How To Sculpt Faces
The single most difficult task in ceramic sculpture
How to sculpt faces in clay is one of the most frequently asked questions by sculpting scholars (both beginners and intermediate). My name is Peter Holland, I am a professional ceramic sculptor and I run this website.
I am taking the work of fellow sculptor Philippe Faraut (see left picture), as the example. Feraut's work is on a larger scale than mine, and so more universal. Philippe Faraut has a body of detailed instructional work available on Amazon.com (click here to check it out)
My own speciality is to sculpt ultra photo-realistic portraits of beautiful ladies faces on a tiny scale (see photo below) - the faces are less than an inch high. So my techniques are not necessarily what are required for most people reading this page - although, below on this page I list the general principles I work to.
I recommend you read my list, print them out, and use these alongside Phil's DVD. My rules for the successful sculpting of human faces are very, very simple, but make all the difference between success and failure (why? because like many aspects of life - 'it's all in the mind' and about having the right approach).
My principals are about what you have to do in order to jump the biggest hurdle in clay sculpting - that of sculpting human faces. This page is all about taking action and tells you how to begin to jump that hurdle.
Begin by reading my statement below....
|"I have watched students attempt faces and is it the single most difficult thing to do in sculpting clay. People get disheartened and begin to think it an impossible task."|
Peter Holland (Professional Master-Sculptor for Wedgwood, Coalport, Royal Worcester)
Continue reading below ↓
Sculpt Faces Stage by Stage in Bite Size Pieces
When it comes to sculpting faces, people tell me they want to know the details of how to do it.
I can understand why.
That's where instructional DVD's come in.
It's the next best thing to me or Phil sitting beside you telling you what to do next. I have watched students attempt faces and is it the single most difficult thing to do in sculpting clay. People get disheartened and begin to think it an impossible task. Sometimes, I have had to take someone's hand and make them touch the clay with a tool.
It isn't impossible, it's doable.
The thing to do is to is to sculpt faces stage by stage in bite size pieces.
If you think you are going to pick up your tool, grab a piece of clay and produce anything remotely resembling a face in one session, or one day, or even one week, you are sorely mistaken.
Go in small, doable stages. Go this way and you will soon know how to sculpt faces.
Pay Attention to These Principals Then You Can Begin Your Journey....
Read these tips, buy an instructional DVD but remember, my list below is 'principal oriented', DVD's are 'technique oriented'. You need both, so pay attention to both. Use them to bring out what is inside you already.
- Don't go by eye alone until you are very experienced.
- You need to get know (by accurately measuring and studying) the face of your subject and the proportions of their features.
- Personally, when I began, I photographed the subject front and side (making sure I am not angled up or down, but am pointing straight at the subject's face)
- I then used a photocopier to scale the photos down to the required scale.
- I then drew grid lines on the photocopies both side and front views to study the distances from various points (and planes). For example, many beginners place their subjects eyes too far back in profile, so therefore you end up with what is known as a 'dog' face.
- Study the planes carefully. For example, the mouth follows the shape of the teeth and curves like a half circle (even when not smiling). Lips do not project out from a face, unless you are Mick Jagger, the lips curve inwards to the meet the teeth inside from the facial muscles (above and below). Many beginners sculpt the mouth on a flat plane with outward lips, and this gives the characteristic thin mouthed pout of the African type carving.
- The eyes are half way up the head - something most beginners refuse to believe. That's why I say DO NOT do things by eye unless you are very experienced and know your measurements by heart.
- Study and note the relative positions of the features on your grid lines and follow what the diagram shows you. When you are a 'master' you can dispense with measurements. I still check measurements, although I am referred to as a 'master-sculptor'.
- Then, and only then, you can use some artistry to capture the soul of the person.
Good luck and happy sculpting.
|Don't forget, you can post your work up on this site and get help from me directly on the clay sculpture FAQ's page (scroll down to the bottom of that page to post your pictures and write your query).|
There are other sculptors apart from Philippe Faraut who have DVD tutorials for how to sculpt faces. I have done a study of them.
Top of the buch in my view is the 'How to Sculpt Faces' DVD by Adam Reader.
Adam's simple and frankly unconventional method for succeeding at sculpting faces and heads in clay actually, turned my head. I have to confess, after having earned my living from sculpting faces for 2 decades at the highest level possible, I learned quite a lot from Adam. I was never one for conventional teaching and frankly did my best to stay as far way as possible from the idiotic post-modernist crap that has become institutionalized in colleges today.
So I did an online interview with Adam which you can read and find out more about his unique teaching methods here:-
Clay Sculptor Adam Reeder's Teaching Methods Interview
Those of you needing the complete details of how to sculpt faces, with nothing left out, maybe you need to check out Adams DVD which you can access at the bottom of the interview page (see above link).
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