Building NiCA – Armature

Stop Motion Project in it’s infancy, I’ve subscribed to the awesome Stan Winston web tutorials and been watching the charming Chiodo Bros. and their four part Stop Motion tutorials, Itch to animate again and determined to build a puppet that lets me do what I want.

After much doodling, note taking, doing as I’m told and then making it up as I go along, Day 1 of the build is complete.


Made my blueprints to scale as instructed, as all previous puppets have ended up huge, planned what needed to be removable. I’m thinking only her head, and hands can be fixed, still not completely decided on this, don’t want to make dressing the puppet awkward but fixed allows more security. Experimented with wire thickness as didn’t have the same gauge as suggested, think the spine might be a little stiff but at least she stands well.

Messed up the rib cage, panicked with the epoxy as it does cure quicker than the 60 mins. I used some of the old ball jointed armature fixing for tie-downs for both the feet and her bum, fixed her head with the small square tubing so that is removable.  In my element 🙂

Roughed out on day 1 but finished and got into shape today, cleaned up – Meet NiCA.

She is still lower armless (as I mucked them up) but had a play with the silicon paint pigmentation by Silc Pig, caucasian flesh tone and pretty happy with the result, so I decided to cover the fudged hands save wasting the latex.

I poured the mold in plaster and ran her face in Liquid latex, have pulled one but the nose is a little rough, so have re-poured and shall see.  Feeling like the idea is gonna work so pleased on that note.  Also have an idea for foam fabrication hair, as this can be styled big but won’t chatter.  Prepared to re-sculpt the face if the mold won’t pour properly but itching to foam out the armature and sort the hair.

DAY 2 – I had the whole weekend to work on NiCA 🙂 and it actually took a weekend of pretty solid work, to practically finish her.  I was slow with the foam build up, as I was pleased with the armature, I didn’t want to muck up and as I hadn’t done it before I second guessed myself a lot, but I reckon Black Bear will be a quicker build.

The foam cut and glued for her legs, I poured a few heads (none off which I completely happy with) but I’ve decided to not be precious and approach this as the first of many Stop Motion puppets/projects, as it occurred to me, this is creating creatures still, just on a smaller scale.

I took a trip to a local upholsterers, I bought some super thin foam, which I reckon may work like L200 and I used for her boot soles.  Also bought some 1 inch foam sheet and some upholster pins, thinking they could be used for the replacement mouths.  I am thinking I might make her mouthless now and give the bear a movable jaw for his line ‘It’s time’ to which she could nod a reply as all other dialogue is a narration.  I rummaged through the off cut bin and got a range of foam densities and thickness’ to play with.

Three heads, two with silicon silc pig pigment mixed into liquid latex, two poured with just latex.  I had an idea for moveable eyebrows, which are made from thin copper wire covered in latex and flocking.  Base skull for eyeballs and attempt two on hands doubled on the fingers this time.

Foam build up completed, I did pull arms up and down when wrapping, to allow for movement.  I didn’t account for arms crossing the building, so I had to cut into the shoulder foam, luckily her sleeve shoulder puffs have yet to be fixed, so this was easy enough.

Did a super rough DM sculpt, was gonna order some BJD boots but they are about £15 a pop and more annoying they ship slow from Japan and I always seem to get custom charges.  My impatience prompted me to block out these, more as a place holder but I’m happy with the end result, so the boots will probably stay.  I hung the clay sculpt DM’s upside to mold so the latex would de-mold easier.  I also reasoned I need a hole for the tie downs, so can add a foam sole.  Today was slow but ultimately productive.  This idea I was off and running with, as to be honest, I am a planner but once I have the idea for the creation – I’m happiest when I’m making it up as I go along.

DAY 3 FABRICATING – This was the part I felt most comfortable with and I didn’t take many photos, just forged ahead. Nearly finished NiCA, her hair isn’t finished and her head isn’t correctly attached yet. I wanna repaint the hands and maybe add nails and the dress needs a necklace or collar to break up the pattern.  I didn’t use the original epoxy head and instead add the latex face to a polystyrene ball, as the original felt too small for her frame.  Used one of the faces for the cat mask, I cut the bottom off and added to the top as ears. I also repainted her eyes on backwards, so I could use the holes and a pin to make eye movements.  Hanging out with her robot rock buddy, she feels like a person and I’m not sure if it’s related to the amount of time spent making her, Timmy tells me this is called the ‘Ikea effect’ but I’m already VERY fond of her, hope black bear goes as well.

Building NiCA – Armature

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