How to Make a Groot Figurine from Clay
Craftmeisters are grabbing the space boots, raising their laser-shields and powering towards the world of comic books. With the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, everyone had a lot to say about it: the cool effects, the hilarious quips… and of course, the adorably-small, sentient plant dancing to 80s’ songs.
Being a huge fan of Marvel and DC, my nerdy side caved into temptation and out came a clay statue of baby Groot! You’ll find this adorable little beastie everywhere, from official works to fan-makes.
Let’s turn the volume up and get making!
- Clay (For Groot, I used Air-Drying Clay)
- A photo reference or movie still
- A bowl of water
- Wire (Ideally 1.2 millimetre Gauge for Body, 0.4 mm for details and connections)
- Reindeer Moss
- Brown Oil Paint (or acrylic)
- Liquitex Spray (Umber) – Availabel in store only
- Molotow Liners (Midshock Blue, Grasshopper and Signal White)
- Solid Black Eyes with Shanks (10 millimetres in diameter)
- Scrap Paper or Polystyrene Balls
- Pliers (Ideally, you will need round-nosed ones and cutters.)
Clay sculptures need skeletons – and they need to be exceedingly tough ones, too. The good news is, the ‘how’ is totally down to you, from size to shape. The clay’s frame – commonly known as an armature – provides the stability for your piece as you add clumps of clay onto it. Use the photo references or movie stills to figure out an appropriate posture!
Let’s Make the Body!
1. Start with a wide gauge wire for the main body and the arms. Make a cross with the two wires and wrap the smaller gauge tightly around them – create a figure-of-eight for some real security. Build this up more and more until you have a small lump – there’s Groot’s chest! Remember to leave a lot of wire for the head to settle into – the longer it is, the better the head will stay!
2. Next, you will need to position the arms and similar to the body, wrap the thinner-gauge wire around the arms. Leave some room for the middle finger and use two, smaller strands as its remaining fingers! The more wire that you wrap around your armature, the stronger it will be.
3. Start building up the clay gradually, making sure that you have a lot of water at hand – your clay will need constant attention. The water will help with clay adhesion and prevent it from getting crumbly. You don’t need very much, but make sure to apply it often. If your armature is a little on the wobbly side, creating a weighted, clay base can sometimes help.
4. When it comes to the fingers, I make it a habit to make the middle ones a little longer – they will curve a little bit, but the base of the hand will give it some support. If you’re feeling a little uncertain, adding some extra wire to your armature is ideal. Once this stage is done, leave it to dry for approximately 4 hours.
5. Now for the details! Roll some clay worms and use water to adhere them to the body. For that ‘loose bark’ effect, leave some gaps between the limbs and body. The photo references will come in handy here! Once finished, leave once more to dry.
6. Whilst you’re waiting for the body to dry, let’s tackle the tricky bit – the head! Scrunch up some scrap paper into a ball, leaving a flat surface for the face. Alternatively, use a polystyrene ball. Punch the tip of a pencil through to make some eye holes and then gently press in your solid black eyes until they fit firmly into your holes. Then, simply remove them. This will be useful later on after you’ve applied some clay down.
7. Similar to Groot’s body, start layering up the clay, gently smoothing it into place with water and a pair of thumbs! For the little pieces of foliage, add wires for support – the stronger these are, the better.
8. Once the head is complete, just add the eyes (press firmly to keep them in!) and with a pencil, gently add a cute little smile!
9. Now for the tricky bit – sometimes adding a little bit of clay around the neck BEFORE adding your Groot’s head can keep it steady and stable. Gently press the armature wire into the bottom of your clay head. The length will prevent it from falling off – carefully add small amounts of clay to the base of the head and neck. Then leave to dry.
Painting Your Groot
1. When your figurine is ready, take it outside or a wide, well-ventilated space. (Remember to wear a mask!) Place some masking tape over Groot’s eyes, shake your Liquitex spray can well and spray away! Try to get as much coverage as possible. Don’t spray too much all in one shot, otherwise you’ll notice an unwanted ‘dripping effect’.
2. Leave it for at least one hour to dry. Then start painting it with brown oils or acrylics!
3. Carefully add and glue the Reindeer moss to the top of Groot’s head, dabbing it lightly with Molotow Midshock Blue and Signal White.
4. Then, just leave to dry!
To get a vine-like effect, I recycled my remaining wires and added them to Groot, tucking them gently between some of the bark gaps, securing it with a little glue. I then painted them by using the Molotow pens (Grasshopper shade).