ORIGINAL CONCEPT: Creating a three-dimensional object from an artistic vision involves many more steps than creating a two-dimensional work. Some sculptors produce great quantities of sketches in pencil or ink, sometimes in color. They often make small maquettes (which are equivalent to three-dimensional sketches) to work out the aspects of the sculpture from different viewpoints. Others use computer technology to explore 3D models, especially useful for kinetic works. Occasionally, a full size mock-up is created. In all cases, sculptors expect surprises and challenges as the work develops at full scale.
CHOOSING A MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE: The original concept dictates the appropriate sculpture medium. A large, fluid figure conceived as an outdoor piece has to be cast, most likely in bronze. A geometric abstract work will most likely be fabricated from sheets of metal. The type of finish desired, weight and cost will help determine whether mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, bronze or titanium is used. Creating sculpture requires a prodigious set of skills and many years of training as well as specific tools. Some sculptors have chosen one medium for their entire body of work, because they have achieved a high degree of control of certain techniques and thus they can best express their vision through this medium. A sculptor wishing to work in a reductive method, such as carving, will choose solid blocks of wood or stone. One who prefers the additive process of construction might, for example, weld steel or work in clay.