5 Top Tips for Beginners and Amateurs in Sculpting Clay

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Anyone can learn how to sculpt – but while working with three dimensions can take some getting used to, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind to give you a step up in your future pieces:

1. Set up your workspace.
The creative process for coming up with your next piece will happen a lot faster when your workspace is well-organized and clean, especially when you are comfortable working in it and your tools are easily within reach.
You also want your workspace to be well-lit when you’re working so you can see your progress clearly, and a comfortable chair that you can sit in without having to hunch over your work the whole time.

2. Use templates in constructing!
Having an armature, or a standard template, helps to keep the clay in place when working on your pieces, and should serve as the frame for your overall work. By working out the primary shapes onto the frame first before going into the details, your work will appear more organic.

It will also help you a lot when you use it for approaching anatomy in stages, and you can use them along with a wide range of references to make sure you scale your figures with the right proportions accordingly.

3. Check proportions as you go.
You can easily shape and add more forms by adding small bits of clay to your work to make it match your references more closely.

As you continue to add small bits of clay and draw imaginary lines to make the proportions easier to check, don’t forget to have a mirror nearby. For a sculptor, a mirror doesn’t just allow for studying one’s own facial expressions, but also for making sure the proportions are balanced.

4. Start out with more contained shapes.
While you may see a lot of more advanced sculptors craft figures with extended limbs, chances are that they used armatures to keep them in place. You can do the same to make your figures appear more dynamic, but you need to be creative and careful when you do this for your pieces, especially since you need to keep weight distribution and support in mind.

5. Experiment with different tools.
After your initial smoothing sequence, you can add to the texture of your piece and make it appear more believable and realistic by using experimenting with the different tools at your disposal to achieve different texture effects.
You can even make your own tools (or re-purpose otherwise everyday objects) to get unique texture results for your sculpture, such as Allen wrenches or re-purposed guitar strings. Just remember to test it on extra clay beforehand.

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