Sculpting Archive
Page 1

Table of Contents:

What is WED Clay?
Sculpting for Prosthetics
Sanding Sculpy
Elephant Skin Wrinkles

What is WED Clay?

Hey all,
I keep hearing the term WED clay? What the heck is it?

Wed clay is made by Laguna Clay CO. It stands for Walt E. Disney. Developed for the Studio. It is a water clay with glycerin in it so it does'nt dry out to fast. It is a west coast clay (California). I don't know if ther'es a dist. in the UK ????

WED Clay in the USA is a water based clay, it was developed by the Disney Corps for use by its theme park sculptors - Walter Elias Disney = WED.
It's water based with glycerin added to help it retain moisture for longer,it also gives it a nice plasticky feel to it. Its also a nice light coloured cream colour which makes it easier to see what your doing rather than the grey buff body clay widely used here in the UK.Down here in London, we have been using a light cream coloured clay which has a similar feel tto WED, although im not sure if it is the same, or wether it has glycerin added,but its really nice to handle. Ill find out the name and supplier if you like. It often seems that water based clay is a new thing in the USA,the use of it helped promoted by Rick Baker and recently by Jordu Schell's inspirational work, and you hardly ever heard it referred to as anything but WED.

hey Mick, go to its the homepage for wed. its a nice site now. they gave it a nice update. it has a list of all there distributors (dont know if there is one in your area, if not email them and see if they will ship ya some. it will cost alot to ship though) also there is now a tut on how to mold thing and other tuts on different things. its worth checking out.

If you go to Laguna Clay's site, remember that the real name for it is EM 217. Otherwise you'll have a hard time finding it. I first used it on my 1:1 scale Herman Munster bust and am using it on all 1:1 scale sculpts. It's pretty muddy at first, but is nice for roughing out quickly. By the time you get to detailing it, it becomes firmer, like Roma. If you need it firmer, a hair dryer on low setting works great. I drive to a ceramic store about 45 min. from Pittsburgh to get it and it costs me about $30 for 100 lbs.


Sculpting for Prosthetics

I’m a bit confused on something...
I'm making a prosthetic make up for a friend with foam latex. What I am stuck on is how thick do I put the clay on the life cast, I’ve never done any thing so ambitious before so I’m just a little stuck here.

It's not about the thickness of the clay on the lifecast. You use the amount of clay that you need to make the prosthetic look good. The important thing is the blending edge on the prosthtic. That has to be as thin as you can make it so it blends and disappears very well. The blending edge is in part to how you sculpt the prosthetic and how well you make the mold for it.
I'm not aware of any foam latex products that go into microwaves, is it possible you're referring to foam gelatin?
It might be good to pickup several books. A couple of books that are always helpful are Lee Baygan's Three dimensional make-up book and I also like The prop builders Molding and casting handbook by Thurston James.

I find it useful to trace the person's natural wrinkles with a pencil and use that as a guide for the sculpture's wrinkles and form. The wrinkles on the appliance will move better if they line up with what's underneath.
As far as how thick the clay should be, remember that you are not just sculpting how the thing will LOOK, you're designing how it will PERFORM. I would be careful not to sculpt it too thin (1/16" or less over a large area for beginners) because it will be very difficult to remove from the mold without tearing it and it will be terribly difficult to glue down. If you sculpt it too thick it won't move well or at all (it would be like gluing a couch to your face). The idea is to make it look like it's a PART of the face, not something that is added to it. We're not making masks, we're making CHARACTERS.
As a general rule, I've found that you can make it pretty thick in bony areas like the cheekbones, chin, just at and slightly below the jawline, and across the browbone. But it is best to keep it thinner in areas of the face that need to move, like corners of the eyes, middle of the forehead, around the mouth (except "muzzle" style) and the fleshy part of the cheeks. There are always exceptions, but this is where I'd start.
As far as blending edges, when possible, I make the edges end on natural lines of the face. Also I don't keep smearing the clay off into infinity, I make it end as suddenly as I can and still blend imperceptively into the surrounding skin. I think it was Dick Smith who once said that when you are done with a sculpture, it should blend so well that in theory you should be able to spray the whole thing white, and not be able to tell at all where the sculpture leaves off and the lifecast begins.
Practice sculpting A LOT. Critically analize what you've done and compare it to your referrences and to the work of the masters (Jordu Schell, Steve Wang, Mark Alfrey, to name a few) and see how your stuff stacks up to theirs. Don't let it discourage you, be inspired!
Sculpting is a lot like learning to speak a foreign language. Some people pick up languages very easily (I know a guy who speaks 40 different languages, fluently!) others really have to struggle for years to get it. Some people can pick up clay for the first time and do something really amazing with it. Others push it around for years before their work starts to look professional. Remember, it shouldn't just be recognizeable for what you intended, you should shoot for making it indistinguishable from reality.

I sometimes think if we were given a block of clay when we were born, we'd all be able to sculpt as fluently as we eventually speak.
Don't worry about speed at this point. When you watch Jordu, it can freak you out how fast he is. But don't be amazed just by the speed. Look at the CRAFT.
Sometimes people come to me and say, "look at this sculpture! I finished it in just two hours!", and I say, "Steve Wang could eat clay and poop something better than that in five minutes!"
Some think that if they just keep sculpting fast, they'll get better. Well for most, that's true. They'll get better at sculpt!

Take your time and focus on the craft. Make sure the bone structure is at least anatomically defensible even if it's a fantasy character. Indicate muscle structure and be sure that you don't cut wrinkles in deeper than the flesh and bone that's supposed to be underneath would allow. Otherwise you'll compromize the anatomical integrity of the piece!
Also be sure to make the wrinkles flow ACROSS the movement of the muscles. Look at your forehead in the mirror. Now wrinkle up your brow. The muscles are pulling UP and the wrinkles go ACROSS the movement of the muscles. That's true all over your body. If you look at an anatomy reference, you'll see the sinews of the muscles (the parrallel lines that flow the length of each muscle) which indicate the direction that the muscle contracts. The wrinkles always flow across those lines.

Old people are my favorite reference source. You can distort them and use the patterns of wrinkles on just bout anything. I also love pretty much all of the animal kingdom. I'd like to suggest that when you are designing something alien or fantasy, base it on reality and make it something that seems like it could be real. Don't cut off a monkey's head and stick it on an octopus (octopus' don't have bones). When you combine animals, imagine that your design is the result of a union between all of the references you've used. If they had a baby together, what would it look like? Then spin off from there.
As you study anatomy you'll notice that all skeletons are basically the same, they are simply proportioned differently to accomplish the tasks they were designed to do. Muscle groups are basically the sam as well, but they are all different proportions. With this in mind we can easily blend them into functional hybrids and then add the fantasy characteristics by distorting reality even further. What kind of muscle function does a tongue have? Why couldn't we put that over here...

We need to be able to identify with this character. Use elementls of nature that are recognizable even though you've distorted them almost beyond recognition. When we recognize things about the character that remind us of things we like or hate, we can relate to them in some way. I believe that's why most of the most successful creature designs of all time are humanoid. Predator, Terminator, Pumpkinhead, Alien, Species, Guyver, to name a few. All of the one's I listed are very different in design, yet they all have two arms, two legs, a head, a mouth (Guyver has a mouth-like area).
Again, look at Jordu Schell's work. He pushes distortion to the limit, yet his designs still look plausible, even ALIVE. Steve Wang's stuff is amazing, and he seems to take a lot of cues from bugs, sea life and lizards (my observation, sorry if I'm wrong, Steve).

Anyway, be patient and do a lot of sketches. I like to sketch in photoshop, or scan a sketch and put it into photoshop where I can distort it, cut it up and mess with the proportions and play around with different colors. All without mixing a drop of paint! You can do the same with photos of people. You can cut out and enlarge features or even borrow the features of other people or animals. It's limitless.



Sanding Sculpy

Can you sand super sculpey with a dremel? I want to make teeth by shaping it, then cook it. Then if needed, sand it down a bit.

I would bake it first then sand it by hand. You may want to do a little test first.

yep thats what all the pros do. first bake, sand (apply more sculpey if needed) bake, sand again etc.


Elephant Skin Wrinkles

Someone recently asked me how to do elephant-like skin over a large area. Here's what I came up with:
Take a pizza cutter that you don't intend to use for pizza any more and bend the blade up a little. Just make it wiggly. Be sure to sculpt the major wrinkles first, then put some clear drop cloth plastic over the clay and roll the pizza cutter back and forth, crisscrossing as you go. Use reference to be sure your're making them flow in appropriate directions. It works great!
Let me know what you think.

Sounds like a good quick idea. There's another trick I’ve used occasionally for large areas of texture. Sculpt out a decent sized flat area of the texture, box around it and pour in enough of a fairly firm rubber to make a thin sheet. Glue it around a small (like 4 inch) paint roller. It takes some planning to get the pattern to repeat properly (I use some textile design software to lay out a consisten repeat and trace it onto the clay). If you have a few different rollers to mix it up and keep changing the direction, you can lay out some pretty complex textures very quickly without ridiculous amounts of cleanup. Dino scales, bumps, wrinkles have worked. Although I haven't done it yet, I imagine it would make fish scales pretty easy. I've also used the same technique to rough out complex paint patterns.

Taxidermy supply houses have been selling fish scale rollers for years. I love the idea of using the computer to ensure a perfect seam.
A friend of mine takes small pastry rollers (like a big rolling pin had a baby with a paint roller) and dremels out negative scales all over it. He can cover large areas of life-size dinos with scales in minutes.