Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Building Armatures: Kai the Horseclaw

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of an update! I've been suffering from an eye infection but am on the mend now, so let's carry on from where we left off: Kai's armature. Here's a reminder of this prehistoric looking bird's appearance:

I had already made a maquette from steel of the horseclaw which I was happy with the scale and proportions of, so rather than drawing out multiple angle scale drawings for the armature like I did with Nausicaa, I just made one of the side profile. This is my initial model; although crude, it has the desired shape of the bird:

It was important to look carefully at references of the film to check Nausicaa's proportions against Kai's. The Nausicaa puppet will be 15" tall, which makes Kai 18" tall.

I started off by cutting, filing down and sanding the pieces of brass K&S that would make up the legs and the pelvis.

In the same way that Nausicaa's armature was built, twisted aluminium wire protected by heat shrink tubing makes up the joints of the leg. There's a twisted loop at the bottom of the leg to create a base for the foot.

The toes were then created with four seperate pieces of wire, and glued into the loop for extra strength. The three front toes are the same length, the back one is shorter. You can see from this screenshot that when the horseclaws put down their feet the side toes are splayed right out, rather than being angled towards the centre front toe.

Here are the finished legs. The toes are made extra-secure to the leg with milliput, and M3 nuts are placed in the middle of the feet so they can be tied down. There are also little milliput blobs on the end of the aluminium to stop the armature from potentially damaging the skin of the foot later on. The pieces of K&S at the top of the legs that angle inwards will slot into the pelvis.

The ribcage is formed with a double strand of aluminium wire attatched with brass to the back of the bird. This will be suitable for the soft sculpture build up I want to experiment with.

The same is done for the pelvis shape. Once again, any joints that might not be strong enough with just glue are made extra-tough with milliput. At this stage the armature is nearly ready for the 'wrapping' process. The only thing that I forgot to photograph were the rig points added. There are rig points in both sides of the bird's ribcage should he need to be supported when animating. There's also one in the base of his back for Nausicaa to be slotted into when she's riding him.

The entire armature is wrapped in yarn so it has a sewable base for the wadding muscle to be built up onto.

I based this armature on a combination of different bird skeltons, looking at the leg shape of chickens and the ribcages and pelvis' of terror birds for reference. Ultimately it's been made to fit my scale drawings, and should be proportionate to Nausicaa's armature which I made alongside it.

Before I start giving this armature flesh I need to make the skull and the beak. The same goes for Nausicaa's head. Having the heads of my puppets on the armatures will help to keep the muscle build up even and in proportion.

Thank you for reading, do check back for another post very soon!

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