taking one frame at a time since 1999


I know it's a silly question but how do you color /pigment clay? Here down under, acces to high quality clay is very limited. Van Aken or Newplast are impossible to find and buying from ebay has some huge shping costs ( up to 30 times the price of 500 g of clay). I found a good manufacturer of clay, the problem is they make only white clay. Hence the question... what pigments and/or inks i can use to give color to white clay? I am not talking about air dry or polymer clay. I am talking about non hardening oil clay which can be used for stop motion.

Thank you for your help.

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I don't know if this will help you but the best way to achieve your own colors with regular clay is to mix them as if it was paint.

Down under where?  NZ?  Australia?  South America?  I can give you my Melbourne suppliers.

I used the universal pigments that they have in the paint shop.  They are able to mix in with both oil base and water base paint, and they work with plasticine too.  I melt the plasticine and mix the pigment in, then form it into cylinders as it cools. The plasticine I used was bought a long time ago from a shop in Melbourne called Daystar that I don't think exists any more, but it was a sort of creamy whitish colour, a little bit translucent, so it took colours well.  

However, I don't make colours to animate with, only to get a sort of fleshy colour so it's easier to see what it looks like when I sculpt a puppet head than if it was white.  I don't do clay animation.  I don't know how good the white clay I used - or the clay you have - would be for animating, compared to the popular ones in the US or UK like Newplast.  But it's worth a try.   The tricky thing is finding the pigments for sale in small quantities - I was able to by some in plastic bottles, about 150 ml each, years ago.  But recently I've looked in a few paint shops and they had the pigments in their machine, but didn't sell it to customers.

The other approach is to look for coloured plasticine here.

I mostly get plasticine for sculpting from Barnes Products in Richmond (And in Sydney), or Dalchem in Highett.  Normally I'm getting sulphur free clays to make moulds from.  But,  I've just looked for coloured animating clays to see what they have.

Barnes has something called Rainbow Modelling Clay but I don't know how good it is for animating:  .  

Dalchem doesn't seem to have any coloured clays for animating.  

Dean's Art might have something... yes, they have modelling clay in a range of colours:

Hi Nick and thank you for the reply. I'm in Sidney. I found some good quality clay at Aldax, unforunately is only white. That is the one i am trying to color. I also tried Barnes but they apparently are out of stock. Riot Art and Craft carries some toonclay which would be souitable for animation, unfortunately they are also out of stock for almost all colours. 

I will try your suggestion to use universal pigments and melt the clay so the pigment will be better embedded in the clay. I managed to find some van aken but i do jot know yet the condition of it since it comes from a private seller wh9 bought it several years ago but never managed to use it. Hopefully it will keep me up and running for a while...hopefully...

Thank you again for all your suggestions.

Why whats wrong with mixing the colors? I understand trying to obtain the best quality possible but mixing colors is the classic technique, if you ask me while people are searching for the perfect clay they could be animating or making the sets, it's an art so therefore being able to mix the colors is another skill in my opinion, but I believe that the end justifies the means and everyone does it as they prefer, I just want to animate not to impress with the materials I use.

Juan, I do have a problem with my clay. It is sticky and very soft after just a few moves. The white aldax one I mentioned is the best one I have in reasonable quantities and works reasonably fine without sticking and bleeding colour. I also have to mention that in here, it gets pretty hot in summer and that "feature" adds to the already existing plethora of issues I attempt to over come. At the same time, you have to put reasonable effort into your clay while animating. If in some situations fingerprints and grime are ok, in some others they are not.

Thanks for your reply, I also deal with the same problems in my area regarding products availability, I;m from central America, I have never experienced any other clay than the one that i get commonly here but i don't have any issues with the climate doesn't seem to affect it as far as i can tell, of course always the best for your creations, I guess i would have to experience other types of more specialized clay to be able to confirm a difference, i know how hard it can be to work with clay when you have to retouch it or clean it, I use mineral oil to smooth them up but as you I'm just trying to do the best I can with what i have, I'm a little bit frugal on that aspect, I try to be better each time, the clay I use is very cheap and not too soft it's available anywhere here (baco) , good luck with your projects I look forward to seeing them, have a good time animating.

I struggled a long time with this question, and tried pretty much everything, starting with linseed oil paints (these are flammable and slowly dry, making the resulting clay crumbly), then moving on to colored chalk (not available in enough colors), then dry pastel (have to be crushed uniformly to complete dust or you will have chunks of hard pigment in your clay), and finally crayons (not strong enough in color).

What I ultimately found to work best was oil pastels. You will have to experiment with how much to use, and you may also need to counter it with some sort of filler because these things are sticky and saturated, but they can be melted and very smoothly mixed into any clay that also melts. A drawback of this approach is that if you want two of the same color oil pastel, you have to buy two sets because each one only has one of any particular color in it. This is still preferable to the issues other pigmenting approaches have, and if you do it right, you'll find that the oil pastel colors will stay in the clay and not get on your fingers.

Interestingly, it is possible to get special coloring effects by using pigments that do not mix with clay. For example, if you attempt to use it with acrylics, you'll get a speckling/granite effect rather than a solid shade because modeling clay is oil-based (hydrophobic) and acrylics are water-based (hydrophilic).

Thank you so much Don for your tips. I will definitely try the oil pastels since they are available and quite cheap. i'll see how it works.

Question for lulian, I’m in Melbourne, and I’m having the same problem, the plasticine I used to use was called Belgrave, it was firm and heat resistant, it seems to have disappeared off the market(I’ve really searched hard for it) I’m also looking at importing newplast, but the shipping fees make it prohibitive. Anyway, my question is, who is the company that makes he single colour clay ?

Hi Alex,

Barnes used to have modelling clay but apparently does not carry it anymore. I still have a considerable amount of white one purchased a while ago which i use. Officeworks carries some white clay but is not very good for animation. Look for ModelArt plasticine, there are several suppliers around Australia. That one is designed for animation.

Hi Iulian,
I have had some nice results using powdered paint pigments. The stuff that is used to make oilpaints etc yourself. I don't know about availability over there, but at my medium sized art supply store they have a whole shelf of traditional pigment powders.
Just heat the plasticine and mix it in.  A positive about these pigments is that you can store them forever and most of them are not super expensive.   


Juan Quirós said:

Why whats wrong with mixing the colors? I understand trying to obtain the best quality possible but mixing colors is the classic technique, if you ask me while people are searching for the perfect clay they could be animating or making the sets, it's an art so therefore being able to mix the colors is another skill in my opinion, but I believe that the end justifies the means and everyone does it as they prefer, I just want to animate not to impress with the materials I use.

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