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Master's of Sacred Arts Capstone

SAC 596 CAPSTONE Introduction to Sculpting the Figure (5 credits)

Elizabeth Froula
Purchase for $1500

As an Introduction to Sculpting the Figure, we will work from 6 poses with a model and casted references. The human figure will be featured, to teach concepts of proportion, balance, gesture, anatomy and structure. The benefit of studying sculpture, gives an understanding of 3-dimentional form, space, and volume.

Introduction To Sculpting The Figure   








In our class, we will complete 6 poses from a model, three full figure, one torso and one portrait, with additional assignments to include sculpting Facial Features (Eyes, Ear, Nose, Mouth). The final assignment will offer the opportunity to be more creative and to decide on personal references. Some of these assignments will have the option to preserve and save the artwork, while some of these are intended to be exercises that will be torn down before the start of the next pose. The figure will be featured, to teach concepts of proportion, balance, gesture, anatomy and structure. The benefit of studying sculpture, gives an understanding of 3-dimentional form, space, and volume.


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Pontifex University Course: Introduction to Sculpting the Figure-3 Payments of $300/month

In this Course, we will introduce principles and concepts of sculpting the forms of the human figure. Proportion, structure, geometry, balance, and anatomy are some of the areas we will explore with the goal of re-creating the likeness of the models and reference materials.

Since some students might approach this course as an academic study, there are alternate requirements and expectations. While some students are seeking skills in sculpting and being able to show form accurate to reality. With six assignments that are introduced in order of simple to more complex, 3 are assignments that can be preserved prepared as a portfolio piece. We’ll be working directly from photos of a model and also casted references, with the final assignment a sculpture with your personal theme.

It is my hope that upon completing this class, you will see the world with renewed appreciation for the beauty of form, volume and space. The beautiful simplicity and complexity of the human is a miracle and only points back to our Creator.

Peace be with you,

Deborah Samia


Syllabus- Introduction to Sculpting the Figure- 15 Lessons


Lesson 1- Introduction to the Course, Setting Up and Building the Armature

  • Course Introduction
  • Your workspace preparation
  • Using your tools, How to work with clay
  • How to photograph your work
  • Building the armature


Lesson 2- The Geometric Figure (part 1 of 2)

  • The Anatomical Pose 
  • Proportion: The 8 head Cannon 
  • Seeing the Geometric forms in the Figure
  • How to Store your Clay


Lesson 3- The Geometric Figure, Part 2

  • The Geometric Forms of the Legs and Finding the “S” Curves
  • The Foot shown as a Wedge shape
  • The Geometric Forms of the Shoulders
  • Angle of the Arms and the Arms
  • 8 Head proportions for arms and legs
  • Bony Landmarks 


Lesson 4- Neutral Standing Figure (part 1 of 2)

  • Geometric Shapes related to Organic
  • Sight Sizing
  • Comparative Measurement
  • Finding Width and Depth
  • How to work “Rough”


Lesson 5- Neutral Standing Figure (part 2 of 2)

  • Studying the Contour
  • More on the “S” curves of the Legs
  • The Ankle bones and the Gluteus (Buttocks)
  • Contour of the arms
  • Adding muscle detail to the Torso


Lesson 6- The Contrapposto Pose (Part 1 of 3)

  • The Weight Shift
  • The Contrapposto
  • Getting the Alignment
  • How the “Box” and “Egg” swing
  • Common Mistakes to Avoid


Lesson 7- The Contrapposto Pose (Part 2 of 3)

  • Ecorché
  • Bones the lie Beneath- The Torso, Spine and Pelvis
  • Bones of the Arm and Hand
  • Muscles of the Human Body
  • Muscles of the Shoulders and Arm
  • Muscles on the Arm and Hand


Week 8- The Contrapposto Pose (Part 3 of 3)

  • Contracting and Relaxing Muscles
  • Composition with the “S” curves 
  • Sculpting Bone, Muscle, and Fat
  • Bones of the Legs
  • Muscles of the Thigh
  • Muscles of the Lower Leg
  • Details on the Foot and Hand
  • Foundational Shapes for the Skull and Bones


Lesson 9- The Female Torso (Part 1 of 2)

  • The Torso in Art History and Modern Art
  • Simplifying the Pose
  • The Contrapposto: Finding the Shift and Balance
  • Determining the Width and Depth
  • The hip joint and Positioning the Legs
  • The Shoulder Joint and Scapula Rotation
  • Male and Female Differences in the Bone Structure


Lesson 10- The Female Torso (Part 2 of 2)

  • Using Observation- contours, high points, & vertical lines
  • Bone, Muscle, Fat, & Skin
  • Additional Male and Female Differences 
  • Fat Distribution
  • Different Variations on the Base
  • How to prepare for the Kiln (optional)
  • Hollowing Continued


Lesson 11- The Portrait (Part 1 of 3)

  • Physical likeness and Capturing the Human Soul
  • Four Simplified Shapes of the Head
  • Preparing the armature
  • Measurements and Applying Clay
  • The Face, Neck, and Shoulders
  • Creating Lines of Symmetry
  • Names of the Bones- the Cranium, the Face, and neck


Lesson 12- The Portrait (Part 2 of 3)

  • Simplifying with the Geometric Head
  • Seeing Form and Plane Changes
  • Divide Head into 4 Sections
  • Positioning the Facial Feature 
  • The front Section
  • Muscles of the Face, the Neck and Scalp


Lesson 13- The Portrait (Part 3 of 3)

  • Forms That Are Universal vs. Forms Unique to Model
  • Using the Eye's Width to Measure
  • Sculpting the Eyes, Nose, Mouth, and Ears
  • Details of the Skin and Muscle
  • Different Base Options
  • How to Hollow and Prepare for Firing


Lesson 14- The Sacred Study (Part 1 of 2)

  • Beginning your Sacred Study (sizing & composition)
  • Variations for the Base and Cropping 
  • Block in and Sculpting the Mid-Sized Forms
  • Differences Between Female and Male Features 
  • Aging: from a Baby to a Young Adult, to an Adult, to Old Age
  • Additional Lesson on Wrinkle Patterns


Lesson 15- The Sacred Study (Part 2 of 2)

  • Including the Shoulders
  • Sculpting Hair
  • Drapery and clothing
  • Painting and Patinas
  • Photographing For a Portfolio (optional)



Supply List for Introduction to Sculpting the Figure


It is recommended that students purchase all kit items ahead of time to ensure that they have the correct supplies for this class. Please order carefully and be sure to allow sufficient time to receive your materials before the first day of class. Please check all items and quantities carefully before completing your order.



  • Sturdy worktable (that can hold up to 50lbs)
  • Clay tools & armature “Foundations Figure Modeling Materials Kit” (See Vendors Below) $97.95
  • 50 lbs of clay (water-based clay with medium grog/sand, light to mid-tone color)
  • Computer (with a basic image editing software such as Photoshop)
  • Digital Camera
  • 5 Gal bucket with lid to store clay
  • 2-3 old T-shirts or hand towels
  • 1-3 large trash bags to cover your art
  • 1 spray bottle
  • Power drill with ¼” drill bit
  • Phillips Head screwdriver
  • Crescent Wrench (7/16” or adjustable)
  • Pipe wrench (optional to tighten and loosen pipes)
  • Hammer
  • Wire cutters



  • Casts of References- Portrait and Torso casts (See Vendors Below) $120 fee
  • Bucket to wash your hands
  • Additional sculpture references of your choice (a plastic skull or skeleton, a wooden artist’s manikin…)
  • Anatomy books (Artistic Anatomy, by Dr. Paul Richer or Human Anatomy For Artists, by Eliot Goldfinger)



Browse to and search for: 

Foundations Figure Modeling Materials Kit $97.95  Product Code: LTS-111-5

Purchase this kit for the first day of class. You do not need to be an Academy of Art student to order. NOTE: Kits take time to be sent out; order early to allow adequate time for arrival of your materials. This includes sculpting tools and the complete armature kit, and turn table


Casts of References (optional) will be sent to you from your instructor Deborah Samia. All Assignments have reference photos included, and for an additional fee, there are two assignments (Portrait and Torso) with a physical lightweight cast of the sculpture that can be mailed for you to copy. This is a very useful resource for an additional fee of $120. 

To request, email: [email protected]


Online Ceramics Store Suggestions for purchasing clay: (Kilns)


Hardware Store to purchase tools to build the armature
Home Depot 
Lowe's Home Improvement
Ace Hardware




Proprietary Interest Policy:

Faculty are permitted to refer to notable past work and achievements (including publications and educational activities not offered by Pontifex University, and even those offered for personal profit) in their published biography on the Pontifex website and course promotions. In the context of educational activities undertaken for Pontifex University, including videos, live or recorded, teachers, can recommend or bring to the attention such work for students (even if for personal profit, for example, books or podcasts) but only with approval by Pontifex University and when it is related to the teaching purpose of the class.  An instructor’s related work will be noted in the syllabus as appropriate.  Instructors may use their own materials as required in their courses and learning events as long as the materials are appropriate for the particular learning event.


Failure to comply with this policy will result in a warning or administration modification of course materials. Violations of this policy should be reported to the Provost.


Here is the class outline:

1. Lesson 1: Setting Up and Building the Armature

Introduction: Lesson 1

2. Lesson 2: The Geometric Figure (Part 1 of 2)

Lesson 2

3. Lesson 3: The Geometric Figure (Part 2 of 2)

Lesson 3

4. Lesson 4: Neutral Standing Figure (Part 1 of 2)

Lesson 4

5. Lesson 5: Neutral Standing Figure (Part 2 of 2)

Lesson 5

6. Lesson 6: The Contrapposto Pose (Part 1 of 3)

Lesson 6

7. Lesson 7: The Contrapposto Pose, Part 2 of 3

Lesson 7

8. Lesson 8: The Contrapposto Pose, Part 3 of 3

Lesson 8

9. Lesson 9: The Female Torso, Part 1 of 2

Lesson 9

10. Lesson 10: The Female Torso, Part 2 of 2

Lesson 10

11. Lesson 11: The Portrait, Part 1 of 3

Lesson 11

12. Lesson 12: The Portrait, Part 2 of 3

Lesson 12

13. Lesson 13: The Portrait, Part 3 of 3

Lesson 13

14. Lesson 14: The Sacred Study (Part 1 of 2)

Lesson 14

15. Lesson 15: The Sacred Study (Part 2 of 2)

Lesson 15

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