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Sculpting tutorial #2

Apr 15, 2002
Cernunnos Woods
Hopefully someone's following this so here's the next steps:

STEP TWO the ribcage, hips, posing and mounting

Polymer clay (super sculpey) should not be used too thickly as it may crack in the oven when it is being baked so to bulk up the hips and chest use plain old cooking foil wrapped in the correct spots. The foil will heat up and help cook your clay from the inside out and help avoid cracking in the thickest portions of the figure.


Photo #4 the foil wrapped figure.
It is only necessary to wrap for the ribcage and hips on a 1/6th scale or smaller figure (mine are actually about 11" high, an inch less overall than your standard 1/6th scale). Be sure to constantly compare to your anatomy chart your first few times to avoid having comically large hips or an enormous barrel chested ribcage. For females an average measurement of chest, waist, hip ratio is 1:73:1. Of course this is the "textbook body shape" and not the rule. Each person has different body shape and if you are attempting to create a real person (portrait) in miniature you will need to keep that in mind. After you are happy with the tightly wraped foil, cover the foil area with a tight wrap of the thin floral wire.


Photo #5
This is a picture of the inspiration of the sculpt. Just a few lines I sketched at work. She was intended to be a moon goddess holding aloft a crescent moon and casting the moons rays with her right hand however, I thought holding up the whole moon would be a bit silly so I have switched to the idea of holding a staff.


Photos #6 & 7
The Figure has been aproximately posed and mounted to the sculpting board. To mount into the board simply drill two holes slightly larger than the heavy armature wire and place the extra 1/2-3/4" of wire that you left on the ends of the legs in those holes. If it is wobbly take some wooden toothpicks and stuff them in the holes and break them off to fill the space. This will hold it steady and allow you to remove it from the base easily when the time comes that it must be removed. You will also notice the whole figure has been covered with a wrap of the thin floral wire this gives the "meat" layer of clay something to grip into for the next step...

Next time: time to start slappin the clay!

Watch this topic off the forum at: http://www.mordordesign.com/tutorial.com

Life is short have fun!
Apr 15, 2002
Cernunnos Woods
Slow night for me so here's the Third installment of the toy sculpting lesson:
STEP THREE: Clay, Tools and initial clay applications


Photo #8 What is Polymer Clay?
This pink block of tubular extrusions is Super Sculpey, a Polymer type clay created with PVC particles suspended in a plasticiser solution which makes it smooth and malleable. When you are done your project can be baked in the home oven and painted with any kind of paint. SS is the number one Polymer Clay used in fabrication of original prototypes, action figures, sculptures, etc. in the toy industry. It's available at most craft outlets because many people use it to make jewelry. The small black chunk is Sculpey III, a pigmented form of sculpey sold in 2 oz packages that should be blended with SS to give it a tint to enable you to smooth the clay and see any imperfections easier than with plain pink clay. It is harder to locate the Super Sculpey than the small colored blocks but the color blocks are not stiff enough to hold fine detail. When purchasing super sculpey open the green flip top box and push a finger into it. if it makes a mark as you see above it's good, soft material. if it only leaves a fingernail mark then it is too hard and you will need to buy a different box or a secondary product called "Sculpey Dilutent" which is the oily plasticiser that makes sculpey smooth and sculptable. Add a few drops of the dilutent and knead the hard sculpey over and over until it is soft and smooth.


Photo #9 Conditioning the clay
Many people add the whole 2 oz pigment block to their 1 lb box of super sculpey. I find it too dark gray for me so I only use 1/4 of the 2 oz pigment block to make this dark beige mix you see in the upper right corner.


Photo #10 The tools to start with (L-R)
1) Fingers! These are the tools you will use most of all for roughing in the early shapes
2) large knitting needle (size 14?) cut off about 1/2 length good for roughing in
3) Size #3 Red Knitting needle good for roughing in facial masses and large detail
4) Size #2 Blue Knitting needle for finer detail
5 & 6) Wide headed needle and triangular tapestry needle for eyes
7) Fine point needle for very fine detail
The tools shown here were made by embedding the needles into 4" long rods of super sculpey and then baked they have been used on every project and are my main tools of choice over all my more "professional" tools.


Photo #11 The skinless & chunky stage
Here's the part you've been waiting for, slapping some clay around! In the shots above you can see one side is roughed in while the other is left with the body mass appliques left unsmoothed to give you an idea how the parts are put onto the armature. It is quite important at this stage that you have some sort of anatomy reference available. Actual anatomy books are best but even if it's just images from sports illustrated it will help so that you can figure out where the muscle bumps should be.

Next time: Bringing the inner woman out of the clay!