- Lesson details
In the final installment of Johanna Schwaiger’s first series at New Masters Academy, she makes decisions about the composition of the portrait. She sculpts a distinct set of plane changes at the sternum to distinguish the anatomy from the classical bust structure. The neck muscles and trapezius is sculpted, the eyes finished, and the brows laid above the eyes. Be on the lookout for more sculpting instruction from Johanna Schwaiger in the future!
World-renowned sculptor Johanna Schwaiger joins New Masters Academy, bringing with her over 20 years experience of teaching and producing figurative and portrait sculpture. Her storied career includes years of sculptural and art history studies in Florence and Paris, private and public commissions in bronze and stone, and instructive and exhibitive experience in New York and Austria. Among other accolades, Johanna was selected as one of forty sculptors to create the largest Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Mumbai, India. Her devotion to the realistic representation of the natural human form is further amplified by her adoption of modern computer-assisted workflows.
- Water-Based Clay
- 2″ x 2″ Plank
- 3/4″ Thick Plywood or Melamine Square
- Small Wood Modeling Tools
- Tiranti Modeling Tools (B Series)
- Wire Clay Cutting Tool
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Hey I'm back and today we're going to do our
final session on sculpting the female portrait. So far
we've been building up the proportions, the facial features, created a
likeness, and in this final session I'm going to talk about composition.
Because this is something that you need to think about when you want to finish it. Like how you want
the cropping to be. So we are going to keep building up the turban,
filling up the neck, building up the sternum and the clavicle.
And after we created the composition how we like it, we
are going to go back into the face and I'm going to
be talking about the detailing of the facial features, different kinds of finishing
techniques. So we will be talking about the eye, eyebrows, and
a little bit transitions, a little bit how to create shadow lines, and
contrast of bony parts to fleshy areas. So I'm
looking forward to this final session and I would say let's get started.
The story and career of New Masters Academy instructor Johanna
Schwaiger includes years of instructive and exhibitive experience in New York
and Austria and private and public commissions in bronze and stone.
Among other accolades, Johanna was selected as one of the forty sculptors
to create the largest Mahatma Ghandi memorial in Mumbai, India.
Her devotion to the realistic representation of the natural, human form is further
amplified by her adoption of modern computer assisted workflows
I'm gonna show you how I would go about
finishing touches. The sculpture, I would say, is
in a good shape. There's just a few things that we need to solve first, which
are obviously some symmetry things that just happen
along the way. Today also we are going to talk about
how to make the neck solid and we will enlarge the sculpture,
the turban, and also down to the sternum.
So as soon as we have that done we will be talking about finishing
techniques, about the surface, about
also the transitions and little things to
show you how to bring the sculpture more to life. Like there's a few
things towards the end that you can do to make it even more alive.
But first I need to work
on the neck and the symmetry. So I'm
going to move my model to the front and
like measure along the neckline and then we'll add up here and then I'm gonna decide
like how far do I want to sculpt down to the sternum, which is really just
a composition choice. You could, like you know, end it here, here, or further down.
Since we have a lot of weight up here, we want to balance it out with like
prolonging a little bit like down to the
sternum. Good so let's get started. So I am
turning my model. Okay. So first
thing that I would like to do on my sculpture here, as you can see from the front
the distance from the jawline to the neck is a little
too large because it wasn't filling up to its other border yet, so I'm gonna check
the distance of the sternocleidomastoid and then the distance
from the chin to the pit of the neck. So
the width has to be working and that length has to be working.
The length we already measured so I'm pretty sure that this is working. But
I need to fill up the neck on the certain areas a little more.
So what you need to do is, you take your
caliper and then you're gonna
just measure the
widest point of the neck. And you can see it's not a lot, but there's still room
to build out the sternocleidomastoideus
which is like the big neck muscle that wraps around
And then also we notice that underneath the neck
where her hyoid bone is and the cartilage around
is too lean, so we're gonna fill up.
It's helpful to look from underneath when you make the neck
So I'm filling in,
like thinking of the basic anatomy, but also looking a little
bit like how the neck of the model is shaped
from this side and then I'm gonna turn it around to the other side.
make the connection from the jaw line to the
you know, behind the ear.
And then I'm looking from the complete
I can see that.
Okay so, I fill in
a lot of forms. They're obviously not shaped yet
it's like kind of blocking in,
And now what I would like to do
is like add a little bit on the sternum here.
Sternum. Like here's where the pit of the neck ends. But
it would be nice to include a little bit more down here
so what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna place a chunk
of clay underneath my sculpture
Just press it in.
To have something to build on top. Because the sternum is gonna come
further out than the neckline is. It's gonna continue the neckline.
And it's gonna come out to here.
So here I'm just like building up material
in order to build
out the sternum.
The reason why I do this is just to composition
choice, as I said.
The right cropping of the sculpture -
I don't know if there is a right cropping, but it's just like the
if you don't make a full body figure and you decide
to make one part, which a portrait is, it's really
up to you where you want your portrait to end. So it's not very
good if you end it, like, right underneath
the jaw line. It just always looks nicer if you include
the clavicle. And in our case we want to include also
the sternum. So I really just like use my
thumbs and add.
So I'm using my block
in tool here to work in the clay
And it will let my sculpture end here kind of
that's my choice.
Looking from the side
so how to - at the sternocleido
you kind of follow the neck muscles - sternocleidomastoideus
to the sternum, which is like much further
out. But this is how I,
if I decide to add to my sculpture another part of the body,
you need to follow the rhythm with what you already have. So when I'm looking from
the profile angle, I just follow this line and I look
down to the pit of the neck
and then I continue this line and see
like how, how much further does it come out in comparison also
to the chin. It's always when you add something new
and you have the rest already worked out so you're not, like, all
over the beginning stage, you need to compare it to what you already have.
So that's very important.
So this is kind of
looking from the front, it's like
I'm just making like a classical triangle
shape, that's what -
that's what you see in a lot of
older sculptures. So this is a classical triangle shape.
always where the
tendon of the sternocleidous.
from the pit of the neck to the trapezius is correct. So on my sculpture
I believe I should drop the trapezius a little bit, like
you can see from the front. This distance here. It's a little too large
so I'm going to look from the front
Yeah it's okay. It's just like this
area I want to reduce it just a little bit.
And when you do - you decide
to add a little bit more to the sculpture, of course, like it
shouldn't look like messy or anything. The surface should be resolved but
the focus will be on the face. So you don't have to like sculpt
the anatomy completely through and be too precise. It's kind of nice if you have
like a focal point, like the features and the facial structure.
And you just make sure that this is, you know, proportionately and
working and that the anatomy's working.
But I like to keep that area a little bit more loose.
So just by, like, adding a little bit of volume here, even though it's
not resolved, I already like the overall view of the
sculpture better since we have, as I said, we have a lot of weight on top
of the sculpture.
let's focus a little longer on the sternum
So remember, on the sternum there's really the first
apex of the first rib
that has an angle, like this, like the ribs are not straight but
they're angled in a way. So this is really the curvature that you see
So now I'm working
a little bit on the pit of the neck and make this
nice and round.
Okay it's very helpful when you add
mass to the neck to look from underneath. You need to always
see like how the neck attaches to the jaw.
So I added mass here now. It looks a little
messy at the moment but we're gonna work on the surface later.
And then I'm
the muscles that attach here and then the sternocleido.
when I'm looking from the side, I just noticed that I need even more -
look at the profile view, I just noticed
that the sternum comes out even more. So I'm going to
Okay so we have
a little more room even.
As I can show you from the side angle, that the distance from
the chin to the pit of the neck is a little too long. So I'm going to lift
that area just a little bit.
The way you build the pit of the neck is really the two
points of the clavicle come together
and you don't need of course to like leave a little bit
of a distance in between. It's like one finger, one
index finger width of distance between the two clavicles.
now I would like to show a little bit better the
you know, where the sternocleido starts and where it really ends and where it inserts
close to the pit of the neck.
So I'm using a raking tool and just make a plane
really clear. I can show you from the side, like
with this raking tool I'm just gonna go into the shape
and sort of carve out the insertion.
And same thing on the other side.
So don't make them too symmetric looking because this is just
never how it looks like. It's not just two sharp
lines that come down, it's always like one is a little bit further out than the other one
and these, like,
slight asymmetries make it just look more alive.
Okay so I checked from the side
so the distance from the pit of the neck to the
almost working, I just need to lift it a tiny bit I think and then
we will go and look at the mass
of the turban.
And always remember that
I can show you from the side - the clavicle goes back at an angle like this.
Like it's not straight and it's not falling completely.
The angle is sort of like this. Like I've seen - the clavicle
on every shape it's the same. Like I've seen all kinds of different
ways of how to turn backwards, like sometimes in an
arch, sometimes kind of straight even, so there's not one, like
rule but they always follow the ribcage. So the ribcage
the column up there is very narrow. And
kinda of in a tilt like this. So they follow the ribcage so they have
to tilt backwards.
But since we chose to like do a certain cropping what I'm gonna
try now is to
show where does my sculpture end really. Like
because if you don't make a good distinction between the sculpted area and
just like the cropping, people gonna think wow this is part of
the body, which is just like part of the cropping. So what we need to be doing
is make a difference of surface. And therefore I'm
using a tool and try to
roll over the clay like that and make it really smooth.
Like on that area I want to be smooth because I need to create a contrast between
what I want the viewer to see as my sculpture
and the rest that is just kinda cropping, like
for instance on a drawing when you want to fade out
the lines, you at the end
come a little bit more loose and you want to say to the viewer, okay this is like, you know, my
drawing's fading out a little bit. So that's why
you block in the clavicle
and this is part of my sculpture, let's say, like you don't make like a line maybe
what shouldn't be part of my sculpture - I mean it is part of my sculpture but not part of
the anatomy - I take chunks
of clay -
I can show you from the side - place them.
I mean this is the way I like to do it, but you always need
to make a visual distinction between
where you decide a sculpture to be and the area
of cropping. So I take chunks of clay and use my blocking tool
and just make like a
straight, very obvious clear plane
And then I work over, I'm showing here where the
clavicle goes backward and I try to be precise here.
To make that point clear.
So this is really artistic choice, where you want your sculpture
Same on the other side.
I'm turning the sculpture over. Here you can see it's like still kinda messy looking
I just have like the clay blocked in.
I didn't do much to the surface. So again I want
to bring the clavicle
I want to show the direction of the clavicle, like how it's tilting backwards.
So when I'm in the blocking
stage, first I use the bigger blocking tool always and then the smaller one.
When I use the smaller one I roll with the edge of my
tool over where I want the form to be basically.
And then I, you know, become more and more precise.
I like to do very often, if you can see the whole sculpture for a second,
what I like to do when I decide how I want my
cropping to be, I try to find a line
either at the hair line or this case it's the turban and try to follow
that line and make sure that the curvature of where I want my cropping to be is a
continuous line. Like I don't have any sharp
edge sticking out. It's not nice for the eye to look at,
so in this case, because where the
turban ends, it's a clear line that you can use to follow
but make sure it has like one curvature that it follows down.
And then -
and now that I haven't finished my turban too
I need to treat this volume and the turban volume as like
they are communicating with each other. As everything communicates with each other
but I will stop now, even though I haven't worked it out
now or completely through and will look if like
I really want my turban design to be this way. It could be that I'm seeing oh
I want to like reduce somewhere or want to add somewhere because like
how far this distance is coming out is gonna matter how far
I want my cropping line here to come out.
To, you know, bring the sculpture together. You don't want to just like solve it and make it look like
her, you want to think a little bit like the lines that you're choosing
so I will step back now and look at how she's wearing her turban
and see if I like what I'm seeing. And then look at my sculpture
and then decide if I want to include
things that I'm seeing on her turban or if it would be better to, you know, follow lines
on my sculpture and change it a little bit if you...
Okay in this case I would say I would like to
reduce for sure here and then add a little bit more here on the back side.
reduce for sure here and then add a little bit more here on the back side.
So I like
how far really the material of the turban
comes backward. So I'm going to add
much more mass.
look at it from the other side.
Okay let's take a break. I need to spray the
So I'm just working on the overall look of the neck right
I feel like I should bring
back the jaw just to here.
So now I'm gonna build here
a little bit more.
That area is just like not built out
So this is how I
So now I need to cut away this part because I want this part
to be overlapping that one.
So I need to get rid of it
we are not going to work out the turban like perfectly in its drapery
but it should be readable what part overlaps which one.
So here I just reduced and now I'm going to
like add a big chunk of clay
and want to make an overlap here. You can either
make a line first and just like see if you like
like this and then you take the extra clay and then you kind of
like - like you would wrap a turban
maybe, I dunno I never wore
one, but like...
For instance like on my model I see like a nice line coming back
backwards so I'm reacting to it. It's not about like really copying
the lines but just I'm reacting to, like getting inspired by lines
I see and that I like.
So now we need to give like a sense of wrapping on the back.
So I'm showing you what I'm doing
on the back here. Try to
sort of make sense of my wrapping here.
And then again I
like to keep that area a little bit more loose and not
worked out, it gives it a nice contrast to like the face.
You have some areas that are blocked in nicely and do make sense to the eye
but not like have a perfect finish.
So I can use my
wrecking tool too to
strengthen the surfaces.
the lines should never be like wacky like this one. I don't like it
so I'm - I want it to be like
So that's a nice volume now so
I'm just like - the stuff that I don't like I'm kinda hammering it
around. I will keep working on this. Like I don't like any lines
that are like not straightish.
Like this one.
The reason for that is like, drapery,
when you wrap it around something
the texture of the material is like
creating straight lines really and then it turns into one point where it
Let's not be too
I'm going to turn my model too.
Can you look straight ahead? Okay.
I'm looking at the overall impression of my turban first
and then I'm gonna go and see what I did on the neck and make some changes there.
So noticing that like here's going in too
much. It shouldn't dive in too much where it almost feels
like it dives into the skull.
So that's - so I like the sensation
when the turban is wrapped around the skull. So it's kinda tight
to the skull. So almost there's no
level. This - like there's not much of material
And you're only separated by like almost just
a line. And then it turns into
Okay I leave this for now
so now I'm going to look at the neck.
Okay I still have the feeling that my neck in certain
areas is a little bit too lean.
So I might as well just measure that.
So I could get
wider in certain areas.
Filling in the forms a little more.
So remember I said like
okay, I'm like missing a little bit of volume still. That's what I'm
trying to solve right now.
So I filled in
the neck muscles from the side angle and now I'm going to do the same thing
on the other side.
Still a little bit more on this side.
Yeah. Thank you so much.
So now I'm trying to connect
the jawline with the neck a little bit better
by creating a transition plane between
the jaw and the neck muscles.
So I'm using a took that's kind of round.
at the edge.
Okay let's leave the neck for now. So I'm going to
work a little bit on the chin.
Let's take a short break.
and also the width of the neck. This is not resolved yet.
I like the proportions, I like the masses of it so I'm
gonna leave this for now. So next I'm going to show you like some finishing techniques
that I would use when it comes like toward the end. And I will pick like the right eye section
and you will be using
a very small tool. Like this is a tool that has a little bit of a curvature.
And it's very flat on the front. And it's kinda pointy too so
this tool I really love to make eye shapes. And then I have another one that I
think I have shown you before. It has a round end. This tool
really is only my teardrop tool basically because this is the only tool
that I can like go into the tear drop. So
finishing techniques is really what they call modeling because you start
to fill in all the little holes and bumps and
decide to like how you want your finish look to be. As I told you, I don't
necessarily like to smooth out everything so it looks like plastic.
I like to still give a signature of like how I
was treating the clay and you see a little bit like the treatments
of the surface or how the surface was created. And if you see
that it's just more life and it looks like a human being made it and not a machine.
So I'm going to focus on the right eye here. What I already
did is I made an implication of
how I wanted the eyebrow to be. And I thought it was funny, I heard Mark
Westermoe say the other day it would be good to like study a little bit of makeup art
and since I'm like painting my own eyebrows
every day in the morning, this is basically what I do too. Like I'm looking at how
my model has the shape of the eyebrow and you get really good at that if you
also know how to use make up. So
good. So I drew in
the makeup, just - that's a real makeup rule. My sister's a makeup artist, she told me
that, so that really comes from Leonardo Da Vinci so she's really -
what you do is, the highest point of like the
corner of the eyebrow, which not every model has it that way but
the rule is you make a diagonal line from the
nostril, or from the nose wing, into that direction.
And exactly where - like if I would have a straight tool, like this,
this is where the highest point of the eyebrow is supposed to be.
According to Leonardo Da Vinci. And then
where the eyebrow should start, you take another tool and you hold it
straight up. And this is where your eyebrow should start. So this is the highest point
and this is where the eyebrow should start. And I found funny that in the makeup art world
they use Leonardo Da Vinci's rules to make hot looking eyebrows.
And this is what we're gonna do now
Can you move towards me? Yeah. Perfect, thanks.
Okay so I start with the eyebrows.
I drew them out how I want them and then in the beginning like I give a little bit more
volume to it. We cannot sculpt hair. I told you that
before. So we need to get volume and texture
and really in the beginning of the eyebrow the hair grows
upward and then it reaches that point that I told you before before it turns
downward. The hair grows down
and up and meets in the middle. So this kind of volume
we try to create to because as I said, it looks stupid
if you just make like tons of little hairs in there. Like I've seen it many times or I tried that before.
It doesn't make any sense because we cannot sculpt tiny hair. We only
can see volume and another disadvantage we have here
is eyebrows usually are darker than the skin.
And I only have clay color so I cannot paint it so I need to
exaggerate a little bit the height of the volume of my eyebrow in order
to show the coloring of it. Like the
only tool a sculptor has is width and depth. We don't have color.
Like we don't have tones. So I'm exaggerating the eyebrow just
a little bit.
And then when you have the volume you could even exaggerate the volume just a little bit.
Even though she doesn't have it as much.
As I said in the beginning we try to make strokes that go a little bit upward
towards the highest point of the eyebrow and then
we sculpt a little bit downward and upward.
So it meets in the middle.
And then comes the
trick. You are going to maybe -
she doesn't really have that but I'm going to do that anyways otherwise it looks just like one
big chunk of clay - you will create
a few strands, is that a word?
By drawing in some lines
to pretend there are some
bushes or something.
And voila we have an eyebrow that's
kind of working. I can finish it a little more.
So as a
sculptor you have shadows to play with. So we need to create a shadow
underneath the eyebrow, even though there is not
in real life it doesn't exist, but we just make it up so we can see
where the eyebrow starts. So I'm
underneath the eye brow I'm just making a little etch. Not a little -
then towards the end of the eyebrow, like the hair shouldn't be
like volume any more because it's less hair, so all I do
is like I kind of leave the edge towards
the end. So this - I leave that alone for now
as an eyebrow and now I want to work on this, on the surface
of this particular bone
that I - so for finishing techniques you need,
really need very soft clay. So you don't have to
make it mush or anything but you need soft clay because you will have
the underground is going to be a little bit dryer already just from
working and then you need to work in the very soft clay into
the bumps and dumps. And then again
I don't want to smooth it out until it looks like plastic, but I don't want bumps because then it would look
like a skin disease.
Okay and while
I'm working on the surface sometimes I can like enhance the
width - not the width - the depth and the highest point
and the lowest points.
in order to finish the eye - like give it a more like a live finished look
we just also have to make sure that the eye orbit is working really nicely
and that the skin doesn't have
So let's get into detail here.
So this could be - like this takes patience.
Finishing technique always takes patience
because it just takes a long time to really
get the surface to the look you want it to be.
So you can see that sometimes
I would use the edge of my tool and get rid of
the bumps that I'm seeing. But be
careful, like, I used it with I would say discipline because if you just
start smearing the clay around you lose all the beautiful forms that you've
seen before. So
just be careful. Okay.
Now here with the eyes, you need to make sure that the line
of the lower lid is really visible.
Can you look at me?
Can you look at me?
So I like to soften
the line of the eyelid
I don't like it when it's too
around the edge of the eyelid I don't like it so
as I said and now I'm gonna clean out the eyeball more.
So about the iris
you usually, like when the eyes are gently open
you don't see the white part
below the iris so we are making it large a little bit
and try to make it look like disappearing underneath the lower eyelid.
So this is like
finishing technique, as I said, is
Then I keep a little
piece of clay to like make a highlight.
But let's not exaggerate it because we don't wanna like get
it doesn't look so great if it's too big.
So I just noticed that
I need to get a little bit deeper here around the
Okay so I'm -
like this would be -
like I would go a little bit more into detail with this
but that would be like how you'd try to get the finish
by softening the edges, try to fill in the
bumps of the surface and I'm
very important is to always make sure that the
eye orbit is working with it too.