Getting started with sculpting


I was wondering, what would be a good clay to begin sculpting with? I heard good things about super sculpey, magic sculp, and premo, but i’m not really sure what is the right one.


I think roma plastina is great to start with. There’s four grades…#'s 1-4. One being the softest and four being the hardest.#2 seems the most versatile.



I haven’t been hanging out in any of the digi-art forums or chats in ages, because I’m currently hooked on sculpting figures with Super Sculpey. Anyway I’ll share my bookmarks and remind you of some things.

   First up.  []( is a site where you can get a polymer clay called ProSculpt. It's supposedly better than Super Sculpey, and comes in a variety of flesh tones. I haven't tried it though, so I'm not going to vouch for it.
   If you've chosen polymer clay, try baking test bits at varying temperatures.  All ovens aren't callibrated equally.

The best support for a sculpt while it’s baking(the heat softens even polymer clays, so they need some support) is polyfill…a.k.a. pillow stuffing. You can grab a big bag of the stuff for a couple bucks at a fabric store.

IMHO the tools are just as important as the clay. Seems the discussion is still very much about which clay to use. Tutorials seem to help choose tools, but my favorites don’t seem to get mentioned much. They’re silly sounding but work well. A set of small crochet hooks from the 99 cent store, a round end yarn needle, a metal dental tool, that’s basically a bent hook on each end, with one end sharper than the other, a long sharp pick from the hardware store, and my hands. Plus I now keep a package of baby wipes handy, and a bottle of 91% rubbing alcahol handy. The baby wipes take lint off my hands and keep the clay clean, the rubbing alcahol helps to smooth the clay once sculpted. And don’t forget about soft brushes. I like a particularly soft double ended makeup brush, but whatever works for you works for you.

Okies now here’s a list of links, warning, they’re pretty girly. That is to say, when I ran searches for sculpting tutorials, most of what I found, and was linked to from the sites were doll making tutorials, but the cool part is they’re all figurative, and more or less of humans and human type creatures. Still if you don’t like fairies, angels, mermaids, or babies, try to just think of them as tips for sculpting what you do like. Warning Cutesy Girly Stuff ahead: StudioWillich I just love what that woman can do with a wooden spoon:P, Sculpting Tips Tutorials, Portraits in Clay by Heidi Maiers - Portrait sculpture (busts) by commission in clay or bronze got the best tip ever from her, which is to constantly turn your piece so that you can tell how it looks 3 dimensionally, Wefting Hair Just in case one of your characters has hair, EF_Tutorial.pdf (application/pdf Object) good for info on keeping clay and work area(even if it’s just a corner of an otherwise messy room clean and dust free, plus some sculpting tutorials with photos.

   Okay here's a handy tutorial for making acrylic eyes :)  surely it will come in very handy indeed :)  [Casting Eyes for Taxidermy Hide tanning and Taxidermy](
     [Live Model Book]( several good sized photos, warning nudity, for anatomical reference,  [FALCON WING PHOTOS]( Actually I believe there's still a link there for all sorts of birds' wings. Excellent reference, and scientific, but know the wings are no longer attatched to the birds, so if that sort of thing bothers you, just try to skip it. 
    [Tutorial1.jpg (JPEG Image, 700x4050 pixels)]( A rather nice hands tutorial, it's adaptable to paws and claws, and if combined with Jill Willich's fingernail tutorial, you can make some very fine realistic hands.

Oh, I forgot to tell what I use to soften hardish sculpey(I don’t believe it ever dries out completely without baking), Lamp oil. That’s what I use. It’s ultra-pure, made of 99% parrafin, and seems to not react with the clay, and the very low temp which the clay is baked at. One person told me to use a bit of cooking oil, another baby oil, and yet another, lighter fluid(also mentioned in one of the above links), for some reason I didn’t like the sound of those(cooking oil doesn’t dry or burn clean, baby oil feels gritty to me, and lighter fluid well, I don’t know, I just didn’t like the sound of using lighter fluid).

Oh, and if you plan to cast your pieces choose your clay carefully, that is to say, decide what you want the mold to be made of then choose your clay. Some clays react poorly to different mold materials.

A last link(hope it still works, I’m bad at just using google:P) anyway, they have clays and tips for mold making, plus helpful staff and a message board :slight_smile:


really interesting tread

i recommend Chavant Nsp clay :

also recommend john brown sculpting dvd from Gnomon.

really great instruction and very detailed in 5 title.

but one of the best book for how sculpting is the book of edouard lanteri’s :MODELLING AND SCULPTING THE HUMAN FIGUR & MODELLING AND SCULPTING THE ANIMALS.


Get Sculpey Primo. Mix one block of black and another of white, and get good armature wire. You can bake it in your oven, ass to it, and bake it again. It’s the best maquette medium to use. I you want to play around and get your hands dirty buy some regular old red clay (25 lb bags) and work outside. It depends on how much you want to spend.



yeah ! I like this thread too ! Im a begginer with supersculpey and need learning of people more veteran XD Is ther any thread here in CGtalk to share sculpture works ? and you know any good web or forum about that utside CGtalk ?? thanks !


a cheap option for absolute beginners who want to muck about but don’t want to spend too much money:
1 cup-------------corn flour
half cup-----------water
half cup-----------ICI glue
few drops---------lemon juice

first of all mix them all and shake well.
when it is mixed up , now cook it till a dough like texture

it looks amazing and is super cheap!


Know what’s even cooler than sculpting for modeling reference? Sculpting something then digitally scanning it. Then you have a high detail base mesh to work from, and once you have built a sweet model with proper topology overtop, you can use the scan to make a normal map!! WOW! Normally scanning is out of range for most people, but I do it cheap for non corporate users when I have free time


I wish I’d found this thread before I started my recent attempt at sculpture (I used to do sculpture fairly regularly years back, but kind of gave up when I discovered it was much easier to ‘sculpt’ on computer when living in 1 tiny room).

Here’s my attempts anyway, they could be seen as a ‘how (not) to guide’ for complete begginers.

Toy Making Attempts


not sure if i understand what you guys are saying? sorry im new to 3d modelling etc…

but are you saying you can take a clay model and somehow convert it into a digital 3D model? if so WOW!!! :bounce:


Hi djdna,

I’ve never used one, and they’re certainly not cheap, but yeah, you can get a 3D scanner (several different types infact I believe) which will turn a real sculpt into a 3D Mesh for you to then work with digitally.

Likewise you can get 3D printers so you can turn a 3D mesh into a ‘real’ model, but again these aren’t cheap.


wow thats great :slight_smile: what about hiring one?? is that possible aswell, ie: pay a smaller fee to scan something you have made in, then take the digital model home on a DVD-r or something??

because obviously i dont really want to spend £1000s on a machine for doing that if i can help it hehe


I know there are a few sites where you can send meshes off to have them turned into models, so there are probably a few places where you can do the opposite too, I’m afraid I’ve never looked into it, if you do find some places though, post them here, it would be cool to know where did it if I ever needed to.


ive found a few sites that offer quotes on 3D scans etc, however they look expensive and require details before giving any pricing info… so i wont be lookign further into it for now…

this is all ive found in terms of 3D scanner rental tho…


milk and Lego 3d scanner!


haha!! wow thats very very cool indeed, basic but very clever i like!!

thanks :applause:


$300 for two weeks - not bad.


says $400 for 2 weeks here, but thats a good price imo!!

if i was to organised a load of models and scan them all in 2 weeks it would be well worth it :slight_smile:

i think i need to improve my modelling skills first tho, for editing/polishing’s sake tho as i still dont know if i will be able to get my head round things more complexed than zbrush (ie: maya & 3dsmax etc) though i seriously hope i will :smiley:


Thanks for the resources everyone!


Check out this site for 3d scanning. They do a great job and are reasonable in cost. (I’ve worked with them before.) They also just got a super high rez 3d printer! Super cool.