Introduction: Clay Avatar-inspired Neytiri Figurine (for Beginners)!!

About: 20 year old miniature artist with an unhealthy obsession with books, clay, paints, baking, collecting random stuff and all things weird.

Of late, I was searching for a lot of tutorials regarding human face and body sculpting. But most of them were by professionals. So I found it slightly hard to actually follow and try out the complicated methods. So I decided to try making a figurine on my own and make a tutorial of it for all the other beginners like me. This is merely my second attempt. I have tried to make this Instructables as detailed as I could and I really hope it will help all of you to get a brief idea of how to get started. Trying with a Na'Vi figurine is a good choice as its "humanoid" and slight mistakes in face, eyes, body proportions will go unnoticed!

So presenting...<drumroll>

...A tutorial by a beginner for beginners!!! (Others are free to learn too...)

Step 1: Materials

Here is a list of all the materials and tools I have used. I purchased most of them from craft stores or online.


For the body:

  1. Polymer clay: cobalt Blue and white (I used Premo ans Sculpey III in equal amounts for the skin tone)
  2. Binding wire (To make the skeleton.)
  3. Black ribbon (For the hair.)

For the accessories:

  1. Embroidery Thread (You will need brown and black.)
  2. Tiny beads (Green, orange, brown and white colors.)
  3. Cloth (I used black cloth with I cut from an old cotton blouse. You can use shades of brown or green as well)
  4. Colored feathers (I used orange, red and pink.)
  5. A piece of stick (I picked up a branch from the garden)


  1. X-acto knife (Other craft blades will do too. Here is the link if you want to buy it online-
  2. Clay shaper (I used one that i made on my own using thai clay. You can purchase few online I am sure. The last photo is a clay shaper)
  3. Soft pastels (For shading you will need dark blue and pink. This is the one I use-
  4. Acrylic paint ( you will need yellow ochre, white and black. The 7th picture shows the yellow ochre shade.)
  5. Pliers (to cut the wire)
  6. Dissecting needle ( From the biology lab! A long needle will also do)
  7. Ball tool (only for the eye sockets. You can use anything rounded instead of this)


  1. Paper
  2. Pencil
  3. Brush
  4. Ruler/ scale

I have included what is needed for each step separately also so that you don't have to get up mid-step having to fetch something or look for something!

Let's get started!!!

Step 2: Face

This is probably the most important feature. I just concentrated on getting the feature right, NOT on making it look similar to the actual Neytiri. If you too are a beginner, I suggest you do the same. My first one got crushed due to an accident, and I had to make another. That is why the end product differs. But the steps were the same.

What you need for this step:

  • Polymer clay- light blue (1:1 ratio of blue and white)
  • Polymer clay- white (little bit)
  • Blade
  • Clay shaper


  1. Take a little bit of clay and shape it into an oval. Press is down on a flat surface for support.
  2. Lips:
    • Cut a slight slit using the knife where you want to add the lips.
    • Slide the blade into the top part of the cut (for the upper lip) and make a pocket. Add small pieces of clay into that to make it rise.
    • Using the pointed clay shaper, define upper lip. Make an indent in the center and two curves on either side. Refer to the photos for assistance.
    • Roll out a thin roll of clay and add it below the upper lip. The length must be a little less than the upper lip
    • Blend the lower side of the lower lip to the initial oval using the clay shaper.
  3. Nose:
    • Roll a thin sheet of clay and cut out a rectangle. The width must be equal to that ofthe lips as the Na'Vi people had big noses.(As you can see. I made the mistake of not making both of them equal in the first attempt)
    • Merge both the three sides (except the one near the lips) to the oval.
    • Shape the side you didn't merge into a slight triangle.
  4. Eyes:
    • Make two indents on either side of the nose using the ball tool.
    • Add a thin roll of clay as shown the photo. This is for the upper eye lid. Merge the top of it down.
    • Similarly add the lower eye lid and merge it down too.
    • Using the tip of the clay shaper, outline the eyes to give them a solid shape.
    • Add two white balls in the sockets and spread it evenly to cover the sockets entirely.
  5. Forehead:
    • Roll out a thin piece of clay, cut it in a rectangle and lay it above the eyes just like you did for the nose. (I skipped this step as my model already had a kind of forehead. Sorry there are no photos.)
    • Merge it down on all four sides (merge the side above the eyes to the nose.)
    • Using the clay shaper, make a curved indent above the eyes. It should be like two semi circular curves above each eye and the nose-merged-to-forehead-part between them.
  6. Using the blade cut a little bit of clay from either sides of the face to make the face slightly pointed.
  7. Using your fingers smooth all the cuts, blends merges etc. There shouldn't be any sharp edges any where.

And you are done!!

Tip: As said earlier I had to redo everything again. But it probably is a good idea to at least attempt to make two or three faces and then proceed to the next step with the one you like the most.

Step 3: Skeleton

I wanted my model to be proportional and so I took measurements before making the skeleton with wire. Typically a body is eight heads long and two heads wide. I just used this much of fact and left the rest to what i thought "looked" right.

What you need for this step:

  • Wire
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Ruler / Scale
  • Face from previous step


  1. Draw a straight line. Keep you face at the starting point and from there measure eight heads.
  2. Keep the head side-wise with the chin on the starting point of the second head on the main line and mark it. do the same for the other side. This is the length of the shoulder.
  3. Draw an inverted triangle with the shoulder-length as the base and the chin of the fourth head as the third vertex (point A).
  4. From this point A measure half inch on either sides of the line. Draw straight lines till the eighth head for the legs.
  5. From the either sides of the shoulder line, draw two lines four and a half heads long for the hands.
  6. Then make the skeleton using the wire. Refer to first photo and make the skeleton based on the blue lines.

Step 4: Body and Attaching the Head

Now we will begin working on the body.

What you will need:

  • Same light blue clay used for the face
  • Face
  • Skeleton from the last step
  • Blade
  • Clay shaper


  1. Body:
    • Begin by adding clay to the cross between the
      shoulder piece and main rib. ( You can add some aluminum foil first and then add the clay if you have a shortage of clay)
    • Cover the entire wire till the legs
    • Add two ball shaped pieces on the chest and merge it down.
    • Add some clay to the stomach and merge that down too.
    • Add a little bit of clay to the neck
    • Add some more clay behind the stomach to make the buttock. Merge again.
  2. Attach the head:
    • Place a flattened piece of clay behind the wire above the neck.
    • Put the face on top of it and merge it along the sides.

Next step!!!

Step 5: Arms and Legs

Let's make the limbs for her now.

What you will need:

  • Same light blue clay used for the face
  • Body from the last step
  • Blade
  • Clay shaper


  1. Hands:
    • Roll out a thin of blue clay and wrap it around the top arm. Merge it to the shoulder. Also merge it side-wise so it looks solid, not like a roll. Do it for both the sides.
    • Roll around another sheet for the fore arm. Merge it like you did before.
    • It should look like the third picture.
  2. Legs:
    • Wrap some clay around the top part of the wire meant for legs. Merge it to the main body.
    • Add some clay between those two legs ( like an inverted v) and merge it again. Don't worry about making it too neat as it will be cover by the clothes anyway. Ensure that the lower part is tapering.
    • Roll out another piece of clay slightly tapering. Make a slit on it.
    • Press the piece below the upper leg such that the wire fits into the slit. Then merge either sides of the slits around the wire. Do the same for the other leg.
  3. Tail:
    • Roll out a snake. Cut it about the same length as the legs.
    • Using the blade, make a angled cut (place the blade at an angle and press).
    • Place the angle near on the buttock between the legs and merge the top down.
    • After attaching, ensure that the tail is shorter than the legs. (because even if they were equal in the beginning, the tail was attached above the place the legs started)

Now for the toes and fingers! (Also the ear)

Step 6: Hands, Feet and Ear

Unlike the previous step, this is a step requiring detailing.

What you need:

  • Same clay
  • Dissecting needle
  • Blade
  • Clay shaper
  • Previously made body


  1. Hands:
    • Make a small ball and flatten it.
    • Roll thin snakes for the fingers. Cut it size-wise. It can be long as they are extra-terrestrial.
    • Make three fingers and attach it to the base using the needle. ( I know the image shows four. I forgot they had four instead of five fingers. I cut the extra finger off later)
    • Cut the extra clay around the fingers like in the fourth picture.
    • Blend it on both sides.
  2. Feet:
    • Make a tear drop shaped pieces and flatten then down.
    • Cut the fatter side at an angle like in the picture.
    • Then roll out tiny tears, four for each feet.
    • Attach them gently and merge then to the main feet.
  3. Attaching the hand:
    • First bend the wire you left at the end of the arm to a desirable position.
    • Then press the hand on the wire such that the palm contains the wire.
    • Add a little bit of clay in palm so as to cover the wire and merge it well.
    • Do the same for the other hand.
    • Then add a small snake for the thumb to both the hands.
  4. Attaching the leg:
    • Again bend the wire at the end of the leg so as to make it perpendicular to the main leg.
    • Make a slit below the feet u made (on the uglier side!)
    • Press the feet on the wire such that it fits into the slit.
    • Add some more clay below to cover the wire. Press it to a smooth surface to even it out.
  5. Ear:
    • Roll out a thin piece of clay and cut it in the shape of an elf ear or like in the photo.
    • Bend the outer most side of the ear in wards.
    • Then make a hole using the clay shaper in the ear lobe. Also draw a few lines to show the curves in the ear.
    • Then attach this piece to the side of the head.
    • Make a mirror image of this ear and attach it to the other side as well.

After, you are happy with how the body looks and it all seems proportional, bake it as per the instructions mentioned on the cover of your clay. I baked mine for 35 minutes at 130 degree Celsius.

Step 7: Preparing the Hair

While the body is baking, let's make the hair!

What you need for this step:

  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Pink feather
  • Glue


  1. Take the black ribbon and pinch the end between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Gently pull it outwards. This way you will find the 'weft' of the ribbon. (The ribbon consists or two sets of threads: the vertical ones are called warp and the horizontal ones are the weft. The weft is woven through the warp.)
  3. Once you find the weft, keep pulling it so that you begin un-weaving the ribbon and only the warps are left. The warps will look like hair strands.
  4. after you un-weave a certain length, cut the weft off.
  5. Then keep some of the original ribbon intact and cut it.
  6. Then braid the hair.
    • Tape the actual ribbon down to a table or any other surface.
    • Divide the hair strands into three parts and begin braiding.
    • At the end tie a knot
  7. Make at least eight such braids. (you can make more if you are patient enough!)
  8. Also make one extra-long braid for the main hair braid that the Na'Vi have.
  9. For making the pink creepy things at the end of the main braid:
    • Take a pink feather and cut a few of the hairy things at the end of the feather.
    • Take a drop of glue on your finger and pinch the cut strands between your fingers and rub. This way the strands will stick together.
    • Glue the entire bundle of pink feathers to the end of the braid.

Do I hear the oven timer? Oh! the model is ready!

Step 8: Painting

Now we will paint on the details! This is my favorite part!!!

What you need:

  • Soft pastels
  • Brush
  • Yellow ocher, white and black acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Baked model


  1. Body
    • Dip the brush in water and load it with dark blue soft pastel.
    • Then paint stripes all over the body.
    • You can refer to images online if you want to see how exactly the stripes are.
    • Be careful when you draw the stripes on the face.
    • Then using the white paint, add tiny white dots on the face and the body.(I don't have the photo for this step but you can see the dots in the cover photo)
  2. Eyes:
    • Cover the entire white clay in the eye with yellow ochre.
    • Using the black, make the pupils.
  3. Lips and nose:
    • Use pink pastels and shade the lips and the lower part of the nose.
    • As the base color is already blue, the the final color too will have this purplish tint making it look much ore realistic and accurate.

Now we will add the clothes.

Step 9: Clothes

Let's begin dressing the model.

What you need:

  • Black cloth
  • Scissor
  • Thread
  • Red and orange feathers
  • Glue


  1. Tie a piece of thread around the waist of the model. Make sure the knot is in the front.
  2. Take a small rectangular piece of black cloth and slide it below the thread.
  3. Add glue to the flap below the thread
  4. Fold the longer piece of cloth from above the thread and press it down to the glued area.This way the knot will be covered too.
  5. Make a few feathers in the same way you made the pink creepy thing but using the red and orange feathers.
  6. Tie another piece of thread around the neck and glue it down to the chest.
  7. Then glue the feathers to the thread.

These are the basic clothes that are worn by the Na'Vi. Now let's give her some hair.

Step 10: Attaching the Hair

Time for adding the hair.

What you need:

  • Previously prepared hair.
  • Glue
  • Scissor
  • Clothed model from last step.


  1. First glue the main braid to the head. Add plenty of glue to the top of the head and then press down the part of the ribbon we left woven.
  2. Add some more glue on top of the ribbon as well to prevent fraying.
  3. Then begin gluing the thinner strands.
  4. Glue two strands on either sides of the main braid and position it in such a way that they lie over the shoulder.
  5. Glue the rest of the braids around the main braid and let it hang on the back.
  6. As we are making Neyitiri, it is necessary to trim her hair to a shorter length. So using the scissors, cut the hair to the desired length. Immediately add glue to the trimmed end to prevent the braid from unraveling.
  7. Do the same for all the strands.
  8. After cutting all of them, you will be left with a few pieces like in the last photo. You can even stick those as hair. Just add some glue, press it on and sandwich it with some more glue. This makes it a lot more thick. Just ensure that the braids don't get covered.

We are almost done, just a few detailing and jewellery remain.

Step 11: Jewellery/ Detailing

For this step i kept a photo of Neytiri as reference and I added the main jewellery that she wore to my model.

What you need:

  1. Feathers- red and orange
  2. Mini beads
  3. Thread
  4. Black cloth
  5. Scissor
  6. Glue


  1. Armlets:
    • Thread a few beads on a thin piece of thread.
    • Tie it around the arm.
    • Add small drops of glue to a few beads to keep the entire thing from sliding down.
    • Do the same for both arms
    • Also make one for the right leg and glue it there. ( near the knee)
  2. Feather accessory for the hair:
    • Take the red and orange feather.
    • Cut a small piece of the feather such that the mid rib is included.
    • Shape it like a feather.
    • Glue this below the right ear.
  3. Choker:
    • Thread a single green bead into a string.
    • Tie it around the neck.
    • Glue it in place.
  4. Tail details:
    • Tie a piece of black thread at the starting of the tail.
    • Then wrap it around in a criss-cross pattern around the tail.
    • After you have wrapped it around such that 3/4th of the tail is covered, knot it down and cut the excess.
    • Glue the knot down again.
  5. Wrist cuff:
    • Take a rectangular piece of black cloth.
    • Wrap it around the wrist and glue it there.
  6. Beads on the hair:
    • If you are able to pass the braid through the beads then that's the best. My beads however were too small so i just glued it to the end of the few of the braids.

You can even add a few necklaces, more feathers in the hair or anything you please!!

But the most distinct feature of Neytiri is her bow. So let's make that for her.

Step 12: Bow

This is an optional step. I felt she looked incomplete without her bow so i chose to make it.

What you need:

  • Piece of twig from the garden or something.
  • Thread
  • The model from the last step.
  • Glue
  • Scissor


  1. Take a the twig and cut a piece from it such that it is long enough to be a miniature bow.
  2. Hold the two ends and gently press down wards so as to make a curve.
  3. Tie one side of the thread to one end of the stick and tie it there.
  4. Place it behind the model and stretch the thread over the body and tie it to the other end.
  5. You can glue this down too.

You are done!!

Step 13: You Are Done!!

Congratulations on completing your model!!

I really hope you liked this Instructables. I can't wait to see what you make so please share it in the comments. If you have any doubt or questions I will definitely answer it as soon as I can.

Hoping to see you soon with something else to make!

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