There are many different materials used for sculptures. Artists create in metal, wood, glass and clay. Some of these materials are easy to handle and require very little preparation. Clay is a good example of relatively easy preparation. After the artist has chosen the clay they will work, they must knead it before shaping. This process evenly distributes the different elements inside the clay as well as taking out air bubbles that will ruin the work. Many clay artists can knead clay very quickly because they have plenty of practice. It often takes only 5 to 15 minutes for them to complete this process and begin forming their work.
Wood is a medium favored by many sculptors. It is versatile, comes in a variety of colors and grains and its hardness is determined by the type of wood chosen. Preparation for creating a wood sculpture is more complex than working in clay. The artist chooses the type of wood they want to work and must often order it.
Once delivered, the wood carving artist will generally sketch the crude outline of their work on the various faces of the wood. This allows the artist to use a power tool to cut out large sections of wood that will not be needed in the finished work. Artists that carve in stone generally follow the same technique. This speeds up the process by removing unnecessary material quickly.
There are a great number of mediums for art. Each one has its own preparation techniques. Even if an artist has never worked in that particular medium, many of these preparations are common throughout the world of art. Consulting with other artists is a good way to form a basic understanding of how to prepare their chosen medium if they have never worked in it before.