Are you looking to create your own Wallace and Gromit-style clay characters?
There are many different types of armatures that you can use for claymation. You can buy them ready-made and these armatures are usually made of metal or plastic.
But with all of the different armatures on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
The best claymation armature wire for all skill levels is the 16 AWG Copper Wire because it’s malleable, easy to work with, and ideal for smaller-sized claymation characters.
In this guide, I share the best armatures for claymation stop motion animation.
Check out this table with my recommendations and then keep reading to find the full reviews below.
|Best claymation armature||Images|
|Best overall claymation armature wire: 16 AWG Copper Wire|
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|Best aluminum & best budget claymation armature wire: StarVast Silver Metal Craft Wire|
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|Best plastic claymation armature: Van Aken International Claytoon VA18602 Bendy Bones|
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|Best kinetic claymation armature & best for beginners: K&H DIY Studio Stop Motion Metal Puppet Figure|
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|Best ball and socket claymation armature: LJMMB Jeton Ball Socket Flexible Armature Wire|
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Also read: What is stop motion animation?
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Claymation armature buying guide
- 2 Review of the best claymation armature
- 2.1 Best overall claymation armature wire: 16 AWG Copper Wire
- 2.2 Best aluminum & best budget claymation armature wire: StarVast Silver Metal Craft Wire
- 2.3 Best plastic claymation armature: Van Aken International Claytoon VA18602 Bendy Bones
- 2.4 Best kinetic claymation armature & best for beginners: K&H DIY Studio Stop Motion Metal Puppet Figure
- 2.5 Best ball and socket claymation armature: LJMMB Jeton Ball Socket Flexible Armature Wire
- 3 Do you need an armature for claymation?
- 4 Takeaway
Claymation armature buying guide
Clay stop motion figurines can be made of just modeling clay (both baked or unbaked) but if you want the character to be sturdy and hold its shape for many hours, it’s best to use an armature made of wire or plastic.
When choosing an armature for your claymation figure, there are a few things you need to consider.
There are three main types of armature: wire, ball and socket, and puppet.
Wire armatures are the most common type of armature. They are made from metal or plastic wire. Wire armatures are easy to use and allow you to create very detailed figures.
Puppet armatures are a newer type of armature. They are made from solid materials, such as wood or plastic, and they have joints that allow you to pose your figure more realistically.
The modern ball and socket armatures are made of flexible plastic materials. These can look like professional armatures if used correctly.
When choosing an armature for claymation, it’s also important to think about how much movement your figure needs.
If your character is only going to move slightly, then you can get away with using a basic wire armature.
If your character needs to be able to make more complex movements, then you will need a more sophisticated armature.
Ball and socket armatures are the easiest to work with and they are highly flexible. The same goes for plastic so you can create your figures without struggling too much.
The next thing to consider when choosing an armature is the size of your clay figure.
If you’re making a simple character, you can use a smaller armature. For more detailed figures, you will need a larger armature.
The last thing to consider when choosing an armature is the budget.
Ready-made armatures can be quite expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider making your own armature.
Review of the best claymation armature
Once you have decided what type of armature you want to use for your claymation videos, it’s easier to find the best solution.
Let me show you my favorite options for each technique.
Best overall claymation armature wire: 16 AWG Copper Wire
- material: copper
- thickness: 16 gauge
If you want to make clay puppets that don’t topple over but are still easy to manipulate, use a copper wire – it’s a bit sturdier than aluminum and still affordable.
Let’s be honest, clay is quite a heavy material so not any old armature can handle it.
Some parts of the polymer clay doll must be strengthened and secured when making puppets from it. Always use uninsulated wire for this task.
Because copper wire is less malleable and flexible than aluminum wire, it may be more difficult to form but your end result is firmer.
Adults should use this copper wire because it’s a little more difficult to work with and a little more pricey.
Fortunately, this particular wire is more pliable than other copper ones because it is soft.
It’s no secret to jewelers that some copper wires are notoriously difficult to work with but even they like this so it’s a great armature wire for claymation animators too.
You can’t go wrong with 16 AWG copper ground wire, but 12 or 14 gauge wire is fine for smaller clay puppets.
Twisting multiple strands together will make the armature stronger and stiffer. One wire or a copper that is thinner can be used in the fingernails and other thin body parts.
When working with clay and wire, the clay doesn’t stick to the wire properly. This is an issue.
A quick fix for this problem is as follows: A white Elmer’s glue-coated piece of aluminum foil can be used to wrap the wire.
Cover the metallic skeleton with clay as soon as you’ve formed the skeleton to prevent it from oxidizing and turning green. But it doesn’t matter that much since the clay covers the metal.
Just be sure to use double or triple strands if you’re making heavier or larger puppets or else they might not hold their shape while you’re taking the photos.
I recommend the 16 gauge for durability and heft, but if you want to save a few bucks, the 14 gauge will do.
Best aluminum & best budget claymation armature wire: StarVast Silver Metal Craft Wire
- material: aluminum
- thickness: 9 gauge
If you’re looking for inexpensive armature wire that you can use for all kinds of crafts not just stop motion animation, I recommend the aluminum 9 gauge wire.
It’s very flexible and malleable so it’s easy to work with.
It’s also quite strong for its size so it can support a fair amount of weight. I would say that this is the best budget armature wire for claymation.
The only downside is that it’s not as strong as copper wire so if you’re making larger or heavier puppets, you might want to go with a thicker gauge wire.
Otherwise, this aluminum wire is perfect for small to medium-sized puppets.
It’s also great for people who are just starting out with claymation and don’t want to spend a lot of money on armature wire.
This type of armature wire is also great for teaching kids how to make claymation puppets. They can easily bend and shape it into whatever they want.
And if they make a mistake, they can simply start over again. It’s also very lightweight so it won’t weigh down the puppet or make it difficult to manipulate.
They’ll also feel in control and less frustrated when using this flexible wire. Also, this wire is easy to cut with regular pliers.
Just keep in mind that this aluminum wire is thin so you will need to twist together multiple strands for the puppet’s core.
Then you can use one strand to make fine details like a joint, fingers, toes, etc.
Aluminum wire can rust over time so I recommend storing it in an airtight container when you’re not using it.
Overall, this is a great budget armature wire for claymation and other types of crafts.
And if you’re just starting out with stop motion animation, it’s the best for learning to create puppets for stop motion animation.
Copper wire vs aluminum wire
When it comes to armature wire for claymation, there are two main options: copper and aluminum.
Copper wire is generally considered the best option for claymation animators. It is strong, flexible, and durable, making it perfect for supporting heavy or larger puppets.
It also has a lower chance of causing the clay to stick to the wire, which can be an issue when working with clay.
Aluminum wire is more affordable than copper wire. It’s considered a good budget option for animators on a budget.
That being said, there are some downsides to using aluminum as your primary armature material.
It’s not as strong as copper wire so it’s not ideal for supporting heavy or larger puppets.
And because it’s a softer metal, it’s more likely to cause the clay to stick to the wire.
If you’re just starting out with stop motion animation and want to experiment with different armature materials, aluminum wire is a good choice.
But if you’re serious about claymation, I would recommend investing in the more expensive but better quality copper wire.
So there you have it: the best claymation armature is definitely copper wire. With its strength and flexibility, it’s perfect for supporting heavy or larger puppets.
Best plastic claymation armature: Van Aken International Claytoon VA18602 Bendy Bones
- material: plastic
The main struggle when working with wire armatures for stop motion is that the material can break if bent over 90 degrees.
Van Aken has come up with a great solution: their new plastic-based armature material that doesn’t break apart. Even if you bend past a 90-degree angle, the material continues to bend.
Van Aken is a leading manufacturer for stop motion and claymation supplies. Their innovative bendy bones is a highly flexible plastic armature you can use to make your puppets.
It takes a bit of getting used to in order to learn how to use bendy bones properly but it’s quite easy actually.
The plastic “wire” is made of segmented sections. To make your puppet, simply count how many sections you need for a certain body part and then you can break away the “bones” and bend them as needed.
You can use them to make any type of puppet you want whether you’re making humanoid creatures, animals, or objects.
The advantage of using Van Aken’s bendy bones over other types of armatures is that they’re very lightweight.
This means your puppets will be much easier to manipulate. However, there is a downside to this material and a reason why it didn’t overtake the copper wire for the top spot.
The Van Aken plastic armature sticks are too lightweight for heavier clay puppets. They can collapse and feel flimsy.
I recommend them for the small characters or you can cover them in a thin layer of modeling clay only.
Kids will enjoy using these helpful sticks to give a core to their puppets but if you’re a professional stop motion animator, you should use something sturdier.
Best kinetic claymation armature & best for beginners: K&H DIY Studio Stop Motion Metal Puppet Figure
- material: stainless steel
- size: 7.8 inches (20 cm)
If you’re making claymation characters that are based on humans, using a metallic steel armature is the easiest choice because you can bend and shape your puppet just how you like.
Therefore, I recommend the DIY studio metal armature for all skill levels.
Here’s a stainless steel model armature with everything you need. It’s ideal if your stop motion clay figures are humanoid or supposed to represent humans. This armature is shaped like a human skeleton.
This armature is especially useful for beginners because it’s easy to work with and affordable. If you want to move your figure more freely, the joints are easy to manipulate.
The kit includes all the components you need including joint plates, double-jointed balls, sockets, and fixed joints with a single pivot to mimic natural human-like movements.
You still have to do some work to cover the armature in modeling clay but it’s very sturdy and durable so it doesn’t topple over.
Animators like this type of armature because it’s easy to work with and reliable. You can easily take photos and animate this type of armature.
The armature is 20 cm (7.8 inches) tall so it’s a great size for stop motion movies.
The only problem is that the kit comes with all the small pieces and you have to assemble everything which is time-consuming.
But what sets this particular armature apart from other metal ones is the way it can be “moved”.
The armature’s shoulder and torso joints are positioned and crafted correctly so it looks natural and anatomically correct.
You can tell it’s a high-quality product and your puppet will be able to shrug its shoulders and take more precise actions.
Therefore, even professional animators can appreciate how anatomically accurate this puppet is.
Best ball and socket claymation armature: LJMMB Jeton Ball Socket Flexible Armature Wire
- material: plastic steel
- thickness: 1/8″
If you like working with flexible materials instead of harder wire, I highly recommend trying jeton ball socket flexible armature kits.
This product is made of plastic steel Jeton coolant hose and is quite bendable.
This type of material is known for being flexible modular armature which is great if you want to make a human-like stop motion puppet.
But, it’s also helpful for making animals or any other stop motion puppet.
You connect the armature links and snap them together to create the shape. Generally, ball and socket armatures are easy to work with.
The socket joints connect and stay put so you can cover them in modeling clay and plasticine.
You need some adapters and joints and chest connectors as well to create realistic puppets whether it’s humans or animals or some inanimate objects.
There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to use such jeton ball socket wire but to lock the parts together you should use Jeton pliers, and to snap them apart, just bend at a sharp angle.
My main criticism of this material is that it’s expensive and you need to buy lots of it if you’re going to make more than one figurine.
If you’re planning on creating a whole bunch of stop motion clay puppets for your film, you’ll need to invest money to make the figurines.
Once you cover the armature with clay though, the puppet will hold its form and it’s less likely to move or fall apart like the flimsier armatures (i.e aluminum and copper wire).
DIY Studio metal puppet armature vs Jeton ball socket armature
DIY Studio metal puppet armatures are good for beginners because they are easy to work with and affordable.
These armatures are shaped like a human skeleton and made of good quality stainless steel that’s very sturdy.
However, Jeton ball socket armatures are more flexible and can be shaped into animals or other types of puppets.
This material is also very durable so it won’t topple over easily if you’re animating action scenes with lots of movement.
The main drawback of the metal skeleton is that the kit comes with lots of small pieces and you have to assemble it yourself.
However, if you want a more flexible or natural-looking armature for a human-like shape for your stop motion puppet, then the DIY studio armature is a great option.
Also, the Jeton ball socket is more expensive and you’ll need to buy lots of this material if you want to make more than one figurine.
So, it really depends on your needs as to which armature is best for you. If you want an easy-to-use and affordable option, go with the DIY studio metal armature.
But if you’re looking for more professional quality and flexible armature, go with the Jeton ball socket.
Do you need an armature for claymation?
No, you don’t necessarily need an armature to create clay figurines.
You can make your clay figures without any metallic or plastic armature, especially if you’re making basic or simple characters.
Claymation is a type of stop motion animation that uses clay figures. To create a claymation animation, you will need an armature.
An armature is a skeleton or framework that supports the clay figure. It gives the figure strength and stability so it can be moved without falling apart.
If you’re serious about claymation, it’s best to have armatures for your clay puppets. Puppets that have some type of limbs need armature or a skeleton to make the limbs moveable and sturdy.
The last thing you want is your characters falling apart while you’re taking the photos.
What is armature in clay animation?
A claymation armature is an important tool for creating stop motion animations.
These types of animations involve manipulating a physical object, such as clay or plasticine, frame by frame to create the illusion of movement.
An armature plays a crucial role in this process, providing structure and stability to your figures so that they move realistically and don’t collapse under their own weight.
The armature is the basic framework of the clay figure. It is usually made from metal or plastic wire. The armature gives the figure strength and stability so it can be moved without falling apart.
There are many different types of armatures that you can use for claymation. You can buy them ready-made, or you can make your own. Ready-made armatures are usually made of metal or plastic.
You can also find them in different sizes, depending on the size of your clay figure.
Why not use wood or cardboard as the armature for claymation?
Well, for starters, making wood armatures requires some basic woodworking skills. This can also be time-consuming and plastic or wire armatures are much easier to make and use.
And finally, most importantly, clay does not stick to wood very well. So, if you’re using wood armatures for your claymation figures, you’ll need to cover the entire surface with glue or something similar.
However, there are some types of cardboard that can be used as armatures for claymation.
Cardboard can work really well if you’re creating simple figures and characters with basic movements.
It’s also a lot cheaper than metal or plastic armature and will save you money in the long run. However, carboard is a flimsy material and chances are, your puppet won’t last more than a few minutes.
So, it really depends on your needs and your level of expertise when it comes to deciding which armature is best for claymation.
But if you’re serious about creating stop motion animations, then a more professional-quality armature is definitely recommended.
With the right armature, you can start making stop motion feature films with cool clay characters.
An armature is the skeleton of your character, and it gives it support and structure. Without a good armature, your character will be floppy and lifeless.
So, for a reliable armature that won’t collapse under the weight of the clay, I recommend copper wire.
Sure, it might be a bit pricier than cheap plastic or aluminum wire, but copper wire provides the best support for your characters.
Now you can start building the set and characters for your next claymation masterpiece!