How to build a 3D model of a skeleton

Written by meg north
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How to build a 3D model of a skeleton
Have a drawing of a skeleton handy while you sculpt this clay model. (skelett image by andreas from Fotolia.com)

Make spooky decorations for Halloween or science classroom decorations with these fun three-dimensional skeletons. This model is made of polymer clay, which is pliable, easy to sculpt into various forms, and ideal for creating bones. Have a picture of a skeleton handy to help guide your bony masterpiece.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Craft wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Block of wood
  • Tape
  • Aluminium foil
  • White and black polymer clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Clay sculpting tools (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Make a wire armature, which will support the completed clay skeleton figure. Shape the wire with your hands into a person stick figure with two legs, a straight central body, two arms, and a round head. The armature should be smaller than you want the finished skeleton to be. Form the feet and hands by bending the wire to create wrists and ankles.

  2. 2

    Stand the wire stick figure upright onto the wood block and position how you would like your skeleton to stand. Tape the stick figure's feet to the block of wood for stability. Bend the legs slightly at the knees and bend the arms to make elbows.

  3. 3

    Crumple aluminium foil around the pelvis, ribcage, and head areas, packing as tightly as possible. Secure the foil with tape or more wire. The foil creates a core for the pelvis, ribcage, and skull of the skeleton. Leave a space between the ribcage and the pelvis for the spine.

  4. 4

    Roll out white polymer clay very thin, then drape over the head. Shape the head into a skull. Look at a picture of a skull for guidance. Add black clay eyes, a black clay nose, and sculpt the jaw and teeth.

  5. 5

    Drape more rolled out white polymer clay over the ribcage and pelvis foil. Shape the front of the ribcage with a central breastbone and ribs. Add two shoulder blades on the back of the ribcage. Roll a tiny long piece of clay between your fingers, and set at the top of the ribcage for the clavicle. Sculpt the pelvis.

  6. 6

    Connect the skull to the ribcage with white clay and sculpt the neck. Connect the ribcage to the pelvis with white clay and sculpt the spine. Add detail to the vertebrae on the back of the skeleton.

  7. 7

    Sculpt the upper arm bone, called the humerus, above the elbow with a long thin rectangle of white clay. Refer to the picture of a skeleton to get the shape right. The lower arm is made of two thin bones, the radius and the ulna. Sculpt the lower arm bones. Make a hand with four fingers and a thumb. Repeat with the other arm.

  8. 8

    Sculpt the upper leg bone, called the femur, above the knee with a thick rectangle of white clay. The lower leg is made of two thin bones, called the tibia and fibula. Sculpt the lower leg from white clay. Add a flattened white ball of clay at the knee for a kneecap, connecting the lower leg with the upper leg. Make a foot and add detail to the toes. Repeat with the other leg.

  9. 9

    Remove the skeleton from the wood block. Follow the directions on the package of clay and bake in the oven until the clay hardens.

Tips and warnings

  • Clay sculpting tools will help create details on the hands and feet.
  • Do not over bake or your skeleton will become brittle and crack.

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