I actually had a model for my figure. They emailed me her baby shower invites, which had a professional picture of the very pregnant mama on it. "Just make it resemble her. And make it match the baby bedding (damask) and the shower plates (also damask). Hmmmm.... OK. I myself love damask. Don't you? I didn't get a final picture of it because they picked it up in boxes and set it all up themselves, but the finally product would have sat on a three tiered cake stand, with the cake on the top level, and the bottom two levels covered in the cupcakes.
Here's some how to tips (and as always with me, some how NOT to tips. I'm no professional. Just a cake hobbiest passing on what I figure out).
I molded the figure out of fondant, which held well enough, but if you want it to be truly solid you should use gumpaste. Gumpaste is easy to make, you can find it at cake supply stores or craft stores in powder form. You basically just add water and powdered sugar according to the directions on the can. I had the problem with the dowel poking up through the top of the head. The soft fondant kept settling down farther on it. I finally had to take it off and let it harden for a bit on the corner of my styrofoam block. I skipped all the basic sculpting steps. I rolled a lot of balls and "snakes" out of fondant, a lot like you would with playdough until it all fit together to look like this. For the hair I draped a piece over the head to see where I needed to shape it. My most valued tool... my pizza cutter. I kid you not, I don't make a single cake without it. I seriously think if it somehow broke, I would have to go to the store for a new one before I could finish my cake. Here I used it to cut locks into my hair piece. I tried to not flatten the bulge from where it sat on the head so I could keep it in perspective. One thing you have to know when working on fondant is that water is the best thing to use as "glue". The water breaks down the sugars and they bind together. I have various sizes of small paintbrushes in my cake supplies. I paint a lot on my cakes with food coloring plus I use them for my "gluing". I also have an exacto knife in my cake supplies. I used it to gently press a line in for her part. I then used it to giver her a hair cut. :)I tried to scatter her locks a bit to give it some dimension. I've made a figure before out fondant, a little hula girl. On that figure I sculpted with pre colored fondant. On this figure I decided to sculpt it out of all white and then paint it, to see which way I like better. I like sculpting with pre colored fondant better. Here's why: my biggest issue is I had trouble getting the color into small crevices, and I had trouble with bleeding color and my clumsy smudging.
To make skin color (which I also used on this cake) I use just a little bit of copper coloring.
Some more must have tools that I use on every cake. But especially for painting a cake. The liquid is actually vodka. For two reasons. Vodka spreads the color much more smoothly than water does. Water is really good to paint with if you want a textured look, like grass. But for smooth color, vodka works better. It doesn't leave your fondant sticky like water does, and the alcohol evaporates away. I usually just dip my brush (or toothpick for those tiny details) into the vodka, and then use the lid of the food coloring as my "palette" to mix my color onto my brush.
Again, toothpicks are great for the tiny details. (That's pretty much all I used on the tattoo cake).