Introduction: Stop Motion Puppet Armature

About: I'm a social-worker, working with 12 - 23 year-olds. I used to be a printer. In 2018 I opened a small makerspace ( in my house, where I have lasercutters, 3d-printers, Arduino's, Mindstorms and ot…

So we want to make a stop motion film. After some research about how they do it at Laika studio's for movies like Boxtrolls and Coraline, I figured I should start by making an armature for the stop motion puppet.

You can also buy armatures, but they are very expensive and it is also a lot more fun to make them yourself.

Step 1: You Will Need


  • Ball head screws (M2.5)
  • Brass pipes with an inner diameter that is just smaller than the thread of the ball head screws (2x4)
  • Small screws (M3)
  • Brass plate (strips 2mm thick)


  • M2.5 thread tap
  • M3 thread tap
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm drills
  • Drill press
  • Loctite
  • Power sander
  • Bandsaw
  • File

Step 2: Make the Bones

I used a drawing from internet to figure uit the dimensions of the skeleton.

  • Mark the length of the "bone" on the brass tube.
  • Cut tube to length.
  • Sand (or file) it square.
  • Use the tap to cut thread in both sides of the tube.
  • Screw the ball head screws in the brass tube.

Do this for all the "bones" you need.

Step 3: Drilling the Hinges

To make the plates for the hinges is something to do in series and not one by one.

  • Drill 2.5 mm holes on both sides of the brass strip.
  • Drill 2.5 mm holes between half of the holes you drilled.
  • Drill 3 mm holes between the other 2.5 mm holes.

Step 4: Tread the Strip

  • Use the 3 mm drill (or even bigger) to create some kind of "cup" on the 2.5 mm holes on the sides. Do this by just drill in the material a little bit.
  • Cut thread in the 2.5 mm holes in the middle with the 3 mm tap.

Step 5: Cut the Plates

  • Sand the end of the strip with all the holes as close to the first 3 holes as you dare, without damaging the holes.
  • Cut the part with the first 3 holes from the strip.
  • Use pliers to sand the other side also as close to the holes as you dare.

Be careful while sanding: this will get very hot!

Step 6: Put the Parts Together

For a hinge you need two "bones", a plate with a 3 mm hole in the middle, a plate with a M3 tread in the middle and a M3 bolt.

  • Push the M3 bolt through the 3 mm hole.
  • Screw the bolt just slightly in the M3 threaded hole in the other plate.
  • Make sure that the "cup" on the outer holes of the two plates is towards each other.
  • Hold the ball heads on both sides in between the two plates.
  • Tighten the bolt to hold the "bones".

Step 7: The Torso

  • Clamp two strips of brass together.
  • Cut a line of four 2.5 mm holes through both strips.
  • Make with the 3 mm drill a cup on the two outer holes on both strips.
  • Drill one of the middle holes bigger with the 3 mm drill.
  • Cut M3 tread in the same hole on the other strip.
  • Also cut M3 tread in the other middle hole on both strips.

Step 8: Cutting the Torso

  • File a gutter over one of the middle 2.5 mm holes that is not opposite the 3 mm hole.
  • Cut both strips to size.
  • Sand the torso pieces a bit smaller, but be sure to keep the width of the gutter.
  • Use one M3 screw through the M3 hole to keep the ball heads in place.
  • Use an other M3 screw to hold the brass tube that goes through the gutter in place.

Step 9: The Feet

  • Drill a 2.5 mm hole in the middle of the feet.
  • Drill a 2 mm hole where the heel comes.
  • Cut M2.5 thread in the 2 mm holes.
  • Cut M3 thread in the 2.5 mm holes. (this is to attach the model to the table while shooting)
  • Cut the feet to size.
  • Sand off the sharp corners.

Step 10: Lock It Tight

When your armature is how you like it, you will need to fix the ball head screws in place.

  • Unscrew all the ball head screws until they are almost out of the tubes.
  • Put a small drop of thread fixator (Loctite) on all the threads of the ball head screws.
  • Screw the ball head screws back in.
  • Wait at least one hour before playing, but wait one day to be sure.

Step 11: Start Animating

You can tighten or loosen the screws according to your wishes.

Step one of our movie is finished.

Now we just need a story, character design, background, music, voice actors, wardrobe, more armatures, camera, software.....

So, we are almost finished! :P

Photography Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Photography Contest 2017