Week 2: Sculpting and Modeling Techniques


First sculpts!  We’re going to learn some quick ITP-friendly sculpting techniques. We will learn ways to make our designs real.

Tin foil and polymer clay sculpture form

Artists to Watch
Jason Freeny
Marina Sabio

Show and Tell

We will show and discuss our work and get it ready for display.  Tape turnaround sketches to the wall.  Display your wooden blanks on the stand.

Displaying Work

We will be showing our work publicly on the floor.

The Toys That Made Us

Which episode did you watch?  What did you think?


Our goal is to take your turnaround sketch and translate it into the 3D world.

Final Toy

Gorilla toy walk through.

Sculpting Techniques

Paper Mockups

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Pepakura elephant head

Pepakura, or papercraft, are models constructed mainly from sheets of heavy paper, paperboard, card stock, or foam.  Usually, software is involved.

Hand Sculpting

Polymer Clay Super Sculpey
Super Sculpey is a polymer clay that stays pliable until it is baked and then it can be painted.  If you have experience with clay modeling this medium should be familiar.

Hand sculpting with Super Sculpey

Apoxie Sculpt

Apoxie Sculpt combines the features and benefits of sculpting clay with the adhesive power of epoxy, does not need to be cooked.


Aluminum foil sculpting

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Cheapest, cleanest, fastest way I can think of to go from drawing to a 3D form.  Crush, crumple, push into a form.  Great for the first roughing-out models to get a sense of scale.

CAD can be turned quickly into a 3D print or CNC’d object.

Simple Volumes

If CAD is new to you, try creating characters with simple volumes: spheres, cones, cylinders.

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Or build a form out of a combination of simple extrusions.

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I typically use Vectorworks, but any CAD software that exports to a .stl or.obj file should work.

CAD models created with spheres and cones

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Some simple shaped toys: Danbo, Green Haro

CAD Medium

Medium is a VR CAD sculpting program.  It is closer to sculpting by hand than traditional CAD.

Screen grab from Medium modeling software

Medium Tutorials


Removing material from a block.  Typically a material that is soft and easy to sculpt.

Blue Foam Modeling
Hand sculpting a form from blue insulation foam.  A typical material used by industrial designers.  The affordable foam can be worked quickly.  Creates a lot of dust.

Artist sculpts blue foam with a rotary tool


Typically done to wood.  Our shop is set up well for these techniques.

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Found Materials

Kitbashing, ready mades, …

Almost all of the toy prototypes from The Toys That Made Us were built with or on top of existing toys.

Taking parts/pieces from existing model kits, plastic objects, or toys to create original pieces.

Steps to kitbashing a futuristic vehicle

Taking casts from existing toys (or existing toy parts) and restructuring them into original pieces.

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Junk Shelfing

If you’re lucky you can find some great parts on the junk shelf.

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Vacuum Forming

Making your own plastic pieces.

Flat Stock Sculpting

Stacking/Layering Flat Stock for 2.5D Sculpting

Stacking flat stock to create your object can be quick, cheap, and iterative.  Paper, cardboard, thin wood, and acrylic work well. Easy to try different colors.

Steps to make a fun duck

Daniel Moyer’s fun duck

Flexible Sheet Material

Flexible material can be bent or curved to create you form.  Paper and vinyl are great for this.  So is the vinyl cutter.

2.5D Relief 

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Shallow etching can create some interesting effects with thin material.

Styrene Scratch Building

Using nothing but styrene and styrene weld, you can build models from scratch.

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In Class

Aluminum Foil Sculpting

Kitbashing/Vacuum Former/Junk Shelf


You will sculpt your piece .  This is not your final version, there will be more to come.  This is to make it real.  Check for scale.  Form.  Color.   See if you’re on the right track.  Blog and Instagram your work.  You might have to make more than one.

Related Reading/Viewing

Kit-Bashing and Scratch-Building

Basic Bondo for Designers and Model Makers

How to Make Paper Craft Models

Medium Tutorials

NYU LaGuardia Studios