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Xelizarios-Prime
03-13-2011, 03:17 PM
I was going to wait another week until I got another table to sculpt at. But I'm using my drawing desk for this first project. And I'm probably nuts for trying to sculpt something "hard" on my first try. But I'm attempting to sculpt one of my own original characters. It's a catgirl character I draw a lot - I call her Mychelle Blackwood.

I'm posting some artwork for a reference and what I've done on the sculpt so far. This is my first attempt EVER to sculpt a figure.


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This is one of my drawings of the character. I had a running joke with her for over 2 years of every single picture I drew of her she was naked. I've got a weird sense of humor.

Anyways, here's the sculpt so far. I've had the hardest time with the buttocks on the torso- and I'm dreading the face, hands, feet, fingers, and toes. I am not sure if I should try to make individual "strands" of hair, and the fingers and toes seperate- not sure how well the clay will hold up in the baking process.

I am using Sculpey III clay for this.

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I have made a little progress since these pictures, so far so good but I feel like the big challenges are yet ahead.

Feel free to comment.

devone23
03-13-2011, 09:08 PM
Good start. Be sure to take your time with the shapes, like the roundness of the breasts and buttocks.

Xelizarios-Prime
03-13-2011, 11:48 PM
Good start. Be sure to take your time with the shapes, like the roundness of the breasts and buttocks.

Thanks.

I ran into a lot of problems along the way. I think for a first project i bit off more than I can chew. I had a difficult time making a large figure stay on it's knees. I didn't do fingers or toes. I figure this was practice -- first try. I hope I'll do a better figure of her down the road.

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Needless to say I left the figure in the over a little too long. Tring to decide if I can paint this up, still put a face on this and half a halfway decent job or just cut my losses and move on.

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I figure this was $3 worth of clay down the crapper if I scrap this. But gotta start somewhere right? I made this figure way too big for a first figure. Plus toothpicks are not adequate to support the darn thing! lol! I laid the figure on it's side- couldn't make it stand. The right side got flattened and burned in places, the legs and tail got burned, etc. I used foil for the core of the torso.

Well - here's my second try - did a much smaller figure - my character Nyrva (the elf chick on my profile pic.)

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I went for a much smaller figure on this one. Used toothpicks for the torso support and legs and paper clips cut for the arms. I'm wondering if I cant go over this with a little resin to smooth things out a bit before I paint this? Can you mix resin or expoxy with polymer clay? This does need a bit of smoothing work and paint- plus I have to paint the face.

devone23
03-14-2011, 02:24 PM
You've got a great grasp of basic proportions and anatomy, I think if you keep practicing and pay attention to details you can really improve. If you need to make it smooth, you might have to sand the surfaces down with ~400 grit sandpaper. Resin is a separate thing from clay and you can't really mix the two as far as I know. You can add epoxy putty to baked sculpey but I don't believe they will stick together very well. For the purposes of smoothing the skin, sandpaper is probably your best bet.

Masa
03-14-2011, 11:56 PM
You might have the wrong material for what you are attempting to do.

Polymer clays (like Sculpey) are intended to be sculpted to a final finished stage, then baked and set. You need to get the details carved in and the surface smooth before you bake the clay. You can add polymer clay on top of polymer clay. A drop or two of a CA glue will help adhesion when trying to put fresh polymer clay on top of baked polymer clay.

If you want to make a rough basic figure, then go back and add and subtract material and work the surface area... then you should try and use either a polyester putty, epoxy putty, or one of the finer paper clays. These materials air dry and can be sanded, carved, and added to without much difficulty.

One thing you might try before trying to tackle a complete figure is just to practice making parts first. Make a hand, then another, then another until you get good at it. Same thing for faces. Get a flat piece of acrylic and slap some clay on there and just carve faces for a week. Try to emulate as many different expressions and work out the positioning of the eyes, nose, and ears. You'll be surprised to find how much your overall sculpting will improve by just concentrating on small areas first. These are some samples from the Heavy Gauge sculptors:

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/eye1_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=48)

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/nose2_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=49)

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/smile1_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=50)

Xelizarios-Prime
03-16-2011, 01:45 AM
You might have the wrong material for what you are attempting to do.

Polymer clays (like Sculpey) are intended to be sculpted to a final finished stage, then baked and set. You need to get the details carved in and the surface smooth before you bake the clay. You can add polymer clay on top of polymer clay. A drop or two of a CA glue will help adhesion when trying to put fresh polymer clay on top of baked polymer clay.

If you want to make a rough basic figure, then go back and add and subtract material and work the surface area... then you should try and use either a polyester putty, epoxy putty, or one of the finer paper clays. These materials air dry and can be sanded, carved, and added to without much difficulty.

One thing you might try before trying to tackle a complete figure is just to practice making parts first. Make a hand, then another, then another until you get good at it. Same thing for faces. Get a flat piece of acrylic and slap some clay on there and just carve faces for a week. Try to emulate as many different expressions and work out the positioning of the eyes, nose, and ears. You'll be surprised to find how much your overall sculpting will improve by just concentrating on small areas first. These are some samples from the Heavy Gauge sculptors:

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/eye1_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=48)

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/nose2_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=49)

http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/files/8/smile1_thumb.jpg (http://www.gkjapan.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=50)


@ devone --

Thanks devone. I appreciate the encouragement. my first clay sculpture is better than my first attempts at drawing anime art! lol! but I realize I have a lot of practice. Luckily I do have 10 pounds of modeling clay to practice with aside from my Sculpey! :-)

Over the coming weeks I'm going to give attempts at making full figures a rest and do like Masa says- practice on the hard stuff- faces, hands, feet, torso, etc.

@ Masa --

Thank you also for the information and the pictures. You guys have some really great points and I'm trying to learn how to implement them.

Also what do you use for tools to make the faces and carve fingers and toes? Can you please post pictures? Want to know what kind of tools to look for at an arts and crafts store, or even a hardware store if it comes to that-- which I'm sure it will.

How do you get anime eyes properly sculpted, noses shaped, mouths, etc?

Thank you for the pictures you sent also. They are a great reference.

And another question if I may -- and either of you guys or anyone else can answer too--

What IS the best clay for sculpting figures overall? I had my heart set on Sculpey III due to the colors, but it seems - my figures require paint anyways. I AM trying to avoid clay that requires a kilm-- to me that's way too complicated- yet I am looking for something that will stand up to the years assuming it's made right, sealed, and taken care of.

What should I look for in terms of compatible epoxy putty, resin, bondo, also primers and paints for this? And also sealers? What do you guys use for your clay figures?

Thanks again- and here's a few more attempts I made to to mess around-- one of them is a basic figure of a unicorn character (I guess that's called "kirin" in Japan?) I draw of mine called "Shadowmere" -- for all intents and purposes he is basically a black horse with a horn and cloven hooves rather than normal horse hooves. But getting my clay sculpting to match my drawings? That will take some considerable practice I'm sure. Open to any comments.

Here's a drawing of my character --

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Here's the actual sculpture - wasn't trying to match my drawing- just get a basic sculpture of a horse/unicorn - or an attempt.
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BTW- I love "Kirin" beer! Sapporo too! ;-)

This? This is me just "screwing around". I hope to do Mr. Bill and Sluggo too! If I can't do anime characters maybe I can make silly cartoon characters. But now that I've tried Guumby and Charlie Brown maybe I should try Snoopy! lol!

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Masa
03-16-2011, 02:34 AM
Material is pretty much up to the individual. Lots of folks in Japan use Fando or New Fando because it's cheap and readily available. This is an air dry clay made of finely ground powder. I haven't been stateside in quite a while, so I have no idea what the pricing is like these days, but you might try Milliput or some other hobby epoxy putty. If Sculpey is readily available in your area - there is nothing wrong with that. I would recommend Super Sculpey over any of their other product lines. It is used by many pro sculptors throughout the world.

For tools - pretty much anything and everything. Depends a lot on the sculpting material you use. You can do a lot with just an ordinary craft knife. A lot of sculptors make their own by twisting wire and attaching them to brush handles. Larger scale sculptors like Bome who does 1/3 and 1/4 figures use mostly their bare hands. If you buy something at an art store - try and get an assortment of different size rakes, loops, and picks. If you know someone who works in a dental office - old dental tools work great. That's what I use.

I'm drinking this great Belgian Trappist beer called Chimay :beer:

Xelizarios-Prime
03-18-2011, 02:09 AM
Material is pretty much up to the individual. Lots of folks in Japan use Fando or New Fando because it's cheap and readily available. This is an air dry clay made of finely ground powder. I haven't been stateside in quite a while, so I have no idea what the pricing is like these days, but you might try Milliput or some other hobby epoxy putty. If Sculpey is readily available in your area - there is nothing wrong with that. I would recommend Super Sculpey over any of their other product lines. It is used by many pro sculptors throughout the world.

For tools - pretty much anything and everything. Depends a lot on the sculpting material you use. You can do a lot with just an ordinary craft knife. A lot of sculptors make their own by twisting wire and attaching them to brush handles. Larger scale sculptors like Bome who does 1/3 and 1/4 figures use mostly their bare hands. If you buy something at an art store - try and get an assortment of different size rakes, loops, and picks. If you know someone who works in a dental office - old dental tools work great. That's what I use.

I'm drinking this great Belgian Trappist beer called Chimay :beer:

Hi Masa,

Thanks for the reply. It has been a hectic week here. But yeah- I'm exploring that-- I was trying to determine if Sculpey is unable to be altered after you bake it or if I can add expoxy, and primer, and even repaint them as needed, etc. or do I want another kind of clay for that? What's the best deal? I think I saw a post on here about someone making figures out of BONDO - which.... that's hard to imagine to me.

Is there a stateside equivalent to Fando or New Fando? You said it was made from powder, but is it modeling clay, paper clay? etc? What would I want to search for to find an equivalent?

I need to look at filing and sanding tools, and application tools for epoxies, etc. But for mediums to work with...

I can get Sculpey at almost any art store here. But I find that it still needs a paint job when I get done- even the Sculpey III with the various colors. The one figure I burned. I hate to think if you make a figure that turns out, except that you burn it there should still be a means of salvage- epoxy, primers, paint, etc.


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Or like this one-- the arms are messed up- but the figure is 5 inches long - the arms are clay with pieces of paper clips used to provide wire frame skeleton for them. The forearms are uneven- not smooth, etc. Also the ears suck and the nose is way too big. Does one try to modify or salvage this? Or does one use this as a "learning exercise" and try to do better next time? STILL - if you have one you're happy with but want to make some minor modifications? This was made with Sculpey III.

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The trick of course is to learn to make my sculptures look more like my drawings. =)

For paper, powder, or modeling clays, etc. how do you make them permanent, and prepare them for painting? How do you seal them?

I'm apologize, I know I have a lot of questions. I can talk all day about my drawing techniques. In fact I'm working on some new drawings. But sculpting? This is a whole new world. so anything I can learn is a huge help. Very much appreciate it.

But anything you can tell me here is great.

I will take that under advisement about practicing faces, hands, etc. I find I have to do that with drawings- even though I've been drawing for 14-15 yeas- I find I still need to practice sometimes. Luckily I have a 10 pound box of modeling clay I bought when I was first looking into this.

But I would like to know more about that Fando clay- or equivalents- paper clay, etc.- if you sculpt something you like- how do you make it permanent then make it so you can paint it, and then seal it, etc? Make it so it falls apart in 10 years instead of next year! lol!

Anyways, thanks again! :-)

Chimay? I've head of that. I've never had any. We have some good stores here that get some really good import beer. I may have to get me some of that. I also love Pilsner Urquell! that is from the Czech Republic. I wish I could try a good Russian beer- I hear they have some good stuff too! lol! :-)

I don't drink many American beers though - I don't like fizzy yellow water. rofl!

Cheers!

Masa
03-18-2011, 02:42 AM
It's actually made out of volcanic ash. Instead of trying to find a Fando equivalent, I'd just go with what is readily available in your area. If you can get SS (Super Sculpey) you should probably stick with that. It's hard to explain the process in words, but you need to use the characteristics of the polymer clay to your advantage. The number one reason it is so popular is that the material stays soft and workable until you bake it. If you need to smooth it - you can. If you need to remove material - you can. If you need to add material - you can. This means you can sculpt the figure to completion - adjust everything how you like it, THEN bake it to harden in an oven. After your sculpt is finished, you can prime it and paint it to your heart's content.

Here's a video from the Schifflet Brothers. They are very talented sculptors and they use Super Sculpey. They also have a sculpting forum and are pretty good about answering questions from their members. I'm sure they can explain sculpting with polymer clay much better than I can.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6J71NK2Vog&feature=player_embedded#at=83

Xelizarios-Prime
03-22-2011, 11:57 PM
Hi Masa,

Thanks for the info and the video. I have searched out some other videos too.

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Actually I admit I do find Sculpey difficult to work with- it's all maluable until you bake it- so if I sculpt a torso then add a leg, the part where I add the leg gets messed up, then I have to add more clay, then things get too bulky in spots and I have to take a way clay and reshape everything. It's a pain but I think I'm getting somewhat of a grip on it. Still my most recent sculptures are a far cry from what I want to achieve. I am trying to be patient of course. Only started this a week or two ago.

but I DO wonder if modeling clay or other air dry clay is better for me for now? Before I bought my sculpey I did buy a 10 pound box of Amaco modeling clay- air dry. It can even be "resoftened" with water and apparently can be sealed. I am not sure how permanent or durable it is though.

But like with Sculpey- I don't think you can bake pieces, then put them together with fresh clay, then rebake- I would think the pieces already baked would burn, wouldn't they? If Sculpey cannot be modified after baking I am not sure how to work with it.

With the modeling clay, I can sculpt the torso, thighs, calves, arms, hands, feet, and head, let them dry- then attach them with fresh wet clay, and scrape, and whatever else. I'm just thinking if the Sculpey cannot be modified any further I'm not sure how to work with it. I admit I am at a loss. But I still got a lot to learn.

I think you or someone else mentioned epoxy putty. Wonder if I can sculpt body parts, bake them and assemble them that way, but then if you want to make the clothes... hmmm...

I'm really not sure how to go about this.

In the meantime I did order some armature wire and trying to think what to get for filing and carving tools, sanding, etc.

Like I always say, I'm open to suggestions.

and thanks again for your replies. Every bit helps. I am even posting my progress on my site on my blog and forum so others who also want to learn this can see what I'm doing so far even though I am a total noob. :-)

Well! Off to dreamland! :-)

Cheers! (with a mug of Sapporo!) :-)

Masa
03-23-2011, 01:46 AM
It really is a matter of finding out what material works best for you. By your working description - it might be better to try an epoxy putty or some other clay. Epoxy putty you don't have to bake. You mix the putty with a hardening agent and you get anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour working time depending on the type. After it's dry - you can cut, sand and scrape to your heart's content. If they carry Milliput at your local hobby shop - get a box of the white "S" grade (I think...) and try it out.

Polyester putty is the same, just a bit more toxic (lol) but usually cheaper in the long run depending on how big your figures get. It doesn't hold a shape as well as epoxy putty, and tends to need a lot more rework after it dries. But the surface can be sanded very smooth and it sets up rock hard.

Cold_OneK
03-23-2011, 02:53 AM
When you made the comment about your figure getting way out of proportions, I immediately felt your pain =/
the solution is to use the material powah of sculpey....or..you can stick in the fridge/freezer for a bit, and it will harden up quite a bit(not bake harden-think traditional clay minus like 40-60% of the water) some sculptors also make a stand to hold the clay, while they sculpt it.

As for tools, I recommend a spoon tool, it makes mouths and eyes super easy.
There's a tutorial linked from this forum that has one of the users sculpting an anime leprechaun
Also on the site linked, are some very useful vid tut's with creating your own tools and creating "anime-ish faces"

Btw with the hair, I'd def. leave that for last. after clothing, but yours don't wear any so ignore that part =p

I'm going to do a test later to see if I can't re-bake a figure with an attachment of something else(hair in this case cuz it's nice thin, and a pain to sculpt well)

Last thing: I notice with your sculpts that you spend too little time building the anatomy.
Something I find very usefull is to build the head and other difficult pieces seperate from the body, and then attach them later.

Xelizarios-Prime
03-28-2011, 11:50 PM
When you made the comment about your figure getting way out of proportions, I immediately felt your pain =/
the solution is to use the material powah of sculpey....or..you can stick in the fridge/freezer for a bit, and it will harden up quite a bit(not bake harden-think traditional clay minus like 40-60% of the water) some sculptors also make a stand to hold the clay, while they sculpt it.

As for tools, I recommend a spoon tool, it makes mouths and eyes super easy.
There's a tutorial linked from this forum that has one of the users sculpting an anime leprechaun
Also on the site linked, are some very useful vid tut's with creating your own tools and creating "anime-ish faces"

Btw with the hair, I'd def. leave that for last. after clothing, but yours don't wear any so ignore that part =p

I'm going to do a test later to see if I can't re-bake a figure with an attachment of something else(hair in this case cuz it's nice thin, and a pain to sculpt well)

Last thing: I notice with your sculpts that you spend too little time building the anatomy.
Something I find very usefull is to build the head and other difficult pieces seperate from the body, and then attach them later.

@ Masa -

Thank you for the ideas - I was asking about epoxy putty at an art store but they took me to the tubes of super glue. Do you have any recommendations of where to buy some? Thx. :-)


@Cold_OneK -

If you're going to experiment with rebaking clay figures, I will most curious to see the results. because I am picturing the already-baked clay either burning or cracking. But then I don't know. Not sure if you can bake and rebake?

I do spend a lot of time on my sculpts but I'm having trouble with the detailing and so forth. Eyes are a pain! I wonder if I should sculpt the figure, bake it, then make eyes in Photoshop and print them so they are small enough? Like decals? I figure after you seal them they should blend in... or so I hope! Not sure if anyone else has tried that?

I haven't done any sculpting this week but in the meantime I did get some 1/16" armature wire and some super sculpey (will save the super sculpey for when I have a better handle on this)

I have noticed some of the pros build the body out of wire and foil first then apply the clay. Of course that saves on clay but if I figure the preliminary setup with the wire and foil should make the anatomical sculpture easier, right?

BTW - sorry I'm so slow to reply lately! Work and school these days! lol!

Also - I can't decide what is more difficult - making eyes on a clay figure or trying to get the damn decals off this miniature Macross model! lol! (Not to mention I bought the wrong one - not that I don't like MinneMay but I don't like pink on my jet planes! lol!) Seems I'm ruining the decals trying to get them off the paper!

I was never a model builder though. Clay sounds more like fun to me. :-)


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devone23
03-29-2011, 12:23 PM
I'm not sure if you are aware, but there is a "Macro" mode or a "Digital Macro" mode (Icon is like a flower/rose bud, with the letter D in the center) on most cameras, even some cell phone ones. Set your camera to that mode, then take the closeup pictures.

Xelizarios-Prime
03-30-2011, 11:55 AM
I'm not sure if you are aware, but there is a "Macro" mode or a "Digital Macro" mode (Icon is like a flower/rose bud, with the letter D in the center) on most cameras, even some cell phone ones. Set your camera to that mode, then take the closeup pictures.


Not sure about the icon, but I do have a setting for closer than 28 inches. The camera has a "smart focus" (supposedly) and I haven't quite mastered it yet. Like the picture of the Macross plane - the camera focused on the keyboard behind it rather than the plane. It usually draws a green box on the display on the item that is being focused on but I haven't fully mastered how it works yet.