Clay Models

Clay Modeling for Animation


Clay Modeling:  It is a sculpting technique used by sculpture to create various shapes and models that can be used in animated filmmaking. All types of shapes can be made using same modeling tools that can be used for sculpting, blending, texturizing, thinning, scraping, poking, and cutting.  The clay is so soft that it can be rolled with the help of rolling pins, can be molded, can be easily worked out with an extruder, potato mashes, etc to create, various shapes according to the requirement of the animation film scene.  

The clay models can be made on its own or can also be made upon a performed armature which is used to make the clay model more firm and stable.


To start with the clay modeling technique, we first need to know about the various form of clay which is used in the process of sculpting using that clay.


List of clay types are:

  1. Oil based
  2. Polymer
  3. Air dry
  4. Pottery or Firing clay
    oil based


  1. Oil based: Oil based clay are the one’s which do not get dry and are reusable. These are

the modeling clay also called as plastiline or plasticine.

The advantage of using this clay is that :


  1. It stays soft
  2. It is reusable
  3. It never gets hardened
  4. It never dries.
  5. It doesn’t stick to the hands.


  1. Polymer: Polymer clay is the type of clay which needs oven baking. It is basically made

up of PVC that is polyvinyl chloride. This clay stays soft and can be baked in a home oven

and it retains its color and size. This Polymer clay is available in many colors.  The polymer

should be stored away from heat and sunlight.

 The advantage of using Polymer clay:


  1. It is reworkable until backed.
  2. Baking for Polymer clay can be done in a home oven.
  3. Polymer clay is available in many colors like translucent, fluorescent, phosphorescent and faux pearls, “metallic” and stone.    airdry 
  1. Air dry: Air dry clay can be made easily at home. The air dry clay is made up of

ingredients like flour, corns, cream of tartar, oil, and water. They can also be colored with

food coloring.  Flour based clay is reusable but the shape doesn’t last long because they

crack as they get dry after some hours due to its tendency of drying. When in contact with

air for long hours. This tendency of drying, cracking make it as air dry clay.

Advantages of Air dry clay:


  1. Very soft
  2. Can be molded with tools
  3. Can be curved easily
  4. Shapes made by air dry clay can be painted.

baking caly

  1. Pottery or Firing clay:  This Pottery clay is also known as firing clay, it is basically used

for pottery and is worked by hands to give them the shape required for pottery.


The pottery clay are air dry clay and also it needs to be heated in kiln to make it firm and

completely dry.

Advantages of pottery clay:


  1. Very smooth in texture.
  2. Easy to handle
  3. Can be rolled back if shaped wrongly to start over.
  4. It is fun playing with pottery clay it can be given glossy effect.


Techniques used to shape a character using clay for animation purpose.


  1. Selecting clay
  2. Wrapping it on Armature
  3. Roughing out
  4. Adding clay
  5. Removing clay
  6. Maneuvering
  7. Repositioning
  8. Detailing


  1. Selecting clay: It is very important to select the best clay for the shape of the character

that has to be the sculpture for the scheme.Selection of clay mostly depends on the type of

film scene has to be created and also the movements that will take place during the scene for animation


  1. Wrapping it on Armature : The wrapping process of clay on the armature has to b done

very carefully as the clay has to be in a way that no place should be left void as the vacant

place left will not work properly, character when starts to move for the animation the

structure or the sculpture will start breaking if the clay is not wrapped properly.

 wraping on armature

The wrapping should be also very carefully done so as to give the model the perfect shape

of the character which is to be formed.


  1. Roughing out: Roughing out is the process when the clay is applied to the armature

to give the structure required size, thickness, and the required shape, the clay is applied

roughly to get the basic form the detailing and smoothen will be done after the clay is

applied roughly.


  1. Adding clay: Adding technique to add more clay is by taking a small piece of clay in hand

and pressing the clay with fingers to make it smooth and then paste the clay on the

structure where the clay has to be added. Use thumb or fingers to apply on the structure.


  1. Removing clay: If your structure require some clay to be removed there are various tools

to scrape off the unrequired clay from the structure the tools are:


  1. Ribbon cutters
  2. Wire cutter


  1. Ribbon cutters: Ribbon cutters have flat cutting blades and are strong and

sharp to remove the unwanted clay from the structure carefully without harming the



  1. Wire Cutter: Wire cutter have various form for cutting the clay from the structure

mainly this wire cutter is used to remove clay from facial cartoons.


  1. Maneuvering: Maneuvering clay is a technique to make frills, hairs and heavy textured

dresses or flowers. It is a slow process in which the texture is made slowly by creating

different types of textures skillfully and creatively to achieve the desired shape and texture.


  1. Repositioning: Repositioning is a technique in which you can cut or remove the part you

want to reposition to achieve the desired position for the character.


  1. Detailing: Detailing is done to give very fine texture to achieve details in the model like for

example details in the den, mat, grass, leaf etc.


These are some of the basic technique to create the clay model.



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