I am constructing a stop-action character in the shape of a rabbit, and I am looking for suggestions about materials and techniques that I can use to build its major body components and fur. I am comfortable using any tools or materials that might be best suited to the task at hand, and within reason high material costs and complicated processes are not out of the question. Soft non-hardening modeling clay will not work, as Jack will be transported to a great many locations both indoor and outdoor - so being robust is of great importance.

The armature is being manufactured by a wonderful craftsman in the UK, and this is what it looks like:

malvern armatures

As you can see in the drawing, the armature is rigid, but also composed of flexible joints at logical parts of the skeleton - so the body must also allow for this - by either being flexible or of discrete components. A combination of the two is also possible. Being lightweight is also beneficial, as standing on his hind legs is a desirable pose. Can you recommend a good approach?

And finally I need a resource for the fur (which should seem realistic) and a method of application. I prefer not to go to a taxidermist, but if all else fails - then that is what I will do.

  • Are you sure you want realistic fur? It's going to look very...weird in stop-motion with all the inadvertent rippling. Have you seen Fantastic Mr. Fox?
    – inkista
    Aug 26, 2018 at 2:35
  • You have a good point, and I am open to suggestions! Aug 26, 2018 at 9:48

2 Answers 2


Doing a google on "Mackinnon & Saunders" and "stop-motion" and "materials for puppets" yields that foam latex underneath and silicone molded skins (often made from a plasticine sculpture; and that the mold can take longer than the sculpt) are often used over the amatures on the models that they make for feature films. The main issue is going to be putting in movement capability for expressiveness on the face.

Mackinnon & Saunders made adjustable face mechanisms for the puppets on The Corpse Bride that eliminated the need for face replacement that had been used on Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, and that single wire you've got for the ear may not allow you to, say, curl over a tip, with any control. So you may still need to build interior support over the armature that can take repeated small movements.

This blog entry lists a bunch of other materials that are probably easier to acquire and use:

Urethane foam is also known as cushion foam or upholstery foam. It's generally done by glueing foam on to an armature and shaping with scissors. A skin can be made covered with clothing sewn from fabric. Heads can be made from hard materials like polymer clay or wood, or cast from resin. Hands can be made by coating wire with liquid latex. This is a good simple way to make puppets—easier to animate than clay.

You may want to take a look around a stop-motion animation messageboard, like this one:



Addressing only the armature in my answer, I suggest that you may be able to make use of flexible lubricant/coolant pipes commonly used in machining equipment, but useful in so many other ways. I've created a 3D printed bracket to turn one into a bicycle helmet mirror support.

flexible piping

The image below comes from an eBay advertisement, the pipes (12) priced for US$16 including shipping. If you can tolerate China shipping delay, it's even less money.

The joints are easily moved, but hold position very well. You can pop them apart for shorter segments, add more for longer. You would have to create your own method to connect a segment out-of-line, but that could be as simple as holding them together and wrapping them with molding material such as clay or hand-moldable-plastic.

  • Thanks @fred_dot_u - but the armature has already been manufactured. Aug 26, 2018 at 10:03
  • 1
    I should learn to read more carefully this early in the morning!
    – fred_dot_u
    Aug 26, 2018 at 10:06

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