A portrait study.
Homo naledi reconstruction, v2
A producer friend recently asked if I had time to put together a quick sculpt for a pitch he was giving to a potential client. The request was for a concept of what the extinct homonid species Homo naledi would have looked like in life. I happened to have a relatively free day and was excited to do some digital sculpting so I said I would give it a try.
First, who or what were Homo naledi? It turn out they are fairly recent relatives of modern humans (ca. 250,000 year ago) – discovered in 2013, to great acclaim, by a pair of cavers fumbling around in a South African cave system. The species appears to be a interesting mix of human and primate characteristics – hands and feet very near our own but with shoulders and pelvises closer to our primate ancestors. We know they were short of stature, possibly standing barely five feet tall, and had small skulls exhibiting primitive features including reduced cranial capacity (half of a modern human), robust orbital tori, reduced/absent chin, but with small teeth and gentle canines.
Taking these few data points and a handful of images of the incomplete skulls of homo Naledi, I put together a couple versions. The first, below, pushes the facial characteristics more towards primate, but with the spark of intelligence one would expect of the genus Homo. The second, and my preferred version (above), leans toward a more human interpretation of facial characteristics. It includes a quick torso study for context and posture, as well as what I imagine to be a mass of matted, dirty hair. A timelapse of the sculpting process coming soon.
Homo Naledi portrait study, v1
I’m recently back to London after a long trip to the West Coast (LA, San Francisco). The first stop was Blizzard Entertainment for a four-day facial anatomy workshop. For the uninitiated Blizzard is the juggernaut game developer behind the hit franchises World of Warcraft (WoW), Overwatch, and Starcraft. From their fortress-like campus 100 miles south of LA in Irvine, CA, they run a digital empire built on monsters, magic, and well… fun.
My job was to level up the artists’ facial anatomy and portrait sculpting skills. The workshop broke down into two days of facial anatomy lecture and two days of portrait sculpting in ZBrush. The content will sound familiar to anyone who actually reads the posts on this website (and doesn’t just looking at the pictures, like most), because I ran a similar workshop for Ubisoft very recently. In fact, you’ll recognize one of the heads rendered above. I added a second head (my Blizzard demo sculpt) to the menagerie this time.
Even though we were studying facial anatomy the artists also got a chance to draw and study from the Bodies in Motion site. We drew from quite a few Motions, less for full-body poses but more for examples of skull structure and head/neck articulation and anatomy in dynamic poses. There were some great drawings from the room full of talented artists.
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.
A figure study inspired by a sequence from the Bodies in Motion project. For a behind the scenes look at the making of this piece, including a bit of anatomy, a sculpting demo and a complete timelapse video showing the tools and techniques I use, please check out my presentation from the Pixologic ZSummit (the makers of ZBrush, my primary digital sculpting tool): https://youtu.be/Ale6SXXbJMM
I was recently commissioned by the legendary French glass makers, Lalique, to design and sculpt an enormous (in relative terms) crystal angel, an allegory of Music, for Elton John. The piece, know as Cire Perdue (after the lost wax process Lalique used to cast the piece), is a single, unique artwork that will be auctioned off in Los Angeles in February, with all proceeds going to the Elton John Aids Foundation. After a long design process and an even longer time in production, the piece is finally finished and was shown for the first time at Elton’s Windsor estate, to an effusive reaction:
“I don’t think that I have ever seen a more beautiful piece of glass than the big Angel. It is breathtaking!
Elton signing the big Angel
Here are a couple images of my first sculpture study from the Bodies in Motion library. The BiM “Coming Soon” page is now up here: www.bodiesinmotion.photo
I’ve heard there is one month’s FREE ACCESS for the first 100 artists to register their interest at the link above, so get on it! I am excited to see what people make with the material when the site goes live!
I am excited to show the first images from a recent collaboration with fellow artist Jason deCaires Taylor. I designed and sculpted the four Shire horses with oil-pump heads for Jason’s installation The Rising Tide currently installed on the Southbank of the Thames, right outside the MI6 building (for all you James Bond and secretive intelligence agency fans out there).
The piece is a powerful commentary on man’s relationship with the environment. Throughout the day the sculptures are submerged and revealed as the tide cycle waxes and wanes. As a long-time scuba diver I am delighted by Jason’s epic underwater works, so it was a pleasure collaborating with him on this piece.
My work on the piece involved the design and digital sculpting of the 18-hand tall Shire horses. Interestingly, over the past few years I have sculpted quite a few horses. First my centaur, then work on Mark Wallinger’s White Horse (also installed in London), followed by the horses for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and now these petrochemical Shires.