Low relief fish drawings tend to be mostly two dimensional. By contrast, alto relief (such as with school of fish sculpture) incorporates raised sections off of the wall surface that help make the fish seem further away.

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Glass master Julie Anne Denton introduces beginners to quirky off-mandrel forms like penguins, elephants, owls and fish from their comfort of home. Additionally, she covers basic paper cutout techniques as well as how to arrange school of fish so that smaller drawings appear farther away by altering percentage sizes of prints – creating low and alto relief effects.


Students will learn the fundamentals of creating animal sculptures using clay. Students will build three-dimensional animal forms from clay that resemble their chosen animal in three dimensions and be able to stand on its own without falling. Thin areas, such as ears or tails, should be handled carefully to prevent accidental breaks in them.

Students select a fish species (such as a pet Goldfish) from which to create their sculpture and study its anatomy – including eyes, location of mouth and mouth structure as well as various fins and fin covers. Students also study its relationship to aquatic survival while discovering its natural habitat.

Drawing their chosen fish helps students gain a better understanding of what it will look like when sculptured into 3D form. It may be helpful to use a profile image instead of full-body photo as this will better depict its proportions and detail. Once they’ve completed their drawings, students begin using the clay-armature to sculpt, using references from their drawings as necessary. This requires patience as it’s sometimes challenging to work with this rigid framework; students should continue sculpting until they are happy with their results. Once sculpture-making is complete, students should sand their pieces using coarse mesh sandpaper followed by medium and fine grit sandpaper. Frequent dipping keeps dust at bay and makes sanding easier; once completed, students should lightly oil their piece to prevent drying out.


To complete this project you will require a sturdy yet pliable animal armature made from steel; an ideal material would be welded steel frames which are readily available online in horse shapes for less than $50 and simple to assemble. Furthermore, for optimal results use a MIG welder equipped with flux core technology – be sure to read and understand its instructions, as well as practice on pieces of scrap beforehand – read its manual, practice using it first before starting this project; heat two inches or so of metal up red hot before starting to hammer against fish shaped forms; this allows more effective results when shaping them against fish surfaces when trying to shape them into fish shapes during fabrication.

Sculpting animals requires close consideration to texture, form, and movement. Delicate areas like ears or tails need special consideration. You can choose either acrylic paints or alcohol inks/tints that won’t damage the clay as coloring mediums for this endeavor.

Tool use among land-based mammals, birds and primates is well documented; however, aquatic taxa have less evidence to demonstrate this behavior. Some aquatic animals possess behavioral features that enable them to use tools, including archerfish’s modified mouth morphology for water shooting [82], crabs with hairlike structures called setae that secure objects [48] and sea otters with retractable claws and pouches between forelimbs and chests that store objects [83]. However, there remains considerable ambiguity as to whether these features qualify as tool use. Water animals use animal products as tools such as shells to aid them, but not always the same way land-based creatures do. Humpback whales expel bubbles in a consistent ring pattern while bottlenose dolphins stir up mud using the same strategy.


Animal sculpture requires some sort of reference material in order to succeed, whether that’s photos, drawings, real live models or whatever else will help you understand their shapes and proportions. While direct observation of a subject should always be preferred when possible – being able to touch, smell and walk around them directly is ideal; unfortunately this isn’t always practical for artists so using reference makes things easier if realism is an important consideration for you.

Before beginning sculpture, an armature will serve as the basis of your clay sculpture. This framework may be made of wire or another material; just ensure it can support its own weight as you build.

Once your sculpture is complete, the next step should be adding coloration. You might use tints of alcohol ink to highlight fish colors or acrylic paint for an eye-catching tropical aesthetic. In addition, be sure to protect the piece with some form of protective coating to avoid it being damaged or scratched while it sits on display.

Sculpting is an enjoyable way to express yourself, making an art form accessible to people of all ages and skill levels. While learning the craft may take some time and dedication, its rewards more than make up for their efforts.

Categories: Art Sculpture Skills