I've made several abortive attempts to create clay figures/statues over the past year or so, but with my Model-Magic Sailor Moon here, I've finally finished one. She's quite a bit rough and unpolished (actually quite literally, since I stupidly forgot to put a sealing coat and gloss on her before I assembled her *FACEPALM*), but she represents a huge step forward for me and I'm really quite proud of her.
Since apparently I don't have enough ridiculously time-consuming hobbies already, I've wanted to get into sculpting in the hopes that I could create something like the garage kits you see on e2046.com from scratch. Obviously I have a long way to go, but this is the first time I feel like I've taken a step towards being able to do that.
I figured that some people might be interested in how I made her, so I'll use this blog to go into that a little; there are also some making-of photos attached at the bottom.
First of all, a note on the choice of subject: While eventually I want to make figures of my own characters, the beauty of doing a well-known character is that it forces you to stick to your goals. For example, with Sailor Moon I knew I had to make her distinctive Odango hairstyle somehow, even though it was going to be a pain in the butt. If I had started with my own character, I could easily have given her the easiest hairstyle to sculpt and say I *meant* to do that. My earlier attempts at sculpting mainly failed because I refused to commit to an idea, and kept changing my mind all along. In this case I had a very clear picture of what I wanted.
Also, I've been tempted to buy and build a Sailor Moon GK, but I am far too cheap to do that; now I don't have to! Just FYI, you can get cheap anime kits on ebay and other sites, but they tend to be knock-offs made with crumbly, low-quality resin; the genuine article will set you back at least $60.
Second, materials: I used Crayola Model Magic, which is NOT something you generally want to use for any serious sculpting. However, I used it for the following reasons:
1. It is cheap.
2. It is very light.
3. You don't have to bake it in the oven; it self-hardens.
I've been messing around with Sculpey and other polymer clays for a while, and though they are much higher quality than MM, they are not really practical for the novice sculptor; I've wasted a lot of expensive clay on projects that I wasn't able to finish, and the fact that you have to bake it creates a whole host of other problems. If I do a bunch of these things and I feel that I'm getting skilled enough to actually start taking these things seriously, I will start using a polymer clay again, however for now I'm happy with this method; it may
not be great, but a good craftsman doesn't blame his tools, right?
Of course, MM is so different as a material from polymer clay that it has it's own process; for one thing, it's so light that you practically can sculpt it just by breathing on it, so it requires a very light touch. However, because of that lightness, you don't have to worry so much about making the figure balanced: Sailor Moon can't stand on her own, but that doesn't matter because I was able to create a support for her with a large paperclip, which should give you an idea of just how light MM is. Furthermore, since it air-dries while you work on it, you have to commit to what you're doing; if you mess around too much, the stuff will start drying and you won't be able to reshape it anymore.
I used white MM because I knew from the beginning that I was going to paint her; you can buy the stuff in all different colors if you want to avoid painting.
The paints were a different story-- I just used regular acrylics out of a set. To go with my theme of cheapness, I could have just used tempera paint, but I would have had to mix all of my own colors, or buy like 30 pots of tempera in different colors, and once it's that much of a bother you may as well use the good stuff already. I have a bunch of old brushes from painting classes years ago, but I bought an ultra-fine brush for the detailing (such as it is.)
I made Sailor Moon's head and torso all as one piece; in the future I'm going to do the head/neck piece separately. The legs and arms were painted independently, and glued on with Krazy glue later. I also glued the bows that she has on the front and back, and the long part of her hairpieces (the actual buns are the same piece as her head-- the tails were made separately.) Since this is technically Super Sailor Moon, I tried to add her little white barretts, which was really difficult because they had to be SO small. Eventually I compromised and made the barretts she has now, although they're not exactly the right size and shape.
The only really impulsive thing I did was adding Luna, which I did because I had an extra blop of model magic to use up; I think having her there really adds a lot though. The base is made out of a much heavier type of self-hardening clay, which I painted white and pink to go with Sailor Moon better- it's a terra-cotta clay meant for pottery.
That's about all-- I learned a ton, and look forward to doing another one of these. Next time I plan to make an armature out of thin wire and make a self-standing figure, although I can always prop her up with a stand again if I have to. The question is, who should I make? I want to make another female (I'll tackle a male figure eventually, but for now women are easier), and I want to do a few more anime or game characters before I start making my own. Some ideas: Saber from Fate/Stay Night (my boyfriend loves her), Sailor Venus with Artemis to go with SM, Aya Brea, Gwen from Odin Sphere (wings, OMG), one of the Chrono Trigger girls, etc. What do you think?