Animatronics By Way of Life Casting

Life casting has become very popular as more and more people want realistic three-dimensional representations of their face, hands baby bump and even the whole body. But did you know that life casting is not limited to say, making a body mold and cast of someone’s torso before putting a brass name plate beneath it?

Life casting enjoys great patronage in other fields, especially so in animatronics. We don’t realize it when we see it on screen, but the looming dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the gigantic sharks in Jaws and the fictional aliens in ET are all courtesy some exceptional life casting. In fact, many of the babies, dummies and robots we see in movies owe their existence to life casting.

The artist first creates a 3-D model from the sketch before building molds and life casts from the same. The model is carefully finished and given a life-like appearance with flexible skin, facial features and other body parts. Electronic and mechanical components are incorporated to make the figure perform as desired. The movements are controlled by machine and filmed on camera to create some spellbinding celluloid moments.

Various materials go into fabricating the robotic devices. For instance, it requires alginate for making the molds, plaster bandages for reinforcing the molds, silicone or latex for simulating the skin surface in the final cast and specialized paints for the finishing.

All these items and other tools can be easily sourced from EnvironMolds also provides customized brass name plates engraved if you are looking to make regular life casts of your family and friends.

Learn Latex Mold Making With Videos

Liquid latex rubber is one of the least expensive materials that a mold maker can choose. It is easy to use and also brings untold benefits in the form of durability, tenacity and resistance. Latex molds are highly suitable for architectural restorations, faux brick veneers, decorative garden ornaments and other statuary. They are equally appropriate for ornamental candle making, soap making and fine art reproductions. 

If you want to learn how to make a mold using latex rubber, EnvironMolds offers a two-part video series. In the first DVD, professional mold maker Michael Kryger takes you step by step through the basic process of latex mold making, one piece molds and shell molds. He also reveals his personal studio shortcuts and elaborates on different finishing techniques that will make your latex mold a success.

The second-part of the DVD set is dedicated to advanced latex mold making such as two-part and complex molds, creating a fool proof keying system and ornamental cement casting. 

You can purchase the DVDs individually at or buy them together at a discount offer of 25%. Carefully viewing both the videos and abiding by the instructions sets the stage for some wonderful latex molds and casts. 


Once you have perfected the art of latex mold making and casting, you can also move to making a latex mask or creating special effects for theatre/film. Wrinkles, scars or gashes – name it and you will be able to create the effects realistically. 

Different options in liquid latex mold rubber and casting rubber are also available on the EnvironMolds website.

Animation By Way of Clay

The oldest form of mold making and sculpturing is with clay. Clay is a simple and readily available material that is easy to use as well. So much so that even children enjoy rolling the clay and molding it into various three-dimensional shapes. 

But not many people know that clay is also used in animation works. Animation with clay is known as stop motion animation or claymation. 

How does it work? 

Clay modeling is simple as the soft clay can be easily shaped into various figures and characters. The only likely problem is that the clay will not be able to support its own weight in the model. Therefore, artists generally design a wire armature and then build the figure on it.

Clay models are inherently flexible and can be bent or moved in different ways. In fact, claymation artists design the model as per the movements required from them. 

The animation is created through a series of photographs. The stage is set and the clay figures are moved ever so slightly in every frame. This calls for a lot of careful planning and attentive coordination.

When the pictures are combined sequentially, it creates an animated effect. This illusion of movement through clay figures became popular with Gumby and Pokey, Wallace and Gromit and the California Raisins. 

Which clay to use? 

Water-based clays are very common in the art world. However, they harden on exposure to air. Non-hardening variations are also available and better suited for clay modeling and animation works. These flexible clays can be oil or wax based. 

Artists choose the clay type depending on the potential use as well as their personal preference in terms of texture and hardness.

You can source different types of clay from the leading house of art supplies, EnvironMolds. The website stocks all kinds of mold making and casting materials along with tools, supplies and equipment.

Making Molds With Silicone Rubber

I have been doing clay modeling for many years. I was quite happy making large and small figurines with clay, and they turned out quite clearly detailed and appealing. However, recently I came across many mold makers who were  (to many “quite” in a row) enthusiastic about silicone rubber and how it can be used to reproduce almost anything.

I wanted to try out the product and looked up the instructions on the EnvironMolds website The illustrated directions were clear which further motivated me to give it a try. I ordered MoldRite 25 silicone for my task and it was delivered shortly.

I decided to make a mold of a small figurine that I had already fashioned with clay. I used a cup for the mold box and glued the model on the bottom. Then I had to accurately weigh and thoroughly mix the silicone rubber and catalyst in a bowl. Pouring the mixture in a high, thin stream into the cup helped me to avoid most of the air bubbles. I covered the figurine completely with silicone rubber and pricked the few air bubbles that rose to the surface. 
The silicone mold had set properly within a few hours and I demolded it to get the silicone rubber mold with all the indentations and undercuts captured perfectly. After that I used the same silicone mold to make many more figurines and each turned out absolutely identical to the original one. The process was easy and fun too!

Mold Making Materials at EnvironMolds

EnvironMolds provides access to a complete array of products for making various types of molds.

Clay may seem like a simple material but the high-quality, oil-based plasticine variant proves to be excellent for making molds, sculptures, masks, animation figures and even special effects. Then there are carving and casting waxes that are especially suitable for making candles and soaps.


If you are interested in capturing the shape of the human body for life casting, just turn towards the skin-safe alginates section. There is a silica-free formulation for use on babies and enhanced alginates for larger molds. Even plaster bandages can be used to make form molds from the body or other objects that do not have many details. The same bandages are also useful for reinforcing alginate molds.

Polyurethane rubbers are an exceptional mold making system especially when tough and durable molds are required, such as for concrete casting. The high quality silicone rubber formulas are suitable for any kind of application. Silicone rubber options are available for making food molds, translucent skin surfaces and even for making body molds. Liquid latex rubber is another versatile compound that is economical as well. It is primarily used for creating special effects on artists and for making masks.


Moulage and thermoset mold rubbers need to heated prior to use. The major benefit is that these mold making compounds are reusable by melting.

In case you want to know more about how to make molds, also hosts a learning centre with books, DVDs and other learning aids.

Never Use Plaster on the Skin

Most people believe that plaster can be used for making molds from the human body. So much so that, some art stores even tout plaster as the perfect material for making body molds for life casting.

However, fact is that plaster should never be applied directly on the body. This is because the plaster mix generates heat as it dries and can often cause burns on the skin. And once set, the plaster becomes rigid making it difficult to remove from the body. It can get snagged in the fine hair causing pain when ripped. Some people even report that the weight of the plaster is such that it can deform the face!
On the other hand, alginate is a natural material that is safe for the skin and even captures the details very well. It only has to be reinforced with plaster bandages so that the mold retains its shape. Alginate body molds are light and can be removed easily without harming the skin. Some petroleum jelly can be applied on the skin to allow for even easier demolding from facial or body hair. 

It should be noted that while plaster is a strict no-no, plaster bandages can still be used directly on the body also to make form molds, such as in belly casting. Applying release agent is imperative when making a mold.
You can always approach renowned art suppliers like EnvironMolds who will not only provide the right materials for making molds and casts, but also advise you on how to make molds safely from the body. Check for more information.

Why Use Plasticine Clay?

Plasticine clay lends itself especially well for mold making and casting works and is preferred by professional sculptors as well. And yet, many people confuse plasticine clay with regular modeling clay.
The confusion is actually justified as plasticine feels just like any other putty clay. However, what makes plasticine so popular is that it is an oil based clay that will never ever dry or harden, no matter how long it is left out in the open.
As Plasticine stays flexible, you don’t have to worry about the mold becoming hard or cracking either. And you can simply reuse the same clay after the casting is done. In case needed, the clay can even be warmed to make it soft and usable once again.
Plasticine comes in different degrees of hardness to suit varying applications - sculpting, mask making, mold making, special effects and so on. The soft variety is popularly used in animation and the harder ones are suited for industrial modeling. Automobile designers prefer to design their prototypes using this clay and the same is also used in claymation to design different movable characters.

And EnvironMolds - the popular online store for all kinds of art supplies - stocks various types of clays. EnvironMolds offers regular clay, plastilina clay and even sulfur-free variants that will not inhibit the setting of silicone mold rubbers.