How to Sculpt

Sculptures are one of the most popular, beautiful, and lifelike pieces of art, and have been for millenia. It can produce beautiful pieces that stand out from the sea of paintings and sketches, and lets you really flex your artistic side. But wanting to sculpt and knowing how to sculpt are two different things. For those who want to start learning how to turn clay into these beautiful images and figures, the following tips are a great place to start!

Start By Drawing

hand sketch

While you don't necessarily have to be a great sketch artist in order to be a good sculptor, knowing how to draw the design on paper is a good skill to have. Drawing your figure out can help you to see and plan out exactly what you're going to need to do while you're sculpting. It's basically the blueprints of your sculpture! It can be as detailed as you like; the important part is that you know what your piece will look like.

Build the Support System

toilet paper rolls stacked

Every clay statue is more than likely going to need some type of internal structure, to allow it to be firm and steady. This is called the armature. Armatures are normally made out of wire. You can determine the right gauge by the size of your piece; the larger the piece, the larger the gauge. PVC pipes, toothpicks, and many other firm objects will work, too. And don't forget your filler! Go for painter's tape or aluminum foil.

Large Parts First...

woman sculpting

Now you're ready to start actually sculpting your clay! But you shouldn't just headfirst into the tiny, excruciating details that you've likely been mulling over in your head. The first thing you need to do is go ahead and get the large parts out of the way! You're not going for an exact likeness at this point. Instead, make sure that you have the general shape of your overall design. Working off a living figure? Go for showing the major muscle groups that will be visible.

...Then Small Sections

hands sculpting art

After you've gotten the large parts out of the way, it's time to move on to the smaller parts of your sculpture. This still isn't the minute details, though! In this case, you're just going to be giving your sculpture a bit more life and detail. Don't worry too much about tools at this point; your hands will work just as well. This can keep you from jumping straight into the next step!

Sculpt the Fine Details

man hands sculpting clay

And now, it's finally time to get to work on those fine details that you've likely been thinking about non-stop since you first sketched out your sculpture. Now is the time to break out the sculpting tools:  You're going to need them to get the small details just right. This is the time to add texture to hair, fur, feathers, or anything else that didn't get a chance to be done in the previous steps. And, with that, your sculpture is complete!

Learning how to sculpt takes time and effort. It's something that can't be learned overnight. But, with this simple process, you'll be well on your way to learning this amazing art form!

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