Artist in Action

Digital Scultpure
Main PageIntroductionFoundationModelingSculptingHair & ClothConclusion


The human figure has been central to the creation of art for thousands of years. Starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans, artists sought perfection in representation of the figure. Until the 20th century, it was the central theme of artistic endeavor and the benchmark against which artist skill was measured.
Recently interest has reemerged, and especially in the applied digital arts - games, film, and commercials – where there are production demands for figurative skills. This short series of lessons, three in all, attempts to cover some important aspects of creating figures digitally in ZBrush.

With the rise of modernism, representational figurative art fell far out of fashion and for the better part of a century art schools neglected -- if not discouraged -- it in favor of abstraction.

Three approaches to Figure Sculpting

Over the course of the next months we are going to work through three approaches to figurative sculpture in ZBrush.
1. Studying from Reference
2. Studying from Life
3. Working from the Imagination
We start working from reference because it builds confidence in seeing and building forms, it gives immediate feedback on how close we get to our goal, and the reference doesn’t move (or get paid, like a model).
We can take our time and work patiently. Next, we will use ZBrush to model directly from life, like a life sculpture session in clay.

This is no small undertaking, but it will yield some important lessons.

Finally, we will apply the lessons from the first two sessions to an imaginative composition. This is the hardest to execute successfully and is left until we have build a foundation with the first two lessons.

Many of these lessons I learned studying traditional drawing and sculpture in Florence, Italy, and have applied in production and in my Anatomy for Digital Artists course that I teach to game and post-production studios.

I will try to touch on many of the critical points. Of course, there is no substitute for experience and artistic skill takes years to develop, but hopefully these lessons will give developing artists a start in the right direction.