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April 4, 2007

new armature: the drifter

by sven at 9:00 pm

beauty shot

The "Drifter" is the fourth jointed armature that I've made in my own shop. Making it took 45 hours, over the course of 11 days.

It's made entirely of steel: 1018 for plates and rods, 302 for balls. The joints are all sandwich plate ball-and-socket. It stands 8 and 1/16" tall.

full body

Why do I call it the "Drifter?" Well, because... Due to a mistake in how I engineered the ball sockets, every joint has a bad case of drift. Drat!

["Drift" is when a the ball is biased to follow a certain arc of motion, rather than moving smoothly in all directions.]

demonstrating a lean

One of the first tests you do on an armature is putting it into an extreme lean. If your puppet can't lean forward without falling over, it can't walk or run. This armature passes the test. (The ankles have to be pretty tight, though.)

jointed feet

A notable feature of this armature is that it has jointed feet. Fussy to make -- but having a toe as well as an ankle allows you to animate walks much more realistically.

action pose #1: run

I'm not intending to put the Drifter inside a puppet. He's part of a series that I'm doing in order to teach myself the art of armature-making. I've already made a display stand for him. And I have plans outlined for my next two learning projects.

action pose #2: sumo

My past three armatures were meant to have human proportions. For this one, I had more of a "gnome" body in mind -- wider in the torso, and with long feet.

I had intended to give this design step-block hands... But when I discovered the drift problem, I decided to leave that for the next project. (Which I'm thinking will be constructed entirely from step-block joints -- no sandwich plates.)

comparison with "Man of Steel"

Here's a comparison of the Drifter with my last home project, the Man of Steel...


I have qualms about the Drifter's performance. However, my design and machining skills have come a long way during the past six months. My accuracy and efficiency in constructing this armature were far superior to the last attempt. The brazing job is much more reliable, and I was able to get a much better shine on the metal...

All in all, excellent progress.

posted by sven | April 4, 2007 9:00 PM | categories: stopmo