Clay Modeling Questions

Hello core77,

I’ve been researching for the past 2 weeks into clay modeling for automotive design because next semester I’ll be doing my senior thesis and I’m highly interested in automotive design and currently looking into a Masters that’ll help me specifically pursue it. What I’m looking for specifically are tools and materials. Since I’m the first student to be doing an automotive-design-related project (I’m within the first class, ID is a new (3yrs old) major here) within my school, I have no support within the school to get advice for this; besides financial costs (school will pay for most of this) I’m on my own, and that has it’s limitations too.

I’ve watched what videos there are available on clay modeling and have been able to make a somewhat-decent list of tools that I need, but I honestly don’t know what the differences are once you go further into the categories (ex: rakes, there’s so many… why do I need X,Y,Z?) I’ve also seen an outstanding amount of different clay’s and other materials used throughout the process, is there anything that is specifically suggested against or for?

Just to get an idea of the spending range I’m looking to stay within, I’d like to get a basic set of tools for around $500 (if that’s not reasonable just tell me) and materials don’t exactly matter at this point just yet. As far as a time-table that I’d like to have all of this by, I’m hoping for around 4-6 weeks for everything to be in my studio for practice before the semester begins.

Thanks in advance, I appreciate all feedback and comments.
Apologies if I missed a previous thread on clay modeling tools, I must have missed it while searching.

dk, Chavant is the industry standby for modelling clay, etc.

Here’s their Modelling Clay Product catalog.

Here’s the Stocking Distributor List

Knowing what the tools look like goes a long way toward making them yourself. How to use them is, of course, a matter of training, and practice.

I agree, if your school has a machine/fabrication shop I’m sure it would be relatively easily to make most of the tools yourself, with some assistance from a tech. I don’t know your skill level but being able to custom make your tools is an invaluable ability. Get whatever tools you can from your school budget and then make whatever else you need as you go. Learn what works for you.

I echo what the others have said. I’d get a bare minimum of tools to begin with and experiment to see what you gravitate toward. You will no doubt be exposed in class to the kinds of tools you need.

The holy grail for me is the Clay Modeling special edition issue of Car Styling magazine from Japan. The photo of the master modelers toolkit was an eye opener. Sadly I just found out that the magazine ceased publication, it was amazing. Maybe you can find a copy on ebay of similar of that special edition issue.

Making your own tools can be as simple as cutting a sheet of thin plastic with a knife, having laser or CNC (sharper edge) cut from thin acrylic, EDM wirecutting spring steel sheet, or by hand. It really comes down to personal preference. I have purchased tools only to use them a few times and fall back to my favorites.

Now for a given project (not automotive) I will design a set of templates in Rhino for the range of radii I intend to use and have those cut from acrylic sheet.

and you might also need an axe.

Do they make a rough yellow foam model and apply the clay on top? It seems like it there. Before, they used wood frames right? Always wanted to use clay…

Because the clay is relatively expensive, only the layer that is likely to be modified needs to be built in clay. The underlying structure can be built of anything stable, foam is good because easy to cut to shape, and should a deeper modification be necessary, it can be easily cut away and filled with clay. Warm clay sticks to just about anything, so apply thin layers with a lot of pressure and you are good to model.

It really is a low barrier to entry material, and very rewarding for developing shapes.

Thanks for the responses guys. Though you’ve all been very helpful, my question I was wanting must not have been so clear.

What I’d like is basically someone to explain to me (quickly) the different reasons to have X,Y,Z tools. For example, lets use this Kolb Catalog. I have a feeling that different slicks are just used depending on the shape of your model, and that also stays consistent with steels. My question is particularly focused on the rakes and wires (pages 20-23). I think this information would be valuable in the future for others as well wanting to learn on their own as I haven’t found a source specifically noting why I need X tool over Y and what it’s intended use is for.

The buck can be made out of many things, I’ve seen metal, wood, and foam. As far as foam, from what I’ve learned, you want to use polyurethane foam because once you get to the painting process other foams such as polystyrene create gas gaps that obviously ruin your final outcome. But yes, it’s odd to have a full clay-only model.