Getting started with sculpting


my little german cave troll [wip] tutorial…


hi, guys! this site is very cool


Check out this great sculpey tutorial at


I have personally found clay modeling to be a great help in improving my understanding of the human body, especially the head. Now I am careful to put all the subtle details into my CG creations.

btw, i use terra cotta clay----it’s cheap


Another great resource for sculpting is which focuses on sculpting miniatures. There are some fanatastic sculpters there.


Hey I have a crazy noob question :shrug:

I’m sculpting a head for my art class and I have to give it to her when I’m finished so she can fire it. until I can get it to her though it may be at my house for a few days, once I’ve finished it can I just let it dry or do I keep it moist until I give it to her? I have no clue lol, I like it so far though! Its a lot more fun than i thought, I’ll post a pic when its done. Thanks guys


Your piece should be air dryed before you fire it. Well, that is what I was always taught. I think the problem is that if there is any moisture trapped inside the earth clay piece and you fire it, the water will expand in gas form. The gas will try to “escape”, but if there are no openings to the outside for it to exit through then that pocket of moisture could explode! Here’s another extra bit of information - never let plaster bits get on you earth clay piece. Apparently this causes the same kind of explosion due to moisture. Even if the plaster is on the surface I believe it can pop off little bits of the earth clay. That’s why the ceramic folks try to stay away from the figure sculptors. Different studio setups. Trust me, I know because I unwittingly contaminated a ceramic shop with plaster and was chewed out big time! Ahhh happy memories. lol


Hello FireEyeC, you should let the clay dry out before you fire it. Well, that’s what I was taught. As I understand it, if the piece is not completely dry from the inside out, then you will have moisture pockets in the sculpture. When the piece is fired, the water turns into gas and expands. If the moisture is trapped, if there is no escape passage to the outside of the sculpture, then the pocket can explode from the pressure. This explosion could blow off a significant part of your piece. Another bit of advice - don’t let any plaster touch your earth clay if you are going to fire it. The plaster also causes the same explosions and it involves moisture as well. That’s why the ceramics folks try to stay away from the figure sculptors. Different studio setups. I know, because I unwittingly contaminated a ceramics studio with plaster dust and was chewed out for it big time! Lesson learned on that one! :slight_smile:


I Like This topic


Here are some pics of my model, thanks for all the help!!


I’ll post later


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: