How to Make a 3D Shape Out of Modeling Clay

Updated March 23, 2017

Clay modelling is an ideal medium for beginning sculptors to pursue. Sculpting clay doesn't require a lot of tools or materials, and because clay is such a soft material, it's easy to work with and can be reused as you learn. With a little practice, you can turn a block of modelling clay into a three-dimensional sculpture of anything you want.

Open your block of modelling clay and work it into carving shape. The size of your clay block depends on how large you want your sculpture to be. If you're just starting, use a smaller block of clay and work on sculpting a small model. Work the clay in your hands by kneading it, twisting it and pulling it, then roll it into a ball. The purpose here is to get the clay relaxed, making it easier to work with.

Form the basic shape of the object you want to sculpt. You don't need a tool yet. Use your hands to roll the clay and your thumbs to push the clay until you have the basic shape of the sculpture you want to make. Don't worry about sculpting in the details yet.

Refine your basic shape with a sculpting tool. The sculpting tool allows you to remove thin layers of clay or larger pieces. Remove large pieces of clay as you begin shaving your sculpture, then slice away thin pieces when you are nearing the final shape. As you remove clay, the curves and indents will allow the 3D effect to form.

Refine your design by using an appropriate texturing tool. These tools have various ends attached that you will run over your clay to create hair or fur textures, facial lines, or material patterns. These textures can add the finishing effect to your 3D clay sculpture.

Things You'll Need

  • Modelling clay
  • Clay sculpting tool
  • Texturing tools
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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.