I recently finished a series of three facial anatomy workshops for the artists at Creative Assembly, the award winning, Sega-owned studio responsible for the long-running Total War franchise as well as titles like Alien Isolation and Halo Wars 2. Like most artists designing characters for games and visual effects the bar for creating realistic faces is exceptionally high and a functional understanding of the construction of the face is very important to achieving believably with the form and motion of the face. The goal of the workshops was to help the Creative Assembly artists develop a fluency with the anatomical forms and structures of the face so that they can work more quickly, accurately, and creatively, while avoiding the common mistakes many artists make in their portraiture.
The three sessions brought together teams of character artists, concept artists, and technical animators from across the studio, many from the Warhammer team (coincidentally, I recently finished a ZBrush workshop for the sculptors at GamesWorkshop, the creators of the Warhammer IP).
Over each three-day workshop, we covered the critical anatomy of the face starting with the skull and progressing through skeletal muscles, eye construction, fat deposits, nose/ear construction, and then the muscles of expression. The main practical exercise for the workshops was a ‘facial reconstruction’ where we built up the anatomy of the face layer by layer. Starting with a plastic skull we layered colored clay over it to represent the different tissue types, and constructed each portrait from the inside-out. The goal of the exercise was to give the artists a hands-on, tactile learning experience that helps the anatomy stick in their memory (and it gets them out from in-front of a computer and working with their hands in a sculptural way). The process of working in ‘true 3D’ on the reconstruction exercise solidifies a spatial understanding of how all the forms of a portrait relate to each other anatomically and how they are located relative to the skull.
It was AWESOME!!!! I really really enjoyed it. I love how thorough Scott Eaton is, I learned so much in just 3 days. Not only was he full of knowledge about facial anatomy, his teaching style was fun and very engaging. I didn’t lose concentration or get bored at all. He is such a laid-back guy who has a great sense of humour, so the atmosphere was fun yet focused.
More of the feedback from the facial anatomy sessions on Creative Assemblies blog. If you are a games/VFX/animation studio looking for in-depth facial anatomy training, feel free to get in touch. If you are artist, student, or just interested in facial anatomy, all the lessons that I teach during these workshops are covered in full in my online facial anatomy course here.