Few years back, I had a sudden obsession
with figurines of fictional characters. I was determined to have a figurine on my shelf. But most of them sold online were either too expensive or not satisfactory to my tastes. I pondered over this for quite a long time. Then I had a “light bulb” moment!! Why not make my own out of clay? I can’t deny my love for DIYs. So I decided to make them ASAP. But its easier said than done. I didn’t find a single tutorial on the net to assist me. So after a fair amount of struggle and experimenting, I came up with a way to make them. I’ll be sharing my basic knowledge in this tutorial, where I’ll show you how to make a veryyyy simple clay figurine of the (humanoid) character of your choice (because nothing shows your passion for your fandom better than cute models)!!!
Step 1: Materials Required
You will need very few materials to make these models.
- Polymer clay : you can either use white or a light color as a base for the entire model and then paint them or directly use colored clay. In the first case you will require only one type of clay while in the second you will need the shades according to the characters clothing, hair etc. I purchased my clay online. But you will find them in most craft shops as well.
- Ball tool : I got mine in a craft store where it was being sold as an “embossing tool”. But normal ball tools for clay sculpting or fondant/cake decorating are alright as well.
- Blade : a small craft blade will suffice. Just make sure its sharp to avoid untidy work and ensure clean cuts.
- Acrylic paint, thing brushes and toothpicks : (optional) you will need these for details.
- Reference picture : just to ensure your model looks like the character. In case your confident you know how exactly she/he looks, you don’t need this.
- Analysis of your character : Observe the character. As we are not going to make it realistic, it is necessary that we portray all the “important traits/features”. Ask yourself this question: what makes the character himself/herself? Try imagining the character without certain features and see if you can recognize them. Features will include beards, peculiar hair styles, glasses, particular dress, scars,freckles,… etc. Note them down so that you can refer to it while working.
Once you have all the materials, let's get started!
Step 2: The Head
For the head, we will need some skin tone. For regular humans, take some beige and white clay in equal amount and mix. This should give you a fair tone. But you can change to ratio to darken or lighten the skin color. In case your character has a different skin color, use clay of that shade.
Take the piece of clay and put it in between your palms. Keep the left palm stationary and move the right in a clock-wise direction. This will give you a small ball.
DO NOT move both hands. If you do so, your shape will be something of this sort.
- Place the ball between your fingers and press and roll a bit. This will make it more oval.
- Place the ball between your index and thumb of the right hand. Place the same fingers of the other hand perpendicular to the right index and press gently. Turn the clay towards the right and repeat. This will give you a square-ish shape.
Step 3: The Body
For the body you need some of his/her skin tone again. Roll into a ball (larger than the head). Put it on a surface and using your index finger roll it (to and fro motion). Apply slight pressure only on the right side of your finger and continue rolling. You will get a shape like in picture 3.3 Using the blade cut off a bit of the bottom as well as the top. This way both the sides will be flat.
For female characters, we will need to work a bit on the bust. Roll a small piece of skin and cut it into half. Place then on the base body beside each other. Using the ball tool, merge the edges down.
Step 4: The Legs
Let's begin with the legs.
Take a bit of white or skin tone clay. Roll it into a snake. To do so, roll the clay into a ball and then place it on a surface. Use your index and middle finger to press gently while moving to and fro. Cut two pieces of equal length. Now let’s attach the legs. (keep the extra or left over snake. You will need it later!)
Take the body and place the legs on the broader side. Take another piece of clay in the same color and mold it into a shape like in image 4.5. Place it on one side of the legs as shown in the picture (in case of girls, opposite side of chest). Using the ball tool and your fingers, merge this to the body as well as the legs.
End of this step, your model should look like images 4.8 and 4.9
Step 5: The Outfit
Now let's become fashion designers and work on the outfit of your character.
Take clay in the color of your character’s top/shirt. Roll out a thin sheet of it. Cut it into a rectangle, the breadth of which must be the length of the body (minus the legs). Wrap this around the body. The sheet has to be really thin so that your character doesn’t become too fat.
For the pants, roll out a thin sheet again. This time the clay must be in the color of the pants of your character. Just like before, the breadth must be the length of the legs. Wrap it around the legs. Using a ball tool and the back (blunt side) of the blade, press on the wrapped region to give the impression of two legs. Your model should now look something like image 5.3
- If your character is wearing a skirt, you needn’t do the last bit.
In case your character is wearing a frock or something of this sort, use the same color for the shirt and skirt. Then merge the two.
In case your character is wearing a robe, just roll out a sheet of that color. Cut it into a trapezium. Let the height be a little more than the length of the entire body piece. Wrap it around it. Now cut of the excess. This way you can avoid missing out places and leaving out places.
- Using the blade, cut an extremely thin slice from the legs. This way your model will have a flat base and so will stand.
- When rolling out the colored clay for the the pant or shirt, always roll out some extra! Or you will end up making the mistake shown in image 5.3
Step 6: The Hands
In case you have the snake of clay in skin color left from step 3, you can use it here. Just roll it a bit more to make it thin. It’s all right if you didn’t. Just roll another one. Remember, this snake has to be slightly thinner than the snake for legs.
Place your blade at an angle and then cut. Refer to image 6.1 for clarity on how an "angled cut" looks like. Again make two of equal length. One side should be angled and the other rounded.
Place the angled edge on the body, where the hand should have been. Press gently to attach. Then cut out an “eye” shape in the color of the shirt. Wrap it around the upper arm, where both the pieces were attached. Using the ball tool, merge the “eye” shaped piece to the body. This will be the sleeve.
- In case the character is wearing a full sleeve shirt, cut two simple (don’t need to angle) pieces from the snake. These must be slightly longer than the actual length you want and thinner too. Then roll out a thin sheet of clay in the color of the full sleeves. Wrap the skin pieces in this. Make sure a little bit is of skin is left unwrapped. Then make an angled-cut on the other side. Now attach it and merge!
Here are a few most popular hairstyles:
Take the head piece from the first step. Roll out a very thin snake of clay in the hair colour. Start placing it on the head one by one. Place the snake, cut at your desired length and then repeat. Cover about half the head like this.
Attach the head first [step 8]. Then just like before, start placing the hair. Each snake must be longer than above.
Curly hair: just twist the snake to give it curls. Hold both the sides with your index and thumb of both hands. Keep one stiff. On the other side, gently rub your fingers. This way, curves will form along the snake. Look at image 7.6 for clarity. Attach them just like before.
place the hair like the rays of the sun, all emerging 9or ending) at a single point behind the head. The take a tear drop shaped clay in the same color. Then place thin ropes around it. Attach this piece to the head (the point where all the other snakes meet).
give your character short hair first. Then roll out a small ball of the same colour. Wrap thin snake around the ball (like a ball of wool). Place this on the head
Step 8: Attaching the Head and Ears
To attach the head to the body, take a small piece of wire. Press it into the body. Pass a small ball of clay through it. Then pass the head. This way the head will remain attached at all times!
Take two small balls in skin tone. Place it on the sides of the head and using the ball tool, make a slight impression. In this process the ear will get attached to the head too. This step is optional.
You can choose to do these before or after you attach the hair.
Step 9: Painting/ Doing the Face
I normally prefer minimalist models, i.e without painted eyes or mouths. In case you like that too, just make to holes for eyes using your ball tool. Bake your creation and you’re done!
In case you want to complete your model with eyes, you will need some acrylic paint. But before you paint the eyes, make two impressions using your ball tool. Then bake the model. Dip the end of a paint brush in the eye color paint and then make the eyes by pressing the end gently into the already created holes. Then after it dries, dip the fat end of the tooth pick in black to make the pupils. Dip the thinner part into white paint to make the shine. Use a very thin brush to paint on other details. You are done!
To bake: read the instructions on the pack of clay and bake at specified temperature.
Step 10: You Are Done!!!!!
By now your model must be ready!!! I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Here are some more tips and ideas to help you:
- You can add an accessory or and an object associated with that character. (e.g wand for Harry potter, sword for Percy Jackson…etc). This way your model will be more recognizable.
- For capes, roll out some clay in choice of color. Cut it into a trapezium. Wrap it around the back of the body. Curl the bottom to make it more realistic.
- For masks, cut out the desired shape using a blade and attach it to the face
In case you have any doubts or need any clarification or help in your model, please leave a comment. I’ll reply ASAP and the best I can. All the best!