There are different forms of sculpting that can generally be divided into two camps: adding where material is added to form the sculpture (clay, wax, cardboard, papier-mâché, etc.) and removal where material is taken away to form a sculpture. (stone, wood, ice, etc.) This guide will give you the basics for both methods, so you can quickly be on your way to finding the Michelangelo in you.
Method 1 of 2: Add
Step 1. Sketch your sculpture
It is important to always first make a drawing of the image you have in mind. This doesn't have to be a great drawing, but it helps to see where everything should go and how the transition between the shapes is. Draw the sculpture from multiple angles. You may want to make an even more detailed sketch, especially for those parts with a lot of detail.
Step 2. Create the base
If your sculpture is on something, it's a good idea to create that first and then construct the rest of the sculpture on it. If you do this at a later stage, the structure of the standard is less solid. You can make this from wood, metal, clay, stone or any other material.
Step 3. Make a fixture
'Fixture' is a word that sculptors use to indicate a 'support'. It's like the skeleton of your sculpture. It keeps pieces from breaking off, and while not every part of the statue needs a fixture, it's especially important for pieces like the arms and legs, which move away from the body and break off easily.
- A fixture can be made of thin or thick iron wire, pipes, PVC pipe, logs, sticks or any material suitable for your project.
- Start with the 'spine' of the piece and from there create branches for the 'limbs'. Your design sketch can come in handy here, especially if the sketch is made in full size.
- Anchor the fixture on or to a stand before continuing.
Step 4. Fill in the basic shape
Depending on what your sculpture will be made of, you may need to make an underlayment of a different material. This is common practice when working with polymer clay. An underlayment can help reduce the amount of material you need (less cost and weight), so consider if it's right for you to use.
- Commonly used materials are newsprint, tin or aluminum foil, masking tape or painter's tape, and cardboard.
- Loosely secure the tape or filler around the fixture, creating the first basic shape of your sculpture. You want to leave room to use for the final material you will be creating the statue from, so don't overdo it with the padding!
Step 5. Go from the large to the smaller shapes
Start adding the sculpting material. Start by making the big parts (the 'big muscle groups') to the smaller ones (the 'small muscle groups'). Work towards the details. Add and remove material as needed, but be careful not to remove too much as it can be difficult to restore.
Step 6. Add the details
Once the large shape is ready, start rounding, cutting, and shaping the finer details. These are parts such as the hair, the eyes, the contours and shapes of the muscles, fingers, toes, etc. Detail the sculpture until it looks reasonable.
Step 7. Add textures to it
The final step of the actual sculpting is to add texture to your sculpture, if you wish. This is important for creating a more realistic image, but is not necessary if you want to work in a different style. You can use tools to add texture, you can make your own from household tools.
- With the right tools, a general rule is that the finer the tip, the more detail you can work. Curved tools are for scraping clay and a knife is for what you think it is for.
- You can make your own tools from wads of tin foil, toothbrushes, toothpicks, necklace, ball bearing, combs, knitting needles, knives, etc.
Step 8. Curate your sculpture
You will need to bake or dry the sculpture, whichever suits the material you choose. Follow the material manufacturer's directions.
Step 9. Paint your sculpture
If you want to paint the statue you have created, do so only after firing. You may need special paint for it, depending on the material you have chosen. Painting polymer clay, for example, requires enamel paint.
Step 10. Mixing Media
You can make it extra interesting by mixing different media. This allows you to make the image look more realistic or add interesting color and texture to it. Consider using real clothes, or using a wig or real hair, instead of sculpting hair.
Method 2 of 2: Take Away
Step 1. Sketch the sculpture
Start by making preliminary studies in clay, wax or another material with which you can quickly make a model of your sculpture. You use this as a 'sketch'. You can have a good look at the dimensions here and use this when working on stone or other sculpture material.
Step 2. Model the basic shape
Using the model as an example and your measurements, you can make marks on the stone or wood of your sculpture, in those places where you need to start cutting or chopping. For example, if you know that your sculpture will not be more than 14 inches high, then you know that you can remove any material above 15 inches. Leave some room for error and movement, but at least work out the shape of the image from the rough block.
Step 3. Use a pointing machine
Using a pointing device or other measuring device, you can start measuring your 'sculpture sketch' and mark the same locations and depth on the block of stone or wood.
Step 4. Cut out the details
Using the right tools for your material, start by removing wood or stone and smoothing out the points you marked with the pointing machine.
Step 5. Sand your sculpture
Using progressively finer sandpaper, smooth the sculpture as much as you like.
Step 6. Done
Add a few extra details and enjoy your sculpture.
Make sure it is tidy outside if you want to display the sculpture outside, otherwise the work will not be noticed
- Be careful with the tools you will be using in your project.
- Many materials are known to produce toxic fumes or waste. Be careful with it.