I need to design some aide memoir cards for a martial arts club, to help people learn the forms (kata - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kata). These are to consist of a series of stick men in the various positions of the forms.

There a are a lot of variations, so I want to make it as simple as possible. Ideally I want to have a stick man in something like illustrator where I can "lock" the line lengths / joints etc so I can drag the limbs into the correct positions.

I know this can be done in stuff like Maya / 3d Studio Max, but a) I don't have them (and don't want to pay for them) and b) it's a bit over complex. My preference is to use either Adobe CS stuff, an online tool, or something opensource.

2 Answers 2


I'm not aware of any way to lock line lengths. Maybe someone knows a better trick, but I think the best option would be:

  • Each stick guy as a group of paths or lines where each segment (left hand, lower left arm, upper left arm, lower torso, upper torso, etc etc) is a separate path or line
  • ...then when editing each one, you double click into the group and rotate and move each segment into place.
  • I'm not aware of any way to lock joints, I think you'd just have to be careful with that. Some flow chart programs have features like that but they'd most likely be too limiting in other ways. Smart guides (cmd-u to toggle on and off) can help with things like this, but can also get in the way.

Like this (but hopefully better...!):

enter image description here


There is no way to create a puppet armature in Illustrator. Armatures is more of an animation tool so looking at that type of software. Flash has the bone tool which could do what you are looking to do.

Character animation with the Bone tool in Flash enter image description here

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