How to Make Your Sculpting Form:
Your art professor might think it’s “cheating”
to use a form like this.
But if you don’t sculpt faces because you’re afraid they won’t come out right, this is a great way to get started.
When you’re sculpting a face, using a form under your modeling clay saves time and frustration, because the main features of your sculpture are in the right place almost automatically. (You can see how this works in the video below.)
And now, with the addition of the neck and shoulder pieces, it’s even easier to sculpt a portrait bust.
You could use a resin skull, of course — I’ve done that myself. As a matter of fact, it’s how I got the idea for making this pattern!
- But resin skulls are expensive;
- They have big holes that need to be filled, and hardware that gets in the way;
- And they have more information than most of us will ever need.
On the other hand, this simplified form only includes the shapes you need, and no more. If you add paper mache and waterproof your form with Flex Seal, you can use it again and again while you learn the craft of creating portraits and characters with clay.
To see how I created a man’s face using this form, watch the video below.
The New Version of the Face-Sculpting Form, and How to Make it Waterproof:
How to Tape the Pieces Together for the Skull
Note: The instructions for the new head and shoulder pieces will be included with the downloadable pattern.
Sculpting a Face With Clay, Using the Skull-Shaped Form:
As you can see in the video above, the form saves a lot of time over the traditional way of sculpting a human face.
It places the eyes and cheek bones in the right place, it defines the muzzle or dental arch, and it prevents the sculpture from ‘flattening out,’ which often happens when we use photos as models.
I’m also really happy with the way the form helps with the placement of the muscles beside the mouth.
But, of course, it doesn’t do all the sculpting for us.
- If you’re not yet comfortable sculpting faces, go ahead and play with the clay! Don’t worry about ‘getting it right’ when you’re first starting.
- Look at the faces of people around you, and try to capture as many of their features as you can.
- Sculpt as often as you can, and use photographic models — there are tons of them on the Internet. You can find photos of celebrities, or do a search for a face you might find interesting, like “toothless old man,” or “Welsh grandmother,” just for fun. (Hint — old faces are often easier to sculpt than young faces, because the features are more defined. That makes them great subjects for beginning sculptors.)
- If your skull-shaped form gets worn out from all your practice sculpts, just toss it out and make another one. Once you download the pattern to your device you can print it out as often as you want to make more forms.
Now, as I mentioned in the first video, I do enjoy sculpting faces that are totally silly, without worrying about getting the features in the right place. In fact, I wrote a whole book about it, and it’s quite often the top-selling book about sculpting on amazon.com. It’s called Fast Faces: Unleash Your Creativity With a Friendly Lump of Clay, and you can find it here.
But it’s also really exciting to see a realistic face come to life right in front of your eyes, like the one I created in just a few hours for the video above. Try it — you may be surprised by how much fun it is!
To make this skull-shaped sculpting form you will need:
- A printer
- Copy paper or full-sheet labels (recommended)
- Glue stick if using copy paper for pattern
Cardboard from standard-sized cereal boxes*
- Sharp scissors for cutting cardboard
- Paper mache, optional
- Flex Seal – also optional, but recommended.
* If purchasing cardboard in place of the cereal boxes, it will be sold as “light chipboard.” The thickness will be about 24pt or 1/41 of an inch. Medium or heavy chipboard is too stiff to bend well.
Finished size: When your printer is set to print at “Actual Size,” the skull form without the neck and shoulders will be about 9 inches (22.86 cm) high, 5.5 inches (13.97 cm) wide and 7 inches (17.78 cm) deep.
The complete sculpting form, including the neck and shoulder patterns, will be approximately 13” (33
cm) high when printed at “Actual Size.” To make a larger or smaller form for your sculpture, you can
print the pattern pieces larger or smaller. The pieces will print on standard letter-sized paper or
Do you have a question or need help with your pattern?
If you have a question about putting your pattern together or painting it, leave a comment below or on the Daily Sculptors page. I read all comments and answer them as soon as I can, usually within a few hours. Some of my readers might ideas for you, too — we have a very supportive community on this site.