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A Tutorial on Polymer Clay Camouflage and Techniques!

Now for your design... Place the individual slices tightly together to form a large patterned base. You want this base to be large enough to accommodate the entire design pattern or freeform outline.

Very carefully begin to push and smooth the pieces together. You’re going to lose some of the pattern but not much, so don’t worry if it seems a bit ‘muddled’ in areas. If after smoothing the pieces together, you discover the pattern doesn’t fit; simply add more clay until it does.

Lay your pattern onto the base and gently press it down so it sticks a little bit. This will help to keep it from moving around as you’re trying to cut it. Even so, you will still need to keep a firm hand on the pattern during the cutting or tracing process.

You can either trace the outline with the pointed stylus and then cut with the Exacto knife or using a single-step action; cut the outline very carefully with the Exacto. Whatever you are more comfortable with. Save your cut-off pieces and leave them intact (don‘t ball them up); they are very important and will be used in the next step. This is your first preliminary cut. At this stage you are merely laying the foundation of your outline and have several more cutting steps before you begin actual sculpting; so don’t worry about perfection at this point.

Taking the cut-off scraps and any remaining slices; build a second layer on top of your outline. Try to keep uniform thickness. If you end up not having quite enough clay; skim slices off the top with the Exacto knife and use these to finish.

Smooth this layer and try to keep a uniform thickness throughout. Move along the edges, smoothing and shaping as you go, following the original outline. Again, do not worry about perfection in the shape… that will come in the next few steps. With the pointed stylus, draw defining lines for your outline. In the areas on the pattern where the snakes’ body is shown to slightly overlap; draw along these lines, pressing in about 1/16”. On the outside edges and inner holes; carefully draw deep lines to the wax paper.

Fine trim these deeper lines with the Exacto, and your piece is now ready to begin sculpting. You will be making another trim after the next step but this is the stage where the detail work really begins.

What you have done up to this point concerning the preparation of the outline; is the beginning for any type of design you may wish to create in this type of art sculpture. If you have a pattern (or can cut free-hand), you can bring any design ‘to life’! The main steps of Base, pattern, double layering (when needed…some designs do not require a lot of thickness), smoothing and cutting the outline; are the foundations to delightful creations! Further sculpting is simply the practice of technique. You can do this!

Now we are going to create the illusion of the snakes’ overlapping body. Using the flat side of the spade tool, press in and down all along the edge of the lines that you drew that represent this ‘overlapping’. You want a nice defined ridge about 1/8” deep.

Next… press and smooth the indented and surrounding area with your fingers. You want to give the illusion that the overlapping part of the body is ’higher’ than the part it overlaps. By pressing the ’background’ to a lower level and smoothing this lower level into a uniform thickness; you will achieve this 3-D look.

You will notice that pressing the ‘overlapped’ areas resulted in the outline being pushed a bit out of shape. This is to be expected and brings us to our final trim. With the Exacto knife; cut these edges and any other areas that need a bit of final trimming.

Mold, smooth and shape the entire piece in a final preparation for detailing. This is a crucial step so relax and take your time. You want it to be as close to anatomically correct as possible. This will really give it that special ’something’ and will only be further enhanced by the detailing.

Detailing and Finishing Up...

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