Mechanical Puppet


-With Face
-Without Face
--casting process
More Photos & WIP documentation


A figure that can be animated through a set of pulleys - intended to be an animatronic, can be set up as such with strong enough motors when body is held in place (the current mechanics have to much resistance for arduino scale motors, which is what I have, so currently more of a puppet). It is a modified ball-jointed-doll with movable arms (joints in the wrist, double joints in the shoulder and elbow), legs (joints at the ankle, knee, and hip), neck, and waist (rotational only). An opening in the back allows for access to internal elastic (elastic chords string all parts together) and pulleys, which move limps and facial features. The mouth opens and closes, and eyes can blink; head can also tilts and look in different directions due to the neck joint. Also has a handmade outfit and small leather shoes



The arms have a pulley system that runs from hand, to forarm, to upper arm, through the shoulder-blade, and out the back - when it is pulled, the arms raise upwards. When not pulled, the force of gravity lowers the arms. The arm is held in place by tension from being strung together with elastic, it is a series of ball joints.


The hands have loops to anchor the pulleys(fishing line)


The legs are also ball joints strung with elastic. Their pulleys are anchored at the knee and run from the knee to the thigh, through the hip, up the inside of the torso, and out the back. they can be pulled to make the leg go up.

This outline shows the location of the visible pulleys

This shows how the pulleys from the legs and arms run through the torso and out the back

This shows how the pulleys going through the torso

here you can see the fishing line running from the knees into the hips

In this image of the inside of the hips, you can see the wire that channels the leg pulleys to keep them from tangling with the elastic or with other fishing line


The waist and torso are held together by elastic, the elastic from the legs runs up the length of the torse, through the neck, and is tied in the head - this holds the head, upper torso, hips, and legs together. The hips and upper torso fit into eachother by having a cylinder at the top of the hip slot into a cylindrical hole at the bottom of the upper toros. This allows for the body to rotate side to side.


Head with face

Head without face


The jaw has a hinge that runs through the left to right side, the lower jaw rotates around this. The elasticity of the silicone face holds the mouth closed, but there is a pulley that attaches to the lower jaw, and when pulled, the force is converted to rotate the jaw, which stretches the silicone and opens the mouth


The eyes rotate around an axis that is shared by their centers - a weight keeps them open, and when pulled, the pulley opens them (see diagram below). This mimicks the design of antique bisque dolls with a weight on the eyes that causes them to close when the doll is in a lying position, and open when sitting or standing


The face cast in silicone, first image shows it alone, and second image shows it attached to the head

This is the original face, sculpted out of polymer clay. it is thin and hollow, face mechanism with closed mouth fits perfectly inside. To create the finished silicone face, I made a 2 part mold out of alginate and cast it with in SmoothOn Dragon Skin.

The face locks into the head by having slots in the back that fit perfectly against matching slots on the head. You can see the slots on the head in the image above - three rectangular shapes rising up at the top.

Casting Process

This is the top and bottom half of my mold for the face. the holes in the top part are channels for air that help make sure the silicone gets to all parts of the mold when poured


The above video shows the arms raising, as well as the jaw and eyes

This video shows the legs moving

This video shows how to remove and re-attach the face

This video shows the mouth being opened and closed



Shoes are handmade out of leather, heat molded and wet molded to fit the feet precisely


The shirt is made out of a semi-transparent white fabric, I used this fabric so that the joints can be seen through the sleeves. It also has loose fitting puffed sleeves, which allow for the range of motion to remain unobstructed, and for the cloth to not get in the way of the pulley system. There is an opening in the back that opens over the hole in the back of the torso to leave the insides accessible and to not be obtrusive.

The sleeve fits over the arm then uses a cord and tiny clay buttons to scrunch the sleeve opening closed and tie it seculrely closed


A velour tunic tied with a belt

More Photos

When I was making the design I wanted my creature to look similair to the ones I drew in this image

This is a small maquette I made before I started sculpting to scaley

It took me several trys to get the face to look similair to what I wanted - this was one of my first trys - eventually ended up changing the eyes in the final version so that they are all black, and making them much smaller

What he looked like after finishing his arms - I hadnt yet added the pulley channels

more hand close up

After sculpting and backing his hands (I previously made about five pairs of hands because I kept getting the sizings and proportions wrong :) ) I cut out a bit to add a channel for the pulleys that allow his arms to move up and down

bent a piece of wire(this wire was taken from a paperclip) and bent it into shape to fit perfectly into the holes - the base of the wire will be covered in clay so that only a loop large enough to tie fishing wire around pokes out.

Photo of legs - unfinished and unbaked clay, still working on shaping it, a lot thinner than final version

Working on getting the teeth to fit in perfectly - in this photo there is a piece of clay on the upper jaw that stops the hinge from closing past a certain angle - in the final version it has been replaced by teeth, all of which fit together

This photo shows progress of the head - excluding the lower jaw. This shows the clay stoppers much more clearly than the last photo

This is a picture of the head mechanisms practically completed - you can see the jaw hinge through the mouch, the eyes and their hinge, as well as the tongue.

This is a picture of the head mechanisms practically completed - you can see the jaw hinge through the mouch, the eyes and their hinge, as well as the tongue.

The body sculpted out of clay, this rough sculpt is useful to make sure what once I start working on the jointed arms and legs, everything stays proportional

removed most of the legs and arms, starting work on the arms by working on the shoulder joint.

marking in the placement of joints

unbaked arms

Using the body to make sure hands are proportional

working on the torso

removed some excess leather and secured it into place with pins and cloth

After stretching the leather around the foot, I used cloth to secure it into place and heated it to help it keep its shape

This video shows the mouth being opened and closed by pressing the jaw down instead of using the pulley