COLORFUL SEA SLUG • Christophe Gilland

Christophe Gilland is a multi talented artist born in Ireland, grew up in Orlando, Florida and Vancouver, Canada. Eleven years ago he decided to reconnect with his mother’s home country and moved from America to the Czech Republic. Apart from being an illustrator he started to sculpt. He has only been using polymer clay in his artwork for four years however his sculpting skills are remarkable.

Nudibranchs are a type of sea slug that come in an astonishing variety of shapes and colors. Looking up images of these living jewels is always a great source of inspiration. They make a lovely subject for the polymer clay sculpting. Feel free to use colored clay for this sculpture, the result will also be very nice.


polymer clay - scrap or in colors

aluminium foil

alcohol, paintbrush


acrylic paints

interference paint (Interference Green-Orange by Golden)

acrylic gloss varnish

dental tool or needle tool

ball styluses

mini spatula tool


Use aluminium foil to form the basic shape of the slug. Give it a raised and rounded head, a pointed tail and an “S” curve to the body.

2. Cover with a layer of clay, make sure to maintain the curved shape.

3. Add a small ball of clay to the back.

4. Use fingers to smooth everything out.

5. Roll out about seven equally sized tentacles and start attaching them to the hump on the back. You may put wire inside these depending on your preference and the strength/flexibility of the type of clay you’re using.

6. Use various modelling tools to make them look the way you want. Use your tools to press and smooth around the base of the tentacles.

7. Create two little ‘ears’ and carve a feather like pattern into the front of each one with a pointed tool. The dental tool works well for this.

8. Attach to the head and blend around the base of each.

9. Roll out two long snakes of clay and attach around the bottom of the slug.

10. Use your tools and fingers to blend and smooth it. Lightly pinch the clay to give it a wavy shape. A large ball stylus tool can help here to smooth out the shapes.

11. Attach two rounded appendages to the mouth area.

12. Roll out some randomly sized balls of clay and press almost flat into the slug. Try to make them longer on the parts of the slug where the skin would be stretched in real life.

13. Brush liberally with alcohol to smooth the surface and get rid of fingerprints. Bake the slug according to the manufacturer's instructions. You may want to tent with aluminium foil to make sure the tips don’t burn.

14. Interesting tip: After it cools down paint the entire slug with a few thin layers of gesso. This will help prevent your acrylics from becoming sticky from contact with the clay.

15. Paint the entire slug black using thin layers of paint. I like to use fluid acrylics.

16. Paint each spot using a turquoise color. Use thin paint, you want the consistency to be similar to thin yogurt. You may need to use multiple layers. If you make mistakes you can use black paint to cover them again.

17. Paint some smaller spots in between the larger ones.


Paint the ears, tentacles and skirt with a bright red color.


Paint small red circles on the face appendages.


Paint the entire sculpture with a layer of interference paint. Allow paint to dry for at least an hour and then coat with acrylic gloss varnish. Enjoy your slug!

Get inspired by Christophe's other incredible sculptures.

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