Create Your Own Action Figure

  • 45 Minutes
  • Advanced
In the past, we've explored using 2D line drawings to bring figures to life. This method is simple and easy to replicate, but it leaves some critical 3D features missing, namely, articulated joints. In this tutorial, we'll explore how to make 3D figures more lifelike through the use of our ball and socket mold (which is available in our STEM Kit). Once you've mastered how to create ball and socket joints, making 3D action figures becomes a snap!
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1 Assemble your materials!

Gather together your 3D pen, plastic, ball and socket mold, DoodlePad, and the free stencil.

2 Let's create the joints

Looking at the mold, you'll find a set of small and large ball & socket molds. For this build, you'll need to create 8 of the small ball & socket joints and 5 of the small ball & socket joints. The large joints are used to connect the arms, legs and head to the body. The small joints are used for the arms and legs.

Start by sticking your pen tip into one of the cavities on the mold and extruding plastic until it has filled the mold. Press down on the plastic as you extrude to ensure there are no air bubbles under the surface. After extruding plastic into the mold cavities, let it sit and cool before popping the filament out of the mold.

Repeat the process until you have 8 small ball & socket joints and 4 small ball & socket joints.

3 Doodle & build the arms

Use the arm section of stencil to trace the outlines of A1, A2, B1 & B2. Repeat this so that you have 2 of each piece.

Next, combine A1 and A2 as we show here, using a small blob of warm plastic. Do this twice so that you have two of the top arm pieces. Repeat the process for B1 & B2 - creating the skeletons of the bottom two arm pieces. These skeletons will serve as the internal structure of each part of the arm.

Next, take your pen and wrap filament around the outside of each arm section, until you left with 3D arm-like pieces as we show here.

4 Make the arms move

Now that we have the upper and lower arm sections built and shaped, let's connect them using the joints you doodled earlier. Starting with the bottom of one of the upper arm pieces, attach the socket using a blob of fresh plastic. Then, attached the ball to the top of the lower arm piece. Repeat this process for the other arm. Snap the ball into the socket to join them together and you'll be left with two arms.

5 Add and attach the hands

Freehand doodle two hands, and then attach a small ball joint to the upper wrist of the hand, and the socket joint to the lower tip of the arm where the wrist should be. Snap the hand and arm together. Repeat this process on the other side.

6 Round out the arms

After your arms and hands are built and connected using the joints, feel free to add a little extra plastic to the arms or hands to make it look cohesive.

7 Create the legs

Going back to the stencil, trace the outlines of C1, C1, D1 & D2. You'll need two of each part to create the basic leg skeletons. Once you have the outlines doodled, connect C1 and C2 perpendicularly using a blob of fresh plastic. Repeat for the other leg so that you have two upper leg pieces.

Repeat the process to combine D1 and D2 so that you have two lower leg pieces. Next, take your pen and wrap filament around the outside of each leg section, until you left with 3D leg-like pieces as we show here.

8 Doodle a foot and assemble the leg

Use the DoodlePad to freehand draw two feet. Then continuing with the small ball & socket joints, attach the ball joint to each foot and attach the socket joint to the bottom of each lower leg section. At this point you'll be left with two feet, ankles and lower legs.

Next, attach a small ball joint to the top section of the lower leg. Attach the socket joint to the bottom tip of the upper leg piece. Repeat for the other leg. At this stage, you should have two full legs with knee and ankle joints.

9 Make a head

Going back to the stencil, doodle the two parts needed to make a 3D head. Use your fingers and fresh plastic to mold and attach the head pieces together, as we show here. Then wrap plastic around the entire thing to create an egg-shaped head that we'll soon attach to the body.

10 Create the body

Returning to the stencil for what should be the last time, doodle the outlines of the two large body forms. Then fill in each body piece with plastic.

Now, it's time to add joints using the large ball & socket pieces! Using fresh plastic, sandwich the large sockets in between the two body pieces starting with the shoulder, and then moving onto the hip area. Repeat on the other side. Next, take your pen and add additional filament around the body cavity to ensure the body is closed and the joints are secured in place. In a similar fashion, attach the head to the top of the body.

11 Attach All The Limbs

Once all the ball or socket pieces have been attached to the body, it's time to attach the limbs. Apply some fresh plastic to the joints and snap the arms and legs into place.

12 Create a hat

Using a balled-up tissue doodle a dome and decorate it as you please. Then toss it on your figures head, and your action figure is now sporting a hat. Pat yourself on the back, you now know how to doodle a fully articulated action figure!

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