Feb 012014
 

Ogre Digital Sculpture - early concept designclick for larger

Every so often I get the chance to work on fun, creative visual effects projects. I was approached by Realise Studio in London to help them with a character design for a commercial – an Ogre. The script had potential – a father has been transformed into an ogre by the pressure of his day-to-day life, a much-needed family holiday transforms him back to himself. Short and sweet. The proposed methodology combined prosthetics with selected digital-face replacement, as good strategy to reduce the amount of work in post-production (as opposed to creating a fully computer-generated face for the entire commercial as in the Audrey Hepburn piece).

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Nov 112013
 

Scott Eaton collaboration with Jeff Koonsclick for larger

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with legendary artist Jeff Koons on one of his projects – a larger than life-sized sculpture of Lady Gaga. After some absurd deadlines and a lot of sculpting, the piece was unveiled in New York at #artRave a huge launch party for Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP album.

LadyGaga_sculpture1tn

It is amazing to finally see the piece finished and in public. From what I have seen it looks pretty impressive (if for no other reason than the monumental scale). I am still not sure what it means but I guess that is for Jeff to answer.

LadyGaga_2tn
profile view (with Koons’ promotion)
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Sep 152013
 


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The White Horse is finally installed in London. This is the project of artist Mark Wallinger and was originally planned as a towering 50m tall horse (as tall as the Statue of Liberty) to be erected in the countryside of Kent and visible from the Eurostar. But around the big crash, arts budgets downsized and so did the scale of the horse. Now it is only a very average ‘life-sized’, but it is still striking in its crisp white finish and realism. About a year ago I worked with the team from Sample & Hold to refine the digital version of the horse, based on a scan of Mark’s actual horse. I spent time adding anatomical accuracy and life to the head, face, legs, and hooves (at the time my horse skills were primed, having just finished Spielberg’s War Horse).


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After a bit of massaging the data was sent off for fabrication. Through a combination of 3d printing, CNC machining, and casting, the piece was brought to life – albeit at a scale smaller than originally intended. But if you are in London and want to check it out, it will be on display on the Mall (just off Trafalgar Square) for two years.


fabrication, in progress

Sep 102013
 



If you haven’t yet seen the Galaxy chocolate ad with the reincarnated Audrey Hepburn it is worth checking out here. The piece is bound to stir up controversy – bringing a beloved actress back from the dead to flog chocolate bars may not be everyone’s idea of good taste. However, the technical achievement is clearly impressive and full credit should be given to the visual effects team at Framestore for pulling it off with very tight deadlines!

I was involved in the very early stages of the project, helping spec out the requirements (which amounted to a host of very intimidating computer graphics challenges) and then sculpting the original likeness of Audrey. I passed this digital maquette of Audrey to the capable team at Framestore and then, because of scheduling commitments, had to wash my hands of the project. I waited with keen interest to see how they would handle the really hard challenges – facial rigging, shading, and animation. Knowing how difficult the tasks were in front of them, my expectations were tempered with a healthy dose of reality. But having just seen the piece, I am impressed. Does it successfully cross the uncanny valley? Pretty close, but I am sure there will be much debate on this. Regardless, I am sure it will be remembered, for good or bad, as one of the pioneering celebrity “reanimations” (along with Tupac and a few others) that kicked off the new trend in posthumous advertising leads.

Sep 062013
 

Zombies are everywhere this year – WWZ, Plants Versus Zombies (2), the Walking Dead, the Last of Us, and on and on. They are taking over the world and I am partly responsible for this zombie apocalypse as I developed some of the early concept art for World War Z.

Here are a couple of the zombie “studies” I did for the film. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but as someone commented on my Facebook page, there is touch of Giacometti in them. Yes, I try to bring art to zombies.

World War Z Zombie Concept Art

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Apr 042013
 

Eaton-Houdon Ecorche figure for anatomy study
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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.

The Eaton-Houdon ecorche figure is featured in the L’Ecorché eductional iOS app produced by collaborator Michael Defeo (available for download from the App Store here).

The sculpture will soon be available as an 18″ anatomy figure for desktop reference, hopefully continuing the centuries-old contribution this piece has made to artistic anatomy study. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates!

Apr 122012
 

ZBrush digital sculpture of aging man for Spaceman project

Here is a work-in-progress image from a collaboration with two old colleagues from my days at the MIT Media Lab. They are conceptual designers working on a project to visualize the effects of zero-gravity on human form. The exhibition will have many aspects but my contribution will be two life-sized 3d-printed heads showing the difference in form between a man raised on earth versus a man raised in space. The image above shows the man raised on earth. The next step is to reverse the effects of gravity and UV exposure, and then get these off to the 3d printer. More images coming soon…

Apr 122012
 

one of Scott's cyclops designs from Wrath of the Titans click for larger

OK, it may or may not be a quality movie but there are decent visual effects in there. The CGChannel website has an article talking about the visual effects behind Wrath of the Titans. I designed and sculpted the three Cyclops in the film and then nurtured them, like giant one-eyed children, through much of the post-production process. My design process is always firmly grounded in the plausibility of the anatomy I am creating and the cycloptic eyes proved an interesting challenge (with mixed success). Below are a couple images of the concept sculptures I create while working up the body types and personalities of the three Cyclops – the aged father and the two brothers.

ZBrush sculpture of the old Cyclops in Wrath of the Titans

studies in ZBrush for the Cyclops in Wrath of the Titans
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© Copyright 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Mar 222012
 

anatomy for artists app - iphone, ipad, OSX

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.

Mar 192012
 

male figure sculpture from Zbrush

The next session of the Digital Figure Sculpture Course is getting ready to start on so I thought I would post this image from the culminating exercise and also talk a little bit more about the philosophy and goals of the course.

Simply, the goal of the course is to teach students how to create more naturalistic figure sculptures. Too often artists struggle to breathe life into their figures and are left scratching their heads as to what went wrong. There are many stages where things can go off track but most often it is inexperience with anatomy, planes, volumes, and proportions. Everyone wants to jump straight in and put muscles onto their sculptures but in their zealousness they forget the critical construction and proportions that hold things together. The course guides artists through the entire process.
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Mar 192012
 

sculpting hair in Zbrush

The final week of the course covers the tools and techniques used to refine the figure in ZBrush. This lesson concentrates on refining small forms and plane transitions, but emphasizes correct placement and scale relative to larger forms and proportions. Finally, all good sculptures need to be photographed (rendered) and presented well to look their best so there is a culminating lecture on lighting and rendering outside of ZBrush. In this video Scott talks about the fundamentals of lighting and shows his rendering techniques in Maya and also gives a short preview of Luxion’s Keyshot renderer.

Dec 302011
 

sculpting hair in Zbrush

This week artists continue their full figure sculptures by sculpting the hands and hair. The techniques for refining the hands are largely a review of the workflows used in Week4′s exercise, but sculpting the hair in ZBrush is an entirely new topic. Sculpting hair is a very difficult thing because it requires a level of artistic abstraction to translate the flowing fibrous forms of hair into a tangible sculptural surface. Because the process is so intangible every artist eventually develops their own style for sculpting hair. This week’s lessons show Scott’s approach to sculpting hair in ZBrush. They cover his tools and techniques for general hair sculpting, how ZSpheres/ZSketch can be used for hair, and also how the new DynaMesh features can be used to create interesting, complex styles. (and yes, the model does have a crazy double ponytail!)

Dec 162011
 

Week 8 Exercise - Sculpting the face in ZBrush

This week students tackle the most difficult task of all – the portrait. Continuing with their posed figures in Zbrush, they learn how to tackle the portrait like a traditional sculptor would: establishing the relationship between critical landmarks on the skull, constructing the features, establishing the profile, and refining the planes. This week’s lectures cover the critical aspects of facial anatomy and portraiture and then give an extensive ZBrush walk-through of Scott sculpting the example figure above. The unabridged session shows every stroke that is need to take the face from start to finish.

Dec 092011
 

Week 6 Exercise - Posing full figure sculpture in ZBrush

After a week-long mid-term break, artists are starting their final five-week full-figure sculptures. They begin by proportioning a simple base mesh to match the life model. These proportions are based on a set of measurements taken from the model using calipers, the way a traditional sculptor would approach setting up his armature. Once the proportions are established, we cover how to build a ZSphere rig, a powerful but underused technique in ZBrush for posing a model. From here artists get to choose one of three poses for their final figure sculpture and they use their ZSphere rigs to pose their mesh. The challenge in this early stage of the full-figure sculpture is to establish to correct weight, balance, and gesture on the figure, a task easier said than done.

Nov 212011
 

Week 5 Exercise - Legs in ZBrush

This week artist explore the forms of the legs. Using reference from a male ballet dancer they build a leg fragment in ZBrush and refine it in a standing position – paying attention to the large masses of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductor muscles, and then the bony and tendinous structure of the knee. From here they transpose the knee 90 degrees and re-examine the forms of the leg, paying special attention to the stretching and contraction of opposing muscles groups and the changes in the bony structure of the knee. Lastly, they have fun with Zbrush’s DynaMesh feature and chop their leg sculptures into three pieces, whittling down the middle third into the exposed bones of the knee. The goal is give artists a deep understanding of the construction of the knee, one of the hardest joints of the body to understand and depict successfully.

In addition to two hours of video showing Scott executing the exercises above, this week includes Tools & Techniques videos on using ZBrush’s Morph Targets and also how Scott uses PolyPainting to maintain consistency in landmarks and muscle flow when posing a figure.

Nov 142011
 

Week 4 Exercise - Hands in Zbrush

In Week 4 artists investigate the hands in-depth. Hands are one of the most difficult parts of the body to sculpt and demand the utmost attention to construction, proportions, form, and gesture to do successfully. They are second only to the face in expressiveness so we spend the entire week doing a single detailed study of the hands in Zbrush. The lessons learned here will be important to transfer to the full-figure sculptures started in week 6. After a lecture covering the anatomy and proportions of the hands, artists sculpt using the best reference available – their own hands. This week also includes lectures on making hands using Zbrush’s flexible and quite useful ZSpheres and reading assignments from George Bridgman and Andrew Loomis.

Nov 072011
 

As many of you already know, the second session of my online Digital Figure Sculpture course is underway. A group of artists are hard at work learning new techniques in ZBrush and studying hard to make great progress as figure sculptors. To give everybody a taste of the types of projects they are working on week-to-week, I have started a blog where I will post updates as the course progresses. If you have an interest in ZBrush and figure sculpture, check it out.

Digital Figure Sculpture Course: Weekly Blog

Week 7 Exercise - Refining the full figure sculpture in ZBrush

Weekly Fragments:

During the first half of the course, students complete weekly studies that focus on areas of the body in isolation. These are a few of the ZBrush exercises that students are shown how to complete.

Zbrush Figure Sculpture Course weeks 2-5

Nov 072011
 

Week 3 Exercise - Arms and Forearms in Zbrush

This week artists refine their knowledge of the forms of the upper arm and the forearms. In Zbrush, they start with ZSpheres and build a shoulder “fragment” that is cutoff mid-chest. From here they sculpt the forms of the arm flexed to 90 degrees with the hand supinated (palm-up). Once this sculpture is complete they transpose the forearm from supinated to pronated and adjust the forms and flows of the muscles accordingly (paying special attention to the new alignment of the flexor and extensor muscles of the forearm). One final transpose extends the arm at the elbow, and all the forms of the upper arm – biceps, triceps, brachialis, are modified.

Nov 072011
 

Week 2 Exercise - Scapulohumeral Rhythm

In the second week we continue with the torso, but now focusing on the articulation of the shoulder as the arm is raised. We do a comprehensive investigation of what is known as the “scapulo-humeral rhythm” – the ratio of scapular rotation to arm elevation. Students sculpt a torso with the arms at the side and them modify the sculpture moving the arms through 45, 90, 135, and 180 degrees of rotation. The 0 and 180 extremes are shown above. In ZBrush artists start with a base mesh and use Transpose and masking to rotate the arm and scapula in the correct ratio. Each pose is stored on a ZBrush layer, and the subdivided mesh is sculpted at high resolution to capture all the subtleties of the muscular forms at different articulations. Students are lead through the exercise by a series of videos showing Scott sculpting the torsos in ZBrush.

Nov 072011
 

Week 1 Exercise Torso Fragment in Zbrush

During the first week of the Digital Figure Sculpture course students concentrate on sculpting one male and one female torso. They work on the torso in isolation in order to focus on the task at hand, without distraction from unfinished areas like arms, hands, and heads. The torsos are created using ZSpheres as a base and then refined using Zbrush’s new DynaMesh feature. There are short technical how-to videos that explain the new features of Zbrush and then a comprehensive Working Example showing Scott creating the torso above from start to finish.

Jun 212011
 

mermaid digital sculpture using Zbrush
click for larger image.

Here are a couple images of a digital sculpture that I did for a ‘recently released pirate movie’. At the time the film was in early preproduction and this piece was more speculative design than anything concrete for the film, though it is loosely tied to an event in the script. The piece also has thinly veiled references to Damien Hirst’s infamous pickled shark sculpture. For more details on how I created the sculpture keep reading below.

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Aug 062010
 

Zbrush Digital Sculpture - Hephaestus of Greek Mythology WIP
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Here is an early preview of a new digital sculpture that I am slowly working on. The sculpture is of Hephaestus, the smith god. Time permitting I will try to post some early sketches and other works in progress. Check back soon….