Here’s my totally biased opinion on what is a good first sculpting project for beginners.
When you’re reading this, you probably saw some really cool sculptures on the internet. A fantasy monster, a cute chibi, an elaborate anime figure… If you are anything like me, you want to start on all of these at once! But what is a good first project to start sculpting? Is it good to just throw yourself into that big fantasy dragon?
Start out with writing down a list of ideas or collecting references if you are going for fan art.
Looking at what to start out with, you may want to look at those things:
Let’s tackle those one by one.
Did you already look up and research about sculpting? Did you read or watch videos? Do you have a vague idea to tackle your project? Do you know how to keep proportions, make an armature, have an idea where to pre-bake? Visualize your ideas and see if you have an idea to tackle them. You should at least know how to start out and give your sculpture a solid base. If you don’t have any idea how to achieve that, put the project aside for now.
It is a lot easier to start a project if you have a proportional image reference. It will help you to keep your the proportions of your sculpture while you are working. No matter if it is self drawn or a screenshot from some media. Do you have the skill to visualize your project? For example draw it in a side and front view? If not, you might want to put it aside if you have more experience. Experience will make it easier to sculpt from your thoughts instead of a reference.
Video games can make great references here. These days, a lot of games feature “photo-mode” in some form. In photo-mode you can compose and take screenshots, which helps a lot with reference and proportions.
Videogames can often easily give you reference pictures from all sides
Pictures taken with gpose in Final Fantasy 14
Structured surfaces that do not have repeating patterns are easier to sculpt
Smooth surfaces show flaws and are harder to sculpt
This may seem like a dumb question at first. But if you know that you aren’t a very patient person, starting out on something rather detailed can be frustrating. Considering you probably don’t have much experience things will go slowly in the start. Slower than with experience. If you’re an impatient person (like me), don’t put the strain of many details on you.
To learn what is a good first project to start sculpting let’s take a look at easy and hard things to sculpt.
Obviously this is my personal experience that again and some things might be easier for me than for you and the other way round. I’m also talking about shelf-size here. Everything is more complex when it’s small and gets easier when it’s big. At least to a certain point. Maintaining proportions can be tricky if the sculpture gets huge.
Now all these are guides and, again, you might have a certain knack for something I don’t. Just try to think about the points above when tackling your first project. The most important part is that you are having fun trying. Even if the project might be a bit too difficult, as long as you’re not getting frustrated, it’s great! You can always come back to it a year or two later to see how much you have improved. This can be incredibly satisfying.
I am personally not a big fan of sculpting things you don’t like, just “to get better”. I saw someone suggest you sculpt different things like animals, cars, architecture… Yes, this is helpful when you want to pursue a career in this or an artistic field. However, if you just sculpt for fun or want to try yourself, and you’re super into Pokémon, sculpt Pokémon. It is probably more frustrating to work yourself through things you don’t like, than making 3 Pokémon until you get where you want to be.
My first sculpture revisited after a year of sculpting. The idea of having my own character of FFXIV turned into a figure got me into sculpting in the first place.
So, did you decide for your first project? You can read about my clay recommendations for beginners here.
Not sure where to start with tools and materials? Hier is my Overview to sculpting.