Sculpting armature for statues... how to build?


Master Member
I have started getting into the sculpting bit, and I have a few ideas of what I would like to actually sculpt.

However, I am pretty sure I want an armature to use as a base, since the sculpt is going to be about 18" tall.

Are there any tips for what wire to get, how to build one, etc to be had from the pros?

All I have is the clay right now, but I plan to go do some shopping tomorrow or over the weekend, and hopefully be assembling this thing by sunday.

Any helps appreciated. This is kinda completely and utterly new to me, so don't assume I know anything about this :lol

Start with some simple shapes to find out how the material acts.

You will need some sculpting tools. Basic tools are available at art supply stores. They generally have aluminum wire for armatures. You can use any flexible wire really, but aluminum is the most common.

Later you might like to explore other materials and tools.

The most important thing you may need is patience. If you have not sculpted before, don't expect to have a sculpture completed over the weekend. It can take a lot of time to get things right even with years of experience.
Yes I would have to say go with the aluminum wire that can be found at any art store some carry different thickness, and say if you can only find the thin wire you can use some off that 2 part self hardening epoxy to put over the wire to give it strength, also many use aluminum foil to bulk up the subject to use less clay if your using something like Super Sculpey which is about $11-$14 a pound which is not cheap. If your starting out pick subjects that are not so hard and play with the clay and tools to get the feel of it, and YouTube has many different Sculpting tutorials that helped me out when I got started. I'm itching to get back to my sculpting after scratchbuilding kits, I find the sculpting very relaxing.
You might want to sign up over on the Club House forum (required to gain access)
They have a sculpting section of the forum along with links to tutorials on all sorts of useful information like wire frames, etc.

There is also the Statue Forum (no sign up required)

Both forums have industry professionals that post on them often showing works in progress.
There are industry professionals here too.

I have two favorite methods for larger figures. One is to use COPPER wire rather than aluminum. Aluminum wire is filthy and is no good if you want to keep your sculpting material clean. The other is to learn to work with car body filler like Bondo or Sno Wite. These are toxic and require a respirator to work with safely. They are also cheap. The result is that once you have finished the piece, it is a finished piece. You don't need baking or molding.

The basic plan is to bulk up an armature with body filler and "skin" it in another material. This is least expensive if you use a filler like a mesh or aluminum foil (not filthy like the wire) to pre-bulk the armature. Once this is done, the body filler has something to grab. Finally, it is best to have one material as your surface so that any further process like sanding or painting gives you a consistant result.

I also prefer to make heads and hands as separate parts. Heads are made often in a plasticlay like Supersculpy. This is used for its long working time. Hands are most often in epoxy putty for strength and flexibility as well as durability.

Skins for the Body filler body are most often in an epoxy clay like Magic Sculpt or Apoxie.

This is all more advanced, but results in durable originals that can either be masters for production or finished works of art.
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