PART THREE: REFERENCE AND RESEARCH
Before you pick up your tools and start hacking into the modelling wax you should have a firm idea of what you are making. If, for example, you wish to make a horse, you need to know what breed it is, you need to know how those single toed feet work, how the eyes sit in the skull, where the ears are positioned, the length of tail... Fortunately, in the age of Broadband Internet there are numerous online resources to be found; so tracking down the information you require is never more than a Google away.
From skeletal structure, muscle placement and surface features to the rhythms of locomotion; contracting, extending and all the subtle and extreme nuances of personality and attitude. You need to gather solid reference and information to back up your model and help create a clear image of the proposed figurine. If possible a full turnaround or character sheet of the intended sculpt should be produced. At the very least a sketch or study should be made capturing the action, pose and attitude.
Any complimentary images or reference should also be sourced to give you the best possible opportunity at finishing your sculpt to it's best possible standard. Compile these onto a Cheat sheet to use as reference during your sculpt. Below is an example of a cheat sheet, which I produced during the initial stages of research for my Skull sculpt..
More skull images and other anatomical resources were uploaded to my Flickr account here:
The results of your research should arm you with a Character Sheet (sketch or full turnaround) and a cheat sheet of complimentary information for everything you require reference for.
The above skull illustrations, scanned from Peck's Anatomy for Artists, is a good example of a 'turnaround' or 'character sheet'. Composed and printed at the required scale, so measurements can be taken directly from the reference and checked against the sculpt.
Note: Be aware of the scale of the model you wish to build. Best stick with common fractions (for example 1:6 will give you a 12" model of a 6ft human)
If designing original characters much more 'background' information must be considered and developed. The character's history in place and time, the loves and fears that motivate their actions and the position in their life that we find them at the moment the sculpt captures. Books could, and many have, be written on the subject of character design and perhaps we could return to this subject in future posts, but for now we must move on...
One of the fundamental requirements when approaching sculpting is an understanding of anatomy. Life drawing classes and sketching from nature is not only recommended but essential in developing a deeper understanding of the subject. To compliment this study a small selection of books should be at hand to refer to at any moment.
The following books I recommend as essential purchases:
- 'Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist'by Stephen Rogers Peck (Galaxy Books)
- 'Robert Beverly Hale: Master Class in Figure Drawing'compiled by Terence Coyle
- 'An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists'(Paperback) by W. Ellenberger
- 'Anatomy for the Artist'by Sarah Simblet and John Davies
- 'Atlas of Facial Expression: An Account of Facial Expression for Artists'by Stephen Rogers Peck
- 'Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery'by Burne Hogarth
I also found this link to a host of excellent anatomy books which are all public domain and available to download for FREE!!
The Gnomon Workshop's site www.thegnomonworkshop.com is a fantastic place of resource. Their tutorial dvd's and downloadable videos are second to non. Most content at Gnomon is aimed at the CG artist but there is still a ton of traditionaly skilled artists showcasing their approach and execution. Don't just take my word for it... listen to what Rick Baker has to say...
Some highlights within the Gnomon Workshops Traditional tutorials include (Roll over for info):
- John Browns sculpture series
- The Shiflett Brothers 'Fantasy Sculpting'
- Zack Petroc's 'Form of Anatomy Series'
- Cesar Dacol Jnr's 'Sculpting Wrinkles in ZBrush'
One great site worth every artists visit is Anatomy Tools www.anatomytools.com. For artists serious in mastering the anatomy it is worth considering the purchase of a reference figure such as the one shown above.
And lastly a site full of Life models in a myriad of poses: http://www.3d.sk/
Finally a quick word word for anyone wishing to sell their work.
I'm not going to flesh this out much, there are other websites that will explain this better than I and the purpose of this tutorial is on the working process, not the selling one.
Market Research is the most difficult area of new product Design. There is no specific 'formula' for this, a keen eye for trends can be developed by visiting shops, online stores or attending gift trade Fairs. Choose your Target Market (age groups and Interests) and aim to supply a unique product towards them. Identify similar brands and see how they have expanded their product range to suit the buyer.
A strong sense of design and Unique selling point is most important - Your product must make people want to buy it!
Don't worry about this too much at this point, have fun in the next stages....
Next chapter we will have a brief breakdown of the Modelling Process, before diving into the full demonstration.