Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part 4: Chlorine’s Face & Head

A classic Doug Sneyd girl

In this section, we’ll discuss the sculpting of Chlorine’s face and head and the challenges that brings in a project of this kind.

First, it is very helpful if a licensor, who in this case is Doug Sneyd, has the ability to assess the face without the hair sculpted on.  It’s always best to sculpt the face without hair first because while hair can help to see the overall effect, it can also become a crutch. The hair will make the piece “seem” more correct, but there may be problems that are being obscured by the effect of the hair. Seeing the face without hair can allow the face to be seen at more angles and each part can be assessed more thoroughly. This takes some imagination in envisioning how the hair will look around the face, but since I’m usually working directly with artists, imagination is one thing that is in great supply.

It is also much easier to work on a face not attached to the body.  I usually make a simple loop armature and I bake an inner core on that armature so that the center of the head is hardened and makes a good anchor for outer material that I will be sculpting. Adding Vaseline with a paint brush to the baked Super Sculpey will help the new Sculpey adhere to the surface (a tip I learned from my friends Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett!)

Doug Sneyd Mermaid

Sculpting up a face, especially in the sizes I work in (1/6th scale, 1/8th scale, etc) can be difficult and good tools are key.  Store bought tools are a good beginning, but I often modify tools for specific uses or I make my own tools.  Good tools can be made from anything, even common household items. Here is a photo of some of the handmade tools I’ve made and most of the ones you see here I use very frequently. The heads of pins make fine tools for smoothing hard to reach areas like the inside of the bridge of the nose or a transition point from neck to jaw. I’ve made a tool I use on every piece that is made from simple paper clips.  I wanted a tighter loop, but still fairly thick and a paper clip fit the bill and gave me two sizes to use.

Some of Clay's hand-made tools

For fine detail, you can source very thin wire at the hardware store and make tiny loop tools. Piano wire works well, too, as it is very strong and holds the shape well.  A hobby shop will usually have lengths of brass tubing of varying sizes and you can shape the head of the tool, insert it in the brass tubing and crimp the end of the tube to fix the wire head in place.  You can then use modeler’s putty to thicken the handle if that helps you hold the tool.  I sometimes do that, but on some tools, I haven’t found it necessary.

Back to our sculpture: Doug’s girl’s faces are quite recognizable and capturing that look wasn’t going to be easy in 3-d.  Doug’s girls’ expressions have an indefinable eagerness and exuberance to them that is actually conveyed in the structure of the face, not just in the body language.  Doug was very helpful on this part of the process.  We talked by phone and email and Doug advised and adjusted and this is the result.  There were still some minor changes to come, but what you see here is generally the look we established for Chlorine.

I then attached her head to her body and prepared to work in her hair and other details.  I also completed her hands and refined and finished up other areas.  We’ll talk about completing the sculpture next time. Thanks for reading!



Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


Tags: , , , ,

The Magdalena Statue Part 2: Armature & Build-Up

In the first part of this stage, you’ll see how the armature was made and how the statue looks with just the first few minutes of build-up. In the second set of photos, the figure is more smoothed and finished out, although it’s still very early in the process.

The rough was done quickly with a high degree of spontaneity, which is intentional.  You want to get a quick, visceral read on whether the pose is working or not.

In the build-up stage, the key is to keep control of the process and to not let the figure lose the life and energy captured in the rough. I work by adding material all over the figure with an emphasis on the torso. The arms are less important at this stage and on some pieces I would even remove the arms, as they get in the way of the sculpting of the torso.

The build-up is additive, although later the process becomes more additive and reductive as the figure is refined. As you can see on her back, I add the muscle anatomy in rounded sections. Even at this stage, the dynamic quality of the anatomy should be evident. If you have the foundation correct, everything else will fall into place much more easily.

Most of this stage is built up by hand and with a simple flat wooden tool or two. At the beginning of any sculpture, most of the work is done by direct placing of Sculpey to figure. As the figure progresses, tools become more in use and by the end of the sculpting, virtually all work is done using sculpting tools (except general shaping, as on the armor sections which we’ll discuss later).

Thanks for reading!


1 Comment

Posted by on July 10, 2011 in The Magdalena


Tags: , , , , , ,

Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part 3: Tail Revisions

After talking with Doug, I lengthened her tail and slimmed it in the hips and rear area. You’ll see in the photos a bit of an evolution in that once I made the adjustments, I decided to give her tail somewhat of a feminine legs crossed look or at least the illusion of that.  It gives some variation and a more vibrant, dynamic feel to the tail. I also gave it a nice flip at the end.  Once I started in on the changes as per Doug’s input, I immediately saw the improvement and once I sent the photos to him, he was very happy with the result.


1 Comment

Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


Tags: , , , , ,

Sneyd Mermaid Statue Part Two: The Torso

At this point, I felt the most important aspect of the sculpture was to capture Doug’s approach to Chlorine’s torso.  I worked in the body and more or less finished out the surface to give Doug a good idea of the direction I was going.  I studied Doug’s work and did my best to sculpt breasts that he would feel captured that “Sneyd” aesthetic.

I wasn’t too worried about her tail yet, although I did want it to show a nice shape and realistic weight to her lower body–as if she really were sitting on a rock.  At the same time, I was going to work on finishing the tail soon, so I was hoping for some feedback and I needed to have enough there so that Doug could comment…and he did.  While he liked the body and commented very favorably on that, he explained that the tail was too thick at the hips and too short to work well with the look of Chlorine’s upper body and for the overall composition.

In the next installment I will discuss the work on Chlorine’s tail.



Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Sneyd Mermaid Statue


Tags: , , , , ,