Sculpting skin textures with wax

So, as I mentioned, I am using wax to build up a model. My problem is wax is getting it to look organic (wavy lines, folds of the skin, etc). Here is my meager attempt at doing so, using Gary Overman’s Zen Wax.

1. Planning the “cuticle” around this claw-thing


I take a warm piece of wax, roll it up and make a snake. I press it where I want the bulk of the cuticle, or fold, to be.


I then take my wax pen, and start to melt the rolls together to form the cuticle mass.



I dig into the wax, both vertically, and horizontally. I try to think about how the wrinkles would look, and draw in that direction.


I decided that I wanted one more “fold” or stairstep flesh buildup, so I add another wax roll.


2. Detailing the skin, Round 1

Taking a sharp-pointed tool, I scribe in finer lines. Although in hindsight, I would avoid this step, because as you will see, I’m about to obliterate the details. It’s still nice to have the trenches dug in, as they DO add texturing later on.


The downside to this sharp tool, and if your wax is still warm, is that you can start erasing your details.


Since the wax is starting to collect a lot of little pieces that break off, I take water and brush away the bits.


3. Turning those hard rocky details into rounded flesh

Ok, this texturing I had still doesn’t suit itself to look like flesh. So I bring in the alcohol torch.


By slightly melting the surface, you see it become plastic looking, or more natural, like flesh you could imagine on this monster. Of course, so much of the detailing I did has disappeared, but some has remained.


Since I still want details, I go add them again. Round 2


4. Finishing it off

Where it all begins to look realistic is when I brush on mineral spirits, and go over it a few times. It takes the details, softens them up to look more like wrinkled folds.


I take a paper towel, suck up the moisture, and also slightly press down on the edges, trying to get rid of any hard bits that haven’t been rounded off.


For any hard edges that don’t look like “flesh” to me, I take a little loop to it (available from Ken’s Tools they are incredibly sturdy, and I use them to dig into wax all the time!)


And there you have it! After the mineral spirits evaporates, the wax won’t be so soft, and I will go in and make the last, final, subtle wrinkle scratches in there too. I am going to try to refine this process a bit, and if anyone has any tips that would help, please critique away at the process. I would love to hear how others use wax to achieve good results.