- Lesson details
World-renowned sculptor Johanna Schwaiger joins New Masters Academy, bringing with her over 20 years experience of teaching and producing figurative and portrait sculpture. In her first series, she demonstrates her method of sculpting a female portrait from a live model. You’ll learn important methods and procedures using various sculpting materials and tools, key landmarks of the skull, and basic clay application. Follow along with Johanna in this second lesson as she sculpts the eyes, ears, and mouth. She emphasizes checking the profile line of your sculpture often, keeping the width “under-built,” and checking for symmetry.
- Water-Based Clay
- 2″ x 2″ Plank
- 3/4″ Thick Plywood or Melamine Square
- Wood Modeling Tools
- Tiranti Modeling Tools (B Series)
- Wire Clay Cutting Tool
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Johanna brings over 20 years of expertise in portrait and figure sculpting, having taught
at schools and shown her work in galleries across the globe.
In this series, she’ll teach you her method for sculpting a female portrait in clay.
In the first half of this lesson, we need to check the profile line again.
This is something we have to keep doing from the beginning to the end.
And then in the second half, I want to walk you through how to keep the symmetry of the
portrait; what lines to use, what anchor points you could use to keep the symmetry.
Then we will be placing the features, not resolving them, just marking and looking where
the proportions are correct and where I want the features to be later.
I’m looking forward to this session, and let’s get started.
This is something we have to keep doing from the beginning to the end, so we will keep
refining the profile line, making it more detailed and looking
at the basic proportions first.
After we do that, we will be starting to build up the width again by keeping it still underbuilt.
Meaning, we’re not going to go to the actual borders that way.
We can keep the forms more rounded and keep the depth better.
That’s what we do in the first half of the lesson.
In the second half, I want to walk you through how to keep the symmetry of the portrait by
what lines to use, what anchor points you could use to keep the symmetry.
Personally, symmetry is something that I personally struggle with so there are certain tricks
you can use to keep the symmetry better.
Then we will be placing the features of the portrait.
Meaning, we’re just going to place the position.
We mark where we want the features to be.
Not resolving them, just marking and looking where the proportions are correct and where
I want the features to be later.
Breaks are very important because when you work for a while, your eyes just get tired.
You won’t see the forms and the proportions as well.
Every time you have a break you have a fresh eye, sort of, and we want to use the freshness
and always start with the profile.
It means lining up your model and your sculpture on the proper side and then compare it.
You will just automatically see new things that you haven’t seen before when you were
working and getting a little bit tired.
This is what I’m going to do today, starting with checking the profile, checking if the
proportions are right, checking if the angles are good, seeing if there is a little bit
of details to catch up with.
As soon as I have done this, I will turn it to the front again, and then I will keep checking
the width which we haven’t developed perfectly yet.
It’s still a little bit too lean.
The volumes are not filled in exactly yet, so I can only check from the front.
First, let’s do the profile view.
I’m going to turn by sculpture over.
I’m going to turn my beautiful model Sahi.
I will turn her so I can see the exact profile line.
That’s very important.
Then make sure you also see the exact profile line of your sculpture.
In order for both to line up perfectly, you have an angle like this, that way when you
stand in the middle of it at a little bit of a distance,
you look at both from the same perspective.
This is what I’m going to do, so now I will step back three steps more or less.
Remember, it’s very important to step back and look at it from a distance and make most
of your decision from a distance.
It’s much better than when you get caught up and work too close before all the proportions
You get lost a little bit.
Make sure you always step back.
Almost like dancing.
Back and forth, back and forth.
That’s what I’m going to do now.
I’m comparing the profile line of her with what I have here.
I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got here.
Maybe the angle of my nose could be a little bit like not as steep.
I’m going to fix this just a tiny bit.
Stepping back again.
Now I want to work a little bit on the lower lip on my profile line.
Just like the proportions of my profile line are pretty much working.
It’s just that the little details of her curvatures are not exact yet.
But that’s okay.
More and more we will go there and have that worked out better.
Also, when I’m observing my profile line, my background is a little bit like the same tone.
I will walk over there and maybe change the background just a bit.
I just put a piece of wood there to have more contrast.
It’s very good to make sure that your environment is working too, and you don’t have the same
color or tone in the background as your sculptures.
Okay, I think the profile line is working so far.
What is not working yet, and it’s a little bit distracting,
is that we don’t have enough cranium.
We will be creating her turban.
We need way more mass here to get the same sense as the model.
I’m just going to…
If you’re not sure how the distance should go back, feel free to use your caliper and
go to the model and just measure the overall.
Like always the measure the tip of the nose to the very end, like to the very back.
And then you can see, okay, we have a lot more space here to fill in.
Always when you’re adding volume, try to use a tool, not only your fingers.
In the very beginning it’s okay to use fingers but the more you go to the borders of your
sculpture, when you use your fingers you will leave a little bit of holes because your fingers
Make sure you use a tool to compress the volumes in.
I’m creating a little bit of a silhouette shape of her turban.
It doesn’t matter if your model is wearing a turban or it’s just like having her hair
down or whatever, just try to imitate what you see.
Really create a silhouette image of the profile view of your model.
It’s very important to keep that in the same proportion as what you’re doing.
If one side is not developed enough and doesn’t have the same width, it’s a little bit distracting
to the overall proportion.
Make sure that you keep all the proportions on every side basically on the same level.
Now I’m curious about the width of her neck.
That’s good that I can see on my sculpture I don’t have a whole lot more room to go
Make sure that you check that.
Sometimes we grow the sculpture too much forward, like the whole face and the whole skull.
Then it does not work anymore with your armature.
So, to keep control over that, make sure to keep measuring it.
We are here on the edge already, so I shouldn’t move more forward.
Now I got a good sense of volume of her turban
and the width of her neck and just made sure that
the overall proportions of my profile line from the front and the back is working.
Now I can look from the profile to interior information.
That means if we look at it from the other side for a second.
Interior information means that interested from—remember this little bump here that’s
the tragus of the ear?
That I’m using to measure interior information, like for instance, where is the orbit of the
Where is my zygomatic arch?
Where is the corner of my eye?
Where is the corner of my nose ring?
Where is the corner of my lips?
All this interior information I can mark really clearly on my sculpture.
You can either compare it visually, or you can also measure everything.
That’s up to you.
If you feel like you’re not sure how far the depth is to here, go to your model and
measure it correctly.
Make marks here.
That I can see from the profile side really well.
If I marked it here, let’s say, and then I turn the sculpture to the front, I know
exactly where the depths are, and I know that I shouldn’t sculpt on top of it from the front.
It’s very important to understand what decision to make from which angle.
This are clear decisions I can make from this angle, and that’s what I’m going to do now.
I will walk to Sahi and measure again from the tragus to the corner of her eye and see
if this is lining up.
This is good.
Now I’m measuring to the point of her zygomatic arch, which is here, and I can say, okay,
I can add here and create the plane of the zygomatic arch.
Here is like a plane that’s facing this way.
Those are decisions I can easily make from the profile view.
This we measured already, where the frontal, how the turns of the forehead are going.
Be careful that from the profile view you don’t grow out here out too much because
you can’t really judge how far this is going out.
I can judge here in the depth where this information lines up, but I cannot really touch the width of it.
Don’t mix up what to judge from what angle.
At this stage, I leave the eye socket open.
I don’t look at her eyeballs at all because I’m not, like I didn’t develop the eye
socket yet completely, so I don’t place in the eyeball yet.
As soon as I have the eye socket worked out, then I will fill in the eyes.
We’re not going to do that because we need to line it up from the other side also.
Okay, I feel like I want to turn to the front view now since I’ve looked at the overall
I’ve checked the depth information.
Now I want to see if from the frontal view if the information from the side is lining
up with the other side.
From the front view, I can see not everything is really lining up straight, so what you
can see is that—like, the symmetry is not working everywhere perfectly.
Now is a good time to fix that, and how to fix it is always like I’m drawing a very
clear center line.
That way I can see if all the information, meaning zygomatic arch on each side, the corner
of the eyes, corner of the lips and everything.
If that is really parallel to my center line.
As soon as you draw the center line and you step back a little bit, immediately you can
see if something is out of symmetry.
Also, I’m comparing, of course, with her.
Looking at that now, I can see that this eye orbit is a little bit too high, so
I’m going to reduce—after I corrected the symmetry I want to check some widths here.
She is still a little bit too lean overall.
Also, the width of the forehead is a little bit too lean.
Then again, we have very clear forehead planes that we need to make sure that the turns are
I’m going to measure this part.
Measure the zygomatic arch again, and measure her jaw.
I’m very close, but there is a little bit of room.
What I measured here was—there were two very clear points of the forehead of the frontal
bone it’s called.
This is the plane that’s facing us.
I measured its width.
I’m filling in forms now.
When you fill in the forehead, make sure that you think of the plane changes of the forehead.
Let me draw out for you what I mean by plane changes of the forehead.
There is, as I said, the frontal plane.
I’m drawing it out for you guys so you can see that it’s a very clear mark of the frontal plane.
Then we have two triangle shapes above the eyebrows that are a little bit further in.
While you do that, make sure that you don’t grow the forehead too long.
I’m also going to check if the length is good.
There is a very clear point where the forehead is turning back to the cranium.
This turn is very important.
It’s very prominent on everybody.
Some are stronger.
Some are a little less.
This turn is a very clear point that you have to show clearly where the turn is.
Now I can draw a little bit where her eyebrows would be.
Also, I’m working on the eye socket or the eye orbit, and the skull we have right above
the eyebrow line.
There is a very prominent process that I’m going to show you on the skull.
Let’s look at the skull for a second.
So, very important are the frontal planes of the forehead.
I just drew out for you guys this kind of shape.
It has like five corners, like one, two, three, four, five.
It doesn’t really have corners but it’s like sort of shaped likes this with a slight
curvature on top.
Then the eye orbit is not straight.
It’s like tilted down a little bit.
Here, this bone protects the eye, and it’s coming out quite a lot.
You can see that on the model really clearly.
I’m sculpting it out on that stage.
It’s good to, like if you have a copy of a skull, it’s good while you’re doing
your portrait to have lying next to you and to remind yourself about the most important
plane changes of the skull.
I just measured her zygomatic arch once more, and I still have a little bit of room in the
width to go, which is good that I didn’t go to the actual width immediately, but kept
it a little bit underbuilt.
Now, I filled in quite a lot on the forehead, made sure that I’m filling in the planes
correctly, and I don’t just create like one round curvature, but consider the plane
changes of the anatomy.
Now I want to also widen the jawline a little bit more, meaning the chin and also the width
of the jawline.
You can also make a measurement like in the middle of the jaw to see…so we have lots
of room to grow here.
I’m trying to fill in the overall width, meaning also a little bit of the transition
plane from the zygomatic arch to the bridge of the nose.
This doesn’t go—most people make that a little bit too steep.
I’m trying to get a nice transition plane in that area.
Now, I’m really curious about the other side of my profile.
Also, I’ll fill in a little bit more forms from the other side, so I’m going to turn
I made some marks in the front, like the height of where the eyebrow ends.
I made some drawings where the width information is, where the corner of the lip is, where
the corners of the eyes are.
I did all that from the front.
I’m going to turn my model.
I haven’t seen the profile line from this view yet, so I can line up the information.
Always the first thing you have to do when you look at the profile view again, make sure
that the point of the tragus is really obvious on your sculpture, and you see it clearly.
Then you can think of all the information of the profile line, and then the interior
Make sure you line that up with the tragus.
That’s very important because I did the same thing on the other side with the tragus
so I can trust that information that it’s lining up with the other side too.
For instance, I’m measuring from the tragus to the corner of her lip.
Make a mark.
Same thing, corner of her eye and make a clear mark.
Now I want the zygomatic arch and the eye orbit a little clearer because very soon I’m
going to fill in the eyeball.
Before I do that, I want to make sure the eye socket is solidly developed.
This line represents the end of her turban so I don’t get distracted that this is too
long or anything.
I was just trying to clean up the surface a little bit, and I just looked over my profile
line a little bit more.
As soon as you see something that’s not quite right, like you just keep checking all
over the information and you see something, immediately change it.
Sometimes my eye wanders over the whole thing, and I’ll decide, oh, I want to check this
Then I did and then immediately I recognize something else, and then I go to another spot
and fix that.
I keep the quality of the whole sculpture everywhere kind of on the same level.
I don’t finish one aspect because that wouldn’t make sense.
I need to grow it everywhere equally on the same level.
As soon as I applied some information in here, all of a sudden I can see more clearly other
information somewhere else.
That’s a little bit of a back and forth game.
Okay, now I think I want to imply a little bit the eyeball.
I’m not going to do the whole eye immediately.
I just want to see how far is the eyeball coming out.
This is very important because a portrait sculpture you need to make the eyes very convincing.
What does that mean?
If eyes are just drawn in and look kind of graphic, it’s not convincing that they’re
You need to show that you made an eyeball that has layers.
The whole eye should be done in layers.
If you do it that way, you can really see that the eyeball is laying into the eye socket,
and then there is the eyelet on top.
There are fatty pads on top.
You show the viewer that this eye could really open, the eyelid could close over the eyeball.
That’s why we want to make the eye socket and have that proportionally and solidly working.
Then we imply the eyeball and then we sculpt the eyelid on top, and then a little bit the
fleshy area that’s covering like the skin.
The skin is covering my eyebrow bone so we do that in layers.
The first thing that I want to do is just creating a little bit of a mass where the
eyeball could be.
I put just a little bit of mass here to make and indication of where the eyeball should
I’m looking like how far it comes close to the nasium, meaning the bridge of the nose,
like the furthest point.
You can compare that with your model where exactly that point is.
Okay, so I filled in a lot of forms again.
You have to just keep turning your sculpture and then really comparing
what forms you already have.
Don’t work on one side too long.
That’s very tempting to want to resolve everything immediately.
Make sure you keep turning the sculpture every 10 to 15 minutes at that stage.
Also, I was filling in a little bit of volume for an eyeball that just represents the depth
and the distance to the nasium.
Then I was filling in also the zygomatic arch, like where the cheekbone turns, things like
that you can fill in from the side.
Then again, make sure that you don’t grow the width too much.
We cannot see from the side how far this is coming out so it can only—I keep repeating it.
We can only make depth choices from the profile view.
So, since I worked here, sometime I want to not resolve it too much to make sure I line
it up with all the other views too.
I’m going to turn my sculpture to the other profile view and turn Sahi too.
other side, like on each side.
Make sure you’re doing it from the profile again.
But, before I do that and fill in the eyeball, I need to make sure that the eye socket is
clear, meaning if I really developed the upper arch of my zygomatic arch.
If this is really clearly on my sculpture and really lining up with my model, if that’s
working and it’s in its right place, then I can start to fill in the volume of the eyeball.
Then again, how do I check that?
Tragus, very important that this is clearly on your sculpture marked here.
Again, the tragus and then measure from the tragus again to this little edge of the zygomatic
arch like the utmost point.
You measure it at the model and you measured it on your sculpture.
If this is really working and this edge where the eye orbit is opening is working, and then
you can also look a little bit at the turn like how the turn looks, when this is really
clear and solid then we can start to fill in the eyeball.
So now I’m measuring on her, seeing if this is working.
Yes, it is working, so we are happy.
I’m building out a little bit the turn of the zygomatic arch.
Right now I’m filling in forms that I can see like depth information turns and
shapes and plane changes.
Okay, so I feel quite confident now about the bone structure of the eye socket, so I’ll
try to get the eyeball in again.
Try to see where the eyeball ends in comparison to her nasium.
By nasium I mean the furthest end point of the nose just before the
keystone of the nose starts.
We see in depths like I measured.
When I measured the corner of the eye it’s really also the bone because when you touch
your own eyeball, you can see that the corner of my eyes is really close to the barn so
that’s a very good landmark.
I measured that and then I look at how far out the eyeball goes.
I kind of ignore the eyelids at this point.
I will sculpt that later.
Since I said I want to make sure that the eye has convincing layer.
The movability of the eye needs to be convincing.
It should really look like this person can roll the eyes around.
What’s really interesting is as soon as you have the volume of the eyeball kind
of layered in, immediately you want to fill in like a little bit of flesh in the cheekbones
like in front of the cheek bones, too.
Always, when you get new information in, it changes the whole picture.
That’s the fun part of sculpting, too.
It’s like a big puzzle.
Also, from the side when it comes to blocking in the neck, I want to, from the
side there is one very clear muscle that you can see from the neck, which is called the
sternocleidomastoideus, and it inserts right behind the ear on the mastoideus, basically,
and then it goes forward to the sternum, which is here.
That’s a very clear line that we want to draw from the side.
From the front we can measure the width of the neck and then add onto the sternocleidomastoideus.
Now I can draw out the ear a little bit nicer.
So far I just had the volume of the ear blocked in.
Okay, so I’m quite happy with this view.
We haven’t looked at the front for some time, so that’s what we’re going to do now.
Sometimes when you turn your sculpture and you haven’t looked at one view for some
time, it can be like a quick shock because you changed a lot of things on the side.
It looks a little bit messy from another view.
The first thing you need to do is clean up a little bit of the mess.
So, from the front view the contour line is starting to work and is coming very close
to the borders.
It’s not looking too lean anymore.
This whole kind of lean, little-bit-like-a-fish look is changing and becoming more human.
Always when you look from the front, redraw your center line
and check the symmetry a little bit.
Okay, I just drew the center line again.
Other things you can do from the front is everything that’s with information, meaning
forehead information like the planes of the forehead you can check.
If they’re like really the turn is correct, and if you’re not sure one really good thing
to do is look from underneath so that way you can see how it’s turning.
You have to go to the model and really look like from underneath and look at the turn
of the forehead.
It’s very good to be specific about the forehead and the turn because if things grow
too much forehead, then the forehead gets too massive, it becomes too flat, and it becomes
Then again, if it’s not like the volume enough, like it is turning too fast, then
the forehead is too lean and it doesn’t look convincing either.
So you have to be very precise when it comes to the forehead, the bones of it and also
to the zygomatic arch and how it’s turning.
So, with this technique it doesn’t happen so easily that you build it too forward too
soon or too much because we also always look from the profile view and measure the information,
the interior information from the side.
It shouldn’t happen so easily that you build it too much,
but you can also check from the front.
Go to the model and look from underneath and look at the overall turning
of the whole facial structure.
That’s what I’m going to do now.
I’m really going down and really looking from underneath from the middle of her face
and look how her face is turning overall.
Then I do the same thing with my sculpture and look from underneath.
That way I can see, do I need more volume?
Do I have too much volume?
So that’s a very good thing to do, and it’s good if you do it quite often.
So, if I’m underneath now, from my perspective that you cannot see clearly, but from my perspective
now I can see, okay, I still have room to build out the turning, which is good in this stage.
It wouldn’t be good if you built out too much already, which wouldn’t happen
so easily because we build it up slowly.
I’m drawing out the eye socket again, like really the line.
You can see it on the model very clearly.
I didn’t pay a lot of attention yet on the whole mouth area.
What I can show you guys on the skull, like the whole tooth line area underneath, like
the whole tooth line has more volume than we usually think it has, like that width here
is quite prominent.
Usually we make that a little bit too narrow.
If you look at it from the top, this is quite wide.
The widest point is kind of in the middle of the zygomatic arch.
Just to be aware, there is a lot of room and volume, and then we shape the lips on top
of it, and it should turn.
The lips should turn over the tooth line.
That’s very important to know.
I’m going to add here a little bit more before I even try even thinking about shaping
With sculpting it’s very much really building the bone structure solidly, and then you have
something to build on top.
That’s basically your architecture, and then the facial features are sitting on it.
If the turning of the skull is working nicely, you’re going to have a nice shape structure
to build the facial features on top of it.
You can draw out a little bit the so-called philtrum.
That’s the little thingy we have underneath the nose.
We have another German term for this that’s quite funny, but anyways.
You can draw this out with a tool.
Then we can try to draw out the contour line of her lip shape like just approximately.
We will change it maybe a little bit.
Just to give us an idea how it could be shaped, we will grow this to the width more.
We will cover this drawing.
It’s good to draw on your sculpture the things you are thinking of making before you
actually shape them.
It saves you time.
Of course, when you make lips, every model has very different lips.
The anatomy of the lips are always the same, but the proportions are very different, basically
like everything on the face.
How the lips are turned, you want to get a very close likeness because this is like a
study of a real person.
It’s not just an anatomy study.
You want to keep the anatomy of the lip in mind.
At the same time you want to observe the special shape of your model.
In this case, she has really nice full lips.
I’m not being very precise yet.
I’m just trying to build out the volume and its width.
This is what I can judge from this view.
And then when you work on the nose, lips, and everything one thing is important, that
you observe the profile line carefully, hopefully, so you can trust your profile line.
Try to not overwork the midsection of your sculpture because this is where you judge
from the side how the profile line is turning.
You don’t want to build on top of the exact midsection, but build from the midsection
So, looking at the model, looking at the width of the forms, how the forms are turning.
Don’t cover the midsection of your sculpture.
So, like in the beginning, let’s say it’s your first portrait, you might want to also
measure how the turn behaves and where exactly the width is.
The width of the corners of the mouth is easy to measure.
It’s just one quick measurement.
Then how it’s turning, if you’re not sure, measure it.
As soon as you get a little bit more confident, you can just also compare visually, which
is fine too.
Now it’s good to always use the caliper, so I’m measuring the width of the mouth,
the corners of her mouth.
We’re pretty right on, a little bit too lean.
I’m going to mark this clearly.
Then what you can do is look from underneath and see how the lips are really turning before
you really get into the specific anatomy of the lips.
I’m going to look from underneath.
Okay, I could see clearly the turn of the lips now.
Now I want to draw something out for you guys on the sculpture to make that clear when it
comes to anatomy of the lips.
It’s really good to study facial features.
If you ever get the chance to look at Michelangelo’s David’s head.
There is a feature of the mouth, of the nose, of the eye, you can get those features online
or you can even look at pictures of them because that way you can see clearly how Michelangelo
mapped out the anatomy just perfectly on David’s features.
One thing on the sculpture I’m going to show you.
The upper lip is divided in three main shapes.
There’s like kind of a drop shape on each side of the upper lip.
I hope you can see that clearly, like how I’m trying to map that out.
I will erase this information.
It’s just to demonstrate references.
This is like a drop shape coming from the corner of the lip to the center, and then
on the other side, too.
Then we have in the middle another shape that’s like a teardrop coming down like this.
It’s three major shapes that make the upper lip, and everybody has them.
It’s just sometimes that you can’t really see it clearly on everyone.
It’s two drop shapes coming to the middle, and then there is one nice drop facing down.
I’m trying to point that out to you guys.
If you wonder exactly how that looks, study the features of Michelangelo.
That’s never a mistake because you learn so much about the transition planes and anatomy
and just how beautifully he rendered all of those things.
The lower lip has only two major forms.
It’s again like two kind of drop shapes coming in the middle together.
It’s two shapes facing each other in sort of a drop shape.
The upper lip has three major masses, and the lower lip has only two.
I’m not going to finish the lip, obviously, because I want to keep it on the same level
I’m just drawing in the information that I’m seeing, the turn, the volume, and then
later on I will get more into detail.
I’m going from the very basic information and go more detailed, more detailed, more
I think what every art is about, like drawing, painting, sculpting, you just try to get the
more simple information, and then as you go you apply more and more details until you
finish the surface, you smooth out the surface, and you get every little detail blocked in.
29:36 Let me show you guys that under the lips there is a straight line under the lower
lip, kind of, a very clear one.
And then coming closer to the lip there is a wing shape on this side.
I call it wing shape sort of on this side.
That’s enough for the lip for now.
I don’t want to finish it.
We’re far from finishing.
I want to have it placed correctly.
Now I’m going to the nose a little bit more.
I can see I have a major asymmetry going on, like one wing is much higher than the other
one, so let’s fix that.
I’m looking also at the sculpture now, the width of the nose, for instance, transitional
planes that I can see.
At this point, actually, we are going to be using a little bit smaller tool because we
are getting a little bit more detailed.
I’m switching to another tool.
Before I had this tool, and it was totally fine to work with it for a long time, to block
in major shapes.
I also was making drawings with it.
I made this tool myself.
I think I showed it to you guys before.
I switched also to this tool to make drawings on my sculpture.
Now I’m using the same tool but just a little bit smaller.
Excuse me, for a very long time if you’re working that way your sculpture is always
going to look a little bit too lean, too bony, and not really alive because we build it from
the bone structure to the surface.
That’s why the eye socket are going to be too deep.
More and more I’m starting to fill in.
Let’s look at the eye orbit for a second.
The inner corner of the eye is much further out than the outer corner of the eye.
I can see the bone has this transition plate that has quite a volume.
Then here sits the inner corner of the eye.
That form you can see on the model clearly.
I’m just filling in.
Now I’m realizing when I’m stepping back that maybe the eyebrow line is a little bit
too high on my sculpture.
I’m going to measure that on her from the chin up to the eyebrow line.
I’m seeing, it’s a little bit too, like my eyebrow line seems to be too high up.
Always when you run into a problem like that, like something is a little bit off.
It’s too high, it’s too low or whatever.
You cannot go with the first solution and just cut off the chin
or just bring the eyebrow lower.
You need to see, okay, where is the problem?
Is it that maybe the distance to the forehead is too short, or maybe I grew the chin too
long, or maybe the nose is too long.
There must be one thing that’s too long in my sculpture.
You cannot just make a decision and say, oh, that’s that one thing.
You have to measure a few things.
What I’m going to do now is I will measure from the chin to the inner corner of the eye
and see if this distance is working.
I will also measure the bridge of the nose.
Like if this distance is working, and then I will see here or there must be something
a little bit too long.
Okay, so I’m going to—yeah.
I’m starting to think maybe I placed the whole eyeball section a little too high,
which is fine.
We still can change it in this stage.
Let’s see if the distance from the nose to the chin is working.
Nose to the chin is quite nice, but I think what happened was I think the nose as a whole
grew a little bit too long, so I’m going to bring the nose a little bit higher up,
and then the corner of the eye a little bit lower down.
The inner corner of the eye should be a little bit below the nasium, the nasium is this point.
That’s the nasium.
That’s the first end point of the nasal bone.
The inner corner of—I mean like the closer to the nose corner of the eye, the teardrop
is a little bit below the nasium.
I’m going to mark this clearly on my sculpture on both sides where it anatomically should
be so that way I bring back the structure.
That’s going to happen in sculpture very often.
Some things are proportioned a little bit out of place, so you need to know how to help
yourself and to reintroduce the structure into the sculpture.
You can only do that measuring bony points of your skull again.
I’m measuring, as I said, the inner point of the teardrop.
Not really of the teardrop, but in a point of the eye orbit.
As soon as I have that—sorry, sweetheart—yeah, this is where it’s supposed to be.
I know all the other information.
I need to come a little bit lower too.
Yeah, just bring the eye orbit a little lower.
That was what needed to happen.
You will see as soon as we correct that, it’s going to make a little bit more sense.
Bring the whole eye orbit a little lower.
Don’t lose the mark of the inner eye corner.
Then you can mark the outer eye corner too.
The outer eye corner is a little bit higher than the inner one, approximately like this
kind of height.
I’m already much more happy.
That’s a good thing about sculpture.
It’s okay to not always be right on in the first goal, but as long as you know how to
keep control over your proportions.
When something goes a little bit out of proportion, you need to know how to fix it and not ignore
things that look a little too long or off to you.
Don’t ignore that.
With clay modeling it can happen that you get into a mood of just going on with the
forms and not being reflective or critical while you’re observing enough.
You’re thinking, it’s only clay, I can change it.
That’s a little bit tempting
I’m bringing still the eye orbit a little bit lower down.
Okay, so now we haven’t looked from the profile for some time.
We’re just going to pick one profile view.
It doesn’t matter if it’s left or right.
Just make sure that when you look at one profile side immediately look on the other side too
and make sure that since the human body has most of the information twice, like we have
two eyes, two eyebrows, one mouth but two sides of the mouth, two corners of the mouth.
When you make changes on one side, you have to immediately make those changes on the other
Look on the profile line on one side.
Immediately go on the other side, look at the other side and line that information up.
That means keeping control over what structure your implying onto the sculpture.
So yeah, just make sure.
Okay, so I’m going to turn her.
We haven’t looked at this side for some time.
Let’s check the interior information again.
It’s kind of always the same information.
You keep checking, and you’re wondering, oh, we already measured that or we already
checked it so many times.
Since this is changing constantly because I’m growing it, growing it, growing it,
things just get lost sometimes.
I work over stuff so we need to recheck it.
I just measured at the corner of the nose.
I might have to go a little bit more back.
Let me show you guys how I draw out the shape of the ear.
If you break it down, like the basic shape of the ear, it’s less complicated than it
seems in the beginning.
The whole shape of the ear, you could say it looks like a question mark, which I find
funny because it’s like listening is like asking a question.
The other shape here is called the helix.
It basically turns kind of like a spiral from the ear opening out.
It’s not always perfectly round.
There is always a point where it has a clear turn.
It starts from the inner point, turns out like a spiral, and then it has like a clear
turn and then comes downward to the earlobe.
The inner volume is called the anti-helix, which looks a little bit like a Y, which looks
a little bit like a Y.
I can show you in a second what I mean by that.
It looks like a Y because on top of the form it has
two kind of like fingers like a Y.
We’re going to make that look nicer in a second.
The anatomy, of course, is the same everywhere, but no ear looks exactly the same, so try
to also shape it the way your model has it.
So, helix, anti-helix, then here is the ear opening, the ear lobe.
The anti-helix kind of disappears behind the helix.
This is the basic shape of the ear.
We will make it nicer later.
Then there are so many different types of earlobes.
Sometimes they’re grown here on to sometimes like big, large.
So yeah, this is how I draw out the ear.
I will make it look nicer later on.
I don’t want to finish it completely.
Just have a nice block-in shape of the ear.
Then from the front, when it comes to the ear, we’re a little bit afraid of making
it come out too much because we don’t want to have big ears.
Remember that behind the ear there is quite a lot of volume, so it is at an angle coming
out quite a bit.
Don’t be too shy to make that, because if you make it like too close to the skull it
doesn’t look convincing either.
You have to check from the front how far the ear is coming out.
That’s quite okay.
Okay, so from the side I’m still working a little bit on the eye opening.
Something that needs a lot of attention because this is very much giving structure to the
sculpture, also because a little bit—remember, I decided to bring the whole information a
little bit further down.
I made a lot of decisions here, drew in the ear.
Did not finish it yet, but that’s good.
Just making sort of an ear, filled in a lot here.
Guess what, now I need to do the same thing on the other side.
Before I get really started I feel like I want to fill in a little bit on the turban.
Just because this is getting a lot more resolved, and if this is looking so chunky, I just don’t
When it’s about big shapes, big masses, I’m okay with just using my fingers.
Not everybody would agree with me on that.
Some people would only use tools.
I want to feel free to and really feel the clay also.
Now I’m drawing in a little bit the main masses of the turban.
Always when it comes to like hair or any kind of hat, turban, whatever, you will have more
It’s never going to look exactly the same.
So if you see nice directions you like you draw them in.
For instance, here I see on my model the main directions how the turban is folded.
I’m just drawing in those lines, and that’s it for now.
I’m not going to solve it really.
I’m just drawing in dynamics that I like.
Then I don’t have to do exactly what she has.
I can kind of make it up a little bit.
Being inspired by the big shapes that she is giving me.
Okay, now I’ll make the same thing here on this side using a smaller tool.
Fixing the ear.
Earlobe drawing out the helix that starts like a spiral shape at the eye opening, and
then cut out the anti-helix.
Okay, so now I join kind of the ear.
Maybe I’ll make a bigger earlobe here, and then the beginning of the helix needs to be
a little bit more clear.
What I mean by the letter Y is that here it ends in two, kind of like that, looking like a Y.
Okay, let’s take a little break.
Then again, using depth information.
Remember, I was trying to get the eye socket a little lower.
That’s also something I need to fix from the other side.
What I’m going to do is measuring down from the chin up to her eyebrow bone.
Let me do that one more time.
Actually, we did pretty good.
Me and me.
Me and me are doing great.
Okay, so here this is very prominent.
You can see it.
I need to mark this point.
It’s a very important landmark.
This line is a very important turn.
You can see that on the model very clearly.
You can see it on everybody more or less clearly.
Sometimes it tends to be more prominent on male skulls than on female, but it’s always there.
This is going to be the most important turning point, and then we have this line.
Then we have the eyebrow line.
This is how you introduce structure into your sculpture by knowing the most important anchor
points, I call them, which are usually points.
They are very prominent and obvious.
Where there are lots of bony planes coming together.
Here are three bony planes coming together.
This would be like a very important landmark, as I told you.
The widest part of the zygomatic arch is a very important landmark.
This point where the zygomatic bow is ending is an important landmark.
All those things, when you are aware of them, you start to notice them on models and on
Before you really thought about it, you don’t notice it as much.
That’s why it’s good to be aware of bony points.
Okay, I need to turn you a little bit towards me.
Now I’m working a little bit on my profile line.
Now this is important to notice.
Here is the wing of the nose.
The tip of the nose and then where the philtrum comes out, usually people make it too close
to the wing of the nose.
It’s actually halfway.
From here to there it’s kind of halfway.
It also doesn’t shoot out like in a straight angle.
There is like a tiny bit of a transition plane in between making a little curve, and then
it comes out.
It seems like, okay, that’s so small.
It’s not important.
It is important.
It makes a difference.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Now we can make everything a little sharper, like kind of the nice sharp edges.
Meaning sharp not like straight edges and points, but just going over the profile line.
I keep going over the profile line until the end basically.
I always see, oh, I can pronounce this a little better, bring this out a little more.
Why is it so important to look over the profile line?
That’s kind of the secret, how to get a really close likeness to the model.
It just is.
If you get this line really correct, from the front I’m not going to touch it.
I’m going to follow that landscape, basically.
It’s like a basic landscape you’re creating of somebody specific.
Not like a random person, not something generic, but a specific line.
That is why I keep it—always when I go to the profile view, which I keep doing.
The entire time I’m sculpting I check the profile line and check where exactly the nasal
bone is, how it’s turned.
This is really, really important to do.
Now I’m looking like on my model—she is like, she has very pronounced cheekbones and
is kind of like lean in the midsection.
If you see something like that, draw it on to your sculpture.
Here is like where the shapes will come together very closely, and I can fill it in from the side.
I don’t care if the surface is not perfect and has bumps and holes.
I actually even like it better when the surface is not perfectly smooth as I go just because
it doesn’t look finished.
It’s still loose, and I still feel like I can go into the shapes and change it around
and be flexible with it.
As soon as I make everything smooth and clean it looks finished.
There is nothing to do anymore.
A lot of student say, yeah, but I can’t see the forms really well when it’s not
Maybe there is like different tendencies.
If you’re the type that you need everything nice and clean you can work a little bit like
more unifying certain shapes.
Don’t think you need to unify everything in every stage.
It just is going to psychologically make you think, oh, this shape is not done, which it’s
not so that’s why.
Okay, on a lot of places I’m hitting the surface.
It means that I feel like, okay, I’m coming to the skin, and I already have a tool that’s small.
I showed you those tools in the beginning.
It’s a little bit curved.
The more I come to the surface the more I’m going to be a little bit more precise with
how I make turns and how I treat the surface and fill in a little bit like bumps and holes.
Okay, I feel like we should not work too long on this side and look at our sculpture from
Then move also our beautiful model.
Good, okay, let’s start work on the eyes.
I’m not going to resolve the eyes perfectly.
The eye area tends to be the area that needs the most concentration
just because eyes are tricky.
There is a lot of information to it and there is a lot of layering.
You need to watch out for the anatomy, and also the eyes are the window to the soul.
You want to be really precise and also get a good impression of how do the eyes look
like on your model and what feel do they give to you.
It’s not just a proportion study, it’s also a little bit like a character study, right?
You want to make sure that you capture a good character.
The eyes are tricky.
If you mess up the eyes, all of a sudden, the whole sculpture doesn’t look good anymore.
It’s a saying, the weakest point on your sculpture or your drawing kind of determines
the strength of your work.
Knowing that, you want to be careful when it comes to eyes.
There are lots of sculptures where the eyes look too sharp, like they look they’re maybe
too perfectly rendered.
They have this sharp look, and it kind of looks a little bit dead.
To make eyes alive, it’s a lot of sensitivity that you just need.
I mean, yes, anatomy, yes, technique and I’m trying to like explain the technique as good
as I can.
But there is a lot of sensitivity too.
The first time you make eyes, you might not hit them right away and make them look like
really alive and awake.
I’m thinking of examples in art history where they made awesome eyes.
I’m thinking of 19th century French sculptures.
For instance, Houdon made incredible eyes.
What I noticed is that his eyes are not perfectly rendered.
He kind of gives a little bit of a layering, and he softened certain areas like the pupil.
For instance, his pupils are not very sharp.
They’re kind of simplified, even, but yet, so alive and so you can, you know, feel the
window to the soul with certain sculptures.
That’s why I think to think to sculpt good eyes is really something that makes the sculpture
portrait magical or not.
That’s really how importantly I treat it and always try my best to hit it right.
Having said that, now it’s even more difficult to reach that level, but let’s try.
Alright, to make good eyes, again, layering is important.
We already mapped out the eyeballs.
Now I need to mark the inner eye corner of the eye and the outer.
Then we have to shape the eyelid around the eyeball.
Note that the eyeball itself is much bigger.
What we see is only the tip of the eyeball.
Like the actual eyeball is hidden in the skull.
What we see coming out of the eyelid is just the tip kind of.
The eyeball itself doesn’t vary in its size from person to person so much.
What varies is really the eye orbit and then, of course, the eyelids and the eye opening.
People have large eyes, small eyes, sharp eyes.
Another important thing to know proportion wise, they say there are like five eye lenses
in the width of the head, so this is the width of the head.
Like the eye opening where you can more or less say like there is one eye length to the
corner of the eye.
The actual eye, and then there is one eye length in between the eyes, the actual eye,
and another eye length that makes it five eye lengths to sum up
the whole width of the skull.
That’s interesting to know.
Not everybody has exactly one eye length between their eyes.
People will tend to have it a little wider, a little closer together.
And if that varies, it immediately gives a complete different sense of character.
For instance, if the eyes are little bit closer together, you get a little bit of a feeling
of sharpness, focus, intelligence.
That’s a person that’s kind of focusing a lot.
When the eyes are wider, it’s not that they look more dumb or anything, it just gives
a sense of innocence a little bit.
When you look at Disney characters, like if you have a nice Disney princess, usually the
tendency is that they draw the eyes a little bit further apart.
Then you have other characters that have them a little bit closer together.
Very often the evil character has the eyes kind of too close together so it’s not like
a trustworthy person.
So, all that information matters.
If you see a model, it’s not that you categorize the model as not trustworthy or anything,
it just gives a sense of character.
Now, I’m shaping an eyelid around my eyeball.
Very generalized in the beginning, just to have something there to shape.
Then pronounce the bone.
On my model, for instance, she has this beautiful almond eye type.
Almond eyes, really nice.
You want to make sure to have the inner corner of the eye working.
Then the other corner of the eye.
Look from the side view.
This is like really turning and sitting in the eye socket.
That’s very important.
I’m showing you from the perfect side angle.
Here you can only see the eyelid and really how it’s sitting in the eye socket.
That usually does the trick to make it look like it’s moving, like movable.
This person could open their eyes even.
It’s just smeared kind of material there, so this is not at all finished eyes.
And to really start to work on the eye itself, the surrounding needs to work.
This is like a basic block-in of the eye.
One thing is very important.
We won’t draw in the pupil for a long time, actually at the very, very end.
You can already sculpt it in a way where you can tell in what direction
is your sculpture looking. So we're just going to have her look straight ahead.
You can also like make it look anywhere.
What happens is the way my pupil is facing, it creates a very strong bump.
My pupil is turned out very much.
Let’s say I look in this direction, my eyelid is going to have the way I look, in the direction
I’m looking at, like a stronger bump, if that makes sense.
Good, so we’re making the upper eyelid, just an indication of it.
This is not perfect.
This is not shaped.
I just material there so I have something to work with.
Then we need the lower eyelid.
The lower eyelid must be—like when you look from the side view again, the upper eyelid
must be further out than the lower.
It makes sense because the upper eyelid needs to turn around the eyeball and has to be able
to close the eyes, so this needs to come further out than this.
Let’s draw in the eyebrow real quick.
That’s something I redraw all the time, where the eyebrow is.
Now I feel like I want to switch my tool.
I have one tool that I like for eyes very much.
I’m going to show you it on the camera.
The end of it is like a little round.
That way I can go into the inner eye area and make that nice and neat.
You can see as soon as I have something there that kind of looks like eyes.
It’s not really her eyes yet, but as soon as there is something, it changes the whole
feel of the sculpture because eyes are so important.
I’ll leave that actually for now even though it’s not resolved at all.
I just placed it the way I want it.
What I did was I know how far out I want the eye to be here.
That is what I’ve seen from the side angle.
I know where the inner eye corner should be or where I want it.
I might change it later, but I placed it somewhere where I can work with it.
Inner eye corner and kind of like a turn here.
We’ll work over that eye further soon, but now I want to go over some other stuff
like the nose.
We lost the philtrum here.
I don’t know where it went.
I’ll find it again.
Remember, don’t forget to look underneath, like to check turns.
Now I want to point out something also is important to you.
This area here is called the keystone.
I like the name keystone because it reminds us of architecture where you make two columns,
and where they connect like that area is called keystone in your architecture too.
It’s really what the nose structure is because it has two arches, and that’s kind of seen
as a column, so it is like architecture a little bit.
That is very characteristic and very different on every person, so you want to focus on it
and do a great job on the keystone because it’s always the key of the character too.
Let’s just focus on that for a second.
She has it.
There are people who have it really short or kind of like almost a line that cuts in.
In her case, it’s really subtle and kind of elongated.
We want to enhance that also because it gives a little bit of sense of pride, like open eyes.
It’s a strong, kind of proud look.
This is a proud woman.
I’m focusing on the keystone and also how it merges into the eyebrow line.
Then above the keystone here in this area we have a little bump here.
So, keystone is here.
It’s like this triangle shape that has a certain plane change facing in.
Then where the hair of the eyebrow starts underneath this the bone that’s coming out
and kind of protecting the eye really well.
This is like a drop shape kind of plane.
You can see it on somebody because here is also like lots of muscles attaches.
So, buff the eyebrow in that area—if we can look at that from the other angle for
a second, please.
Okay, like here, this you want to pronounce a little bit because we can see it on the
model a little clearly.
Okay, so I’m thinking this is the end of the session today.
What I did today is more so introducing the facial features, like building up the width
of the sculpture, rechecking the profile line.
Building in the information and the depth, starting to introduce the zygomatic arch,
and then toward the end of the session we introduced the eyes,
the lips, and also the nose.
In this stage, what I’m trying to instill in the blocking stage, I can already start
to read the character of the sculpture, but it’s not refined at all.
So, the beginning of the next session, I’m going to check the profile line again, going
to check all the facial features really where I want them to be, and then slowly I’m going
to start to refine and shape the eyes exactly how I want them, shape the lips exactly how
I want them.
In this stage, now I feel like I’m happy with the proportions.
I happy with the placement.
That’s why I want to end the session.
I’ll rest in between.
Then next time I have fresh eyes to check all those points and get more detailed.
So, see you next session.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 0sNow playing...
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2. Building Width, Checking Symmetry, Beginning Eye Socket/Ball46m 39s
3. Eye Socket/Ball (Other Side), and Developing the Mouth and Lips39m 20s
4. Adjusting the Eyebrow Line, Sculpting the Ears25m 2s
5. Checking Planar Changes, Sculpting the Eyes32m 23s