Designing Animal Figurine with Air Dry Clay

Animal figurine I did based on images from internet:

animal figurines with air dry clay

When I was new in clay craft few years ago, I always follow the step-by-step instructions provided by other artist to create figurine with air dry clay. 

As time goes by, my modeling skill improved and nowadays designing and making my own clay figures of the animals are not a problem at all. 

I am happy to share my finding and experience with you so you can design your own figurine too. 

Design Concept & Planning

  1. First of all think about the purpose of your figurine. Is it for hanging ornaments? Cake topper? Wearable items? Stand alone sculpture? Table decoration? Group of figurines? 
  2. Next, choose the type of animal you want to make with air dry clay. 
  3. And then choose your color scheme. Would you like to have the color of the figurine close to the actual animal or would you like to have the color matches your overall design? 
  4. From here, draw a rough sketch of the animal pose, expression and the color you want to create.

Choosing the Style

 So are you going to model a lifelike animal with realistic appearance or are you going to model a cartoon style figurine

I like cute style because the animal looks adorable this way. 

Converting Idea to Clay Model

You may have decided the type of the animal you are going to create but not sure about the detail. 

No worries!

Open your children story books and you may surprise to see there are many good animal pictures inside. Also, hobby magazines, tourist information booklets, postcards and internet are good to find information about animals.  

After getting the animal picture I like, I would normally make a copy and then scribble on it to find basic geometrical shapes, simplify the shapes, pick up my clay material and start sculpting the animal. 

Follow my  4 design steps:

how to make animal figurine
  1. (a) Clay design ideas (here is a picture from The Telepgraph 19/12/12)
  2. (b) Identifying animals's shape
  3. (c) Simplifying the shape & preparing the clay basic shape
  4. (d) Executing/ assembling clay components

Creating Expressive Figures

Your figurine will look more attractive and fascinating with expression. You can create the expression by changing its position, changing facial expression or adding props. 

Different-shaped eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths and ears can change the character of your figurine. 

Look at my Franklin the Frog expression :)

The frog figures are modification of those in Maureen Carlson's Book, Clay Characters for Kids.

Franklin the Frog, wondering figure


Franklin the Frog, dreaming figure


Franklin the Frog, having fun figure

Having Fun


Ready to make animal figurine? Follow my tutorial for a start.

PS. When I have new page, I will add that to "more tutorial" list.

More tutorial:

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