In the previous chapter, we covered the tools commonly used in clay art. In this chapter, we'll be sharing some fundamental knowledge of clay art. You'll learn how to mix your desired color, create commonly seen shapes, and design the head-to-body proportion of your clay figurine. 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 create more.
So, let's get started!
The Basics of Color
Essential Clay Colors
The primary colors “red, yellow, blue” and the two colors black and white cannot be obtained by mixing other colors. Therefore, red, yellow, blue, black, and white clay need to 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 that you also purchase some skin-colored clay.
Knowledge of Color Mixing
Blue mixed with red creates purple, blue mixed with yellow creates green, and red mixed with yellow creates orange. By changing the proportions of the three primary colors in clay, the resulting clay color will also change. 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 very small, you can mix orange-yellow color.
The colors produced by mixing the three primary colors are intermediate colors, which can then be mixed again to create complex colors.
Techniques for Making Basic Shapes
The production of clay figurines always starts with basic forms, such as spheres, cubes, drops, shuttle shapes, thin plates, and elongated shapes, all of which start from the sphere form.
1. Knead the clay first.
2. Place the clay in the palm of your hand.
3. Rotate the clay clockwise with both palms.
4. Continue to rotate clockwise until the clay is kneaded into a ball shape.
1. Place the spherical clay on the mat and use a pressing plate to press the clay.
2. Repeat the action of Step 1 by flipping it over.
3. Flip the side of the dough that has not been pressed onto the top surface, repeating the action from step 1.
4. Gently pinch the clay, hold one corner with your left thumb and your right index finger, and squeeze it towards the center.
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.
6. Finally, use a pressing plate to press on all six sides.
1. Place the spherical clay on the mat, tilt the pressure plate, knead the clay, and the spherical clay becomes a drop shape.
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 shuttle shape.
You can do this in 2 ways:
Knead the clay until it is evenly mixed, then grab one end with each hand and pull it to the left and right.
First, knead the clay into a spherical shape, then place it on the pad and roll it into a long strip using a press board. 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.
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 it will alter its length and width, and the number of times it's rolled will determine its thickness when flattened into thin sheets.
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.
Thin sheets cut into semicircles
When making figures, it is often necessary to cut thin slices into half circles. 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.
Use a small round stick 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 type of pattern is often used as clothing embellishments or as the seam of a puffy sleeve in clay figures.
Press gently with a ball stick on the neat clay edge, then push it to one side of the edge, and repeat the action of pressing the pattern. The cute round lace border pattern is done.
Gently press the clay using a round stick and push 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 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.
Coil a Clay Lace
First, cut a long strip on the sheet, then pinch both ends with your fingers at regular intervals and push towards the center. Repeat the action to complete the production of the wavy pattern and lace border.
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 the decorative edge is completed.
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 knitting needle, and the pattern three is complete.
Proportion of Head and Body
There are two proportions for chibi figures: 3 heads tall and 2.5 heads tall. The finished product of the 2.5-head-tall chibi figure appears cuter due to its slightly larger head.
Little Scale Style
Little scale style characters are best suited for creating cute figurines, especially when creating teenage and beautiful girl characters. The beautiful girl figurine shown below is a little scale style character with a 5-head height.
The ideal proportion for a scale style character is 7-head height, which creates a more mature appearance compared to little scale style characters which appear more childlike. The beautiful and mature dress-wearing girl shown below has a torso height of 1.5 heads and leg height of 4.5 heads, which is a proportion that better showcases a good physique.