Alien demo 728x90 Leaderboard (top of page)

Sculpting a Alien Bust, using Polymer Clay.

In this demonstration I sculpt a alien bust using all my familiar methods, but I do try something a little different this time around.. Instead of baking the entire thing at once I prebaked then added color clay then baked a second time. (baking in stages)  As usual the videos on this Page will be the most helpful, so enjoy!  NOTE: the very first video in this project was done when I was away from home and my studio, but I managed to take some photos of the progress as I went along. But the rest is done in the usual time lapse, so enjoy!

Part 1 and 2, Starting the alien's armature.

  There are two videos that make up the armature part because In the first video I only did the head and neck.. But I felt that was not enough to make it a complete sculpture so I added the upper chest and shoulders afterwords, plus I was away from my studio and didn't want to go too far without filming.

  I began using my usual methods, compressing aluminum foil into the general shape I was going for, then covered the foil with regular masking tape. I use the tape to protect the clay from the foil in case I have to take it all apart and start over, it keeps the clay much cleaner! The tape also keeps all the foil in place during the claying process.  I then cover the tape with a layer of super sculpey (full thickness of the pasta machine) I don't use any of the original sculpey (white stuff) as a base coat because I felt this was not going to be a very big project. So instead I just use the super sculpey this time around.

 
  As you can see in the video above this just needed a little more to it.. so I extended the armature to expose the shoulders and upper chest. I followed all the methods I used in the first video, then just attached the 2 parts together with masking tape. Once that was done I added clay at the bottom part to match the top. I also added a sheet of clay "underneath" the sculpture, 2 full thickness layers.  You can see how I did this in the time lapse video below!


Part 3, Starting the alien's face

  Now that the armature is done and everything is covered I want to focus on the face a bit. My goal at this stage is to get the basic defining of the face done, details come later. The photo to the left is actually very simple changes!
  I start off by building up around the eyeballs with some super sculpey, but not too much as to protrude out further then the eye itself. Think of it as a skull...  your making  a eye "socket" that the eye sits inside. Later we can wrap this with a skin layer to achieve the eyelids.
  For the nose I shape a piece of clay in the shape of a small cone cut in half, then I press in between the eyes small end up. Depending on the alien design your looking for it should be slightly below the eye level. Then I use the the tips of my thumbs to "pinch" the area the nostrils are, but you can use any small, rounded object that work for you. To create the negative area in the nostrils I used a rounded cutting tool, also known as a clean-out tool, to cut out the clay. You don't really have to go deep, its just for the "look" of nostrils.
  The lips are just 2 snakes rolled and pressed. I then blended the side facing away from the mouth opening. (to make the blending a little easier just add small amounts of clay up next to the snakes at the top and bottom to fill some of the void)

 
  In the video below I did some wrinkles on the forehead but later changed them wanting to try something else. Thats why I didn't mention much about them. I also formed the look of a jaw bone using snakes as guides.  Remember this is just the basic defining and details will be added later.
 
 

Part 4, chest and shoulders and back

  In this photo I use very simple shapes of clay to create the lower bust definitions. All I did was use rolled snakes, also called logs, to create the collarbones and the extra skin on the sides and front of the neck. Such a simple method and it really gives good definition!  Once the snakes are firmly press on I add some clay on both sides to make it look more natural, this also better attaches the snake to the clay underneath.
  The chest is formed by padding out sheets of clay and tapering or smoothing the edges. I also tried to make the bottom  thicker then the rest because its the thickest point of the chest muscles.
  When I'm done working on a area I always smooth it out to see how things look. I do this using Sculpey Clay Softener and a nylon brush. (I use nylon because the bristles don't come out and it leaves a smooth finish) Try not to be perfect about it because remember were adding a layer of colored clay later on. I was really happy how easy it was to add definition to this bust using simple rolled out snakes or logs, whichever you prefer to call them. I always to to use familiar shapes when sculpting!
  See it all done in the video below!
 
 

Part 5, Making aliens brains.

  One last thing left for the basic defining of this alien.. I wanted to add the look of brains bulging from the top of his head. To achieve this I added a full sheet of super sculpey (thickest setting) to the top cut in the general shape are to look like. From here I carve into this thicker clay, cutting ruts in the clay to for the look of brains. I didn't use any referencing for this part, which I recommend searching for brain images for a more exact look. Referencing will always help!  But since this was a "alien" and not a human I figured I could just create my own look, and it turned out pretty well I think. Its best to lightly draw a pattern on with a tool first before you begin carving, this way you are more sure of the outcome and don't have to start over if you don't like it. Once all the carving is done smooth out the work with clay softener for a clean look. Remember, this will get covered with a layer of colored clay, so all your aiming to do is create the impression of brains.
  The time lapse video below shows the process of making alien brains!
 
 

Part 6, Colored clay skin coating.

  This is where I tried something a little different then my usual sculpting methods. Before I added the color skin coating you see here I first baked the alien for 15 minutes at 275 degrees. Polymer clay can be baked in stages so long as you use liquid polymer to ensure a good bondage between the baked and new uncooked clay. It will get baked again later after everything is complete. (to cook the skin coating)
  Wanting to do a green colored alien I chose 2 greens that would go well with each other. I also mixed those colors with a small amount of Kato's translucent to add a little transparency effect. I rolled everything out using my pasta machine then applied the clay onto the sculpture in a manner that would create interesting contrast.  The piece of clay in the center with both colors was made using a skinner blend of the 2, to help soften up where they come together. I later use trim where all other contrasting colors come together.   The time lapse video below will give you a good idea how I did this.
 
 

Part 7, Texture and glowing trim

  Good texturing is when you can create the look of real movement in the skin. For example, when a old man turns his head to the side it create wrinkles in the skin that shows the movement of his head turned. This is difficult for me to do as it takes plenty of practice! Even though I'm still not very good at it I still give the effort to try. To make the texture just cut lines into the clay (usually running at 2 different angles) these will be you deepest cuts and show all the main movement in the skin. Once done smooth the cuts with clay softener. Now repeat the process only this time make the cut less deep and finer then the first ones, smooth again. Repeat once more using even lighter and finer cuts. Keep doing this until it looks the way you want it, be careful not to smooth the clay too much or you'll lose the wrinkles your working to create.  Remember it takes a ton of practice.... but nothing has to be perfect, as long as your enjoying sculpting, thats all that matters.

  I used thin white trim to cover the areas where the contrasting clay comes together using glow in the dark clay. Not only did this do well for trim, but it has a cool effect when the lights are turned out at night!  To make them I pushed the glow clay through a extruding tool using the spaghetti tip, or small hole tip. Its a little more work but well worth the consistency. 

  The video below shows a demonstration of this texture you see here.

 

Final reveal!

After all the texturing was done and the fingerprints cleaned up (using the same clay softener) I was ready to bake my sculpture. (for a second time) I baked it for 15 minutes at 275 degrees in our regular home oven on a dedicated sheet pan (used for clay only)  Its best to let your sculpture cool COMPLETELY before handling it because not only is it hot, but polymer clay is extremely brittle just after baking and can crack or brake of you mess with it too much. Only after it completely cools does it gain full strength. Just gently remove it from the over and set it on top of the stove, or on some pot holders (to protect your counter tops)  Once completely cooled I spray it with a sealer, Shellac.  This next video is the final reveal!