Specifications and Constraints – Stop Motion Dinosaur


  1. Maneuverability: I think the most important element to the functionality of my project is going to be the model’s articulation and ability to hold a variety of poses. After all, the whole point is that I’ll be able to animate with it, so the materials need to be flexible enough to allow for a decent range of motion. In the armature, this will means tightening the joints so that they’re rigid enough not to move on their own, but loose enough to be articulated even under layers of foam. And of course the foam and the adhesive used to secure it to the armature can’t be so stiff that it prevents movement.
  2. Recognizability: One of the things I’m hoping to accomplish in the design is to strike a balance between the classic stop motion dinosaur style and something a little more accurate. Overall, the main thing I’m going for is something faithful to old-school dinosaur stop motion films, and the outdated way that dinosaurs were depicted, which is accomplished with the upright tail-dragging pose. But I want the final design to be a little more recognizable as a specific species, since a lot of older dinosaur depictions kind of look the same and ignore the differences between similar types of dinosaurs. Fortunately, my dinosaur species of choice, Allosaurus, has a handful of distinctive features that’ll make it easy to identify.
  3. Durability: My inspiration for this project was the fact that I’ve made stop motion armatures in the past, but never finished or animated with them because I was afraid they would break immediately (in some cases, they did break while I was making them). This class was an opportunity to try again with proper materials, rather than stuff I could find around my house, and actually force myself to see it through to the end. I’ve bought and assembled a proper jointed steel armature that should last much longer than my old floral wire ones.
  4. Color: I think the painting and color part of the project is where I’ll be able to bring out some of the character in the model. I’m going to aim for a pretty naturalistic color scheme, probably mostly earthly tones like light browns and greens, though it may be interesting to bring in some brighter colors for highlights. I especially think the painting process will be a great place to create the impression of smaller details like scales that I won’t be able to model individually.
  5. Animation: Once I have the finished model in hand, I’d like to do a short bit of animation with it to demonstrate its capabilities. Probably nothing more than a few seconds, which should be enough to show off some basic motion.



  1. Durability: Ironically enough, this is also going to be a constraint. As I said above, I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about the armature too much, at least the machined steel parts. But the foam and latex will be a different story. Even with professional stop motion models, the soft parts of the puppet don’t stay in perfect condition forever. Ultimately, I think this is an inevitability that I’m not going to be able to do much about, so the focus here will be on minimizing the strain on the parts of the model that will be at most risk.
  2. Time: It’s worth noting that at the same time as I’m working on this, I have my CTD capstone project going on, which is taking up a lot of my time. I think with the rate of progress I’m keeping on this project, and considering that I am really committed to seeing it through, I’ll be able to pull it off, but it’ll be something I need to keep an eye on.
  3. Cost: Most of the money I’ve spent on this project so far has been on the armature, and I think it was a fair enough price for this project on its own. But it certainly wasn’t anything to sneeze at, and it’s worth noting that if I want to keep making models like this in the future, the price of armatures is going to stack up. So it’s not so much a concern right now as it is something to keep in mind after this class.
  4. Detail: Ultimately, I’m not going to achieve the same level of detailed sculpting that you see on the best professional stop motion puppets. For the purposes of this class, I just don’t have it in me to meticulously model every individual scale on this dinosaur’s back, and even if I had the time or energy I’m not confident in my knowledge of the silicone casting methods that would be necessary to apply that kind of detail. I’m hoping to create the impression of detail through other methods (as mentioned with the painting section above), and really the main focus of the project is on the overall design.
  5. Access to tools: I don’t anticipate this being too much of an issue, but it’s not impossible that something will come up. For the most part, I have the tools I’ll need going forward on hand. The area where there might be trouble is with the armature, which I needed tools like a vise and hacksaw to assemble; I was able to get the armature finished over break (my grandparents down in Texas have a bunch of tools), but if for some reason I needed to alter the armature I’d need to find somewhere else to get those tools.
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Sean,

    I like how you are balancing old-school animation practices with modern articulation. How do you plan to tackle the challenge of maintaining the flexibility and durability of the foam and latex parts over time?

    • Jon, thanks for your comment. Ultimately, there’s not going to be a whole lot I’m going to be able to do to keep the foam and latex in good condition forever – all stop motion puppets, even the most expertly made and cared for, are going to start deteriorating eventually. Of course, this is over the course of several years, so I’m not too worried about this quite yet. And there are some things I can do to make sure it lasts as long as possible, like storing it in dry unlit environments.

  • Kyra Anderson
    April 5, 2024 1:52 am

    Hi Sean, I really like your design idea and I like that you’re going to paint it in natural tones! I was wondering which distinct features of the Allosaurus you were planning on incorporating?

    • Kyra, thanks for your comment. Allosaurus has these very distinctive crests that stick up over the eyes that distinguish its skull from other large theropods like the T. rex, and it has bigger claws than most large dinosaurs.


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