Making Of : Realistic Needle felted Dog - 2. Armature
Updated: May 6, 2019
Before I start on the second post on this series,
I have to tell you I REALLY don't like making armatures..! 😫
But, sadly I cannot avoid this process to make my sculpture. 😔
If you are not familiar with "armature" in needlefelting, it's simply a skeleton of the sculpture. It holds the structure and also allows the sculpture to be poseable in some degree.
You can make all sorts of needlefelting objects without armature no problem, but for realistic dog making, I think it's pretty much required component.
What You Need
2. Wire cutter
There are alternative for metal wire, such as memory plastic wire (brim reed for hat making sort of thing) sold by craft supplier specifically for armature making.
I used it but didn't see the benefit of it especially when I can buy 1mm x100m garden wire for less than £2 from bargain shop..
I will not show how I'm making it as there are many brilliant video resources for armature making on youtube already, there is no point of putting video of my clumsy wire handling.
The one I referred to when I started to make armatures is the famous Sarafina's tutorial.
There are many different method but I prefer it because it's easier to give width to the shoulder/chest area according to the model's body shape, where later I can wrap core wool around.
Below are processes I go through for making armature.
1. Decide size
My usual sculpture size is 5-6 inch tall standing for general shape of dog. (dachshund is a different story!)
For this size, the garden wire I mentioned will be good enough, but if you are making something much bigger, like life size or half scale, obviously you'll need something lot more sturdier.
If it goes anything smaller, detailing becomes very difficult if it's dog I'm making. So I've never made realistic dog that small.
Once you know the size you want to make, I open the picture showing the side of the model in the dog's eye level on my PC's drawing app and blow up or shrink in the size of the sculpture I'm making.
(This is my drawing app (free) but there is a free editing app usually already installed on recent PCs)
Then I draw a simple line following the bone structure of the dog.
After all, armature is there to serve the same purpose as bones, but you can't really see the bones under fresh and fur, That's where anatomy reference (first pic) is handy!
There is nothing new to this and it's basic of realistic sculpture making. But if you are new to it, knowing bone and muscle structure really helps.
Dogs come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes but structures are pretty much the same, just size of the components are different. For me, having correct ratio from this stage is very important.
2. Cut wires
I cut out two wires, One for front (Blue) and One for spine to hind legs(Red)
measured following the line x 2.5 or little bit more of the lines I drew on the screen are usually enough. if I'm not sure I cut out little extra. Each wire will be folded in half in the next step.
3. Twist and Assemble
This is where you can refer to the videos i mentioned.
(Sorry it's kind of cheating, but after all, this is just a blog going through my process! )
Just make sure you twist evenly and not to wrap one side of the wire to the other, you will end up losing length on one side of the wire.
Bend wires following the lines. I use small nose pliers to give good bend and cut off excess. (I'll usually keep cut offs, these are handy to put glues on the very small areas!)
In the end, it looks like this.
See, You can see I'm not really good at it, but as long as ratio is good, I'm happy!
Against the general dog bone sculpture of drawing, it sort of matches.
I have made spine little longer than I have drawn on the screen because the sculpture will be in sitting position, it will stretch the spine longer than standing position.
I will adjust length of legs a little then go to the next stage of core making!
That's it for my armature making. Thank you for reading if you get to this point.
It's probably nothing special nor helpful for most of makers, if you have better way of doing it I'd rather learn from you ..! 😁
P.S. Thank you to some people who has signed up to my site at the last post. I don't have member's area open as I haven't got plan to do so yet, I assume there isn't much benefit, but it will allow you to like and comment on the post so feel free to leave comments if you are the members 😉