In the previous chapter, we covered the tools commonly used in clay art. I will share some knowledge about air dry clay sculpting for beginners in this chapter. You'll learn how to mix your desired color, craft commonly seen shapes, and design the head-to-body proportion of your clay figure. These are essential skills for beginners.

Follow my steps to practice and experiment, and I guarantee you'll quickly grasp these skills. You'll fall in love with clay art and be inspired to craft more.

So, let's get started!

The Basics of Color

Basic Colors

The three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and the two colors(black and white) cannot be obtained by mixing other colors. Therefore, red, yellow, blue, black, and white clay must be purchased. Skin-colored clay is required in large quantities when making handmade figures. Although skin-colored clay can be obtained by mixing white, red, and yellow clay, the proportion will affect the color, so I recommend you also purchase some skin clay.

Essential Clay Colors
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Color Mixing of Clay

Blue mixed with red creates purple, blue mixed with yellow makes green, and red mixed with yellow makes orange. The resulting clay color will also change by changing the proportions of the three primary colors in clay. For example, when the ratio of red to yellow is 2:3, you can mix orange-red color, and when the proportion of red is tiny, you can mix orange-yellow color.

Knowledge of Color Mixing 1
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The colors produced by mixing the three primary colors are intermediate, which can then be remixed to create complex colors.

Knowledge of Color Mixing 2
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Essentials for Making Basic Shapes

The production of clay figurines always starts with basic shapes, such as spheres, cubes, drops, shuttle shapes, thin plates, and elongated shapes, starting from the sphere form.

Sphere

Spherical
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1. Knead the clay first.

Spherical-1
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2. Place the clay in the palm of your hand.

Spherical 2
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3. Rotate the clay clockwise with both palms.

Spherical 3
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4. Rotate clockwise until the clay is kneaded into a sphere.

Spherical 4
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Square

Square
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1. Place the spherical clay on the mat and use a pressure plate to press the clay.

Square 1
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2. Repeat the action of step 1 by flipping it over.

Square 2
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3. Flip the side of the dough that has not been pressed onto the top surface, repeating the action from step 1.

Square 3
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4. Gently pinch the clay, hold one corner with your left thumb and your right index finger, and squeeze it towards the center.

Square 4
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5. Continuing to pinch this corner, push your right thumb on top of the corner to create a right angle. Repeat this action to make the other corners into right angles.

Square 5
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6. Finally, press on all six sides with a pressure plate.

Square 6
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Cone

Taper
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1. Place the spherical clay on the mat, tilt the pressure plate, knead the clay, and the spherical clay becomes a drop shape.

Taper-1
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2. Reverse the water droplet; use the same method as in step 01 to knead the clay back and forth, and the water droplet transforms into a spindle shaped.

Taper-2
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Strip

You can do this in 2 ways:

1. Pull

Knead the clay until it is evenly mixed, then grab one end with each hand and pull it to the left and right.

Strip-1
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2. Roll

First, knead the clay into a spherical shape, then place it on the pad and roll it into a long strip using a pressboard. Gently run your finger over the strip, moving your finger up and down, gradually moving to one side, and repeating the motion to the other side.

Strip-2
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Thin Sheet

1. Roll thin sheets

First, roll the clay into long strips using a clay press and then flatten them. Use a rolling pin to roll and rotate the clay to flatten it further. Changing the direction of the clay while rolling will alter its length and width, and the number of times it's rolled will determine its thickness when flattened into thin sheets.

Thin Sheet
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2. Thin sheets cut into long strips

After rolling out thin slices, use a blade to cut vertically downwards, and after trimming one edge of the clay cleanly, cut downwards again on the trimmed edge to obtain a thin strip. Different handcrafted clay figures require thin strips of varying widths, which means adjusting the distance between the first and second cuts while slicing the clay.

Long strips
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3. Thin sheets cut into semicircles

When making figures, cutting thin slices into half circles is often necessary. First, trim the edges of the thin slice neatly, then curve the blade and cut downwards. This will result in a half-circle thin slice.

Semicircles
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Create Patterns by Pressing

1. Pattern 1

Use a dotting tool to press circular grooves into the clay, continuously pressing down next to each previous groove to form a line of circular grooves. This creates the desired pattern. This pattern is often used as clothing embellishments or as the seam of a puffy sleeve in clay figures.

Press Pattern-1
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2. Pattern 2

Press gently with a dotting tool on the neat clay edge, then push it to one side of the edge and repeat pressing the pattern. The cute round lace border pattern is done.

Press Pattern-2
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3. Pattern 3

Press the clay using a dotting tool and push it from the inside out. Then, press tightly against the pattern and push the clay from the outside in. Repeat this action to create a wavy, lace-like pattern.

Press Pattern-3
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4. Pattern 4

Press down on the large end of the round rod and push outward to create a circular groove, then switch to the small end to press down on the interval.

Press Pattern-4
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Crafting Lace with Clay

Lace 1

First, cut a long strip on the clay sheet, then pinch both ends with your fingers at regular intervals and push towards the center. Repeat the action to complete the wavy lace.

Clay Lace-1
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Lace 2

Pinch the ends of the long strip at intervals with both hands, then push towards the center, tightening downwards first; then repeat the motion to push the clay towards the center, tightening upwards this time; repeat the up and down tightening, and this lace is completed.

Clay Lace-2
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Lace 3

First, cut a thin circular slice with a blade, then hold both ends with your hands at intervals and push towards the center. Tighten the inner side of the circle when weaving; pick the wavy pattern with a detail needle, and this lace is complete.

Clay Lace-2
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Head-to-Body Ratio of Clay Figures

Chibi Figures

Here, I will cover the two most common sizes of chibi figures: 3 head and 2.5 head height. Figures with a 2.5 head height will look cuter due to the slightly larger head.

2.32
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Little-scale Figures

Little-scale figures are best suited for creating cute figurines, especially when crafting teenage and girl figures. The beautiful girl figure shown below is a little-scale figure with a 5-head height.

2.3222
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Scale Figures

The ideal proportion for a scale-style figure is 7-head height, creating a more mature appearance than little-scale figures, which appear more childlike. The beautiful and mature dress-wearing girl shown below has a torso height of 1.5 heads and a leg height of 4.5 heads, a proportion that better shows off a ripe and voluptuous figure.

2.33
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