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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“A stylish docking station for syncing, charging and display. An evocative blend of ancient fertility symbolism and modern technology worship. I want one!”