Model and Minatures


Does anyone know in the US schools that teaches model and minatures? or is it self taught?


Van Film or Otis maybe,
and any and every art school across the country does sculpture.

As far as specific miniatures for compositing, I’d check with Gnomon, Vancouver, and Otis first, as they have huge traditional departments along with their digital.


Forget Vancouver for traditional figurative sculpture and scale modeling. Its got almost nothing. VFS has a couple of sculpture courses but mainly for makeup training.

You best get into DIY and use resources like Fine Scale Modeler magazine (and Amazing Figure Modeler magazine) as a basis for learning scale miniature whether you are in a school or not.

If you want to learn figurative then polymer clay, epoxy clay, oil based plastilina clay(Roma, Chavant) as well as mold making/casting would be advised. Learning to use resins for casting, styrofoam, closed cell foam board, etc. Learn to use a hot knife and hot wire tools, dremel drills etc.

For raw supplies there is a company in the US called Kit Kraft which has all sorts of scale model supplies. As well you could try Tap Plastics, Polytek etc.


Do you know where can i get big blocks of foams?

#5 has some foam blocks(though they get expensive for shipping).

You can also order from manufacturers like:

Some have named like “marine foam.”

You could try a foam supply place–though you need rigid foam. Styrofoam isnt really good.

If you have access to a hardware store you can use blue insulation foam. Its usually pink or blue. You can glue pieces together with white glue to make big blocks and carve with a hot wire and sand it…But its REALLY toxic when it burns.
Unfortunately a lot of model materials have chemical issues.

There is a newer product out there called Balsa foam. I have never used it. Supposed to be non toxic. It doesnt need a hot wire–its much easier to carve.

Balsa Foam (kitkraft also sells it).

Another newer clay material is Casteline. Its hard like plastic but when you heat it it goes soft.They use it for making toy prototypes, I tried it but prefer plasticine.


I was reading the book "Sculpting a Galaxy’ star wars 3 scale models(volcano scene) they used high density urethane foam? Do you know where can I get that at?

I made a list of all types of clay that I need to touch.

-Polymer clay
-expoxy clay
-oil based plastilina clay
-water clay
-plastline clay
-super sculpley
-NSP medium
-regular sculpley
-Chavent NSP medium

If I miss something please tell me.:slight_smile:


Actually I misspoke-- the blue insulation foam from a hardware store is technically called extruded polystyrene. It is a styrofoam, but its not like the white stuff you find in electronics packing where you break it and little white bead balls fly all over the place. The blue stuff is easier to work with than the white.

Urethane foam: closed cell polyurethane foam. Its rigid but comes in different densities. I had a hard time tracking it down in Canada for making a helmet prototype because it goes by a different name here. In the US its also known as marine foam. It can come in sheets, or you can get a spray that will expand(never tried that myself). I hated carving with polyurethane foam but mine may have been too flexible.

You might try a marina or boat repair place, otherwise you can try foam manufacturers like:

In your list

Polymer clay and sculpey/super sculpey are the same thing.

Plastilina, Chavant and plasticine are pretty much the same thing(plasticine is a brand name). NSP medium is non sulphur based Chavant–it doesnt have sulphur in it, the way most oil based clays like Roma Plastilina do. Sulphur can cause trouble when you make a rubber mold of a piece, although I use Roma clay and just spray a varnish or clear coat on it and have never had a problem with molds.

I think Chavant comes in less range of firmness, while Roma comes in 4 types(soft to very hard). They used it to sculpt the life size T-rex in Jurassic Park I believe.

You pretty much want to stick to Roma or Chavant. Plasticine is more of a kids medium.

A two part epoxy clay like Magic Sculpt is good to try–its a bit toxic to touch(you have to wash your hands after using it). Its better for sculpting large things or for filling gaps and imperfections. But its very strong and lightweight. Kit Kraft has it as well.

Foam board is also worth trying. Its kind of like a soft plastic and is easy to carve and sand. You can also use a heat gun on it to make shapes. Very good for architectural constructions and light weight. I know Tap Plastics carries it. Comes in different thickness. The thin stuff can be cut with scissors. The thicker needs to be drilled or sawed.


Sorry for making you type all that.

I have found fews more clays. Can you tell me what these used most?
-Wed Clay
-Green Stuff

Do you know what clays are used most in movies?

For making a mold/cast, I heard that silicone suit for most clays? Is this true?
What are other brands that can i use?

In the harry potter goblet fir movie, they said that they used foam to create those books. What kind of paint do most movie comnpanies use? Did they Spray or brushed?

And for those walls made from fiberglass and plaster. Do you know how it was done?


I have never used Wed clay (I am not sure what green stuff is, could be Roma Plastilina, or Casteline, they are both greenish). There is Apoxie clay–I believe its a brand name epoxy clay. I havent used it, Magic Sculp is similar but I dont know which is better.

FX places uses different clays.
For makeup fx its usually oil based clay–they would rarely use polymer clay because it has to be oven baked and doesnt allow as much detailing as oil based plastiline clays(Roma, Chavant).

Silicone is used a lot for making molds, as well as latex rubber. Latex is less rigid, and doesnt hold detail as well as silicone. There are platinum based silicones and tin based silicones that you can get in two parts and mix yourself. I have never used them.
They are specialty mold making stuff. You can get them at polytek and other places. They can be highly toxic so you would need to read up on safety, get a respirator, good chemical resistant gloves.
Especially with resins, silicons and polyurethanes.

I have mostly used hardware silicon because it actually rated very highly in polytek’s own chart of mold making material comparisons and dries fast. But for professionals, the two parters are commonly used.

I cant tell you what paints would be used by prop builders. There are lots of specialty paints out there. Sometimes they dry brush, sometimes they air brush. Foam is often used in prop construction.
Harry Potter stuff can get really high tech.

These days they even use computers to make a pattern and then have it carved out by machine in foam.

For really detailed answers you would be best to look at prop maker and traditional fx website forums.
There is one really good one called

Lots of professional makeup and prop builders and they are always answering questions like this on their forums.
They know a lot more than me. :slight_smile:


Thanks man

I found few companies do visual effect models.
I should just do intership and start from there. there’s alot to learn…>_>


Internship is probably the best idea for miniature effects if you can get one. Its more specialized than makeup or regular prop building, especially with the scale and architectural component.
Buildings needing to explode etc. Lots of schools for makeup fx, not so many for miniatures.
If any.


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