I wanted to come away from this project having learned more about Zbrush and generally improving my sculpting skills. Studying the human figure felt like a good way to quickly improve these skills.
From just comparing the various iterations I sculpted of the figure I can see a general improvement from start to finish.
This is the sculpt after the first initial attempt, at the time I was quite happy with this, looking back I can see there is so much wrong with it… But hey we all have to start somewhere!
This was it a few weeks further along. Starting to look a little more human, however there were still issues with the legs which gave the figure an odd looking stance.
Okay, now I was starting to get the hang of it. This one looked so much better and I had fixed some odd proportions and moved the legs around to make his stance more natural. I used reference to model the head and face.
Here’s the sculpt in it’s final pose. This sculpt really captures the gesture and movement of the pose.
For this project, I was undertaking something which I knew would be a challenge; producing an accurately sculpted male figure. However I wanted to push my self and knew that by taking on something that wasn’t exactly the easiest option my knowledge and skills would improve.
Anatomy is a fundamental subject area for an artist to have knowledge in, especially when it comes to figure drawing and sculpture. When I started sculpting the figure I was using reference images as a guide and attempting to copy what I saw first hand, it was only when I got deeper into the project that I realised that I was using reference wrong.
I was pointed in the direction of Andrew Loomis’ drawing guide and in particular the ideal male proportions illustrations, reading and studying some of the pages of this book made me realise that there was more to recreating the human figure than just copying reference as best I can. There are fundamental rules when it comes to proportions of the hands, face, body, eyes, ears and so on.
With this understanding I began to try and put these principles into the sculpture as I was working on it. I was still gathering and using many reference images but now I understood the real purpose of reference; it’s exactly that, reference! It’s useful as a guide to help work out shapes and proportions but when used it doesn’t have to mean that your work must be an exact copy. This opened up more creative freedom in my work as now I could use a range of reference images to help me figure out ideal shapes and proportions of body parts. Reference was particularly useful when dealing with finer details and body parts such as hands and feet.
I kept going with this approach and as the project went on my skills developed and I began to understand the importance of studying anatomy. This lead me to seek out more information and I came across a great resource, I managed to find a tutor on YouTube with a background in traditional sculpture who was a part of the Zbrush development team back in version three. It was great to get an artists perspective on the subject of Zbrush and gave me more of an understanding of how to use anatomy in my work.
This video is an example of the kind of thing taught.
Other useful resources include books, the previously mentioned Figure Drawing Guide by Andrew Loomis as well as Modelling and Sculpting the HumanFigure by sculptor Edouard Lanteri. This was an extremely useful resource and covered some figure sculpting fundamentals, the book gave me additional knowledge and techniques which greatly improved my work particularly when it came to sculpting proportions of the face.