I wanted to start off this tutorial by showing you how I’ve progressed. It’s very easy to see an online tutorial for something where the tutor has got their method down to a T and feel outfaced, even when they tell you the pictures you are looking at describe their seventh or eighth attempt. It’s hard to think you’ll ever get there. They are clearly more confident in themselves than you are.
So here is an image of my first attempt at making little cake topper people.
It’s made from rollable icing (I don’t remember what kind. I wish cakey people wouldn’t ask me. Sainsbury’s kind). I wasn’t sure about mixing the colours into the icing (the red turned orange… not buying THAT brand again!) so I tried painting it on. I couldn’t mix colours to get skin tone, so I left it white, and in fact I realised that my painting was so poor I never bothered to finish them. Clearly I need a warhammer-hardened painter at my disposal – or just more patience and a thinner brush.
After that attempt, I decided I wanted to make the models out of fimo. Fimo is a kind of modelling clay rather like plastic, which needs warming up in your hands before you can use it (although strangely the metallic-looking stuff doesn’t need as much warming). When you’ve made a model, you cook it in an oven at 110 degrees for ~ 30 minutes. I played with this stuff a lot as a child, so I thought I knew what I was doing.
There are various techniques you can use for modelling fimo, but the one thing to remember is not to rush the process. I made a perfectly respectable little version of the Fiance (which a friend of his then snapped… oh well, brought out the superglue…) then rushed little me.
She’s okay, but I knew I wasn’t happy with her. The night after I made her I had a dream that I made another one and she was much better. So the other day I felt like doing something weddingy, but wasn’t sure what, and instead of wasting my evening on the computer made a gin and bitter lemon (and one for him of course), slapped on ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ on iPlayer and got out the modelling clay.
This is my third attempt at Little Me:
And now, onto the tutorial.
I had already made up my mind that I would write a tutorial on this, so I had out my camera and was taking photos along the way. Apologies for the light conditions – it was dark, and I had to keep moving the desk light to illuminate my work without incredibly long shadows all over the shop, which often meant taking a picture was a bit of a palava.
To start with, here is a picture of some of my “tools”. As you can see, no sophisticated equipment is required. I used an unsharpened pencil to help stick on very delicate detail which I couldn’t manage with my hand in case of squashing stuff, a knife for cutting without stretching something and a tube of lip salve as a mini rolling pin.
To begin the modelling, I mixed some balls of colours I wanted. A lot of this I had already prepared when I made the Little Fiance, so there wasn’t much to do. Modelling clay is like paint: if you mix black and reds and yellows you can make browns. You probably already have some browns, so you can adjust them. I mixed ordinary blue and metallic blue for our clothes, and used metallic white for the ivory of my hat and lace on my dress.
I decided there was no point wasting the “good colour” doing the inside of my model, os I chose the metallic green, which was soft and easy to use, but not a colour I could forsee myself using very much, and made the inside body (i.e. a much smaller slimmer version of the final) with that. I made a tube of green and then shaped the body with my fingers. The boobs are stuck on in this picture as slightly flattened balls, but they can be easily taken off for the next step, as I didn’t squash the fimo very tightly together (and yes, they’re huge… so what?).
I arranged the lap so that it sat on the lip of the desk – I want Little Me sitting on the cake, so I wanted to make sure she’d be secure.
Next, I used my mini rolling pin to roll out some of the “skin colour” I’d made and then carefully wrapped it round the body, and the detached boobs before sticking it all back together. I only covered the part of the body where I expected to be able to see skin on the finished miniature.
You can see how I wrapped the “skin” around the base model in these pictures of the head.
I wasn’t worried about the to or back of the head, as I knew they’d be covered by hair and hat.
Like the boobs, the head can easily be placed on enough that it sticks and doesn’t fall off, but can be removed without damaging the model. You have to learn from experience the correct amount of pressure to apply to attach things firmly without deforming your model. You can easily do this with waste material.
It was also important to compare the pieces of Little Me with the Little Fiance. One thing I’d picked up from my last attempt with the fimo is that it’s easy when building models through this “dressing” technique with thin layers of fimo to oversize them. Little Me was the same size as the Little Fiance, and standing up would have been larger. In reality, the Fiance is a head or so taller than me, so I had to try to make Little Me on a realistic scale. Since she’s sitting and he’s standing, I didn’t want to make her too small in case she looked smaller, so I kept comparing the models so I had time to correct it before I’d added too much detail.
I think he’s fond of his new bride already. She’s a right stunner.
The dress was the next step. I find it easier to do a front half and a back half, so I rolled out some blue the same way I did with the skin and tentatively pressed it onto the front of my model. I then used my knife to cut it off down her side, where I seam might be (and is in the real dress). I tucked the extra length under her lapso it looked like the skirt was falling, and that there was skirt behind as well as in front.
I think I also made the legs about this point. They were just tubes of green again wedged on underneath, and I made the ends pointy and covered one with white (as if it werethe tip of a shoe) and the other with skin colour (as if I’d lost a shoe).
The next detail I added was the lace on the dress. It’s important to do this before adding the arms because I wanted to line the whole top edge of the dress and arms would have got in the way/left obvious gaps where I hadn’t applied the lace. The details aren’t entirely true to the real dress, more mimetic of it, but I was happy with the result.
I then made the arms by cutting out little tubes of flesh, modelling “mitten type” hands on the end and securing them to the body.
At this stage I stuck the head back on, as it was no longer in the way, and made a little wodge for a nose. Look, she’s coming together!
Details like the eyes and mouth are easily added by making tiny balls and squashing them on with your fingertips, or rolling out thin threads of fimo and using a pencil to apply them. This way I made the eyes – with a dark line above indicating make up! – eyebrows, the mouth, a ring on my finger and the hair – stuck on at the top in sausages!
Now, I knew I wanted curled hair for the wedding, and my last attempt at doing hair (as one flat piece of fimo) hadn’t worked, so I tried the sausage technique. But I now had to make it curly. I achieved this by lifting up roughly every other strand (the “top layer”) and throwing it over the head, then bending the remaning dangling sausages into waves, or twistig them so they curled on their own accord, then resting them back against the body so they’d stay. I then brought down the “top layer” strands one by one, doing the same and frequently curling them in opposite directions to their neighbours then lying them over the top to create the allusion of depth. The top of the head didn’t matter because of the hat – which I made from a flat piece of white cut into a circle (round a pencil sharpner of all things) with a disc laid on top.
And ta-da! Little Me.
Along with her trusty conspirator, the Little Fiance.