in the end I have decided to start simple by using my phone and an app called stop motion that is free (although I have upgraded it to be able to do a few more things for a fiver). It's OK but I don't enjoy editing on the phone. I will be looking at other programs and I shall let you know how I get on.
If you have any of your own tips and suggestions please let me know in the comments. It will be very much appreciated.
Please click on this link to see my first stop motion animation movie (it lasts for the whole of 38 seconds).
And this is all for now. Please feel free to subscribe.