Introduction: Make an Armature for Sculpting!

Picture of Make an Armature for Sculpting!

Hey All!

Thanks for visiting my instructable! Today we are going to learn how to make a wire armature for adding clay on to. Lets begin!

Step 1: Acquire Your Materials

Picture of Acquire Your Materials

You will need:

1: Floral wire or any really flexible thin wire

2: Aluminum Foil

3: Clippers

4: Hangar wire, OOK wire from any Home Depot or you may on occasion stumble across actual armature wire in the various arts and crafts stores.

Step 2: Make the Wire Cuts

Picture of Make the Wire Cuts

Now we need to cut our pieces from the Hangar wire or OOK wire for the armature (skeleton). The cuts should match the proportions of the cuts in the image shown. The longer wires are about 9 inches long and will end up making a character about 7 inches tall from head to toe.

Step 3: Wrapping the Shoulders and Spine

Picture of Wrapping the Shoulders and Spine

Next you will take a long strip (at least 2 feet in length) of floral wire and hold the two longer pieces of hangar wire parallel with a shorter piece between them for the neck.

Step 4: Wrap the Core Together

Picture of Wrap the Core Together

Take the floral wire and begin wrapping 3/4 of the way up the longer hangar wires along with the neck in place as shown. Ensure that you wrap it as tightly as possible. This may be a little tuff on your hands and you may want to wear gloves.

Step 5: Add the Shoulders

Picture of Add the Shoulders

Now add one of the shorter pieces across the top at the base of the neck. Be sure to wrap completely around the shoulders and off onto the forearms to ensure that your armature will remain sturdy.

Step 6: Add the Feet

Picture of Add the Feet

Now to take the last two smaller pieces and bend them 90 degrees about 3/4 of the way down.

Step 7: Wrap the Feet

Picture of Wrap the Feet

Now wrap the feet towards the bottom of the legs while leaving some of the legs hanging out the bottom so we can mount the armature to a base.

Step 8: Begin Adding the Tin Foil

Picture of Begin Adding the Tin Foil

Begin wrapping strips of tin foil around the parts of the body that require bulking. I typically wrap almost all of the armature in the foil because I've found that the clay sticks better to it. Bulking also saves on material costs of the clay.

Step 9: Cover the Armature

Picture of Cover the Armature

Step 10: Pose Your Armature

Picture of Pose Your Armature

Now you can use the Wire coming out the bottom of the feet to stand your armature up while you work on it. A wooden or steel base with holes roughly the same diameter as the wire will hold them up nicely while you work on it.

Step 11: Voila! Begin Adding Your Clay!

Picture of Voila! Begin Adding Your Clay!

Now the fun really Begins! You can begin adding Super Sculpy, chavant or any other clay you prefer to your armature! Below are examples of what can be made! Have fun!

Step 12: Examples

Picture of Examples

About me:

I am actually a 3D artist by trade and have spent a few years working in both the video game and film industries. During my time making characters for games I started to realize that there was a real desire to step away from the computer screen and do something truly 3D. So I drove to the nearest arts and crafts store and bought me some super sculpy modeling clay. Ever since I've been hooked! I have since been continuing my career as a 3D artist and selling over a hundred of my likeness sculptures and custom wedding cake toppers on the side. Although I love traditional sculpture I am well aware that times are changing and I have always wanted to get in to 3d printing to see all of my 3D models come to life. Thanks for playing!

To see more of my work head on over to:

Want to Learn how to make a mold of your sculpt? Check out my other instructable here:


WackyPup (author)2017-10-13

Thanks for a great instructable. Do you have a website? The links on your article do not work. I would love to see more of your work you're wonderful!

tysonvw (author)WackyPup2017-10-13

Hey wacky pup! Sorry bout that! It's been forever since I've been on here but I just updated my link in my bio. It's now and it contains more of my vfx type stuff because I've been working in film and tv. Thanks for your kind words!

tysonvw (author)2015-02-26

The website is and the entire process is explained in depth there. Thanks!

lauren.smith.359126 (author)2015-02-25

Once you make the mold it is pretty much individualized for that person correct? Have you ever done the sculpture without the head so you can duplicate the body but personalize it for each customer with different heads? If so do you think attaching a clay head to acrylic body would work-of would you mold the individualized head and attach an acrylic head? Final question I you hand paint or airbrush yours? I have sculpted since high school as hit or miss hobby-but would LOVE to make a few of these for my kids and family, so am SUPER excited to have seen this!!!!!

Hi Lauren. In my opinion It was advantageous to have a default generic head on the model incase the customer didn't require a custom head. For me it was about offering different price points. It's easy enough to remove the head and then add a sculpey or fimo head and cook that. I've actually poured the resin cast, lopped of the head, sculpted a new sculpey head in place and then stuck the entire resin cast with new head in the oven and cooked the head while on the resin cast and had no problems. Smooth cast 300 resin from holds up nicely in the 275 to 300 degree temp.

Also I do a mix of hand painting and airbrushing. Molds are definitely the way to go if you are looking to mass produce a figure quickly but the rubber itself can be pricey so you have to have a high cost initially to cover the cost of the rubber molds and then subsequent pours can be significantly cheaper for customers. I've sculpted over 100 of these for people completely by hand and wished that I had learned molds sooner than later. In the end it's a ton of work and never made me rich, but it's fun being allowed to be a part of peoples special occasions and get paid for it.

Do you have a website where you sell the pieces? I would love to order one.

ninjanody (author)2014-10-31

Your sculpting ability "is over 9000" (dragonball frase).

tysonvw (author)ninjanody2014-10-31

so was your comment! Thanks ninjanody!

LunaEros (author)2014-10-04

Not to be a stickler, but shouldn't this be posted under >Living>Art ?

This isn't a Technology and it wasn't made on a 3d printer.

Don't get me wrong, you are apparently extremely talented and it's a fantastic looking sculpture you've made, it just seems like on so many of the boards I'm on these days, nobody posts thing in the correct classification and I can't tell if it's from ignorance or indifference.

Great 'ible' though!

tysonvw (author)LunaEros2014-10-05

Yeah you're probably right!

craft-n-genius (author)2014-09-26

wow, those are SO GOOD!!! I have been obsessed with sculpting for the past few years, and this Instructable is going to help me a lot.

Thanks for sharing!

tysonvw (author)craft-n-genius2014-09-29

Thanks for your kind words! I have been hooked myself! Never could stop playing with that playdough ;)

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-09-28

great instructable

tysonvw (author)Fikjast Scott2014-09-29


Aslanslucy (author)2014-09-27

I would like to answer all who think they have no drawing or sculpting ability but
really want to be able to do this. Tysonvw and aanderson24 are absolutely
right! Add knowing how to "see" and you will be shocked to realize
that anyone can draw and hence, sculpt! It's not always about TALENT. Have you
seen Ren & Stimpy cartoons? Years ago I found the book "Drawing on The
Right Side of The Brain" by Betty Edwards (and later took a class) using
this book and watched people who could only draw stick figures in the
beginning--progressing in 9 weeks to drawing like an artist! The book can be
found online or your local library. This book literally changed my life. It is
very easy and interesting to read! My daughter took the course with me at a
local college and began selling her drawings of horses and animals, soon
afterwards. Don't say you can't--YOU CAN--if you really want to draw and
sculpt!! Thanks, tysonvw, for an excellent instructable! I found some armature
wire and it is fun stuff!:)

tysonvw (author)Aslanslucy2014-09-27

Love your post! I agree 1000%!

fingersitchy (author)2014-09-25

How would this hold up for animating the characters?

brendan945 (author)fingersitchy2014-09-27

I have used armature wire plenty of times in puppets. it holds up to a lot of abuse. Even well made puppets like tyson is describing can break eventually after repeated use. The trick is to do your best to think through the different parts and assemble your puppet in such way that if they break you can take parts off them and replace them with new ones. The Image i attached is of a puppet that is painted in latex but is also wearing clothes. He could have just as easily been left unpainted and just had simple clothes over bare wire. Biggest part of building a puppet is just diving in with an idea and figuring out what works and what doesn't. The other is a picture of how you can make joints by stiffening the wire with two part epoxy putty and the shoulder is fitted into a block of wood that is the upper torso. Just some ideas to get started with.

Another idea:

tysonvw (author)fingersitchy2014-09-25

Armatures for sculpture and armatures for animation are both pretty different. The wires I chose for this armature probably wouldn't hold up well to the constant posing and bending needed for animation and would break very early on. And that's no fun when you've worked so hard to get your armature encapsulated within your puppets body.There is specific wire that is meant for flexing and bending and there is also actual whole made puppets you can purchases online which are actually pretty affordable considering they used to be anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 dollars to have machined in house. Here's a link:

There are also DIY tutorials all over on how to make them yourself for cheaper.

stonea (author)2014-09-26

What kind of clay are you using?

tysonvw (author)stonea2014-09-26

I use a mix of one brick of super sculpey and 1 small block of black or grey sculpey III.

Horef (author)2014-09-25

soo... can you make instructable on how to get talent? :D

tysonvw (author)Horef2014-09-25

HA! I've always thought talent is synonymous with working hard and failing and succeeding. Practice practice practice!

aanderson24 (author)tysonvw2014-09-26

Tysonvw, you nailed it. People may have more capacity to do a particular thing, but practice and hard work can compensate for most of that if a person is willing to dedicate some time, and learn from failures.

Thnaks for the tutorial!

Ernext (author)2014-09-25

FINALLY this is very useful, thanks!

tysonvw (author)Ernext2014-09-25

My pleasure Ernext!

priyasingh0712 (author)2014-09-24

Wow!!!! Wish I could make one of them...

tysonvw (author)priyasingh07122014-09-24

No time like the present priyasingh0712. For a minimal amount of money and a little elbow grease you're on your way!

priyasingh0712 (author)tysonvw2014-09-24

The problem is....I cant even draw a line bad with such fine things...(Sigh)

tysonvw (author)2014-09-24

Thanks for your comments! I've used this method to create all of my sculptures to date and it's never failed me.

JayZ2 (author)2014-09-24

This is very creative, i made one myself, except with thinner wires. although using hangers i a really good alternative since it will hold up better. Thanks for sharing.

iPhone 7 specs

artworker (author)2014-09-24

Super duper! I have been long thinking to do these kind of things. But can not gather the courage to do so!

tinaciousz (author)2014-09-23

Is that the Michigan M I see? Go BLUE!

JM1999 (author)2014-09-23

Very nice, I like the intro to the 'ible, it is well written!

tysonvw (author)JM19992014-09-23

Thanks JM. Words are hard hah!

About This Instructable




More by tysonvw:Make a Mold for your sculpt or 3D print!Make an Armature for Sculpting!
Add instructable to: