Step 2: Time to Build an Armature

What you'll be using
First off you will need "armature wire". Most art stores will carry small and large quanities of it. It's basically wire, usually aluminum or steel. You can use paperclips, coat hankers, any metal wire in which you can bend with your fingers and holds up pretty well. Only need a about a foot of it.

What wire am I using?
Wire as you know comes in different gauges. For this demonstration I'm using stuff I found in my dad's tool cabinet.
I found copper wire at 16 gauge and I also found 24 gauge steel wire. An example of a "wire" not to use is soldering wire. It's lead and very weak, it wouldn't hold up for long. Alternatively wire so strong where you couldn't bend it at all with your fingers wouldnt work either. You can use pliers to bend your armature but I like the freedom of bending at will and the ease of it. Work with whatever you like best. You will also need wire cutters. The one's pictured are not really right for the job. Ask a Homer at Home Depot. Probably a good tool to have around anyhow.

Tricks of the trade
Most of the professional sculptors will use two different gauge wires. One thicker wire to build the base armature and a second thinner wire to wrap around the thicker base armature. This will provide a better grip for the clay you will eventually squish around it. Without that second thinner wire the clay tends to slide off.

Measuring, proportions and posing
With this knowledge you're ready to build your figures armature.
Be sure to check the size of your action figure bubble. You want your figure to eventually fit inside the bubble don't you?
You can also use the original action figure as something to measure up to. You will have to decide if you want a certain pose. This being my first attempt at this will keep it real simple. Also instead of building the figure all at once. You might decide it would be easier to build different limbs and torsos sepearate later gluing them together. Also if you do wish to make action figure posable. IE has articulation it will require some more research into jointed limbs. The classic 4 and a half inch GI Joes always had hinges molded into the arm with a rivet to hold them together. You might decide you can use magnets. Or just a metal tube with a rod.
does this have articulation ???????? (can it move ?) please respond
<p>Nice article, thanks! </p><p>http://www.customizedactionfigures.org/</p>
Are these made for play? And what do you mean &quot;burn your finger&quot;?
I think he meant the fingers on the figure
Oh, thanks.
I'm a trainer sculptor and SFX guy. <br><br>I dont know what the product name is for the plastic used for small action figure arms and legs. It's rubbery and flexible so the two piece torso can hold the limbs in and they can rotate without joints. <br><br> Anybody able to tell me?
Neato! I intend to create a miniature figurine of a robot with an actual LED&nbsp;in it. Since you've wrapped wire around the main wire of the armature, I could find a way to get current to the LED. The question is whether or not the heat of the oven would affect the wire inside or not..... It might melt the plastic jacket around the wire, but I don't know if it would do anything..... Oh, and I love sculpey. That is all.<br />
just like the bootleggers see<br> <a href="http://bootlegactionfigures.com/blog/?paged=2" rel="nofollow">http://bootlegactionfigures.com/blog/?paged=2</a>
Hi, your great Ible inspired me to make my own &quot;magnetic joint action figure kit&quot; Ible: <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Posable-Action-Figure-Building-System" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/Posable-Action-Figure-Building-System</a>
:P Nothing says ninja like a ten foot revolver and a shoulder harness.
lol seriously
Im also pretty sure Sculpey III comes in larger bricks now, a pound maybe? I think they run about 15 bucks.
Sorry about that, its actually the Super Sculpey.
This is a cool idea. I have worked with polymer clay some, so I have a couple suggestions. First I might recommend using clay that can be baked multiple times without losing strength. Try Kato Polyclay, it can be a bit more expensive but I've had great results from it. This will also allow you to do more with your action figure, most importantly you can make an accurately proportional body and get better detail. Try building the shape up in a couple layers, baking in between. It's a similar process to the 'bulking up' part of drawing that those comic book tutorials always include. I'd still recommend baking smaller bits (like fingers) last or separately though
Haha, This is sweet! Can't wait to try!
very nice. at 1st i was sceptical, then i was like, wow, this could work! <sup>_</sup><br/>
Hey guys. I actually have some experience with Super Sculpey and a few of my pieces are on my myspace page at www.myspace.com/craigloaf. They are in my pics under 'projects'. I actually just finished my first jointed action figure and hope to post pics soon.Good tutorial and please have a look at my work. Thanks.
You can also make your own Plastic Bubble, <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.instructables.com/id/E8RW98YF3C4XLCQ/?ALLSTEPS">Vacuum Forming</a>: <br/>
A few things I would like to add because they are realted--<br/><br/>Joints aren't hard unless you want the kind of joints that actual action figures have, which is closer to a pin in hinge type. A bit harder to make with sculpey, but still possible.<br/>I suggest a ball joint route, where you have a shpere that sits in a hollowed area. The entire doll could be held together with elastic, and all the pieces being hollow. A few S hooks in the hands, feet, and head, and you would have a completely poseable figure.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkclub.or.jp%2F%7Eoshizaka%2Fdoll%2Fhowto%2Findex.html&amp;langpair=ja%7Cen&amp;hl=en&amp;safe=off&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8&amp;prev=%2Flanguage_tools">http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkclub.or.jp%2F%7Eoshizaka%2Fdoll%2Fhowto%2Findex.html&amp;langpair=ja%7Cen&amp;hl=en&amp;safe=off&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8&amp;prev=%2Flanguage_tools</a><br/><br/>It's completely in Japanese, but google does wonders: It details everything that I have said here, and can be applied to any type of figure.<br/>
Another note-- When using SS, don't bake pieces. You run the risk of burning them! Instead, put the soft piece in a large bowl full of water (so that the water covers the piece) and stick it into the microwave for 15mins. The piece will cure in the microwave. If you want a better sandable surface, go to a local art store and buy "gesso". It's a primer for canvases, but it makes a sandable surface that can be smoothed and finished out. After that, paint it with whatever you like, and seal it in a dull coat matte finish so it isn't too glossy. Something like Testors Dullcoat. If you want a shiner finish, pick a varnish instead.
This is a great Instructable! So detailed, and such interesting links. I too would love to know how to do joints, but this is a great way to start. Nice job! What sort of glue did you use to attach the eyes?
Thanks! No glue just stuck them on for the photo. Later I baked them on. I would get a few sculpting tools they would help big time. Might want to "kit bash" a hinge and just add polymer clay around it.
I like the finished look, but on a pedantic note, surely action figures have movable joints (hence the 'action')? What colour(s) are you going to paint the Crab-Man? L
I was going to be paint it but painting is really tough. I also end up buying little contaners of paint only using a fraction of it and then storing the rest of it for a few years until tossing it. Yeah joints would be cool. I know the Highly Flamable toys usually dont have working joints just ones that look like they could work. They figure it will stay inside the bubble. This was my first attempt at polymer clay figures, next figure I'll try to upgrade the look. I have to watch the dvd series again a few times, I first thought it would be real easy but sculpturing and detailing is really hard!
You did a super job on the claws, I wouldn't know how to start on crab-claws... L
Thanks! All I did was roll out a small wheel,cut it in half then rolled smaller peices and stuck them inside and then use a razor edge to blend them in some. Added some holes on the outside for texture. Two things I learned on this figure. Once you bake the figure you lose detail. Also I wouldnt exactly call this color translucent. The clay that Patrica Rose uses is much more skin like. Just something to keep in mind.
Why not?
I smell a paradox!
You do? It smells like freshly cooked waffles here...
You know what? I think I burned the waffles...<br/><br/>=D<br/>
nice work! i'm sure a lot of people would like to have a custom action figure. realistic sculpting is definitely the difficult part, but there are a lot of places to find help, and your links are a good start. all you need next are some arm and leg joints so you can pose it!<br/><br/>(and never mind waffles, he's just full of <strong>s</strong>yrup.<br/>

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Bio: I'm an industrial arts major at SFSU with an empahsis in product design. I'm online all the time and I find myself constantly ... More »
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