Running Antelope Machine




About: Former technics and arts and crafts teacher at a school for mentally disabled young adults.

The last couple of years I made several animals out of groceries boxes. You might just discover some of them in the photos. I like to give them a running posture, so they don't look static. But I never made one that actually moves. The challenge in the Instructables paper contest to make a paper machine was the start of this project. I remembered I had a little book written by Robert Race about simple automata. There I found a picture of a mechanical moving dog by Aquio Nishida that might be useful. So here is what I did to make a mechanical running antelope.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Take a look at the picture. You don't need much.

Collect boxes from cookies,chocolate, soup, rice,serial. Whatever you normally put in the paper bin. I like to let the print shine through after painting so in my case the orange in the boxes was welcome. Cut each box open where it is glued. It is easier to work with once it is flattened.

Then you need a hot glue gun. It works fast and tight, but mind your fingers.

  • a pair of scissors
  • a hole punch ( or big needle, awl)
  • some wire, I used 1 and 2 mm thickness.
  • pliers for cutting and bending.
  • two small beads ( perler or hama melting beads) tight fitting around the 2mm wire

If you want to paint:

  • some brushes
  • acrylic paint, I used white, black, chrome green, yellow ocher, brown,gold.
  • gesso white (for the first layer, you could without)

The purpose of this instructable is to stimulate you to build your own walking animal. If you want to copy my antilope, look at the last step of the instructable. I will include measurements and pattern.

Step 2: The Antelopebelly

I cut the front and back a small ( rice-)box, one with a little rim to glue the two sides together. Then I made a diagonal slit on both sides.By pulling the sides of the slit over each other you can create a flat cone shape so the breast part has some volume. Do the same on the other side. Then close the fold between the side and glue the parts together. Glue is added at the flat rear end of the body.

Step 3: Antelope Neck and Head

For the neck fold a piece of box-card in two, and cut of at an angle. Pattern is available in the last step of this instructable. Be sure to make one layer slightly larger to create a rim that can be folded and glued to the other side. This neck part can be glued over the body part.

The head is the same shape as the body only much smaller. Do not glue the head to the neck, because it has to be able to move when everything is finished. With small strips of cardboard (double) we can create horns. The ears are made of tiny rectangles. One end cut in a wedge shape, the other side with a slit in the middle to create a cone. Horns and ears can be glued to the head

Step 4: Antelope Legs

The front leg are simple strips of box-card. They are folded lengthwise, not glued. A slit halfway makes it possible to bend the knee a little. The knee is glued on both sides separately. The hoofs are added at a slicht angle.

The rear legs are somewhat more complex. Above the knee the leg has volume, created in a way similar to body and head. The lower part and hoofs are added from separate pieces of paper.

Step 5: Antelope Assembly

Head and legs should be able to move. To achieve this I punched holes in neck and head, body and legs A small piece of wire is then bent in a loop, threaded trough parts that must be connected and bent in a loop on the other side. Both front legs are attached with one piece of wire, as are both rear legs, The connection should be loose fitting.

Step 6: Support Pole

To suppart the animal a sturdy pole is needed. I made 4 folds lengthwise is a strip of card als formed it into a square tube.I made a separate piece fitting inside the tube with two long slits to connect the tube to the crank later. I discovered later that it is possible, if fiddly, to connect the pole to the crank by disregarding the green piece and punch simple holes in the end of the pole.

The top of the pole is pressed flat and glued inside the animal body.

Step 7: Pedestal

First flatten two similar boxes. Cut of one side and glue the rest together again to create two shallow boxes. Cut four strips of cardboard and fold them lengthwise. Glue one strip in each corner. The result is a box with four open sides, a bit like a fishtank. In the center of the top cut a square hole, big enough for the pole to go through.

Step 8: The Crank

You will need a bit of sturdy wire. I used 28 cm, two mm thick. Bend it like the photo. I made a mistake by making the "U" shape too big the first time. 1,5-2 cm is enough. Measurements can be found at the end of this instructable. Add two vertical strips of box card (double) to the pedestal and punch holes. Insert the long end of the wire from the inside out in one of the holes. Then do the same on the other side with the short end. I then placed the pole of the antilope in a hole I cot in the top of the pedestal and connected it with the green part on the photo's. It is possible to do without the green part and simply punch holes in the pole. But that makes it even more fiddly to put pedestal, crack and pole together.

To secure the crank from shifting I put two small Hama or Perler beads on the sides of the pedestal as can be seen in the third picture. If not available the beads could be replaced by gluing a paper strip round the wire.

Step 9: More Wires

Here is where trial and error sets in. To make the animal move in a natural way the legs are supported by wires in a "X" shape. Front legs are supported at the rear of the pedestal, the hind legs are supported in front.

Last but not least the head is supported by a wire in front. I made a big loop to attach it to the pedestal.

A good tip is to put one end of each wire in a vise, and the other end in a drill. Turning makes the wire straight and more resilient.

The wire are attached to the legs and the pedestal by more pieces of wire with loops at each end.

Step 10: Painting the Pedestal

I doubted, but in the end painting seemed to me a good idea. I wanted the pedestal to look sturdy, heavy, almost like another material. First I painted a layer in dark brown. The inside is straight black. When the paint dried I brushed over a tiny amount of chromium green mixed with white. Be sure the brush stays almost dry with hardly any paint on it. When that layer is dry ( almost instantly) I brushed over an even tinier amount of gold. The result is a metal, almost bronze like finish. The box-card is not longer recognizable.

Step 11: Painting the Beast

I like to show the original print of the boxes through the paint. It makes the viewer aware of what it is made of, and it gives it a sense of spontaneity. So all paint used is diluted with water. First I give all the parts a light coat of gesso. It makes the paint stick better to the sometimes slippery surface of some boxes. Then the lower part of body is painted ( transparent) white, the upper part a mixture of brown and ocher. After drying I added black accents in hoofs and horns an a little bit on the rim of the back. Finally I slam some white speckles on the body with a very wet brush for the spontaneous feel.

Step 12: Measurements and Patterns

As I explained earlier: Be adventurous and try some other animal. But for all copy-cats and copy-antilopes here are measurements

body antelope: 17 x 9 cm

legs length: 18 cm

pole: 27 cm

pedestal: 17 x 17 x 9 cm

wire supporting legs: 29 cm, after loops are bent 26 cm, 1,2 mm

wire supporting head: 33 cm, after loops are bent 26 cm, 1,2 mm

crank: 28 cm, 2 mm

And here are the patterns in three PDF files.

Paper Contest

Grand Prize in the
Paper Contest



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      1 Hour Challenge
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    28 Discussions


    2 months ago on Step 12

    Absolutely fabulous. I just love everything about this creation. It's technically efficient while having a wonderful folk art charm. It gives the piece a lot of character. And the fact that you reused materials to make it is even nicer. I'm bookmarking this one for future reference being a big quadruped lover myself. Congratulatiojns!!


    2 months ago

    Congratulations from the first prize winner! This is a cool machine! Glad you win though I really like the camera haha :D

    2 replies

    Thanks for your comment. Sorry you did not win the camera, but You áre a winner! ( and I am sóóó super happy with the prize.......)


    2 months ago

    This is so rad! Congrats! Would be cool if you see a Cheetah running in tandem chasing it.


    3 months ago

    This is awesome! I've always been fascinated with automata.

    Elaina M

    3 months ago

    Super impressive! I can't believe how few tools/supplies were needed to make this machine !


    Question 3 months ago on Step 12

    Hi, I get there is a Dutch to English barrier so I hope you can understand my question. The instructions for attaching head to pedestal is very loose. I don’t understand how to attach it. Instructions to attach legs is great but not for the head. It appears as though there is only one small loop attached to head? Legs get two wires to attach to either side of leg loops. Head has one loop in one side? I see only one wire from head. Then how is wire attached to the box? I don’t understand and can’t see; 1. Why there is a large loop where head wire attaches to box. 2. What it is for? 3. How the heck is it attached? In video I see large loop moving; looks like in and out of the box. But photo later looks like there is no hole. Sorry I love love love this and want to try making one but just can’t figure this part out. Thank you for your time!

    2 answers

    hi, Graf X, I think the photo clarifies your problem. The loop goes through a small hole in the box. Why? At the time it seemed a good idea, and it works, so it is not bad. But I probably could just as well used the same method as I did with all the other wire connections. Hope this solves your problem. Sorry for not being clear sooner. I'll add the photo to the instructable.


    Thank you yes! That was a huge help, and until I built mine I didn’t understand what it did either, but now I totally get it! The updated photo is a huge help. Thank you!


    Tip 3 months ago

    The sound is as precious as the sculpture......truly lovely and sweet.


    3 months ago on Introduction

    That’s ingenious but I’d have to motorise it. Which I gather would be quite simple, ? Anyway might give it a crack, I’d love it to be able to be 3d printerd in sections just like it is but from filament, anyhoo, good luck thanks for your creativity, which since my TBI, that part of my brain is not working proper :( good luck from downunder NZ.

    1 reply
    Ruud van Koningsbruggecbell9

    Reply 3 months ago

    I am not familiar with the software of 3D printing, but I get the charm of it. Motorizing this paper model is a bit tricky I think, the paper would probably wear down very quick. Sorry to hear of your handicap. Wish you all the best from this side of the world ( Netherlands)


    3 months ago

    Helemaal geweldig! Ik heb op je gestemd. Ik maak op dit moment enkele automata met mijn leerlingen op school ;-)

    1 reply
    Ruud van KoningsbruggeAmaries

    Reply 3 months ago

    Klinkt spannend! Voortgezet onderwijs neem ik aan. Ben benieuwd hoe de leerlingen erin slagen!


    3 months ago

    What an awesome project. beautifully painted, so cleverly presented.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    There is beauty in simplicity.


    Thanks for that correction, and thanks for not noticing I'm Dutch, and can make silly mistakes in English. Antilope is Dutch. I will correct the instructable. Thanks!


    3 months ago

    This is awesome! I like that you left the boxes to show through. That looks so cool.


    3 months ago

    Sometimes you have to just run like an antelope out of control!