Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How I work with Sculpey clay

I am an illustrator creating images with polymer clay.
I wanted to talk a little bit about how I create my images. I start with a sketch and then the process is a little different. This is a rough sketch I did for a book. I mix the colors and roll out the Sculpey clay colors I want to use in the artwork. Sculpey clay mixes like you would mix paint. I cut out all of the different color clay and put it between wax paper until I am ready to model the artwork. I sometimes do this right after I submit the sketches since this part of the process can take the most time.

The different colors of clay are then put together and pressed firmly to make them stick. The darker green bush/trees behind the church building extends under the light green clay and is press together. All of the elements in the back ground are layered this way one piece of clay on top of the other. I add textures to the clay for the grass, bricks, bush, etc. and then bake the clay in my oven to make it hard. The stone like clay used for the path and the steps is called Graintex also made by Sculpey.

The fly and the bumble bee figures were made separately, baked and then attached at a height of 4 inches on top of the background to make the nice "flying shadows." The bug antenna are made from a huge bunch of color coated wires I found on a sidewalk once a long time ago. I knew they would come in handy some day! The final baked clay artwork is assembled and attached to foam-core board to transport to the photography studio. The artwork is lighted and photographed digitally. I love this part of the process working with the photographer to get the right look. The image can change dramatically based on the lighting, since it is a dimensional thing. I then bring the image into photoshop and "fluff it up" I added the blush on the flys cheeks, highlights in the eyes, additional music notes and hearts. The flight path was also created in as a shape in photoshop and made transparent. VIOLA!

Now the KILLER: The final artwork for this piece is 30" wide!!! I did the piece this big to keep the tool marks from looking like huge gouges when the book was printed at the big book size.