- Lesson details
Join internationally acclaimed artist, David Simon, as he teaches you his approach to modeling a three-quarter life-size portrait in clay.
You will learn how to build your armature, take measurements of your model, block-in the facial features, hair, and neck, and how to build relationships between them. David will also cover the materials and tools he uses, and demonstrate his finishing techniques.
This course is a comprehensive representation of the sculpting process from a few blocks of clay, a pipe, and a wire, to a finished portrait.
Now that we’ve reached the mid-way point, David starts this lesson by comparing the sculpture with the model again and identifying the new problem areas. He works on the forehead and the hairline and adds volume to the back of the head. In the last part of the lesson, David focuses on the left side of the face.
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stages where everything is essentially
there. There are still a bunch of
problem areas that I'm gonna be dealing with where the hair
meets the forehead and the temple, some of the volume
of the back of the head, how the
hair line meets around the ear. I'm gonna
be dealing with areas like that and then going from there. Generally
when I'm in a phase like this, the first
thing I'll do is look at what I have.
Kinda stand back, look over everything, try
and figure out where I think the biggest issues are, the biggest
problems, make a mental list of two or three things
that I want to accomplish, deal with those, and then inevitably by
dealing with those they'll lead me to other things that I think are not working that well
or by fixing them I may be creating another problem
so I'll kind of be led into the next
phase of where I want to go. But there's
a lot in this stage that may seem a
little bit repetitive. I've done that and now I'm gonna do it again and make smaller
modifications. So that's where I'm gonna begin today.
with the way the hair
and the skull are interacting in this
area. I'll add a little clay here,
refine a little bit the ear
and how that meets the head
and also a little bit the neck.
And they're all kinds of ways
that when I get to a stage
like this, there are all kinds of different ways that I'll
use to try and evaluate where I am, how things are
working because you can - or at least
I can get to a point where it becomes a little bit
for me to see
how things are working. One
way that I
like to evaluate things when I'm able to
is to use a mirror. So in other words I'll have a mirror set up
in front of the model so the model can look at themselves and
the mirror and I'll put myself generally between the model and the
sculpture and just compare in a mirror the model to the sculpture and
very, very often doing that I'll see some major issues
that had become I guess
unclear to me
by virtue of just working
optically, you know, I get to point where
some of the smaller
angles become difficult for me to
notice. You know they're
close but they're not quite really right on
and the mirror will make it a little bit easier for me to
see that. In the case of what I'm doing right now I have
a big screen that allows me to
make sure that I'm not stepping in front of the camera. And I can look at the
sculpture on the screen and match it to
my view of the model and use that as
a comparison. And that's sort of what I'm doing
right now, just making sure I can see that.
I have some problem up here,
I've got a strange point there.
Generally for something like that
I wanna use a bigger tool
where I can get rid of it quickly.
So I'll just pop that off.
Check how that's
If that's helpful.
And now I'm going to carefully
look at the
Paul - how
that hairline is moving back,
the hair is growing out of the temple and it's right
in this area where I have a turn
that I need to
deal with a little bit.
And up until now, the general angles
but the - some of the
are not really precise enough.
the three quarter view from the opposite
side is super helpful so you can see this line
I'm seeing that across
the model. This close three quarter is not as helpful
at this point. Generally when I'm working
from the three quarter view I'm looking all the way across
and that is really showing me where things are
turning. So that's where the hair
is meeting the forehead. Now I'm not
gonna spend a ton of time refining it from that angle
because although it looks okay, when I turn it to the front view
it may be too far in this way.
That same turn may need to be moved outward. So I'm not
gonna get too crazy about where it is. Can you lower
your chin just a little bit Paul? Thank you.
turn, and definitely I can see
I'm missing a little bit of volume here.
there's a highlight running
So ideally -
I should be - can you just tilt your head - perfect.
I should be moving back and forth
pretty often at this point. If I find my
myself dealing with one area from one viewpoint
for more than a couple of minutes
that's probably going to
be a bad sign.
Again I think I mentioned this
earlier, you know, it's very much like juggling.
You've gotta sort of keep things moving,
keep shifting your
focus from one area to
another and back again to make sure that all
of the elements that you're dealing with
related to one another
And it's always good
to have warm clay.
Okay so I'm looking at
this overall angle
and how that
moves upward here.
this angle is. i think that's probably a little bit too
high right now.
Can you lower your chin just a little bit?
Okay so that's good genes.
This all needs to come down just a tiny
And at a stage like this where
I'm still kind of adjusting
in the back of my head I'm thinking about
some of the challenges that are gonna come, particularly
with the hair. You know how
am I gonna handle
all of the different
sections of hair and how they
relate to the different structures
you know the top of his head has sort of large groupings.
There's a big group in here, the side is
you know I'm thinking the head
at this stage just to kind of
get ideas for what I may wanna
do. You know I'm looking here,
that little mark was made to indicate
where I think the turn in the hair
is and then I'm just turning it to the back view so that as I
add I'm adding it evenly throughout.
Right now my clay is a little bit
cold so I'm not working quite as fast
as I'd like to.
Because I can't take quite a big a chunk.
Again the clay that I'm using is
NSP medium by Chavant
which is kind of
a medium obviously, it's called NSP medium,
a medium stiffness clay in terms of their overall
product line, but in general it's
a fairly hard clay,
particularly when it comes to building up
big forms. You know as a general rule
I and a lot of the sculptors I know
will deal with
the kind of clay they use based on the
scale that they're working and the general rule
is the smaller you work, the harder the clay, the larger you work, the softer the clay.
Which makes a certain amount of
sense. The larger you work the quicker you want to be able to move
the material around and so soft clay will move a lot quicker
than hard clay. And the smaller you work, the more
concerned you are about bumping
the material and having any
bumps to the material that you make affect what's around it. If your whole
sculpture is only a few inches tall,
you can imagine how difficult that might be.
when you're working on it to not
the act of just sculpting
begin to alter
what you're doing. So what I'm doing here that's
a little unnatural feeling, because I'm looking at -
right now I'm actually looking at a big screen
showing me the image, which is at a very slightly different angle
than the sculpture is. So I'm looking at
the sculpture, I'm looking at the image, and they're two different angles. But the image
on the screen is in the exact same position as how I'm seeing Paul
and so when I'm touching the sculpture I'm looking at the screen
to see where exactly it is.
So essentially I'm not looking at the sculpture at all, I'm looking at the image and then I'm looking
at the model and removing material because I noticed that this
distance on him from here to here
was looking too long
on the sculpture. So another way I can do it is draw a line
where I wanna remove and then turn
this and now I'm looking at
the sculpture taken off
go back, see how that looks in
comparison to him.
So from there
I want that
to there. So
which I have to -
when I teach classes I have to force people to do
by. Generally if I teach a sculpture class for portraiture
if I have a big group I'll have two models, one at each end of the room
and so people can get around three of the sides of
the model. They can get front view, side view,
on both sides but the model's back is against the wall.
I've taken to having at least one session where
I have the model face the wall so people can only get the
side views and the back views. And generally people hate that.
And I understand it's very counter
intuitive if you're doing a portrait not to be able to see the face of the
person you're trying to do a portrait of, but it is
really important to get the information that back view is
providing. And sometimes the only way
to do it is to force people to do it and that includes
me. I have to force myself sometimes to kind of
stop working on all the
things that I immediately see in the face that I'd like to correct and
deal with the back view
and ironically more often than not when I do
that, and I turn back to the front view,
the front view looks much better than it did before I began dealing with that back
view, which is to say that
very often the thing that seems like
the problem is not
really the problem. Another way of
saying that is everything has to be considered
and there are certain things that are easier
mentally to consider. Especially
you know the hair and the head
in general have no distinguishing features
unless you're dealing with maybe a person who has a ponytail
or something where there's a focus.
You know if Paul grew his hair out, he had a
ponytail back here there'd be a little circular
area where all the hair would be gathered and I could make a comparison
where that is to the top of the ear here.
In the absence of that, you know, there are just kind of these vague
divisions. And that's always going to be more
difficult to make decisions about than the eye or the nose
which are both very specific and
easy to measure and
form ideas about.
And so I think
most people, myself included, tend to
focus on the things that are clearer and easier
to understand and avoid things that seem
more vague and that you have less of an
idea about in one way or another.
And that's also true of
Dealing with the neck. And the neck area
is one area in which I think, you know, a
basic understanding of anatomy
is helpful. Can you tilt your chin upwards
slightly Paul, that's great thank you.
Maybe we can zoom out a little bit
on this view.
There we go. And now
you know another really helpful thing I find is to
look at this back view and see how
that jawline turns under.
Right now I have this ugly
hole, get rid of that.
And then there's a
movement in here
that I don't have.
Okay there we go.
There's a depth
here under the
chin that's really important
under the jawline, almost the way then -
where the face meets the neck.
enough depth and the kind of
depth into the
is really crucial.
And one of the best
and clearest ways to see it is from
this kind of three quarter back view.
So all that depth
that I'm adding -
and as I add I'm
turning because from the front view
I'm really able
to see the width from one side to the other.
I can't see that from three quarters behind
and I can't see that from the side, I can only really get that
from the front. So that gives me the ultimate
guide as to how deep this way I can go.
I'm going to pay attention to
but once I have that pushed in enough
maybe a little bit more here
come back to the side view,
Alright so I'm not,
at this point, pushing any further
on the deepest area.
I'm just turning everything
into that deepest area and
at a different angle. So maybe I'm making
this form a little rounder,
I'm changing the shape
here but I'm not fundamentally
pushing in because I established that
from the front view.
Here I'm just seeing that the
angle of the jaw needs to modify.
And as I - like I can feel
that I'm going down a little bit of a rabbit
hole where I could spend, you know, lots of time on the neck
and modeling it and seeing all kinds of
interesting things that are going on
when my stated goal was really
to deal with the hair, the forehead,
and how that connected. So I'm gonna come back
to this three quarter view, I'm going to
carefully check what I've got here.
Make sure nothing's really kind of
incorrect, kinda bizarre the way the light is hitting
that screen it's hard for me to see.
I'm gonna follow the ear
There's a funny glare
on the screen so what I was looking at
was difficult to make out.
So that shape of the hair and how it's
the side of the face is more evident
from this view.
Pull that together, check if
from the front view.
Can you tilt your head a little bit that
direction and then down just slightly? Perfect.
So I'm seeing -
mark that. And again I'm
adjusting this so I can see on the screen
exactly what I'm seeing
on the model.
A couple of things are
coming there - I think let's pull that ear out a little
too much. That's helpful.
I have not pulled that neck quite out
It's funny because there's a very slight lag
from what I'm doing to what I'm seeing on the screen,
must be the camera lag. I'm used to doing this
in a mirror
where obviously there is no lag. So it's
pretty - it's very, very counter intuitive to do it
in a mirror because everything is reversed
so your right hand becomes your left hand, your left hand becomes your right hand,
what you're seeing happen is all
switched backward and you have to kind of
get used to it and get accustomed to
how that works and now doing it with a
camera where it's not reversed but there's a perspective
change and also a slight lag is
very similar to that process, kinda get used to
something that you're unfamiliar with.
But the idea is
basically the same. All that can come out.
So I just - I wanna get a sense of the mass.
a ton of detail. Okay now
I'm back up
looking around the ear and the hair.
Can you tilt your head just a little that way - the other way -
pivot a little bit more. That's perfect.
So that's right
in here that I'm
So that angle needs to come in
a little bit.
Even in maybe more.
So when I'm drawing that line
it would hit his eye
if I were to continue it all the way through.
I'm also looking
at - turn your head just a little bit and then
rotate it that way, perfect. I'm looking at the angle of it.
So I think I got the beginning point here right but the angle
needs to come in a little
It's gonna be a little extreme at the top.
And that's about
right. And now that I
have that I can
adjust the shape but I'm pushing in
turn the head,
rounding this area
and then I'm going to need to
deal a little bit with the volume of the hair.
See more volume, add a little bit in the forehead.
And I'm going back
and forth between a metal
tool that's really designed for working with wax
and my piece of window screen.
And the window screen is very good at
blending and kind of moving together
big areas of clay that
kind of seem
disjointed. But it's very bad at dealing with
edges. So a tool
like this wax tool is really helpful to
both place the clay, you know you can use a wooden tool to
do that as well, and also to kind of
cut an edge in where that hair was
this form, which is essentially
the temple, is a different
from that volume
you know it kind of it recedes and
it gets wider as it comes
down toward the eyebrow. So as it's moving back
it gets a little bit narrower up here and then
wider as it comes down.
it from the front.
So what I don't have is that it also
kinda moves inward
It's kind of like a pretty extreme movement at the end.
And how far in it comes. And then
portion of the forehead
gives its shape
to that side of it. So
while it looked okay from the side, once I
shifted to the front I could say it wasn't quite looking right.
So I made a couple little adjustments,
now I'm gonna make my
adjustment here. Get that to
really turn inward.
quickly once I have,
you know, once I do it
the act of doing it might change
how it looks. It's a little
mushy right now.
And then I'm moving that entire
structure. I want - while the model
takes a break
I'll just clean up that area,
look at the overall movement
a couple of
while it's still kind of fresh
in my head of what I'm trying to do. Make sure
I'm not leaving any
and then, you know, I don't like that, that's
too flat. So when the model comes back, I'll
look across and see where I have an
opportunity to change that. So, you know, a lot of
portrait sculpture and figure
sculpture for that matter is an amalgam of
see and what you want
to happen. There are kind of external ideas about
having lots of form and movement that
are maybe influences
not maybe, definitely influenced by the model
but also influences by other
ideas, other sculpture
that you're interested in, ideas that you're
wanting to explore within
something so, you know, the idea of wanting a lot of
movement across, particularly
across that brow to get a lot of
shadow into the eye and a lot of
kind of complexity into this area as being kind of undermined by
how kind of smooth that transition is.
So part of that is the fact that I'm sure he's not
as smooth as what I've made
and part of it because I'm
thinking about it
I'll pay attention to those differences. Because they're bound
to be lots of lots of differences between what's occurring
in front of you and what
you're making and it's inevitable you can't capture every
little nuanced because
number one you just
you can't and number two it's constantly changing
in front of you. Every time he moves his brow a little bit or
every time he
brushes the hair off of his forehead, things are
changing. So it's
important to have, to be very observant and see what's going on
but it's also important to have an idea about
what you want out of an area.
you know areas like the forehead, the hair,
you know the side of the cheek, those
areas that don't involve
the really kind of recognizable features are
the most challenging to
address and, you know, for me really indicate the
you know the level, the
sophistication of a portrait.
Someone who's really sort of maybe lays the eyes
but doesn't elaborate a tremendous amount but there's a lot of information
in the brow or in
the hair line, you know, that to me says
you know that I'm looking at the work of somebody who really
is pretty sophisticated about what they're doing.
And someone who isn't really focuses on
the eyes, nose, mouth.
Okay so very -
flat feel through here right now
which I really I don't like at all.
a pretty severe plane change that I
feel like I'm missing -
can you tilt your head just slightly towards me.
Yeah okay that looks good.
Okay so I see one
aspect, it's gonna be a little challenging to do in the
camera right there.
Is that that
needs to come out.
So that's better and then
needs to come in.
And then from there...
That's giving me a little bit
more. Can you turn your head down
towards me? Like your ear towards your shoulder.
There you go, that's perfect.
I'm going to
that to get a little bit more volumetric here.
And then that volume turn in
a little bit here.
You know and that's kind of a good
the fact that
sometimes the process of
cleaning and finishing an area
or maybe finishing is a bad word.
Because, you know, I wasn't finishing I was just sort of adding,
I was combining, smoothing things out. Immediately that smoothing
process kind of indicated to me
something was not working correctly. And it didn't look so
bad when I just had the notes of clay put on there and
it was loose and it seemed okay. And then just cleaning it up,
pulling the information together
began to show me it's not really okay, it's not looking
Now I have a better indication
Okay that's better.
Deal with this edge.
It can be
just, you know very kind of subtle
Or the way two volumes come
And for me
like the finish really is not
the issue. If it's finished in a kind of a rough way
or it's really smoothed out
it should work either way if you have
Sometimes certain ways of dealing with it, sometimes
smoothing things out will hide problems and sometimes
keeping texture in there will
make the problems
and I'm always trying, I'm
not like the effect is never really that interesting
for me as like an end result, whether it's smooth
or rough or it's whether it feels really kind of
has, you know,
rhythm and personality and
all those other elements. The finish is just
aspect of it. So I'd always rather have it
feel like it's working and so
sometimes I'll move in one direction or another.
Either keeping things a little rougher, a little smoother. If I feel like it will
show me a little bit more clearly
where the problem or the
issue that I'm dealing with in that area
You know it could be that the angle
that I'm putting something at
is causing a problem, it could be the overall
plane needs to be broken into more than one
plane, it can be any number of things that
is causing something to feel like it's no
working correctly. And right
now for me it's this, you know, getting that brow
you know on Paul is relatively
complex, it's doing a lot of different things
in different areas, it's turning in different ways
and making sure that
is correct and it's out far enough
that the transitions are working.
You know I feel
like I'm getting a better
understanding as I work. And that's really
makes me feel excited about when I start to feel like I'm
that makes it
enjoyable and kind of the
by product of that
generally is a portrait that looks good
as opposed to
the other way around. It looks good and therefore
I understand it, I understand it and therefore it starts to look good.
So it's fun to see it looking better
but the real
enjoyment is the fact that
I really figured something out about it.
And in that
in that process -
can you tilt a little bit that way? Good. In that process
kind of the interest
and the pleasure.
There we go. You know I'm starting to see
that these pretty tight
turns through the temple.
the difference between what I'm seeing
and what I'm getting.
Unfortunately I'm also beginning to feel like I'm getting
maybe a little bit more than
I'm beginning to feel. Like maybe for a little bit of time I've been
bogged down in understanding
one thing and that's,
you know, that's kind of
a thing that will tend to happen.
You know you get obsessed with one area,
especially when you think you're beginning to
look better and understand what's going on, then you really
wanna continue and
what I'm doing here may, and probably will
end up changing
you know when I deal with the eye, the hair,
and some of the other aspects.
So now like pretty immediately I think I need to deal with that.
Everything is collapsing here.
So from the front view -
Paul can you lift your head like that,
thank you. That hyoid is connected to the nose
This needs to come down.
And then this
comes maybe up here,
probably lower or in between
that line and that line.
Tilt your head that way.
And that needs to come
now that went up
and then quickly
down like that.
And from that point
got an edge - I don't think I like that.
Now I'm gonna turn a little bit to the
three quarter this way.
And this line can
a little bit like that.
turn the other way.
I'm gonna begin to
lay on the volume
that I think is missing
in this brow.
Tilt your head toward me, just put - perfect
So that is turning
that way and this
inward. And then
So this is hair
coming out from
the brow, which is very
or the temple rather.
Okay so probably
I need a little bit more volume,
And on this side
right about there.
More of an arc
So I'll add a little volume here.
And then turn.
You know it's always been one of the more
challenging areas for me
this point at which the hair
and the forehead meet
that has to be turning back correctly
dimensions. It's got to be going this way and that way,
rotating and then
as it comes out or this way it's moving
into a transition
before it comes back out
to the temple.
So it's doing a lot
of different things.
Pretty confined area
and a pretty rapid
rate without the benefit
of having, you know, a lot of structures. Like the
eye does. So all those changes have to
kind of be notated and
then adjusted in order for
you know to really feel like
there's a skull
underneath everything giving it
And then the volume
through the hair,
on Paul really comes forward.
And it's almost the opposite of
the receding hairline. So coming forward, particularly on this side
and laying over
the brow or the temple
You know sometimes for me
getting that like really
something that I'll do
even though ultimately I don't want it to look
hyper defined so I'll
do it just so I have like a real strong, clear
sense of what's
going on. And then I can get back and
compare angles and see is that all
really going in that direction, going in
where I'm having it go in, going out where I'm having it go out
you know in other words is this
whole thing too far in
you know when Paul comes back that's one of the questions
I'll ask myself
my suspicion is that yeah I probably have it a little bit
too far toward the middle so adding a little volume
to the outside.
But you know it's definitely a lot
more defined than
it'll end up.
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1. Lesson overview1m 26sNow playing...
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2. Comparing the sculpture and the model, fixing the problems28m 53s
3. Working on the forehead and the hairline (part 1)34m 53s
4. Working on the forehead and the hairline (part 2)33m 13s
5. Working on the left brow and the left eye33m 55s
6. Working on the left eye and the eye-cheek relationship27m 53s