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Akeyla Sculpture tutorial by akeyla Akeyla Sculpture tutorial by akeyla
www.AKEYLA.com



BEWARE THIS TUTORIAL IS OLD!
I still use more or less the same process when making my sculptures, although I have altered certain bits. If you have any questions or are not sure wheter parts are still actual or fitting your sculpture concept please ask me :) I dont bite :)



okay, first of all, I didnt really LEARN how to sculpt, I just figured it out. Most of what I do is a simple putting the flat image in my head into 3D. This requires that you KNOW how your sculpture looks in your head.

Do never start a sculpture without knowing how it has to be. If you are new to this medium or the creature/animal, do work with sketches first. You will need to know how the animal looks from all angles infront of your inner eye, know its anatomy or you may end up frustrated with the sculpture or stuck with things you cannot solve in the process because you did not plan it. This may be lacking clay, weight pressing the armature, prortruding stuff, limbs that need to be lenghtened. This cann of course still be corrected, but it involves a lot of time and destruction of the existing process. and nerves.

I consider myself ready to sculpt when I can play, fling around, turn and move the creature infront of my inner eye, like a trained doggie ("lie down! play dead! good boy!")

lets get going:

1.
Either use a skeletal reference of the animal/human or be sure to have a sketch of your creature with all its bones.
simply follow all the important bones, the spine, the arm bones, leggs. The bigger you go, the more you wire. For full safety wire EVERYTHING that would be bone in nature (also fingers and jaws). Be sure to use strong wire, a wire that requires strenght to bend, not the random soft stuff. (also beware of wire that melts at low temperatures)
I usually use the same wire that I double and tripple. Be sure to turn tightly and spin the wire so its solid, you may end up having protruding stuff. A good skeleton shows a lot of the animal and its pose already. Use it to try out some new poses or movements too, you will be surprised how much you can do with your wire animal.
Always remember, be sure to have wired it strong enough.
Please note that this sculpture in the sample has way to little /fine wire. Be sure to use more than shown here.

2. then we add the foil. Start with a ball that will be the ribcage, add various sized sausages to add legg, arm, neck, tail etc volume. Be sure to add enough as not to end up using to much clay, but also not to much to have to much protruding foil at the end. A note must be added to this: you dont really have to foil a lot, or at all, I do because I wish to use less clay, you can indeed if you follow the curing rules of 30 mins for half an inch make up to 3 inch thick layers. Personally i tend to keep my clay a half up to one finger thick over the foil and wire depending on the final size of the sculpture (the bigger, the thicker). If you have a heavy bulk section as the ribcage it does not really matter in my experience, but it is rather important with supporting and thinner parts, such as arms and leggs.

3.then foil up the rest of the wire, in thinner layers (ex: fingers) it will make the clay hold better. To keep the foil in place simply wrap foil around it, or even tie/wrap with thin sewing thread. I personally recommend thin silverwire, especially for the delicate parts such as the fingers and thinner limbs. Do not use tape, it will make changes lateron difficult. Be sure that you have no wire left that is just blank wire, be sure that it is covered with a material, may it be foil or wire, to give the clay something to hold on. slipping clay can be very annoying when working. Incase you can also use superglue or cementit to actually glue the uncured glue to wire or other uncured/cured glue.

4. start adding clay. Start by making flat pancakes and covering the whole sculpture. then, make the single muscle strings. The more you make, the more it will have an anatomy look lateron. Remember, it is best to add the muscles from the begining in a muscle like form, if you make a big blob of clay and try to cut/etch in muscles it will just not look good, especially big muscles).
then start to put on the head, give it a face, so you won't have to work with "blooby" but with a Balrog

5. Beware of holding your figure to much, it will smush in the clay. I tend to work my figure out as rough as possible and then set it down. Get yourself a spinning disk (for sculpting) to reach every angle. if you have to hold your sculpture to reach other parts or stabilize during sculpting, decide on a place where you can do so to the very end without smashing to much. I usually take the waist or tail for that.
Follow the muscle strands and etch fur, skin or scales in, whatever you have. Keep in mind that nature is not perfect and not all same sized. Aswell add folds where anatomy/movement requires it (leggs, ellbows, etc)

6. Give your sculpture a break before you put it in the oven. Once its cured you can still change things that are minor, but it always pays off to put the figure in, when you consider yourself done. You can also cure your sculptures multiple times, for example if you have things like wings.
Adjust final changes and put in oven. BE SURE to watch the sculputre while it is in the oven, warmth will soften the clay and can cause the wole thing to crash. If you did all correctly with a good wire skeleton this should not happen, however you should not give it a chance. If you're unsure support it in the oven (be sure to use stuff that can stand the polymer curing temperature, ex porcelaine cups, glas, metall). So keep an eye on it. Not all sculptures can be saved fully with this method of watching, but if you see a sculpture is starting to slant the earlyer you can give it a support and heighten the chance of not having something that looks like its been run over by a car.

and voila.

let it cool in the oven, do not (NOT!) attempt to remove it when it is fresh cured, polymer does a good deal of keeping warmth, got burned fingers to show you if you dont believe. Aswell touching it when warm increases breaking.
thats it for today :)
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkarai100:
karai100 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013
What kind of wire you used?
Reply
:icondr-oblivian:
Dr-Oblivian Featured By Owner May 25, 2011
from your pictures im assuming you used super sculpey? my question is this, considering the "bulk" of the sculpture is tinfoil, wouldent it be dangerous to bake considering the unknown amounts of air within the folds of the foil (that could possibly cause it to explode from the heat)
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner May 26, 2011  Professional
ah, the chance that something with polymer and tinfoil and a bit of air explodes at 130 degree is rather slim. With pottery clay and kilning, yes. With polymer, as good as not. Of course this requires solidly pushing on the tinfoil. Also, remember, this tutorial is old. Back then my foil was much more loosely layered on.
Reply
:icondark-dragon-kyra:
Dark-Dragon-Kyra Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2010
Heheh, this is really old, so sorry...

I'm a major amateur that works with clay as just something cool to do. The clay is kiln-fired though, instead of oven-baked, so when I was thinking about trying wire to sturdy anything I might try to make, I didn't know if any wire was safe to be fired in a kiln.

Long story short, can you wire a ceramics piece that will be put in a kiln? Or, shoot, even put aluminum foil on it?
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner May 26, 2011  Professional
hi!
no, you cant wire ceramics. It only works (or I made it once that way) in rare cases if the wire is fire proof (1000 degree) and its completly straight (thus allowing the clay to shrink along it). No aluminium foil either. The best is to build up and hollow out or build up around a paper core that later "burns" away.
Reply
:iconmoltofuckingbene:
MoltoFuckingBene Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011
I made the mistake of putting a wire armatured sculpture in the kilm... BOOM!
Reply
:icondark-dragon-kyra:
Dark-Dragon-Kyra Featured By Owner May 26, 2011
Ah, I see. Thank you for your input!
Reply
:iconaxxon16:
Axxon16 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2010
if you don't mind to share, what is the name is the clay brand and where could i find it?
You see, I use "Original Sculpey clay" and that thing quite sucks. Every person that does scultures like you uses this color-tan clay. that was I'm asking you this.
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2010  Professional
Hi! there are various brands and I tend to change them.
Personally I recommend Super Sculpey, or Super Sculpey firm. Occasionally I mix with Fimo soft, Premo or Sculpey superflex (for fragile parts). There's also Cernit and Prosculpt and some other brands basing on polymer, it really depends on what you want. Super sculpey/firm is great for detailed work, while Fimo has nice color and is softer, more durable. Sculpey comes cheap (but stinks in handling, I dont recommend its crumbly consistence). Hope this helps. Incase, tell me what you want to sculpt, I may be able to give you better hints then.
Reply
:iconaxxon16:
Axxon16 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010
I want to do some little action figures or at least statues of My friends' OCs. plus some chibies from Bleach and some of the zanpactous. Other thing, what type of wire do you use? the wiry i use is either to soft or too hard. i want a good type of wire good in blending. one last thing, where could i find these types of clay? i tried Hobby lobby, but they don't have them.(for i can see)
Reply
:iconenjoythw:
enjoyTHW Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2010
Is it just normal clay?
Reply
:iconriteous-laugh:
riteous-laugh Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool. Easy to follow and everything but one question. How hot does the oven have to be (in degree Celcius if possible)?
Reply
:iconrevay:
Revay Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2010
If it's super sculpey 130o for 15 min per 6 mm of thickness
Reply
:icongryphonsshadow:
gryphonsshadow Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
interesting, I usually twist thinner wires together to get the stiffness I want in them.

but nice work.
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Professional
thanks :)
Over the years I found I just couldnt twist together as much wire without having my hands hurt like hell. Whenever I can I hence use thicker wire and one thinn wire twisted around it to make the foil hold.
Reply
:iconthecelestialdemoness:
TheCelestialDemoness Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009  Student Filmographer
That's sooo cool. =]
Reply
:iconimrazil:
ImRazil Featured By Owner May 14, 2008
I've got a question: doens't clay shrink about 10 percent when it hardens? Doesn't it chip or break when it's drying around the base that doesn't shrink along?

(Great guide btw :) ).

PS. What kind of clay are you using?

PPS. Cool Balrog :).
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2008  Professional
I am so sorry it took me this long to answer. I am using polymer clay, this clay does not shrink and chip when it dries. It can however break like other clays too, not as quick, but it can break. Hope this helps!
Reply
:iconimrazil:
ImRazil Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2008
np, though this must have cost you a lot then?
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2008  Professional
it is clearly costier than paperclay and normal clay, however it also varies from brand to brand and sales to location. I generally use and prefer Super Sculpey (the one on the image) but Sculpey works fine too. Then there's Premo, Fimo, Sculpey II, Cernit. Some of those can be hard in consistence or hard to paint on, or they come in really impossible colors. If you wish to work really big and a lot I suggest getting the big 8pound pack of Super sculpey (costs somewhere from 60-80$) and perhaps share it with other people. However if you plan well and make a good skeleton structure and use the foil well then you actually wont need as much clay as it seems, for example in comparision to normal clay. hope this helps :)
Reply
:iconimrazil:
ImRazil Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2008
Great help :), thanks!
Reply
:iconrodentruler:
Rodentruler Featured By Owner May 9, 2008
very nice tutorial, I'm still trying to get the hang of the wire/aluminum skeleton and this helps a lot ^_^
Reply
:iconmiro-kaisou:
miro-kaisou Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2007
Thanks for this! I make figurines for my friends for xmas and I was getting tired of using only clay (it baked too long).
Yayyyy
Reply
:iconnapoleon6000:
Napoleon6000 Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2007   General Artist
I would just like to thank you a lot. I have tried the super sculpey after
I saw your balrog and it works great, you unlocked a whole new world of possibilities for me.
Reply
:iconswiftblight:
swiftblight Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2006
oh damn! I think I might have used the wong kind of wire. it is labled as Soft Aluminum wire but it took me so strength to bend it x.x but that isn't saying much seeing as I so incredibly weak. *sigh* I hope that my model doesn't come out like crap because it is for a memorial of my dead gerbil *cries*
Reply
:iconsafir-chan:
safir-chan Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2006
This is really informative! Thank you for writing it and taking the pictures and sharing them with us! :D
Reply
:iconannagiladi:
AnnaGiladi Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2005  Professional General Artist
Wow! I never thought of this way of skulpting, but I already planned on asking you on how you do it (I'm Ore-sama from the Cats Forum). So that's how.... very interesting and it makes sense! Thanks for sharing this and hey - pretty please don't delete this!

Btw, what's polymer? Upon seeing your Cats figures, I went and bought terracotta (speaking of which, I should really get that crust off my hands...).

Awesome tutorial :)
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2006  Professional
Hi!
yes, certainly i remember you :) and I loved your sculptures there!
ah, polymer clay is FIMO, you'll find it here in Europe too. And you'll be surprised: it does not stick to fingers at all. and it gets much harder than clay. I plan in making a new one and then retiring this one (itll still be here). if you need any more info on polymer or with sculpting feel free to email me :)
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:iconpetvampchic:
petvampchic Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2004
very imformative, thank you for saving me much frustration!

~pet
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:iconmrbright:
mrbright Featured By Owner May 4, 2004
cool i may actually use this
Reply
:iconladykaiyu:
ladykaiyu Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2004
Thanks for posting the tutorial! I've never done any of my sculptures with the wire "skeleton", but that's good to know just in case I ever decide to do something more ambitious than what I've been doing. I have one quick question, though--what kind of wire do you use, and where do you get it?
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2004  Professional
I use random flower binding wire. HOWEVER, be careful what wire you use, best steel wire, never use wire that is so soft that you can get it to break with a simple twisting. If you make sculptures that are bigger than 8 inches or having a point that carrys a lot of weight, then use a thicker wire, a wire that is so thick that it is difficult to bend. thats all I can say :)
good luck!
Reply
:iconladykaiyu:
ladykaiyu Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2004
Thanks for the advice:-)
Reply
:iconskippykangaroo:
skippykangaroo Featured By Owner Feb 29, 2004
Mmm, helpful tips! :D I'm inspired to start sculpting again now.
Dang, your armatures look hard to make!

When I want a figure to have extra support in the oven, I usually wad up a special piece of foil as a pillow or a thick support-rod. I might be wasting foil, but anyway.
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Feb 29, 2004  Professional
hehe :)
I abuse my Mums complete set of cups and spoons... you know, coffe cup with espresso cup on top plus spoon to support the wing, etc ;)
sculpture?
oh do make!
I wuv your pieces!!!!
the armature is very simple, as said, follow the skeleton :)
Reply
:iconakiraizumi:
AkiraIzumi Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
^_^ *just nods and smiles* i can draw, but if i even poke clay or any other sculpting agent it turns into a rather unsightly blob ^^;

but if i even have the pleasure of poking that stuff again, i'll try using your methods! :D (one time i made a cat....that wasn't ....that bad >.>;)
Reply
:iconovercome:
overcome Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004  Student
Hm thanks for the tutorial. I basically took the same approach for my first sculpy sculpture. I just took it out of the oven today. It was so thick I baked it for about 45 minutes. Parts of it started to turn crispy dark, but I wanted to make sure the thick head cooked well. I will just paint over the discoloration anyways. So heres hoping that you post tips on painting, sanding, glossing and anything else post baking.
Reply
:iconamyclark:
AmyClark Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004   Traditional Artist
Great! I love the detail you put into your sculptures. :D My biggest mistake with my first was to make it too tall to fit into an oven
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:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2004  Professional
hahaha! believe me, I almost did that too. Scalong fitted exactly into the oven, wide-wise...
however, if they dont fit, chop them appart and use apoxie lateron to fix them togheter and sculpt the cutting details away. Apoxie is super hard, you can find it in most of the bigger stores (ask for two component clay). is air drying :)
thanks for the comment :)
Reply
:iconrodentruler:
Rodentruler Featured By Owner May 9, 2008
I've read about the chopping apart technique and baking different parts of a creature separately but I was wondering how exactly you do that(the chopping) especially if the limbs are re-enforced with wire underneath. O_O
Reply
:iconkyubihunter:
KyubiHunter Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004
interesting, i guess since i'm working on such a small scale (4-7 inches tall) , i don't really have the need for much wire framing, well to be honest i've never used it.

And i got two questions to go along with this ^_^

first, what brand of polymer clay are you using? i've only had experience with sculpey and just by feeling it, it doesn't seem like it'd rap around something like foil too easily

and secondly, what exactly do you use for carving details? As much as i want to try for some level of realistic details, it's pretty difficult most of the time with a small metal scraping tool, a minature knife, and my fingernails =/
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004  Professional
the balrog here bway is 6 inches tall, I use wire down to 3 inches.
Reply
:iconkyubihunter:
KyubiHunter Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004
well youre character is obviously needing wireing though, it covers a wide area even though it's short. I bet if it stood fully upright the thing would stand around 10-11 inches tall. =D

But if you look at my sculptures in general, they're all stable without any wiring, minus creatures with wings, but ya know how tha goes. Oh, i meant to ask that too, are you going to be adding some kind of detail to the wings after firing, or will they be kept as strictly a bone-like form?
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004  Professional
I use super sculpey, sometimes also Fimo soft (for colored stuff).
for sculpting I use two dentist tools. One is like a blunt tip of an arrow, the other one a very small knife (similar to a skalpell but not as sharp) for smothening or rough details I use something like a very small bent spoon. If you buy a sculpting set on ebay you should have those in aswell.
two years ago i used a simple knife and toothpick, aswell a blunt self sculpted tool. you can also sculpt your tools :)
Reply
:iconkyubihunter:
KyubiHunter Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2004
ahh ok, useful information ^_^ I might check out the hobby lobby and see what tools they have..

jeeze, last time i went there and asked if they had armature wireing they looked at me like i was on drugs! It was kinda scarey lol
Reply
:iconakeyla:
akeyla Featured By Owner Feb 29, 2004  Professional
I use normal flower wire, or any other durable thick wire.
here people dont even know that you can do big 3D stuff with polymer. All they know is doing key chains
Reply
:iconkyubihunter:
KyubiHunter Featured By Owner Feb 29, 2004
hmm, i was thinking of maybe copper wire?
Reply
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