Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fun With Sculpey - Chapter 1

Here's Vince in a whole 'nother kind of 3D.

Sometimes I like to break out sticks, sporks and other things that poke and prod so I can make feeble sculptures. My medium of choice is Super Sculpey, a polymer clay which can be purchased in alluring fleshy bricks at your local craft store. I did a few pieces with regular Sculpey, but prefer the flexibility of the Super kind.

I promised Vince sculptures to a couple friends some time in the late precambrian period, so I figured it was about time to break out the tools and get something done. I'm posting about the first half of the project here on TOC mostly so I'll be more motivated to finish this up. The first sculpture I'm attempting is of Vince sitting astride a tombstone, happily playing a ukulele (or tiny guitar).

As I said, my sculpting skills aren't much to shout about. The process I describe here was taught to me by Tom Collie, who was the resident sculptor back at Humongous. Tom made great, polished pieces of the characters in the kid's games at HE. These were handy reference for animators, and dang cool to look at. Here is my bastardized, sloppy version of what I learned from him.

First, I start off with a wooden base. I drill some holes for the primary armature pieces, which I fashion from quarter inch copper wire. The base can be a simple post cap for fencing from any home improvement store. Craft stores have more polished (and expensive) wooden bases. I went with the slightly swankier craft store kind here. I use a narrower gauge of regular metal wire as an armature for the smaller protrusions. I'm the worlds worst engineer so I do a lot of needless twisting and bending so I feel like I'm making it stronger. I'm probably not.

No, that's not an energy being from Star Trek.
Just flash photography gone awry.

Next, I jam aluminum foil into any major gaps within the wire armature. This should be packed as tightly as possible to avoid any sizable air pockets.

Once this is done, I slather a base layer of Sculpey onto the armature. If I don't like the way things are shaping up, I can still nudge the wire and foil pretty easily. I try to work the material into the many, many nooks and crannies I have created in my sloppiness.

After the basic Sculpey is in place, I add another layer or two. Something of where I'm going has started to emerge at this point.

Next on Procrastination Theater: the detail work which will include a big pile of bones around the tombstone, Vince's other arm and other untold wonders.



S├ębastien said...

This is a beautiful sculpture. Nice work. Thanks to your post, i just want one now :)

Jeannette said...

Awwww, how cuuuute. I need to email this url to my son, the one who's majoring in Computer Animation at College of the Canyons (just one freeway offramp away from Cal Arts). He's used Sculpey before, but not lately. Maybe if he sees that it has a professional use, he'll get his stuff out of the garage, assuming we can find it, and get going again.

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

Sculpey rules.

I know it's used quite a bit for maquettes and the like. Some studios that do a lot of computer animation like to work with sculptures as a way to visualize a character prior to the creation of a CG version. I suspect that will be less common as tools improve and artists become more comfortable prototyping things natively with NURBS or polygons, but it's still a handy way to do a quick mockup that looks neat on your desk.

Becky said...

Wow! I love it! I've always wished I could magically create something from clay or play-doh or hell, even a pocketknife and a piece of wood. Sculpting is way cool and you, sir, are way talented and having far too much fun...more than is probably legal. Love ya! Boop

Anonymous said...

Hey, My name's Jade. I just want to say I'm so glad to talk to. I'm a real fan of Voodoo Vince. I heard you couldn't make a Voodoo Vince 2. I've also made a Voodoo Vince fan character. Well, it was nice speaking to you.

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

If you have a home-made Vince doll, I'd love to see it! Just email me at