Example Sculpting and Painting in Stages


In May 2008, I was asked to do the scene from "Once More with Feeling" where Spike bursts into song in his crypt. As he falls to his knees, singing up to Buffy, she avoids connecting with him and looks away.


For the Buffy custom, I used a Buffy head, Anyanka body, and Willow arms. Thanks to DST for the parts! I took photos of the various stages in sculpting and painting Buffy. I've used this as a tutorial.

Sculpting Buffy in Nine Stages

Stages 1-3 of Sculpting Buffy


  1. I trimmed the jawline of the Buffy head so that it would work better with a hair-pulled back style. I trimmed down the stomach, hip, and knee on the Anyanka figure. This is not because she is fat (far from it) just that I wanted to change the posture. Anyanka is arching her back, and pushing out her stomach and also jutting one hip. The knee goes quite far forward. I wanted Buffy to be in a more casual pose. I find it is best to start with as skinny a base figure as possible, then you can add sculpey to get a natural pose and a body shape specific to the custom character. I assembled the parts. I used a small screw to attach the head securely. I pushed some sculpey between her legs to widen her stance, so that she could stand on her own.

  2. I usually work from the feet up. I sculpted the basic shape of the skirt. Then I sculpted one boot. I didn't do the other right away because you can sometimes mess up one sculpt when doing another close by. I wanted to boil it to harden the sculpey clay first.

  3. The Anyanka torso doesn't have a bosom. I wanted it to show a slight cleavage, so I sculpted one breast. I didn't do the other immediately for the same reason as above. It's hard to smooth the cleavage, without squashing the breast you've just sculpted. I sculpted the other boot, and added a layer to make the final shape of the skirt. I made a crisscross pattern on her skirt, with dots in the middle, to show the lace overlay.

  4. I finished the cleavage and sculpted the front part of her top. I made a few fabric folds and defined the lace at the top and bottom. The lace at the bottom goes all the way round. It was not necessary to sculpt the rest of the top as I knew it would be covered by her jacket.

  5. I sculpted the sleeves of the jacket next. It is much easier to do this while there is still articulation in the shoulders, so that you can swing the arms up and get at them from all angles.

  6. I moved the arms up so that I could sculpt the jacket all the way round, and shape it. Once this was correct, I moved the arms down. The arms were flapping out a bit to far, so I held them to her sides and pushed a bit of plastic into the tops of the shoulder joints. This kept them in a more natural pose. I then filled out the rest of the shoulder joints with sculpey, and boiled again to set.

  7. I added some sculpey above the neck, to smooth the join to the head, and sculpted her tied-back hair. I built up the top of the jacket a little, and added the bow at her waist.

  8. I sculpted the collar and the loose bun at the back of her head.

  9. I sculpted her ears, earrings, and added another tendril of hair to her forehead. Then I sculpted the buttons on her jacket. It's best to add buttons last, as delicate items can get knocked off by accident, if they are sculpted too early.

Stages 4-6 of Sculpting Buffy

Stages 7-9 of Sculpting Buffy

Painting Buffy in Three Stages

Stages 1-3 of Painting Buffy


  1. I put 2 layers of paint on her skin, blouse, jacket and boots. I put one layer of brown on her hair and drew her eyebrows. I put flesh colour in the holes of the lace at the top of her blouse. I used one layer of watered down paint over the lace areas, so that it would seep into the holes/grooves. I mixed a dark grey for the lace bottom to the blouse, and light grey for the skirt. I used a light grey on her skirt instead of white, because the overall impression of the skirt is quite dark. The dark grey used on the blouse is to give the optical illusion of the final colour of the skirt (which shows through the lace of the blouse).

  2. I dry-brushed her hair with blonde, so that it picked up the top of the sculpted hair and the brown still showed in the grooves. I dry-brushed black over her skirt, several times to ensure that all the top parts were black and only the holes and grooves showed the light grey. As they were small delicate areas, I used a small brush to apply the white to the lace parts of her blouse, being careful to avoid the holes. I mixed a pretty tanned skin tone and repainted all of her skin, making sure to touch up any areas the had been blemished by the dry-brushing. I mixed a little red into the skin tone for her rosy cheeks. Then mixed in more red and painted her lips. I painted her eyes white, then painted her irises blue with a touch of brown mixed in, looking away to her left.

  3. I used gold pen to pick out highlights in her hair. I used black paint to do her upper eyelashes, and a touch of watered down black to indicate her lower lashes. I used silver pen to mark out her earrings, boot zippers, and to put two reflection dots in her eyes. I used black pen for the pupils. I used light pink paint to highlight her bottom lip and her finger nails. I used pure black to pick out the buttons on her jacket. This was to distinguish them from the leather, which was a black/pearl mix.

The Finished Set

After I posted the first photos of Buffy, Jess pointed out to me that the slip under Buffy's skirt was beige, not grey. Thanks! I used a beige wash over the skirt, to penetrate the grooves. When that was dry, I did the black dry-brushing again. Here is the finished set.



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