DIY Form for Sculpting Faces and Heads

Looking for great ideas for your next paper mache project or a gift idea? Check out my patterns and videos for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts.


Sculpting heads and facesI intend to sculpt a lot of faces and heads this year, and do a lot of character studies.

I intended to do that last year, too, but I never got around to it. This year, it’s going to happen, I swear – and my new home-made form will help. I have several projects in mind already, just as soon as I finish a few projects I already have started.

I’ve been using small form for sculpting heads and faces since I made it last year, but I wanted a bigger one. You can see the little one next to the resin skull that I used for my model in the photo on the right.

The model for my new form was the resin casting of a skull that I bought several years ago on amazon.com. I’ve used it a lot – you can see two of the masks I made by sculpting over the skull here:

But the skull has big holes that always have to be filled in when you’re sculpting a face, and I have to set it in a coffee can to keep it from rolling around when I want my sculpture to have a flat back so I can hang it on the wall. My little form works really well just by attaching it to the slanted mask stand I made, but that didn’t work with the resin skull, so I needed to make a new one. It wasn’t difficult – but since I wanted to be able to create copies, I did need to make a mold. You can find the Rebound 25 brush-on silicone mold making product here.

The mannequin I have is great for masks because it’s bigger than most mask forms you can buy (they’re usually built for kids). And they do have a female form that looks like an actual human, as opposed to the Styrofoam hat stands that you find online.  However, the nose and other features can get in the way when you’re doing a portrait. If you’re interested in the mannequin I have for making masks, you can find it here.

If you make one of these sculpting forms, I hope you’ll share it with us. Or if you have another great tip for sculpting portraits, we’d love to hear that, too.

17 thoughts on “DIY Form for Sculpting Faces and Heads

  1. Interesting. I have a plastic skull / skeleton that I use for drawing inspiration. Have been wanting to make puppet heads, so this has given me some ideas to work with, thanks.

  2. I would like to see a sculpt face planter to use in my garden. Man/women or both. Any ideas?
    Thank you for all work.
    I love it.

    • My dad has made a number of planters with faces on them out of concrete. That requires an original sculpture, a mold (silicone or latex) and concrete. I’ve been thinking about making some with Magic Sculpt or Apoxie Sculpt over a plastic pot. It would be a lot easier.

  3. Jonni,
    I went to Amazon via your link. I wonder……..Why does the female head cost more than the male???? It appears to have even less of a base! Could you cut the lower part of the nose off the male? Say……where the cartiledge ends normally? If there was a hole it could be plugged with duct tape or Apoxie sculpt, maybe. Thanks for this. I have seen only child sized mask forms when I’ve looked. I have used wig stands but they are lightweight and oddly stylized and not really the right size.

    • Hi Julie. I have no idea why they charge a different price for the woman instead of the man – maybe they don’t get as many orders for the female? It’s a mystery. 😉

      You could cut off the nose. I like using my mannequin as a mask form, and for that purpose the nose helps -it makes sure your own nose can fit inside. But if you don’t need it, you could do that. And I agree about the mask forms you can buy – the plastic ones are really small. And the wig stands look like alien beings – not human at all. For a really nice mask form, the best way to go is a custom-made form using alginate. The Brick in the Yard YouTube channel has some good videos about that – but the alginate seems kind of expensive.

      • If you’re a penny pincher like me, I picked up a cheap mannequin head at a beauty supply shop for $5…did some trimming… cut the head in half, cut off the nose and formed a new one with a toilet paper roll, shaved the forehead to give it a slant, so bulbous, yes looked like an alien…did some more trimming here and there. The trimming was pretty crude because I used a knife. This is the link http://sharonsfancy.blogspot.com of what I was able to get out of all my wacking, altering, hard headed determination to make it work…

          • Thank you Jonni. I forget I have that blog, maybe remember once a year when something jogs my attention, like your post above. I looked at the 2 videos you recommended watching…. I believe I can do that….I want to try the 2 piece version and use the shop towel method like you mentioned, lining the cavity first. When I get my horse head model fixed, I really made a mess of it when I cut it off the plasticine, THEN I’ll look at the supply cost and make my final decision and show you here the end result.

            • I’m sorry about the horse – and I hope you can fix him. I ruined my goat today, and it isn’t fixable. I tried to make a skin using plaster cloth, and I didn’t use enough layers. It wasn’t strong enough to hold up after I took the clay out from inside – lesson learned. I should have ordered the silicone to make a mold. Sigh… But I started a new one, and it’s going OK, so far. Third time’s a charm, right?

  4. I found a flat backed head on Amazon. Here is the URL: http://amzn.to/2jFE50I Only $12.
    Locking forward to seeing the sculpts. Which medium are you going to use? Paper mache?
    I included my watercolor website this time. I am thinking about a new artist endeavors site. Coming soon.

    • That painting of Daisy on your website is beautiful. My daughter is thinking about joining the Fine Art America site. Do you have any pointers for her? She does beautiful work, but she’s struggling to find a market.

      • Fine art America is a good place to start. They do actually sell artworks off of that site. So many give you all the hype and then after you sign up they disappear.
        She will need a pretty good digital camera to upload large files of her work. They will let her open a web store on their site which she can maintain and upload to. They take a percentage but it is fair, can’t remember right now and they send a weekly update of news from the site. They have contests for the artist groups. Tell her to go over and check it out.

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