Tuesday, 23 July 2013

My basic sculpting toolkit

Over the years, people who have looked at my sculpts always ask the same questions:

How do you do that?
What clay do you use?
What tools do you need for that?

To answer the questions; I don't really know how to explain how I do it other than to say that it requires lots of patience, even more practice and a sense of humour for when it all goes wrong! As far as the clay, I almost exclusively use a combination of super sculpey & premo sculpey. The super sculpey comes in a 454g box of beige clay which can be used on its own, however I find that I cannot see enough definition in the sculpt from using the beige sculpey on its own. I choose to mix a premo colour with the clay to provide a more suitable medium to see the creases and folds easier in the sculpting process. My choice is typically elephant grey, but you can choose any colour you wish to mix with the sculpey.

As far as the tools I use, they are a combination of a very good sculpting tool set that I purchased from hobby craft store in the UK for a very reasonable £18 and some home made tools that I have identified a need for over the years. I also use some artists colour shapers which can be bought from most good art suppliers. These are fantastic for smoothing out the sculpey where folds and lines have been made as they are much less harsh than a metal tool. As far as the home made tools are concerned, the simplest of them is the rolling pin, which is a 7 inch long small diameter steel rod. I have also made some home made strippers as I have not been able to find some of small enough size for the 120mm figures that I make. I also made some sculptors callipers for comparing distances/proportions for body shapes etc. Again these can be purchased but not in a small enough form for 120mm figure sculpting. I also use straight leg callipers from time to time as shown in one of the photos.

Tools purchased from hobbycraft

Home made strippers, pin & base

Colour shapers used for fine detail
Bought & Home made callipers

As far as the armature stand that I use, I again had to make a my own out of necessity due to the size of figure that I sculpt. If you are interested in making your own, I used this tutorial to make mine: armature stand tutorial . The only difference from the one shown to mine is that I used an old "fletcher trolley" tray that was being thrown out from where I work. Its essentially a heavy set steel box with a brass plate fitted to the bottom. I inverted it so that it is brass side upwards. This has doubled up as a heavy stable base for the stand as well as a great smooth surface to form shapes that I need during the sculpt.
Zippo lighter added to give size reference

The other tools in the "arsenal" for my sculpting is a wooden base which started life as an electrical patress. This is used to mount the figure onto for baking in the oven to set the clay in between sculpts and a bottle of baby oil which acts as a solvent to sculpey. I usually brush this onto the sculpted areas to soften any sculpt lines and remove any finger prints from the surface prior to baking.

So that's it. This is a virtual complete breakdown of all of the tools that I use to sculpt any of the figures shown on this blog. I hope that you found some of this information useful and that if you don't sculpt already, you will give it a go.
tools wrapped up and ready for use once more

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