Introduction: How to Sculpt the Cover of a Necronomicon With Polymer Clay
This is a tutorial on how to sculpt and paint the cover of a book to resemble a Necronomicon or some other eldritch horror. This is a project that gives a lot of creative freedom, so don't worry about following each step to the letter.
Something to sculpt on - For this project I am using a wooden box that resembles a book. You can select almost anything, as long as it is not plastic. The base needs to be something that can survive a few trips through the oven.
Polymer clay of any color - We will be painting over the clay, so color will not matter.
Sculpey Bake and Bond, aka Liquid Clay - This will be the glue that we use to attach clay to other surfaces.
Glass Cabochons - You will be painting and using these for the eyes.
Acrylic Paint - For painting.
Step 1: Preparation and Planning
When you're working with polymer clay, make sure to put down something to protect your work surface. The oils in raw polymer clay can damage some surfaces. I like to use a piece of parchment paper to work on.
First, plan what sort of horror you'd like to sculpt. I have decided to make a three eyed, toothy monster ripping out of my book. You can choose to replicate my sculpture or create your own, just make sure that you have sufficient materials.
Step 2: Eyes and Teeth
You can purchase cabochons with eye designs already printed on them, but I prefer to paint my own.
Use glass cabochons and acrylic paint for this project. You will need black, and the color you would like the iris to be.
* You will be painting on the flat side of the cabochon, both to protect the paint and give the eye more depth.
Place a small dot of black paint in the center, making sure that it is opaque. Let dry completely.
Using a dry brush technique to provide extra texture, paint the first layer of color. Let dry completely.
Using a different hue, tone, shade, or color and repeat the step. Continue until the cabochon is fully covered in paint. For good measure, paint a solid color on the back to ensure that it is fully covered and to protect the paint.
I prefer to use an off-white colored clay for teeth, as I like to leave them unpainted. You can choose to paint them, however.
Roll out a thick snake of clay with a taper at the end. Decide how long you would like the tooth to be, and cut your clay. Shape the piece of clay if you desire, and set on a tray to be baked. The shape of the teeth is entirely up to the sculptor, so experiment with the length and thickness of the tooth. It's okay if they don't look perfect, it is a fantasy creature.
Step 3: Sculpting...
To begin your sculpture, apply a layer of Bake and Bond where you will be placing clay. The liquid clay will remain tacky until you have baked/cured your sculpture in the oven. Ensure that all of the areas where clay will be touching are secured with Bake and Bond.
Place a flat layer of clay over the glue, pressing down and making sure that there are no trapped air bubbles. Trim off any excess.
Confirm that you like the placement of the eyes, and press into the clay.
To begin forming the mouth, roll out a snake of clay that gently tapers off. Place in the position you want, and secure by pressing the edges of the clay down with your thumb.
Once you have the shapes of the sculpt blocked out, double check to ensure you like the positioning. After that, you can build up the forms more by pressing more clay onto it. Pinch and press to smooth and refine the form.
To create the eyelids, flatten a piece of clay. Place over the eye and press to secure, ensuring that there are no air bubbles. Using a craft knife, cut away the clay to reveal the eye and form the eyelids.
Step 4: Texturing
Texture can hide minor blemishes and provide more visual interest.
To recreate the texture that I made, you will need a ball tool or something of the like. They can be found on amazon, being sold as a nail art tool. There are larger ones available specifically for sculpting, but you don't need those for this project. Additionally, you can DIY a lot of tools. The wrong end of a paint brush could provide a similar texture as well.
To create the texture, gently swipe your tool over the clay. You don't want to press deeply, just enough to leave a small indent. Repeat the motion over every part of the sculpture, making sure to vary the strokes somewhat.
To make the texture for the lips, use a tool such as a needle tool or wire. Make indents perpendicular to the edge of the clay, you want to emulate the look of chapped lips. Vary the depth and width of your indents.
Step 5: Baking/curing
Bake/cure the clay according to the manufacturer's instructions.
I do have some tips for this step, to reduce the chance of your sculpture getting damaged during the process.
Don't open the door of the oven while baking, it can cause the temperature to spike which might burn your clay.
Make sure the heating elements aren't too close, you should have at least 3-4 inches of distance from the clay.
Put a tent of tinfoil over your sculpture, it can help insulate against direct heat. Make sure that the tinfoil is not touching the clay, however.
Step 6: Painting
I will only be going over the painting of the creature, not the attached book.
Acrylic paint is best for this sort of project. You also need a sealant to finish and protect the paint, I recommend matte varathane for everyday use. UV resin could be used if you'd like a glossy finish. Do not use aerosols or enamels, they can degrade and damage your precious work.
First, I mixed a red color and applied liberally to the mouth. While still wet, I wiped it off the teeth and made any needed touch ups. I let that dry completely. For the next coat I darkened the red, and focused on applying it in the ridges of the lips, wiping away excess to give it a dry, cracked and bleeding look. I let that dry completely, and moved on to the main color.
I mixed a dark flesh tone, and applied a base coat. I let that dry completely, and lightened up the tone for the second coat. I heavily applied that to all surfaces, and used the same red color used for the lips to add variation to the skin, focusing on the mouth and eyes.
After I was happy with the overall colors, I did a few touch ups to the edges.
If you got paint on the eyes, that's fine! Take a metal tool and scrape away the paint.
For the rest of the book, I chose to give it minimal decoration. I just painted a solid color, and did a bit of antiquing make it look old.
As for the pictures, I don't know why the intermediate step looks like fried chicken but I want to illustrate my steps anyway.
Participated in the