Monday, March 22, 2010

Sculpting Materials,Tools & Techniques...

This page is for those who are beginning to
learn Sculpting and want to take it further, I will be discussing Materials, Tools & Techniques.

I've been asked many times, What advice would I give to beginning Sculptors?
I tell them when they start sculpting to Focus mainly on the Forms of what they are trying to create, Not the fine details (Save that for last).
IF they are Sculpting a Person or Animal, rely on Detailed Reference Photos and Anatomy following correct Anatomical structures will make your Sculptures much more believable, even if you are only sculpting a Face.

Also try out the various kinds of Clay to decide what you prefer, each Clay has benefits...

* W.E.D. Also known as EM-217 (Water & Oil Based) 
Originally developed by Walter E. Disney and sold by Laguna Clay Company is specially formulated for large sculptures at a low cost. W.E.D clay has glycerin in it so it dries very slowly to a leathery texture with limited cracking.

My Thoughts: WED Clay is great if you are a fast Sculptor and have a job that has a quick deadline, because of the Glycerin in the Clay it's like a smooth MUD consistency,it's also great for Sculpting Large things because it's not too expensive. You can save your WED Clay by spraying it with Water and keep it moist (Also adding wet paper towels on it before wrapping the Clay with Plastic helps the Clay to last longer).

 Many Sculptors (Including Jordu Schell) use WED to create Halloween Masks, many others use it to Sculpt Bodysuits with it because it can be modeled quickly over a large form or Armature. 

 I Sculpted this guy originally out of WED Clay:

* Roma Plastilina (Oil-Based)
It's available in four consistencies:
* Soft, used for making large sculptures.
* Medium, generally used for portrait heads, busts, and figure work.
* Medium-Firm, used in making models and smaller objects;
* Extra-Hard, used in highly detailed work.

My Thoughts: I use Roma to Sculpt Halloween Masks out of as well as Appliances, I prefer to use the Non-Sulphur Clay because it doesn't smell so bad, so at the end of the day my hands and myself don't smell like Sulphur!
 You can get Roma in different consistencies
depending on your preference, I use Medium because that what I can easily find
at suppliers & because it does not Dry-out it gives me a nice working time.

 I Sculpted Kurt Russell's "Soldier" Helmet
out of Roma:

Kurt Russells Helmet from Soldier, I sculpted it.

 Here is a tease Photo showing the Texture I'm using for a Mask Sculpt for still needs a little work...

* Chavant (plasteline)
NSP (Non Sulfurated Plasteline) is a sulfur-free sculpting clay. Replacing sulfur minimizes difficulties associated to mold making with silicone rubber.

My Thoughts: I have used Chavant for many Sculpts including the Skull for the "Rottweiler" Dog & it's Skeleton.

For those that don't already know it, Chavant is also what is used for Sculpting Prototype Cars and Rob Bottin used it to Sculpt "Robocop's" Armor!

* Super Sculpey III (Polymer Clay)
This semi-translucent, beige-pink clay is ideal for dolls, prototypes for casting and all types of sculpture. It features excellent modeling qualities, takes tooling beautifully, and bakes to a ceramic-like finish. It can be painted with acrylic paint and water-based glazes.

My Thoughts: I have used Sculpey for Model-building projects because you can Bake it so it's rock hard and then you can sand it smooth, you can also add more Sculpey to it after it's been baked in the oven!
 I Sculpted the "Battlestar Galactica" Viper Pilot out of Super
Sculpey because of how easy it is to Sculpt fine intricate details! 

* Van Aken Plastalina (Oil-Based)
This pigmented, oil-based modeling compound is a favorite of sculptors, model makers, clay animators, and artists of all ages. It comes in many different Colors.

My Thoughts: I personally use this Clay for quick Sculpts and also use it for Claying-up Mold-Walls for Prototype Moldmaking, it's very inexpensive and soft so you can create almost anything with it and if you want to sculpt more detail into this Clay all you need to do is put the Clay into your Refrigerator and once it has hardened you can carve various details in it very easily.

 I used Van Aken Clay to sculpt my little Vampire face:

 Come Back and Visit this Page for Updates on Tools & Techniques!

 If you have any Questions or Comments, feel free to post!


  1. hiya. i'm making a latex cast of my head, and i havent started yet but i am looking for oil-based clay such as Klean Klay, or Plastilina to make the plaster mould with, and i can only find it from US suppliers.
    i live in England and have 2 weeks to do all this and am a student so i'd rather not pay extortionate shipping prices from the US to here, especially as it might take a while to get here.
    Do you know of any British suppliers or makes of oil-based clay that would be suitable for this?

  2. Are you referring to a Latex "Copy" or Casting?

    I would Not recommend doing a lifecast of your head with latex, instead use either Alginate with Plaster bandages(The common way to lifecast) or buy some Body-Double from Smooth-on which will give you a more permanent mold to do castings from.

    As far as suppliers in England go... I'll ask those I know on the FX Lab Forums, there should be some place you can get those supplies but I don't know of any personally, I'll let you know.

    You can also email me anytime @ propsculptor (AT) yahoo (DOT) com