I am recently back from a week-long workshop at Ubisoft’s Quebec studio focused on portraiture and facial anatomy. The week broke down into three days of facial anatomy lecture for twenty of their artists (animators, riggers, concept artist, character artists) and then finished with an intensive two-day portrait sculpting session in ZBrush with just the character artists.
Anatomy study from Bodies in Motion. There are a few interesting things going on here:
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.
A morning anatomy study from Bodies in Motion. Ballet seems to forge the most amazing physiques.
I am on a short visit to the West Coast and had an afternoon in Seattle to drop into Valve to show the latest developments on my Bodies in Motion project. It was great to get the website and images out in public for the first time. Over a few hours we had a random walk through the Bodies in Motion content and framed a spontaneous anatomy lecture around some of the amazing figures in the library (Mischief canvas below).
It was a brief but productive visit, they got a short anatomy refresher and I got to pick the brains of a very talented group of artists for useful feedback on the project. If you are interested in more on the Bodies in Motion project as it heads into beta testing, please sign up to the newsletter for announcements!
I’ve just finished six days of anatomy masterclasses for Industrial Light and Magic, London (yes, the Star Wars guys). This isn’t the first time I’ve been to ILM, in the past I’ve run workshops for both their San Francisco and Singapore offices, but this is the first time it was just a tube journey away (not a nine-hour flight). It is great having Industrial Light & Magic in London!
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.
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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.
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.