Activity 7: Complex Skeletal Armature


In Sculpture, an armature is a framework around which the sculpture is built. This framework provides structure and stability, especially when a plastic material such as wax or clay is being used as the medium. When sculpting the human figure, the armature is analogous to the major skeleton and has essentially the same purpose: to hold the body erect.

An armature is often made of heavy, dark aluminium wire which is stiff, but can be bent and twisted into shape without much difficulty. The wire is affixed to a base which is usually made of wood. The artist then begins fleshing out the sculpture by adding wax or clay over the wire. Depending on the material and technique, the armature may be left buried within the sculpture but, if the sculpture is to be hollowed out for firing, it must1 be removed.

An armature in Animation is the name of the kinematic chains used in computer animation to simulate the motions of virtual human or animal characters. In the context of animation, the inverse kinematics of the armature is the most relevant computational algorithm.

source:  wikipedia
armature example

Bones Rules!

  1. You can create bones (armatures) for graphic shapes (like a simple triangle) or a set of movie clips.
  2. Use the Bones Tool to create bones then use the Selection Tool (black arrow) to pose them
  3. You do not need to have your movie clips on their own layers. When you connect them together with the bones tool they are all brought into the single armature layer (one armature per armature layer)
  4. The starting point of the first bone that you draw is the locked/fixed position of the arm or set of arms. In other words, if you were animating a human arm, you would start dragging the first bone at the shoulder, not at the fingertips. Think of it as sticking a thumbtack through the movie clip, to a bulletin board. You can rotate it around the tack but can’t move it. Use the Transform Tool to move an entire armature or fine tune the positioning. The rotation point of the movie clip is also the joint of the bones
  5. To animate the armature layer, you extend the timeline and right click/insert pose, rather than keyframe. Basically the same thing but with different names.
  6. If you want to connect shape armatures with movie clip armatures, just make sure your shape armature is nested inside a movie clip, and it can then be connected to other movie clips with the bones tool
  7. You can set armatures in the properties to authortime (for animating by the Flash author) or runtime (can be manipulated by the user or with ActionScript). See Rich Shupe’s page on Learning Flash for great sample files working with ActionScript.
  8. Options for working with armature joints include: Rotation or non-rotation, rotation range and speed, and armature easing. You can also enable joint translation, meaning a joint could also slide left/right or up/down or both.


A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person, animal or object to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.  According to the Indian Cartoonist S. Jithesh, a caricature is the satirical illustration of a person or a thing, but a cartoon is the satirical illustration of an idea.

Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment. Caricatures of politicians are commonly used in editorial cartoons, while caricatures of movie stars are often found in entertainment magazines.

The term is derived from the Italian caricare—to charge or load. An early definition occurs in the English doctor Thomas Browne’s Christian Morals, published posthumously in 1716.  Expose not thy self by four-footed manners unto monstrous draughts, and Caricatura representations.

with the footnote:  When Men’s faces are drawn with resemblance to some other Animals, the Italians call it, to be drawn in Caricatura

Thus, the word “caricature” essentially means a “loaded portrait”. According to School of Visual Arts caricature instructor Sam Viviano, the term refers only to depictions of real-life people, and not to cartoon fabrications of fictional characters, which do not possess objective sets of physiognomic features to draw upon for reference, or to anthropomorphic depictions of inanimate objects such as automobiles or coffee mugs. Walt Disney, on the other hand, equated his animation to caricature, saying the hardest thing to do was find the caricature of an animal that worked best as a human-like character.

source:  wikipedia


  • Create an activity 7 subfolder in your Unit 2 folder,

Animation Unit, Skeletal Activity part 1 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

    • Get a camera and take a photo of yourself in the ideal pose.
the ideal pose
  • Upload it to your media folder.  Import the picture to your library and drag to a new layer.  Resize the image to fit the stage and lock layer.

Animation Unit, Skeletal Armature Activity part 2 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

      • Create a caricature (see description above) of yourself.  Try using the brush tool for caricaturing,

Animation Unit, Skeletal Armature Activity part 4 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.


    • Follow instruction to create activity, but instead of the “mime character” students will create a photo of themself and create an cartoon armature.  Be sure to create the following body components (symbols):
      • Head,
      • Neck,
      • Upper Torso,
      • Lower Torso,
      • Forearms,
      • Elbows,
      • Upper Arms,
      • Hands,
      • Pelvis,
      • Upper Legs,
      • Knees,
      • Lower Legs,
      • Feet

Animation Unit, Skeletal Armature Activity part 3 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

  • Modify all bending  joints of the armature:

armature joints

Animation Unit, Skeletal Armature Activity part 5 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

  • Be sure to connect the armature to the base of your stage,

Textbook Overview: