Sculpting Faces (FTBH Excerpt)

datetime July 18, 2013 11:01 AM

This is the cleanest example I’ve published for how to sculpt a face. It is excerpted from Free Time Black Hole, Episode 108. The video I mention is from Miniature Mentor: Miniature Sculpting with James Van Schaik (you need to scroll down a bit to find it).

This is about the fourth or fifth time I’m using the technique I picked up from the sculpting video I bought in December (click here, scroll to the green lady with the giant gun). My old method involved one giant putty blob that was turned into a face in a single step (and produced awful results), whereas the new method is much more methodical, adding tiny putty shreds one piece at a time.

The results are far superior. Thanks, Mr. Van Schaik! 😀

So, once the eyes are dry inside the skull, I add four small putty blobs around them: a wide piece on the mouth, thin straps down the sides, and a thicker piece on top to form the brow.

I use a Privateer hoe tool to smush them together and form what I call the “Ninja Mask Stage”.

Next, I add individual facial features, one by one. This putty snake is going to be her upper lip and palate.

Once it’s stuck on, I use a flat clayshaper to blend it downward into the head.

Next up, I take a much smaller putty snake and stick it on as the lower lip.

The tiny shred on the end of my clayshaper there?

Twice as big as I needed. Had to cut it in half with a knife.

Once it’s cut to the right size, I stick it on. She still looks like Homer Simpson, but at least that puts her in the “vaguely human” category, at long last. 🙂

I spend a few minutes smoothing everything out, getting a good shape on the mouth, and also spending some time on the eye shape and brow. I judge that the profile is starting to look how I want it, so I move onto the nose.

That’s her nose.

That tiny speck there.


I like the design of the Nyss from Matt Wilson’s original concepts, where they have large, angular noses (I guess I’d compare their noses to Claire Danes– not unattractive by any means, but definitely larger than the norm). This means putting a fairly substantial putty wad onto her face, which doesn’t look so great at this stage.

Here I’ve blended the edges into the face, but haven’t shaped it yet.

(I meant to take another picture of the final nose profile, but I forgot. You can see two pictures down.)

The putty wads get smaller and smaller. Here I’m adding her eyelids. Left is raw, right is blended to the head.

Things are looking pretty smooth, but when I check the profile, she’s looking a bit simian. I make a note to move the mouth upward a smidge, and reshape the brow slightly.

This infinitesimal speck? That’s going to be the lower eyelids.

Yes, lids, plural. Gotta cut it in half because right now it’s TOO BIG!

The hardest thing about working with pieces this small isn’t manipulating them– it’s not losing them. I’m not kidding, it’s incredibly easy to let a tool roll over one of these, and then you never see it again. @_@

I use a pointy clayshaper to stick them on. I find clayshapers are better for applying putty wads than metal tools, as the putty doesn’t tend to want to let go of the metal.

I use the same pointy clayshaper to smooth them into the face, and then spend about 30 minutes poking, pushing, and pulling until I have a face I’m happy with.

I may still make her nose a tiny bit longer, but otherwise I’m pretty thrilled with how she came out. 🙂


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