Sculpting Glossary

What is Additive Sculpture? Definition, Tips, and Examples

March 20, 2023 by

In this guide, we’ll be diving into everything you need to know about additive sculptures and sculpting.

Table of Contents

What is Additive Sculpture?

Additive sculpture is an artwork which is three-dimensional in nature. In the process of additive sculpting, separate parts are added one by one to create a whole sculpture at the end.

In the process of additive sculpture, work is created by adding material to create a new sculpture.

When dealing with the clay, the additive sculpture is interchangeably used by the term “modeling.”

The additive method of sculpturing has been in use for more than five thousand years.

The clay sculpture is an example of additive sculpture in which clay is applied to the sculpture and then made right and modified.

It is been used in many types of arts and the material includes paper, trash, clay, metal, and wood.

Additive sculpture is the most used process of sculpting today and it explains other forms of sculpting too.

additive sculpture example

When Do You Do Additive Sculpture?

The additive sculpture is a very important part of making any shape sculpture.

The primary function of additive sculpture is to give creativity to the artist — combining smaller parts to create a complete piece.

It is important because additive sculpture provides a 3D sketch of the actual figure.

We do not have to imagine what we are going to make, but instead, we have a live sketch in front of us, and we can make it right by adding material to it.

After making a sketch, the next step is making it more precise and stable, and for this, we use clay, wood, or paper to give it a final look.

To further explore additive sculpture, we also recommend this video by Mrs. C’s Art Studio:

Examples of Additive Sculpture

Sculptures have different techniques to make it happen.

There are four types of sculpting methods which include casting, assembling, modeling, and carving.

Out of these four methods, assembling and modeling are additive sculpture methods.

1. Assembling

Assembling or assemblage is how the new piece is created by the objects that are found. The objects can be artificial or found naturally.

The assemblage in additive sculpture is three-dimensional in nature.

Old shoes, baked beans, wood scraps, stones or any of the thousands of artificial or natural materials out there enter into the category of assemblage additive sculpture.

To further explore assemblage, we also recommend this video by Mark Friday:

2. Modeling

Modeling is also an additive process.

It is when soft material is worked by the artist to build up a shape or form (rather than scraping or material away as in carving).

Unlike carving, soft materials are used such as clay and wax.

To see modeling in action, we also recommend this video by Stecca:

Additive Sculpture vs. Subtractive Sculpture

Additive Sculpture

In additive sculpture, the whole sculpture form is built by adding different materials together.

Subtractive Sculpture

While the subtractive sculpture is the opposite of it.

In subtractive sculpture, the artist takes the whole form and full form material and starts working on it by removing the material until only the required form is left behind.

Like when an artist wants to make a chair from wood. He removes and carves the wood until it gets into the fine form of the required shape of the chair.

Subtractive sculpture is the oldest form of sculpturing as compared to additive one.

To further explore the difference between additive and subtractive sculpting, we also recommend this video by A.H. Szabo Designs:

Final Remarks

Both additive and subtractive sculpture are an important part of artwork, and they have been in use for a very long time.

They help the artists to make sketches and turn their thinking into actual shape and form.

The basic process of both processes is different, but it tends to do the work in a more refined form.