Getting started with sculpting





TetsuoShima- Yes, clay is an excellent way to get better at 3D modeling. Knowing and studing surfaces, feeling them, is a great way to improve your digital modeling technique.

As far as I know, if your using normal Sculpty you need to oven dry the stuff.

Second, Sculpty is good, but expensive, and detail is not as easy to acheve in sculpty as it is in your water based clays, the stuff taken from the ground. Water based clay is cheap too, you can pay $0.25-$1.50 per lb. for water based clay. Were as with Sculpty you could pay up to $10.00 per lb.

WARNING though. I belive you need a Kilm to bake the water out of water based clay with. I could be wrong, its been awhile. You need to let the clay set to air dry until it is nice and hard, then you put it in the kilm. After the kilm, you can put you glaze on it. Then you put it into the kilm again to bake the glaze.
I don’t have any kilm prices on hand right now. But I would definitly look into the prices of a kilm before you buy two hundred pounds of clay.

RESOURCES: I don’t know who mentioned going to a community college (sorry), but that is a great idea, for a place to find kilms, or if you know any high school art teachers, that would also be a great person to talk to, to ask about using their kilm.

Like he also said, he looked into classes at the community college, definitly do that if you have time.
Classes to look for:
Modeling (make sure its with clay though)
Wheel Work (normaly used to make pots and vasses and other tall circular objects

Even if you can’t take the class, you could ask about using their kilm if they have one.

I can’t stress it enough. Model in real 3D!! Even if you think your clay work isn’t any good, it helps improve your modeling abilty so much.


For those who have experience with clay modeling, are there any DVDs that you can recommend? I’m mostly interested in figure sculpture for monsters, fantasy, and sci-fi. Thank you in advance.


when you venture in to the world of sculpture that clay/sculpy is not your only material… you can use wood, metal, etc… and what’s totally cool is that once you get the model all set up in the “real” world you can use d-sculptor and similar type tools to bring it back in to the 3d world to tweak it… and then use 3d->real sculpture type places like , , who use stuff like and to make the model “real” again… and then used the tweaked model to make a plaster mold which you can then use to make multiples… of course some of those steps could be bipassed, but it shows you that there is a LOT of possibilities out there and an entire toy making area that a lot of 3d modellers have not really realized or explored in the past…

#27 sissies. Get casteline. Its what mcfarlane toys uses. Its wax, and it kicks sculpey’s ass. No need for crappy wireframes cuz it supports its own weight. Imagine that.


for those using super sculpey (my first choice… still need to try casteline) here’s a tip for baking.
instead of baking your sculpt in the oven, use a heat gun. i have a stanley heat stripper… it’s like an industrial-strength hair dryer. it comes with different attachments to direct the heatflow. Be very careful when using a heatgun! they get extremely hot near the tip, also try using something to hld your piece with while baking. turn it frequently to get even baking.
the benefit of using a heat gun is that you can progressively bake layers onto the sculpt. if you were to put the sculpey in the oven over and over it would burn and discolor. the heat gun allows you to control the amount and duration of heat exposure… so if you’re baking a new layer, the layer beneath won’t get nearly as hot and won’t bake any more.

i picked up this tip a few years ago while reading an interview with Randy Bowen… i tried it and understood the first time why it’s a good idea.

traditional scuplting is very underestimated in our new digital realm of models and art… physical media aren’t any less useful in enhancing your skill or learning that reading manuals and tutorials… besides, you have something YOU made that you can hold in your hand. it’s a pretty nice feeling of accomplishment. :slight_smile:



just make sure you heat gun it on lots of layers, dont try and heatgun the whole thing at the end. My friend tried that and the gun couldnt get all the way through and his sculptures slowly crumbled over time…

you can use epoxy putty from the hardware store to fix cracks that occur after you cook. if you dont bake in layers it will crack. I choose not to bake in layers because I always end up needing to fix proportions, and if its cooked underneath, im screwed. Tons o people love that method though. The cracks + wireframe + inability to hold sculpey in your hand without messing up details made me try casteline. I recommend trying it out. You gotta cast it to get a finished product though. Only downside. has a good tutorial on how to build maquettes and set up sculpey for casting.


have any good tips about molding & casting? my friend and i had been experimenting for a couple years a while back to find a cost-effective method for reproducing action figures we were working on.
i’d read about casteline and wanted to try it… but i didn’t get around to it. recently i’ve been wanting to take up the hobby again. (it’ll help on the conceptual art of mine and my friend’s tv pilot we’re working on).

what i’ve been looking for is a material to use for casting that is like the plastics used to make most action figures (think mcfarlane and that ilk). i wanted something that didn’t have to be melted down first, as i don’t have an injection casting machine or the ability to cut metal molds. something that is a chemically set up casting agent.


theres stuff you can get off of, i forget the name but i remember my friend from mcfarlane toys mentioning he got it there. i think its polystyrine or something like that. im not sure. The other opition I know of is silicone. You can buy it in tubes from the hardware store. Ive never casted myself, but he just took old plastic pepsi bottles, filled it with his sculpt and silicone, and then cut it in half once the silicone hardened. Im sure you can make more sense out of it with your past experience, but Ive been wanting to try that out too.


i know its not especially about tutorials on sculpting

but anyways, these are cool sites, showing you what can be done!


keep on posting your sculptures

to admin of :

please consider to make a special section on maquettes and sculptures. makes it a lot easier than searching in the “mixed” one

thanks in advance


Great thread. I used to do a lot of sculpting but usually on a larger scale. I liked using traditional water based clays because the materials are that much cheaper and you can start making things on a larger scale that won’t get easily broken. Of course you have to find a kiln large enough to fire them if you take that route. I taught wheel pottery for a while so had access to all sorts of materials for experimentation.

These are around three feet long and crafted with quite a gritty clay (Which is more forgiving about airbubbles which have found their way into the piece).

I have to say that physically crafting something can definitely help your overall knowledge of anatomy and how a person’s put together. For accuracy using calipers to compare proportions is a major help when you don’t have images and grids to directly refer to.


is this dead ?


I don’t think so, I believe it’s more of a resource and tips thread.
Post some sculpt pics and keep it alive!


Hi there…

the Gnomon Workshop has 5 amazing sculpting DVD’s… I watched 2 of them and there pretty cool!

Its under the analog DVD’s

Dalaran AW


I’m pretty new to cgtalk, and am completely new to this particular section. About sculpey, it doesn’t have to be super expensive. Much like with food the more you buy in a package the less expensive it is, you can buy it in large bricks. The large bricks only come in two colors, white, and terra-cotta. However if you compare the price of the large bricks to the price of the small colored blocks(they sort of look like candy, good thing they’re non-toxic) the savings are huge. I guess what I mean is, compare the price per ounce.

Sculpey stays really soft untill you bake it, the same goes for FIMO. There is a clay that air-dries available at hobby and art supply shops and sites(I forget the brand name) I avoid it like the plague, it dries really fast, as soon as you open the package it starts drying, I even tried putting it in zip-lock bags, and sucking all the air out through a straw, still it dried, I added water, and that was both good and bad, it did moisten to some extent but continued to dry, and the crummiest part was that it would crack and even get lumps while I was working with it…damp paper towels offerred little help as well. The stuff that air dries, I imagine, would be really good for either children’s projects, or something that you’re going to cast relatively quickly, but for modelling, and sculpting, even plain old children’s modelling clay is a million times better than the stuff that air-dries.

The cool thing is, that you can mix colors with sculpey. So you can purchase the large bricks and then mix chunk of white with a bright or dark color(a little goes a lot farther than you would expect) and get a really nice pastel or neutral color, the terra-cotta and white, plus a bit of red, and a bit of yellow(experiment to get the right shade) and maybe even blue, plus some of the transparet(should say translucent but doesn’t) would result in a really nice flesh tone.

At the art store, you’ll find sculpey with shimmery colors, sure you could buy those, and by golly if you have the bucks, then my entire post is pointless. But I’m assuming you’re an aspiring professional artist, which means you are currently a starving or at the very least, budget minded artist. So I’m going to give you a tip that the average male, or even average female who doesn’t wear make-up wouldn’t think of. Head to your local beauty supply. Here in the U.S. Sally beauty supply is the most wide spread but I’m sure there are stores with other names worldwide that sell basically the same products with varrying brands and packaging of products. Look for shimmer powder, read the label and make sure that the shimmer comes from mica and other minerals and not from acrylic or other plastics. Shimmer powders come in a huge assortment of colors, and all you would have to do is either blend a tiny bit(once again a little goes a long way) into your sculpey, or use a very soft brush to stroke a touch onto the parts of your unbaked model that you want to be shimmery.
A good tip for brushing the powder on, is to tip the little jar upside down then right side up and tap it before opening, then just dip the brush in the lid and tap it on the edge of the lid before brushing, you’ll save tons of powder that way.

Another route entirely is to use the white or terra-cotta(whichever you can find in a large brick) to sculpt your entire model, then paint it using either a brush and Testor’s(for example) model paint(think model kits). Or you could use an airbrush, and Testor’s now makes and sells an airbrush set, that bears a striking resemblence to the airbrush sets you can buy from Copic to use with their markers. Heck if you’re really careful, you could even use spray enamel(hardware store) by carefully masking off your areas, and allowing each section to dry thoroughly before moving on to a new one. Of course you should bake(or oven cure;)) the model before painting.

Good luck, and I hope I’ve been able to give you some ideas and options.


I can recommend they have the best sculpting tuts with an artist by the name of jordu schell. also check out to be blown away. he is an insane sculptor. check out thats my buddy casey loves website. the shiflett board link that was posted here is the old version of the place. for all the newer updates from the artists go to that place is good for model kit style peices. for 1:1 scale peices check out the there is a msg board there. I hang out there ALOT and go by the user name Deitycreations. you can check out my site if you want

if you want to do clay sketches then the club house is the place to go for info. pick up some super sculpey or chavant nsp soft or medium. you can also get some clay called wed em-217 water based clay. its the best clay I think. you can make maquettes with it. get issue one of moviefxmagazine to show you how to use the stuff. along with all other issues with jordu schell in them.


Hey I just like to say thanks you guys for jumping on this topic, I always wanted to create study models for my 3D stuff, and it helps a great deal, especially if someone gives you a character and you have a drawing with no depth to it, clay modeling helps with some solutions, I was drawing or I should say re-drawing a character and the shots given didn’t have a in depth basis to it, so I ended up re-designing the character, I’m still a rookie and hopefully
you’ll get to see some basis of my stuff soon, being here on CG Talk has inspired me to take challenges and actually create stuff for critiques, now it’s time for me to play catch up, thanks again guys!!!


Hey this is really helping alot, it helps for problem solving in 3D modeling, I’m going to experiment, I seen some of the tutorials for a basis, does anybody use foil underneath for a mold basis, I’ll try it and see, (I’m not really planning to cook mine :), but I’m quiet sure somebody will want it, I had to ghetto rig some tools from the dollar store and wal-mart, and may have to jack a dentist for his tools too) I going to experiment hardcore and see what I come up with, does anyone have gallery sites other than what’s posted, ( I know it may seem cheesy but I’m going for some Hanna Barbeara crazieness, then probley produce some 3D models, of George Jetsons boss with a pistol, something crazy and funny as hell