03 December 2021
In this tutorial Lynn Allingham shows you how to make an adorable Emperor penguin and chick in polymer clay for your festive miniature scenes from her book, Mini Menagerie.
Beautiful, funny, ambitious and remarkably loyal… the Emperor penguin has it all. Learn how to create these adorable creatures in polymer clay in this step-by-step tutorial, and you too can have a trusty companion for life!
The extract is taken from Mini Menagerie by Lynn Allingham, RRP £16.99, GMC Publications. Pop a penguin in your handbag, take an elephant on holiday or chill out on the sofa with a sloth. With these tiny polymer clay projects you can have fun with these adorable animals no matter what size your home is. Including a gorgeous giraffe, cute cat, sweet swan and fabulous flamingo, the projects have clear step-by-step instructions that will ensure your miniature creatures are perfectly formed. If you love this project you can get the book from our online shop WITH an automatic 10% off just for being you, PLUS free UK P+P!
How to make a miniature penguin in polymer clay
by Lynn Allingham.
You will need
- Polymer clay in black and white
- Soft pastels in yellow and black
- Acrylic paint in black, yellow, white and orange
- Clear gloss liquid
- Pokey tool
- Bare craft blade
- Craft knife
- Large embossing tool
- Fine paintbrush
- Small flat-wash paintbrush
- Cotton bud
Top tip! When working with light coloured clay, be sure to thoroughly clean your hands and work surface before beginning, to avoid any dirt or dust transferring onto the white surface. Don't worry if the surface does become dirty – this can be rectified after baking.
The body and head
1. Take a piece of white clay the size of a large marble and use photographic reference to shape it into a simple penguin’s body with the head in an upright sitting position, as pictured.
2. Continue shaping by gently pulling a little clay at the base of the body to resemble a tail at the back. Delicately shape the head and create a long, thin beak. Use your fingers to do most of the shaping, but use a pokey tool to apply finer detail.
3. Use a large embossing tool and the side of your little finger to create a large arch at the base of the penguin. Lightly shape around the sides of the arch to resemble legs and around the top of the arch to create belly fat.
4. Use a pokey tool to apply a little linear texture to the tip of the penguin’s tail. Use a toothbrush to very lightly brush downwards over the surface of the clay to create a fine linear texture over the entire body of the penguin. Bake as recommended.
5. Take a little white clay and mix with black to create a light grey colour. Take a pea-sized amount of the light grey and shape it like a jelly bean to resemble a sitting chick. Keep it very simple, as pictured.
6. Use photographic reference to continue shaping the chick. Use your fingers and a pokey tool to round the head and shape a small stumpy beak. Lightly position and press the chick into the arch on the penguin.
7. Use a pokey tool to create light linear texture over the entire chick. Take a small piece of the light grey clay and shape it into two very simple wings measuring roughly 3/16 –¼in (5–6mm) in length.
8. Use a pokey tool to texture both wings as in step 7. Use the side of a pokey tool to position and attach both wings onto the chick.
9. Take a little of the light grey clay, then roll and cut it into six simple 3/16in (5mm) stems using a bare craft blade. Shape one end of each stem into a fine point, as pictured.
10. Join the stems into groups of three to create two simple feet. Position the feet under the legs of the penguin and around the sides of the chick, as pictured. Use the side of a pokey tool to apply light linear texture to each foot.
Penguin wings and feet detail
11. Use photographic reference and a little white clay to shape two wings. Each wing should measure roughly 13⁄16in (2cm) in length.
12. Use a toothbrush to create light linear texture, as in step 4, on the outer side of each wing. Use the side of a pokey tool to position and attach each wing to the penguin. Apply light texture where the wings join. Take a small piece of white clay and roll it into a 3/32in (2mm) ball. Cut the ball in half and lightly flatten each ball. Position the eyes.
13. Use a fine paintbrush to apply a little black pastel to each foot to create definition. At this stage, check whether you're happy with the piece and make any adjustments as desired. Bake for a second time as recommended.
14. Use photographic reference to lightly draw detail on both the penguin and chick with a pencil, as pictured. Pay close attention to the head area on each. Use a craft knife to lightly scratch away any dust or hair caught on the clay’s surface on all areas that'll remain white.
15. Use a fine paintbrush to apply two coats of white acrylic paint to fill in detail on the chick’s face. Mix black and white acrylic paint to create a charcoal colour. Use a small flat-wash paintbrush to apply two coats of charcoal to the penguin’s back and wings.
16. Use a fine paintbrush to apply two coats of black acrylic paint to the penguin and chick’s head and the two side panels running from the top of each wing, as pictured.
Don't worry if your painting is a little messy – this can be cleaned up later.
17. Paint a thin streak of orange acrylic on both sides of the penguin’s beak. Paint a small patch of yellow acrylic on the white clay behind each eye, as pictured.
18. Use a small amount of black acrylic to delicately paint the chick’s eyes. Use a cotton bud to apply a small patch of yellow pastel just above the penguin’s belly and under the chin.
19. Once all the paint is completely dry, gently scratch into it along all the outer edges with the fine point of a craft knife. Scratch in a cross-hatch motion in order to blur the neat lines for a more natural appearance. Use this process to clean up any painted mistakes.
20. Use the scratching technique once again to create fine linear texture down the back edge of each wing on the penguin, as pictured.
21. Use a cotton bud to apply a little black pastel to the very tips of the chick’s wings to add definition. Use a fine paintbrush to apply clear gloss liquid to all eyes and the chick’s beak. Leave to dry completely.
Don't forget to pick up your copy of Mini Menagerie for the full range of Lynn Allingham's projects!
While you're waiting for it to arrive, why not create some miniature swans using polymer clay for a 12 Days of Christmas-inspired miniature scene? We've even more Christmas projects to get stuck into, too – like this miniature Christmas tree tutorial!