It's hogwash when people say that sculptors use photo references often out of laziness. Pffft! Totally and utterly untrue.
Photos are compelling. Let me tell you, either you're a painter or a sculptor, there’s no right or wrong method. Ah uh. The final result is the test, and you should choose a process that will give you the results you want. If you ask me, this is how I work. I use the photos only for the comprehensive stage, and most of all, inspiration, but then, I put them away for the final sculpting process. Though, honestly, photos can confuse and mess up my concept, but they increase the quality of my sculpting, and help me become a better artist.
Speaking of. Here is a list of all the techniques/process that I use while sculpting any figure in clay. * Roughing out *Adding and building the clay *Removing clay *Maneuvering * Repositioning *Detailing-- my favorite of all!
With painting, you make one great value sketch and you're in the homestretch, but sculptors must work from every conceivable angle. Truth be told, people don't just look at a sculpture like they would a painting, from basically one vantage point. They will walk completely around the work, or turn the base, to view it from every angle, checking the minute details. That is a lot of different viewpoints and the risk of having a dull or under-worked area is expanded with every different viewpoint. So our job is to make the work stunning - from every side. A tall order to say the least, phew!. It's so easy to get caught up in one area, one point of view. But that will make for weak work. Easier said than done, but this is the brutal truth.