Now On-Demand: How To Build An Animatronic Head - Part 1

Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin


Learn how to build an animatronic head with master creature effects mechanic Craig Caton-Largent (Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator 2). In Part 1 of his 4-part webcourse series on DIY mechanical characters, Caton-Largent teaches you how to create an epoxy & fiberglass underskull, the critical first step in building facial animatronics for your character creations.


  • Tips for Controlling Skin Thickness
  • Laying-Up Clay Inside the Mold for Core Creation
  • Creating a "Throw Away" Core Mold
  • Laying Up the Epoxy/Fiberglass Underskull
  • Joining the Underskull Halves


Post edited by Chris Ellerby on


  • For the people wondering, these 4-part lessons are really a must-see if you're into animatronic building or if you're up to becoming one :) 
  • Hello, I have a ton of questions.  First question is about the Servo supply list.  It appears as though the number of Hitec HS-82MG needed is a total of 11, is this correct? 
    Also, I seem to be confused and missing a step. 
    1) Have a mold
    2) Cover it with vaseline(?)
    3) Put WED type clay into it. 
    4) Spray with Crystal Clear
    5) I'm lost...Spread plaster on the inside of the WED clay? And stick it together? And wait for it to dry?
    6) Spread vaseline on the plaster and
    7) Cover it with bandages? 
    Can anyone please help?
  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin

    The steps you are mentioning are for creating the fiberglass underskull.  You take the mold that was used to create the skin of your animatronic character and line the inside with clay that is the approximate thickness of the character's skin, and then create a mold of that internal cavity using plaster bandages.

    With complex lessons like this, I find re-watching a few chapters (or sometimes the entire lesson) helps, since you have more context having seen more of the process.

    Here is the list of servos used in this lesson:  (form the lesson page materials list)
    • Jaw Servo (Hitec HS-645MG)
    • Eyes Horizontal Rotate (Hitec HS-53)
    • Eyes Vertical Rotate (Hitec HS-82MG)
    • Eyelids 2 needed (Hitec HS-82MG) (2)
    • Brows 2 needed (Hitec HS-82MG) (2)
    • Upper lips 2 needed (Hitec HS-82MG) (2)
    • Mouth corners 2 needed (Hitec HS-82MG) (2)
    • Lower Lips 2 needed (Hitec HS-82MG) (2)

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.


  • Hello! For my sculpture, I only need my creature to be poseable. He doesn’t need to have any electric movement as long as I could move him with my hands between poses. Do you think this could work, and I could avoid spending $300 in servos? Never done anything animatronic before so this might be stupid but who knows.

    I have to build the rest of his poseable body too so I‘m trying to save as much as possible wherever I can.
  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin
    Hi Temple,

    If you don't need your character to move on its own, and just be posed, it should be much easier and less complicated.  One quick way to make a character poseable is to add aluminum armature wire, or stiffer steel wire to the joints.  

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