I recently completed a tutorial for 3dArtist magazine about the making of this facial anatomy ecorche. In the article I go through the steps used to create the digital sculpture in ZBrush and about the importance of understanding facial anatomy and why it helps improve portraiture. The tutorial is in issue 81 of the magazine.
Here is an écorché study of a drawing from the spectacular and controversial Viennese artist Egon Schiele. Schiele, long one of my favorites, is known for his hugely expressive figurative work – dynamic, contorted, deformed figures. Despite the effortless fluidity of his lines, the anatomy teacher in me can’t help but appreciate the underlying structure and coherence of his figure. My écorché study imposes plausible anatomical construction atop his piece and reveals that, despite his apparent looseness of his style, there is a deep understanding of anatomy at work. I can see this in all his drawings and paintings; every distorted, stylized figure actually fits together like an well-designed anatomical puzzle.
The Eaton-Houdon Écorché is my update of the classical anatomy figure by 18th Century sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. His original l’Écorché sculpture, produced in 1767 during his time in Rome, has been used by artists studying anatomy for centuries. It is celebrated for its balance, gesture and proportions but, to the trained eye, has always contained a handful of anatomical inaccuracies. Combine this with an overall loss of detail resulting from centuries of re-casting and the piece was in need of both an accuracy update and a sharpening of details. The result is shown above.
I am just back from a three-day Facial Anatomy workshop at the legendary Valve Corporation. It was great to be back in Seattle for a return visit. As many of you know, Valve is an incredible company with a very unique studio environment, so it is always fun to work with them for a few days.
The Valve crew had just wrapped the 3rd Annual Dota2 International, a five-on-five tournament with a first prize of $1.4m (more than quite a few ‘traditional’ sporting championships), so there was a bit of a Dota theme running through the place. Donkey couriers greeted me in the lobby and then the impressive Aegis of Champions turned up later. If you are at all curious to see how videos games are rapidly becoming a spectator sport, watch one of the final games and check out the crowd on hand at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.
I am just back from a great visit to Ubisoft’s Toronto studio where I ran a two-day facial anatomy masterclass for throngs of their artists (animators, riggers, concept artists, and character artists), followed by a day of intense portraiture and facial expression sculpting in ZBrush for only the character artists. Over the three days we covered a lot of juicy facial anatomy stuff, all of which will be covered in my upcoming online course. So if you are interested in a deep understanding of portraiture check back soon (or join the newsletter for announcements).
I get a lot of requests to post more ZBrush timelapse sculpting sessions on my website, so here you go, straight from the Toronto workshop.
I am just back from giving an intense but enjoyable week of anatomy masterclasses to a talented group of artists at Sony’s Santa Monica studio. These are the guys and girls who have the enviable job of crafting the God of War franchise, a series of amazing games steeped in Greek mythology, a theme after my own heart.
Over four days I covered a ton of anatomy for the character artists, concepts artists, animators and riggers at the studio. But by late in the third day everyone was reaching saturation so we had a little fun trying to update my infamous Gallery Abominate with some of their work from God of War Ascension. The most interesting discovery from the week though: cervical ribs occur in approximately .2% of the population, and one artist on the course had this ‘neck rib’, making him officially a statistical outlier. Exciting stuff ;).
I recently contributed a four page masterclass to 3dArtist magazine. In it I outline the process of using écorché drawings to study anatomy. The articles gives a concise introduction to the material that I cover in-depth in my Anatomy for Artists course. If you are new to anatomy or are interested upgrading your anatomy skills, check it out.
I have been busy over the past months revising and updating Jean-Antoine Houdon’s classic L’Ecorché sculpture for the soon to be released iOS App of the same name. The app is a collaboration between myself and legendary character sculptor Michael Defeo. I will post more on the app, including some behind-the-scenes ‘making of’ videos, soon.
Until then, please check out the app’s Kickstarter project for more information.
I am just back from a fantastic week of anatomy workshops with the character team at Rocksteady Studios, the creators of the wildly successful Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Batman: Arkham City games. Over five days we covered a lot of territory, going deep into human anatomy and portraiture, including some inside secrets on facial anatomy. While I was there, the Joker took home the “Character of the Year” award at the VGAs! Congratulations to the team at Rocksteady. I think there are a lot of people looking forward to what you do next (no pressure)!
I am just back from a return trip to Lucasfilm, this time to their Singapore studio where I ran courses for their artists at ILM and Lucasfilm Feature Animation (the Rango guys). Over the week I ran two intensive anatomy courses for 30 of their artists (morning and afternoon sessions). The group was divided almost down the middle between modelers and riggers, though there was a stray animator and concept artist thrown in the mix well. The crew was great – obviously a very talented group of artists – and we were able to go in-depth into all the critical anatomy that applies to their work on feature film characters and creatures.
This trip reminded me a lot of the last time I visited Lucasfilm in San Francisco. Pretty much if you don’t like Star Wars, this is not the place to visit. It is everywhere and Yoda greats you at the entrance to both places (he has evolved in style a bit over the years). Luckily, I grew up with Star Wars and was a big fan (though, like most, lukewarm about the three prequels). The outstanding highlight of both visits is still the personal tour of Skywalker Ranch!
At Skywalker Ranch
The recent Portraiture & Facial Anatomy workshop was a huge success. Over three days, ten artists got a chance to build a face from the inside out, gaining insight into how soft tissues modify the structure established by the skull to create the final surface forms that we see in life. The course draws heavily on reference from plastic surgery, medical imaging, forensic reconstruction, and classical portraiture techniques. Upcoming Workshop
The gallery below shows the step-by-step progression of the reconstruction exercise.