The cobra is one of the most deadly snakes in the world; it is also one of the most recognisable. Cobras have thick bodies with elongated segments on the belly. They are generally brown, golden tan and black in colour. King cobras are huge and can grow to nearly 20 feet in length. But their most distinctive feature is the skin that flares on the side of their necks called the hood, which often has eyespot markings. Modelling a cobra is not particularly difficult.
Cut a length of armature wire or similar malleable but sturdy wire to the length you want the cobra to be.
Cut a section of fine wire modelling mesh to the same length and thread the armature wire through the mesh back and forth lengthwise to function as a spine for the model.
Roll the mesh into a tube with one end rolled very tightly into a point for the tail and the rest of the mesh body a little wider.
Shape the body into a slithering or a coiled pose, leaving approximately 1/3 of the mesh near the top elevated for the neck and head.
Shape the head with your fingers and create a small brow and defined jaw. Compacting the mesh with your fingers and adding more mesh to the head may be helpful.
Cut a section of wire mesh to represent the hood and attach it to the neck with florist's wire. You may want more than one layer of mesh.
Roll out your modelling clay into thin sheets and apply them to the surface of the wire mesh to create the skin. This may take a few applications.
Carve and shape details into the model using wooden or wire sculpting tools. Diamond-shaped scales can be carved with diagonal crisscrossing lines and eyes can be moulded with two balls of clay pressed into the head.
Allow the clay to fully harden.
Paint the cobra according to your reference pictures and seal with a flat clear sealant.
This basic technique could be modified for larger or smaller models. A small cobra may only require a wire mesh frame without the supporting wire or perhaps none at all. A larger snake could be made from chicken wire and plaster cloth wraps. If you are ambitious, you might try modelling an open mouth with fangs or a protruding forked tongue. You can use household items effectively to mould clay. For instance, toothpicks make great sculpting tools.
Be careful when working with wire and wire mesh. Clipped wire can be surprisingly sharp and easily puncture your skin.