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Character Animatronics - How to Design, Build and Animate an Animatronic Character Head


Title now available to WATCH in our On-Demand Library!

How to Make an Animatronic Head Part 1 - Creating the Mechanical Underskull

How to Make an Animatronic Head Part 2 - Eye Mechanism Construction & Installation

How to Make an Animatronic Head Part 3 - Eyebrow & Jaw Mechanisms

How to Make an Animatronic Head Part 4 - Lip Mechanisms, Skin Testing & Programming


Learn to design, build & animate an animatronic character head in this 4-week Live Webcourse with master creature effects mechanic Craig Caton-Largent (Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator 2). Using budget-friendly, readily accessible tools and materials, Caton-Largent will take you step-by-step through his entire animatronics process, from creating a fiberglass under skull to mechanizing the face, including servo-driven eye and brow mechanisms, jaw and lip articulation, and finally, how to puppeteer your mechanical character.


  • Designing a Mechanical Puppet Head
  • Creating and Segmenting a Fiberglass Under Skull
  • Controlling Skin Thickness
  • Assembling and Mounting an Eye Mechanism
  • Building Eyebrow Mechanisms
  • Jaw Mechanisms & Lip Articulation
  • Installing Servos & Servo Trays
  • Puppeteering Animatronic Characters







Course Curriculum

DAY 1 - Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 - 12pm - 4pm PST


  • Create fiberglass under skull.
  • Importance of controlling skin thickness in the various areas of the head
  • Using clay cutters and other sculpting tools for laying-up clay
  • Laying-up clay for under skull
  • Prep existing core for plaster bandage application
  • Use plaster bandage to create “throw-away mold” for under skull on core
  • Prep throw away mold for epoxy/fiberglass lay-up
  • Lay-up epoxy/fiberglass
  • Join fiberglass skull halves together

Homework Week 1:

Finish making epoxy/fiberglass under skull.  Make sure you let the epoxy cure for 24 hours before attempting to remove it from mold. If you find any thin spots, you can add more epoxy/fiberglass to those areas. Trim and sand the seams where the mold halves meet. This can be done using sand paper, Dremal Tool (or other moto-tool) Xacto Blades or whatever you might think will work. Make sure to wear a respirator and safety glasses. Remember, moto-tools and tools with sharp blades need extreme care and caution when using to avoid injuring yourself.

Calculate what the distance is between the pupils of the eyes and also the diameter of the eyes. These measurements will be helpful for creating the eye mechanism for the next class. 

DAY 2 - Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 - 12pm - 4pm PST


  • Demolding the Fiberglass Underskull - Overview
  • Trimming and cutting under skull
  • Designing eye mechanisms
  • Building and assembling eye mechanisms
  • Mounting the eyes into the under skull
  • Calculating eyebrow circumference

Homework Week 2:

Finish designing/building the eye and eyelid mechanism.  Mount it to the under skull.  Make sure the eye/lid mechanism can be removed for working on the rest of the head, do not make it permanent.

DAY 3 - Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 - 12pm - 4pm PST


  • Creating the eyebrows
  • Creating and installing servos and servo trays
  • Start jaw mechanism

Homework Week 3:

Decide which method you want to use to create the eyebrows and complete them.

Create the servo tray and mount it to the under skull. Make sure it can be removed, do not make it permanent.

Determine where the jaw is going to be and carefully cut it out and add hinges to connect it to the under skull.

DAY 4 - Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 - 12pm - 4pm PST


  • Finish Jaw mechanism; mount inner mouth
  • Install the lip controls and finishing touches

Homework Week 4:

Finish jaw mechanism and lip mechanisms, do final assembly. Place skin on head and determine where you need to glue it to get best results. Determine what method you want to use to animate the servos and proceed.

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Craig Caton-Largent