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Posted by goregt On March - 18 - 2007

Why use a mirror when sculpting?

One of the key sculpting tips that I have found beneficial for improving the way my sculptures look is using a mirror to check the symmetry of the sculpture. Symmetry by definition, source www.dictionary.com, is the “the proper or due proportion of the parts of a body or whole to one another with regard to size and form; excellence of proportion”. So in essence the right hand should mirror the left, the left side of the face should mirror the right and so on and so on.

Usually when you create a sculpture, especially of the human form, it can be difficult to realize flaws in the symmetry. Sometimes things may appear to be a little off but it isn’t always obvious to the naked eye. There may be times when you overlook that the left eye is at a different angle then the right or tad lower then the right. There are several different tools and tips to help an artist improve symmetry but the one that I use the most, and will discuss in this article, is using a mirror to check to symmetrical flaws.

There are times where I will spend hours upon hours trying to perfect a sculpture only to hold my sculpture up to a mirror and have my heart drop into my stomach. You see the mirror does not hide the flaws and at times can point out your sculpting mistakes with brutal honesty. To better prove my point I am going to use an example of a warrior angel sculpture that I have been working on. In our example I am going to show you a picture of the angels face before and after I used a mirror. The goal is to find the symmetrical errors in the mirror correct them and see how changes improve the results on the final sculpture.

Examples of sculpting with a mirror

* Click on the thumbnails to see a larger view of the picture
** This sculpture is created with Super Sculpey

1. When I look at my angels face in the mirror I noticed that the face seems out of balance on the far left of the picture (right side of the angel’s face). The mirror points out the the angel’s right cheek is too big and the right eye droops a little bit
2. After spending some time rebuilding the right side of the face and checking the proportions constantly in the mirror I finally got to a stage where the face is close to being symmetrical.At this stage I really just make small changes, check the mirror and then go back to making more small changes. I keep this back and forth process up until I balance out the face.
3. Here is a picture of the angel’s face without the mirror.

I would like to make a final statement about improving your artwork with a mirror because from personal experience the mirror at times can create a very frustrating experience. I have personally had times where I just could not get the symmetry down 100% in the mirror. No matter what adjustments I made to the artwork, it just didn’t look perfect in the mirror.

The key is to keep improving with each piece so don’t quit or beat yourself if you cannot get the symmetry down right on your current piece. With each piece I make, I learn more and more about sculpting and how to hone in on my own skills. I’m a self-taught sculptor that sees each and every one of my sculptures as lesson in the overall journey of me becoming a better artist. There are sculptures that I made a couple of years ago that I look at now and just shake my head at. The entire flaws jump out at me now but that is because over the past couple of years I have worked at improving my skills with each and every piece I create. I also imagine that a couple years from now I will look at some of my current pieces and see flaws in them that I am missing today. That is expected and part of the learning process.

I believe that you should always do the best that you can for where your skills are today. In time with enough determination and practice I truly believe that everyone can create a masterpiece.

If you are interested in a step-by-step progress of this particular sculpture then you can view more about it on my blog at www.warrior-angels.com.

3 Responses to “Mirror”

  1. Jack Bayona says:

    I loved the “brutal honesty” concept

  2. david says:

    I like the idea of what your saying but I am a little unclear as how this is a tutorial? I still don’t know how to do what you are saying? is it as simple as just holding a mirror up to half the sculpture? how would that help I would only see a reflection of the side its facing not the side I want to improve? could you actually describe how to do what your saying?

  3. goregt says:


    Sorry for the late reply, I missed this comment. When you hold a sculpture in a mirror any imbalances will show in the reflection. For example, if one side of the face is longer or sticks out than the other the differences will show, or pop out, in the mirror. Most of the time when I sculpt the piece looks fine from the naked eye but when I look at its reflection in a mirror I can see where I made a mistake in the form of the sculpture. Also, holding the sculpture upside down gets the same results.

    Hope that helps.

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Nothing special, just a self-taught sculptor having fun with my art and showing all of you the tips and tricks I use to create my own artwork



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