Introduction: How Sculpt a Furry, or Cartoon Character.
To start, I am huge fan of webcomics, and in particular The comic "Furry Experience" by Ellen Natalie.
Please do Visit and ENJOY!
I've been trying my hand at art for quite some time, and was really inspired to get back into sculpting, by the characters in this comic. Art projects can be hard for me since I have ADD. Finishing almost anything I start is a challenge. This time however I was very caught up in the fun of the creative process. I eventually was able to finish and, after after asking permission to post this Ible, I sent Mrs. Natalie the finished piece. It feels good to accomplish ART!
I have been asked quite a few time how I make these kinds of sculptures, so I decided to make this instuctable for that very purpose.
Step 1: Planning Your Build.
The First thing I did was choose a subject for my sculpture. The main protagonist in Furry Experience is: Catherine "Cat" Feline. She is a grey anthropomorphic house-cat who also is a college student majoring in Art.
A few of the panels of her in her figure drawing class gave me the perfect setting in which to bring the sculpture to life. Here is the Comic Page I got the idea from. (It might not make sense unless you go back a bit and read the start of the story arc.)
After choosing the character, and the backdrop, next I decided to work on the scale of the piece. The props for the build actually helped in achieving a proper scale down of the whole model. I started by doing research on the "Art Horse" that Cat sits on in her class. Using graph paper, and some online plans to find the dimensions of the horse. from there I drew out an actual size diagram. The wood I used for the art horse was made from an 88 cent yard stick from a hardware store. using the grid paper you can see that one quarter inch square equals two inches.
since the width of the seat is 12" inches I used a bit of math to deduce that the scale would be 1/8th the size of a real art horse. Then as you can see in the second picture I sketched out an actual sized picture of how the sculpture would fit on the horse. (I also was playing around with the sculpey clay, and made an arm to get a feel for it again. I haven't made one of these pieces for a few years.)
Once you have a more than vague idea about your piece you should be ready to grab your materials and get to sculpting!
Step 2: Gathering Materials.
1. Base - A wooden oval plaque obtained at a hobby store.
2. Yard stick - Soft wood from a hardware store.
3. Sculpey Clay - from a hobby store. I use the plain white original kind, that bakes solid at 275F degrees.
4. Flexible Wire - I used copper wire that I have from some of my electronic projects, but you can use floral wire if need be. Any thin flexible wire should do, although too thin won't hold it's shape very well and too thick is hard to work with. (coat hanger wire, for example, is probably too thick.)
5. Tin Foil - Regular kitchen style Tin Foil is fine.
6. Model Paints - I bought a set like what is pictured so I would have a variety of colors, and containers to mix the custom colors I might need.
7. Wood Glue - May have been over kill, I probably could have used regular school glue.
8. Super Glue - Epoxy or super glue to put various pieces together. this is to make the entire build easier to make. You make, and bake each piece, and then assemble the parts with glue.
1. Wood working tools - You might not need these for every sculpture, but for this one I used a scroll saw, a belt sander, and a disk sander.
2. Sculpting Tools - These can be store bought or homemade. Some of the best tools I ever had were dentist tools I had picked up from a garage sale.
3. Paint Brushes - a good selection should be had. Different sizes, and shapes help. Some big ones to be able to quickly cover large areas, and smaller ones for more detail, and filling tight corners.
4. Pliers - a good set of needle nosed ones are really handy for the wire bending. (I also used this to make a clip for the drawing board prop that Cat uses while sitting on the art horse.)
5. Knives - a good pocket knife with several blades, and or a set of hobby knives really help to carve out details and correct errors in the sculpey after its baked. They can also help if you have any wooden pieces to carve.
Step 3: Assembling the Props.
Using the plan from earlier I sanded the labels and numbers off the yard stick. Then I cut the individual pieces of the art horse, and drawing board out and re-sanded them all to take off all the rough edges.
After checking to see if it all fit together, I used wood glue to assemble the horse, and board.
Finally I checked it against the original plan to see how it looked. Since everything fit, I was happy with the result.
Step 4: The Wire-Frame.
Using the drawing as a guide I bent a wire-frame skeleton, and then sat it on the prop to test how it fits.
you kind of need to eyeball it at this point realizing there will be a 1/4" layer of tin foil / clay on top.
Next you will want to wrap tinfoil around the thickest parts of the body to take up mass. The reason for this is you want to try to get the same thickness of clay all over the piece. This is so that when it bakes the clay will bake evenly. If you skip the tinfoil, then parts of your sculpture can get "Mushy", or worse burnt in really thin areas. Uniformity is key.
After the tin foil, we begin to roll out some of the clay flat (about 1/8" to 1/4" thick) and using these sheets wrap up our wire skeleton.
Step 5: Molding the Body.
Now keep adding clay onto the form to finish fleshing out the body. Keep turning the sculpture to make sure it looks good from all sides.
once the body is starting to look in form, we can roll out really thin sheets to add clothing detail. This is actually easier than it sounds, because we can do what a lot of art affords us. The ability to "Cheat". you can make a body and then add sleeves, and hems etc. Then by leaving one edge sticking out, and blending the other side of the added piece and into the body eliminating the seam. It will then look as though there is clothing on the figure.
Step 6: The Head.
Again using our original drawing as a guide, pull off an appropriate sized piece of clay that will match. then sculpt out a basic shape. (in this case cat-like)
unfortunately this sinister looking head is where we have gouged out holes for the eyes, using a sculpting tool.
To make the eyes I usually create the skull with the eye sockets.Then roll a small ball and cut it in half (so that the two shapes will match.) and make round balls for the eyes. These get baked solid in a 275F oven for 15 minutes, so that they can be stiff enough to mold the eyelids, and eyebrows around, as seen in the photos.
Step 7: Adding the Head and Details.
Continuing on we keep adding details to the head, and body. the hands are pretty basic at this point, but I carved more detail into them after it was baked. Also more cloth details, sleeves for the shirt.
At this point the Sculpey is still very malleable, and oily. The tinfoil on the seat is to keep the oil from staining the wood.
NOTE: I should probably make a separate instructable for tips on how to use Sculpey, but I'll include this here.
Sculpey straight from the box can be REALLY sticky, and in warm weather sticky and hard to work with. This is because of the amount of oil in the clay to keep it plastic. We can reduce the amount of oil by rolling out a large piece of clay as flat as you can get it. (around 1/8") then place this Sculpey pancake between 2 sheets of copy paper. Roll out the pancake again to get good contact. Leave this for a couple of hours to absorb some of the oil. Then knead the heck out of it to make sure what oil is left is mixed thoroughly. You should notice that the clay should be much stiffer. It sounds counter intuitive, but this will make it easier to work with. (Think trying to sculpt with butter that is melting.)
Step 8: Into the Kiln.
Okay, okay its really just my kitchen Oven, but either way hardening the sculpt.
The support of the piece is very import while baking. I have had a few heartbreaks with sculpts being broken by falling in the oven during this phase. So please make sure your piece is firmly supported because trying to save your art by handling hot clay is difficult, and Painful.
Once removed let the sculpture cool, and we are almost done.
Step 9: FInishing.
At this point I used my hobby knife set to remove any mistakes, and carve in details. (Like fingers.)
By scratching the blade across the dry clay you can get textures, or smooth out rough areas.
I didn't get many pictures of the paining process, so I will have to make yet another Instructable.
As you can see though acrylic model paints flesh out the last of the details,ad finish our Fan-Art.
I hope you have enjoyed this instructable as much as I did making the artwork, and writing this up for you.
If you have any questions please leave a comment below.