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Head Sculpting Tutorial by SgtMilenko Head Sculpting Tutorial by SgtMilenko
Dedicated to orange-mushroom, who asked for it but had to wait ages for it. Im sorry mate!! T-T


In my new tutorial I go over the basics of sculpting a head along with the hair.
Next requests for a tutorial are taken, and I try to avoid what happened to the last guy who asked for a tutorial....

See my other tutorials!


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:iconimansoft:
imansoft Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Student Traditional Artist
so grand! thank you!
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:iconkittysmash:
kittysmash Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
what kind of clay is this?
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:iconyoumakemefeelsolow:
YouMakeMeFeelSoLow Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2014
I believe polymer clay, dear.
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:iconcitrineg:
CitrineG Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Student Digital Artist
HKDGHJDJKDF
DAT HAIR.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Student General Artist
There are better ways of doing it,-
You know, to save your time and nerves.
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:iconobsessivegoblin:
ObsessiveGoblin Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Just wondering, do you use any tools for sculpting? I am currently using my hands, and it doesn't work very well XD
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Student General Artist
I go over all the tools I use in this tutorial: [link]
I would definitely not recommend using your hands for details, as they leave fingerprints, and the amount of texture you can produce is very limited. Everyone who tries sculpting should at least have
one wooden tool similar to third one on the left, and a metallic, pointy tool like the second one on the left.
Even if you don't want to texture your sculptures, you should keep in mind that if you don't use any tools, all your sculptures will look a bit "round", since you are not able to produce holes or deep concave shapes.
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:iconobsessivegoblin:
ObsessiveGoblin Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much :) That helps a lot!
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:iconclay-creatures:
Clay-Creatures Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Another great tutorial! :)
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012  Student General Artist
Aww thanks mate :)
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:iconx-panda-chan-x:
X-Panda-Chan-X Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That's amazing, but I'm curious how you get it so smooth. I use original sculpey, but I can't seem to get the model to look smooth.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2012  Student General Artist
I first smooth the surface with my thumb, then with a paintbrush using turpentine, and finally I sandpaper the sculpture after baking.
The paintjob will also look more even if you get rid of all the little fingerprints on your sculpture.
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:iconx-panda-chan-x:
X-Panda-Chan-X Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much for your advice, you are really talented ^^
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2012  Student General Artist
And thank you for your kind words! :)
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:iconx-panda-chan-x:
X-Panda-Chan-X Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're very welcome :huggle:
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:iconrenny16:
Renny16 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I bow to your awesome sculpting abilities. This is still in such deep water for me.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Student General Artist
Give it a try, you'd be surprised how easy it is!
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:iconrenny16:
Renny16 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks! :)
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:iconvince-san13:
Vince-san13 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
do you think acrylic paint or oil paint would work to paint a sculpture and what could be used to make sure the paint doesnt rub off or peel off?
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Student General Artist
acrylics if you must, but I prefer airbrush/miniature paints.
Oh and I finish of with a non-gloss varnish, it'll protect the surface but you will see no difference on the paint job. Sometimes I get confused on which areas I have already gone over with the varnish...
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:iconvince-san13:
Vince-san13 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
ok which type of clay do you prefer cause i used something called SW48 and my sculpture for my sister's bday gift is now cracked and ruined...
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Student General Artist
Sorry it took me a while to answer!
March straight into an art supply store and buy yourself one of these:
a.) Super Sculpey b.) Sculpey Firm c.) Sculpey Original.
Super sculpey is the best out of the three, and is easy to work with if you're not familiar with clay.
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:iconvince-san13:
Vince-san13 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
i bought some Polymer clay and asked for a whole bunch of sculpting stuff for christmas :D
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Student General Artist
Good for you! :D Come Christmas, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! :)
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:iconvince-san13:
Vince-san13 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
alright thank you so much!
Reply
:iconcaptaindashund:
CaptainDashund Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
your are so amazing at this! :wow:
i'm interesting in sculpting too but i didn't start or buy any sculpting tool yet C:
and i want to ask you something; how many minute and how much temperature i have to pick when i bake them?
thankyou!:D andsorry for my poor english ^^;
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Student General Artist
Hey, thank you for your kind words! :)
You can start off by just buying clay, that's all you need!

The temperature depends on the size of your sculptures, but I usually bake mine at 110 degrees for an hour or so. Don't worry if your sculpture burns a bit, as long as you paint it later, it won't matter!
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:iconcaptaindashund:
CaptainDashund Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh,thankyou so much!:love:
your tutorial is going to help me too ^^
i also already try with the clay and i was like "can't stop" XD [link]
thankyou so much again :aww:
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Student General Artist
I will be releasing a new tutorial in just a few days :)
Glad to be of use!
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:iconcaptaindashund:
CaptainDashund Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:D
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:iconpiratewithgreeneye:
piratewithgreeneye Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011
i did not sculping but you make me wanna try it!
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011  Student General Artist
Join the horde of sculptors ;)
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:iconseaview123:
Seaview123 Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That is pretty amazing. A whole lot of work went into this. Nice job, and thanks for showing us your methods.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011  Student General Artist
Thanks! :) Ive been encouraged to make another tutorial, it should be out in a few days. Keep tuned, and thanks for posting! :heart:
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:iconanimegirl007:
animegirl007 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011
Thanks again for the help :nod:
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Student General Artist
And thank you for commenting! :)
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:iconblackholeinajar:
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional General Artist
Two things. ONE: the hair on here is so thin, how do you handle this thing without breaking it off?
TWO: I noticed in this and in one of your other tutorials that you put the clay on pretty thickly. How do you make sure it bakes all the way through, and without it burning?
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Student General Artist
Hi, thanks for asking! :)

For each strand of hair, theres a small, but durable wire running inside it. Its the kinda golden wire you get in champagne bottles. I save them all ;)
It doesnt make it unbreakable though. Its still vulnerable, but thats to be expected when you make small strands like these. Another idea is to make the hair completely out of wire and then just spray paint it, but youd lose the variation in thickness.

I put the clay on thickly? :D Mate, you forget Im a total cheapskate! Sculpey here is 20 €/box, it doesnt come cheap. I always have a body of alumium foil almost the same size as the sculpture. Even the head in this tutorial is almost completely alumium foil.
Spitter on the other hand, is an exception.
Although I must admit, I dont do it for them to bake evenly, I do it to save on materials.
Also, a little burning never hurt anyone. My sculptures are always golden brown after coming out of the oven, hahaha.
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:iconblackholeinajar:
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
Wait, in every strand? How do you get the clay around it? Wouldn't it be better to make the hair in thicker clumps and have a slightly thicker wire inside that?

I'm real cheap too, I'm even trying to find a way to reuse leftover baked clay by grinding it up.(So far, nothing.) The Spitter was the one referring to; the head, gut and legs were pretty thick. My concern is if something that thick would bake all the way through. I make most of my sculptures in layers, which is fairly easy to do since you can bake Sculpey more than once.
For example, you want to make a shoe. First, make the sole and then bake it. Then make the basic shape of a foot on top of the sole and bake it again. Lastly you cut shapes and strips of flattened clay and lay it on the basic foot shape until it looks like a shoe! It also helps make it really look like it's made of different pieces of layered fabric.
This technique is also great for making heads, eyes, claws, hands or anything small and detailed.

One thing I found that helps stop burning is cornstarch. Give a generous dusting over your figure, especially the thinner parts, and blow and brush it off when it's done. Helps prevent blistering too.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Student General Artist
Yup, in every individual strand:
Most of the hair is clumps that are formed around one thicker piece of wire, but having nothing but clumps of hair on the head would look abnormal, so you have to add a few individual hairs here and there.
Its a real challenge, and Ill tell you right off the bat that trying to make the wire as straight as possible, and then rolling the clay around it doesnt work at all. You have to mold the clay by hand; its difficult and time confusing, but worth it in the end.

Hmm leftover clay huh? I know how to use clay thats dried up, but baked clay? If you DO find something, please note me, Id be highly interested. So much clay is wasted on prototypes and models gone wrong.

Spitter was my first "real" sculpture and the first sculpture that got me into sculpting. She does have an foil base though, almost everywhere except inside the head (due to the mouth), but not to the extend of my other sculptures.
Boomer, however, (ill be adding pictures in a few days) really pushed the limits. I modeled the foil base to my best knowledge, but still ended up adding A LOT more clay than I inteded to. His thickest place is his stomach, and Id estimate that the thickest layer of clay on it could be as much as 2-3 cm. I did get a few minor cracks (very subtle), but they werent a problem,- they only reached about 3mm before curving back up.
Boomer was a borderline case, I rarely have to add as much extra clay as I did with him. You can see a WIP picture of him here: [link]

I used the same technique you described on one of my first one sculptures (BS = Before Spitter :P ) the Orc, but I found out that Im way too impatient to burn my sculptures between layers. I mean, god, who would wait 15 minutes for it to bake a bit? Every sane person, it seems. Youre absolutely right, its a really good way to go about sculpting and widely used, now that Im a bit more experienced with sculpting and -hopefully- capable of waiting 15 minutes, I might give it a go again.

Many, many thanks for your cornstarch -tip! I would have never even thought of that, I definately have to try it on the next piece! :hug:
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:iconblackholeinajar:
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2011  Professional General Artist
I do not have the amount of patients required to use a technique like that and I applaud you for having it.
:iconclapplz::iconclappingplz::iconepicclapplz::icontwilightclapplz: And that's it.

YES, that kind of left over clay, baked/cured clay. I've used leftover clay before for other stuff like in this [link] and I used some of the leftover/scrap parts from that to make a few tools.
What I want to do is see if there's a way to reconstitute it. So far I figured that grinding it up into a fine powder and mixing it with liquid Sculpey and fresh clay. BUT I've tried that once already with Sculpey's regular white clay and it was very messy, real sticky and the baked/cured compound was spongy.:confused: What I'm trying to work with now contains some of the regular white and a little bit of Premo` of varying colors, but it's mostly composed of a Super Sculpey-Super Sculpey Firm mix all ground into a fine powder.
So far I've got nothing but if I do come up with something, I'll be sure to tell you.:D

You could use two different things. And a technique. The two different things are a decent size toaster oven and a heat gun.
My grandparents gave me a toaster oven for helping them out with stuff and it's been nothing but a blessing. Near instant heat that's right to temperature and a built in timer that shuts off the oven when it goes off. Great for baking small stuff(which is what I usually do) or for baking pieces of big stuff(also what I do).
The heat gun is a dangerous little instrument. I can pretty much say that you will get singed or even burnt at least once while learning to use it and without-a-doubt guarantee that you will burn and blister what you use it on SEVERAL TIMES even after you've learned to use it. It will not work on thick pieces of clay, only on thin layers and small pieces. It's not necessary but it can be very helpful when you need something small quickly baked or need a small area of something larger baked but nothing else.
The technique I was referring to is making sculptures in parts. FOR EXAMPLE I made these heads [link] [link] almost entirely separate from the rest of the sculptures.

I'm glad the cornstarch tip. I read it on a Sculpey tutorial or website or something like that. Here's a few other tips I've come across.
1. Use colored clay in certain small areas or for things like hair or shoes. Anything that's small with lot's of details that paint would cover up, that way you'll still have a rich color with using less paint.
2. You can alter the color of the clay by using colored permanent markers. Roll, don't drag, the felt tips over the soft clay and knead it together. This is also good for getting marbling effects. Permanent markers are cheap too. You can get a 20 or more multicolor pack around here for around $15 and they'll last a long time.
3. If you're having a hard time getting the clay to stick onto the armature wire, wrap the armature wire in embroidery thread and drip super-glue all over it. This gives a rougher, semi-porous surface for the clay to stick on.
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2011  Student General Artist
I'm not sure what you're reffering to is patience, I would have said insanity ...

I feel like such a bad guy now! :( I'm way too lazy to ground up all the used up clay (or prototypes) and experiement with it, I just dismissed the idea of re-using clay as impossible!
What you've come up with might not have worked, but it's definately a start. Adding liquid Sculpey, I'm pretty sure you're on to something. I'm not surprised that the end result was sticky, adding liquid Sculpey to anything will make it a bit sticky, unless you take the time to knead it till your palms bleed.
What caught my attention was when you said the end result was a bit "spongy"...? Do you mean spongy as in it was soft to touch, or that it had lots of airbubbles in it?
My thoughts were that reusing sculpey will never get to the stage where I can happily use it in my sculptures, BUT it could be usable (and therefore valuable) inside the sculptures as means to thicken them up. Take my Boomer for example, no matter how much foil I added, there was bound to go some sculpey to waste.
Then again... If you do get the reused sculpey to the stage where it resembles and behaves like fresh clay, it would be amazing.

Never heard of a toaster oven! Thats a new one! :+fav:
I can only imagine how easy it would be to have it on my desk next to me.
I've never tried one, so I dont know about the difference it makes to the regular oven, but I'd love to try :)

Heat guns, heat guns... You know how long I've been wanting to get one? The advantages I would get in building small pieces?
I even went as far as to use a hot glue gun (which is NOT the same), results werent too pretty.
I've been meaning to get one for ages, specially now that I got this new batch of clay from US. Its almost too fresh!

1. Hmmm. I use an airbrush these days (I warmly recommend), so all areas get covered with an even, fine layer of paint, but this could be very useful in making a fair skincolor, for example.
2. ...Which is much cheaper than getting Fimo, no? ;)
What I've used so far is dust pastels, but I have a project coming up that involves coloring clay (there will be no paint), so I think I'll give your tip a try.
So far I've scraped up some dust off the pastels, then kneaded till the color was even and my palms, yet again, bleeding. The color was always a bit faint, though.
3. Never had to do that, I always cover my foil with a smaller kind of wire (actually the one I used under the strands of hair), never had a problem. That way I'll first have a skeleton of wire (two kinds of thicknesses, supporting wire and the skeleton wire) then foil to bulk it up, then smaller wire wrapped around the whole thing :) Sometimes I make a mistake with the proportions, and I add multiple layers of foil and wire instead of starting all over.
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:iconblackholeinajar:
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
Well, you shouldn't feel like a bad guy, it's a weird idea.
I've done a little further experimenting with it and the results are... It's not worth it. Grinding leftover clay up just doesn't work that well at all. It's virtually impossible to get 100% of it ground to a fine powder, you always end up with small little chunks that come out and grit around in the clay. If you knead it into fresh clay it crumbles really easily, but that's without any liquid Sculpey. The only way that I could think that this could have any real purpose is if you used it for the under layer of a sculpture and even then it would be impractical.
What I meant by spongy is that it was compressible, like a dense foam. I think this happened because of all the liquid Sculpey that was in it, which by itself has a sorta rubbery feel/consistency to it. So that plus all the ground particles suspended in it resulted in a weirdly textured clay.

So the end result is: You can reuse clay if you use the whole chunk and that's it.:shrug: If there's another way, I don't know it.

About the colored permanent markers, it doesn't work that way. I mainly use the markers for making my miniatures [link] because the colors of the clay I make them out of do not mix very well. (I mixed blue and red together to get purple and I got a weird burgundy color.) The color tinting thing only works in small amounts. It's not worth it to do something big. AND because it's a dye(mostly) it's transparent, so you'll never get a true solid color, even if you use stark white clay(which is a pain to work with).
The permanent markers are only good for:
-altering an existing color.
-making a small amount of a particular color.
and -color coding/tinting parts of a sculpture so certain things are easier to see or paint.

At least, that's what I've learned.;)
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Student General Artist
Yeah, I figured invest money on good quality clay, save on something else. (food expenses?)
Which reminds me, any luck on any other clays? (Outside the Sculpey -brand)
I feel that if I got to experiement more with different kind of clays, it could broaden my horizon by quite a bit.
Wax is also something I'd like to try in the future.

Out of curiousity, what made you try markers? All I've ever used is dust pastels, and thats also what I've heard everyone else use too. Downside is that it's hard to get a solid color, plus adding extra dust to the mix will change the clays qualities a bit. But on smaller projects, it works okay.
I get why you'd use coloring on separate parts of sculpture (sometimes I do that by just adding more Firm) though.
But after a long period of trial and error I'm convinced that airbrushing is the way to go.
It doesn't pay off at first, my first attempts were horrible and my masking bled a lot, she used to spit and I had to experiement a lot before finding the right paints, but it's worth your troubles. The end result is an incredibly smooth and thin layer of paint, with a beautiful color gradient where needed. I'm nowhere near good enough to instruct anyone to use it, I'm just a very excited beginner.
It's almost like you're learning to paint again. It's amazing.
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(1 Reply)
:iconnatafka:
natafka Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks for tutorial :hug:
can I make a sculpture without wire? Or it always necessary to use wire? I just wanted to make a clay sculpture (being inspired by your works) :) but now I understand that don't know the fundamental things ... Can you give some advices for inspired beginner?))))
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Student General Artist
Yes, you can make a sculpture without wire! :) For chibis this works quite nicely! If you want to do something more complicated, for example a standing human, you need to use wire, it will help you out a lot.
Plus Im a cheapskate, so I bulk my sculptures with wire and foil so I dont have to waste that much clay.... ;)
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:iconnatafka:
natafka Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok :) thanks a lot!
now I know the great secret =D
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:iconpinkthewolf:
PinktheWolf Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2011  Student General Artist
Modeling clay that you used? It was so cool!

--

Pink the Wolf
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:iconsgtmilenko:
SgtMilenko Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2011  Student General Artist
Super Sculpey :)
Recently Ive started mixing in a bit of Sculpey Firm, its a bit harder to mold but but it will stop the strands of hair from flopping around where theres no wire support.
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:icondemiwolfe:
DemiWolfe Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2011
what is the wire you use?
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