Trying Realistic Sculpting

Why are dragons easier to make than humans?

I’ve made tons of dragons and mythical creatures such as these over the past two years.


But, I have never tried proper realistic sculpting. I wanted to try working in proportions and follow proper sculpting techniques so that the model looks like a real human.

I made Maleficent because of 3 reasons-

  1. She has horns, so, I wouldn’t have to make the hair.
  2. She doesn’t wear very complicated gowns or anything so the clothes would be easy to make.
  3. She is pretty cool.

She didn’t turn out that great. But, from a learning aspect, it was a very useful experience. Here is a description of my sculpting process. Not a tutorial; just an account of the experience.

I used Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey  as a guide. It is a great book. It gives a detailed description of everything you need to know for creating lifelike figures. From clay to tools to amount to templates, everything is there.

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 11.29.14 PM


I started with a foil base and added layers of clay to it. Initially, it was going quite well. I made the base of the skull and defined the jaw. This is how it looked like when I started to work on the details of the face. One of the major difficulties I faced was trying to keep my clay clean.


I had already been working on the face for more than 5 hours. Everything was happening so slowly. The face did not seem to be resembling Maleficent and it looked quite scary.


At this point, I had given up. But, my mom urged me to continue. And I did.

After this, I refined the forehead and moved to the lips. I messed up the lips. I worked on them for a long time before I went on the easy route and shaped some red clay into thin logs and stuck them on the face.

I made the eyelids, eyebrows, and the horns.


I moved on to the torso next. Made a foil base and covered it with clay. This is the part that I found the easiest.


I put the sculpture in for baking.

I cut two pieces of wire and added the hands to it. I baked this separately.


After positioning the hands as I wanted them, I draped roughly cut fabric over the wire-arms. Then I cut out a circle with a hole in the center and glued it on the foil as the skirt.

In the end, I made a staff with a piece of wood and an amethyst crystal.


I felt quite accomplished after making this. For a first-timer, I did an okay job. I picked up many new techniques and have a newfound appreciation for realism sculptors. I will surely try more realistic sculpting in the future.





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