The Basics of Face Sculpting for Amigurumi Made Easy
Facial sculpting is one of those techniques you’re bound to come across the longer you make amigurumi, but it’s not something that’s commonly mentioned either. Did you know it’s actually not as hard as it seems? Plus it’s a technique that can take your amigurumi skills to the next level. Let’s get into the basics of face sculpting for amigurumi made easy!
The Basics of Face Sculpting for Amigurumi Made Easy
What is face sculpting?
Essentially, face sculpting (aka needle sculpting) is the technique in which you use a needle and yarn to pinch together parts of your amigurumi internally to create sculpted features. This can work great to create dimples, inset eyes, emphasize cheeks, distinguish snouts, etc…
For example, with my free Brie the Bunny pattern, I pinched the eyes together to distinguish her snout slightly.
This is the simplest and probably most common use of this technique. It’s done by threading the yarn back and forth between the eyes and pulling to create an indent. (We’ll get into an actual tutorial for it in just a bit.)
Why would you use face sculpting?
There’s lot of different shaping methods out there, but face sculpting is the easiest way to achieve complex shaping, especially for small details. If we take the example above, the only other way to achieve an indent like that would be to manipulate decreases which would make keeping your facial symmetry immensely harder.
Everyone has different tension and using a method like that would be more difficult for people to replicate. Not to mention that stuffing could ruin any attempt at shaping if it’s not done right.
Basically, by starting with a simple shape and pinching it internally, you’ll get much better forms with a lot less effort!
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How do I sculpt the face?
Before we dive into the how, I wanted to give a little disclaimer that I specialize in animals rather than dolls. When it comes to sculpting super complex features that you find with human-shaped dolls, I’m definitely not an expert. So that’s why I’m going to focus on the basics for sculpting animal faces.
You can do the following steps with either an open piece (an unfinished amigurumi) or a closed piece (a finished amigurumi). In my personal opinion, it’s easier to get the shaping correct with a closed piece because you’ve already added stuffing. But it’s a personal preference and you can do it either way.
The following instructions are meant for working on a closed piece. If you’re working on an open one, you’ll start by inserting your tapestry needle through the inside of your piece rather than the back of the head.
Also make sure you’re using the same yarn as you did for the face.
- Insert your tapestry needle into the back of the head between stitches and push the needle out along the top edge of the safety eye (as close to the eye as possible). Be sure to leave at least a 4-6 in tail of yarn coming out of the back of the head.
- Insert your needle into the head beside where you just came out (always staying as close to the eye as you can) and push it out along the top edge of the other safety eye.
- Repeat Step 2 at least once more, being sure to work along the inner edges of the eyes, tugging each time until the eyes pinch together as far as you want.
- When you’re finished, insert your hook back through the head to push out through the same spot where we started at the back of the head.
- Tie at least 2 knots and use a small crochet hook to pull the knotted yarn tails into the head. Cut any excess yarn.
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If you find videos more helpful, you can follow all of these steps in the tutorial below:
Plus, you’ll learn how to take it one step further and shape the face for an animal like a cat or bunny. The key is to plan out what kind of face you want with pins in the very beginning.
Other types sculpting
When you boil it down, sculpting your amigurumi is based on using yarn to tug 2 or more points together. With this in mind you can actually do a lot more than just create inset eyes.
For example, you could weave your yarn around the neck of an ami and tug it slightly to create a more pronounced chin. You can create dimples and define noses. You’re even using this technique when you make pumpkins!
If you want to try out needle sculpting with a super easy pattern, check out my free Popcorn Pumpkin Pattern!
While sculpting amigurumi does take a bit of practice, it’s definitely not as scary as it seems. I recommend making a few simple balls and then practicing creating different shapes. Looking at real animals for reference helps too and don’t forget to use pins as your guide. You’ll be creating beautifully sculpted faces in no time!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it with your ami-making friends! Have you tired face shaping or have any great tips you’d like to share? Or maybe you learned something new? Share it in the comments below!
Have an awesome day and happy shaping!
2 thoughts on “The Basics of Face Sculpting for Amigurumi Made Easy”
Thank you for this great tutorial, I shall try this with future amigurumi. It sounds a lot easier than decreasing and increasing to shape faces.
I’m so glad I could help! It’s definitely easier than messing with increases!