Classical Sculpture - Chapter 1
In this tutorial we are going to study some approaches to creating your own classical sculpture. I'm not a history of art professional, but I'll try to give a short explanation of Greek history. Ancient Greek sculpture is traditionally divided into six basic styles:
• Daedalic Greek Sculpture (c.650 - 600 BCE)
• Archaic Greek Sculpture (c.600 - 500 BCE)
• Early Classical Sculpture(c.500 - 450 BCE)
• High Classical Greek Sculpture (c.450 - 400 BCE)
• Late Classical Greek Sculpture (c.400 - 323 BCE)
• Hellenistic Greek Sculpture (c.323 - 27 BCE)
In this tutorial I'll be focusing on the Hellenistic style and the Baroque period as in this period expression was used to dramatize the sculpts.
In the Hellenistic period sculptors felt less compelled to portray the ideal world like their ancestors. They started to introduce topics such as pain, death and sleep, offering new forms and expressions to explore. The aim was to portray expressiveness and atmosphere, something which is particularly obvious in the portraits, where these were used alongside an accurately sculpted face to capture the character of the subject.
After the Hellenistic period Greek traditions went into obscurity and only in the Renaissance (1300 - c.1602) and Baroque (1600 - 1730) periods did the Greek traditions re-emerge, this time in Italy. We know this period for famous artists like Michelangelo, Benvenuto Cellini, Gian Lorenzo Bernini etc. This is the most famous period of sculpture.
In the renaissance period artists were inspired by their predecessors from the Classic period. On the other hand, in the Baroque period the inspiration was Helenistic sculpture.
At this stage a large driving force in sculpture was religion, and Christian artists absorbed a variety of classical techniques and used and revitalized them. The vast repertoire of postures, gestures and expressions that had been founded by the Greeks enriched their own genius, and they applied these resources when illustrating saints, martyrs, myths and the heroes of the time. For this tutorial I will inspire myself with the Hellenistic style and the Baroque period as in this time period there was a lot of movement and drama in the sculptures, and that is what we'll try to reproduce here.
ZBrush is only a tool
There's something very important for everyone to understand from the beginning. We must understand that CG modeling is only a tool, like a pen or carving tools used for sculpting. Nowadays I see a lot of guys starting CG thinking that the only thing you need is to read comic books and know ZBrush. They have forgotten that sculpture is more than that; you need to study your whole life to improve your artistic skill and think about your motivation, background, feelings etc. Remember to always study classical arts, like drawing and sculpture, photography etc. This will make you a better artist.
Starting the process
First of all we need to collect references - a lot of references! This is to understand the style and the process. We need to study the poses, feelings and emotions that the classical artists achieved with their pieces. You can do this with a simple search on Google.
Planning the piece
Before we start to build the model we need to plan what we'll do. The first thing I did was to think about the subject. I decided to represent man's fall in the Garden of Eden. My idea was to show Adam on the ground with the fruit at his side. Once you have an idea start planning how you will build the piece and make it strong and dramatic.
We have a couple of options, firstly we could draw something and make a few sketches to get an idea of what we want, but I know there's a lot of good artists that can't draw, so in this case I'll show you a different approach to plan your model. In the past artists used to build simple maquettes to understand and test the idea, pose, drama etc. So that's what we'll do.
Preparing our maquette
Open ZBrush and go into Light Box > Project > Mannequin and choose "8headMan Ryan" (Fig.01). This is a simple maquette that is easy to manipulate. This will help us to do some poses and layouts to decide how the model will look (Fig.02).
Using Move (W) and Rotate (R) we can play with the character, manipulating the arms, hands, legs, head etc (Fig.03). Using these tools I created three different poses whilst trying to improve my idea and make it strong and dramatic. I decided to go for the second: Fig.05 (Fig.04 - 06).
Starting the Model
Now we have decided how the model will look, we can start to build it. The first thing we need to do is make a simple mesh, which I like to use because there are no generic shapes in there, and nothing is pre-made. We need to think and transform the base into a unique model (Fig.07). With the base mesh in your hands you can start to build the basic shapes.
There is something we can use in our favor, and that is symmetry. We don't need to build one side at a time. However you do need to know the right time to use it and when to turn it off and starting working without it. I will show you when it's time to turn it off. By pushing the X button you will activate the symmetry and then by using the Move brush you can start blocking in the basic shape of the model. At this point the important thing is to reflect correct human proportion.
TIP: The important thing here is to work on the structure of the model. Fewer polygons is better when working on the big shapes and defining the silhouette. Only divide the mesh if you have already made all the possible corrections in that level of division.
Once you have added one more division you can start to use the Standard brush to make some muscle mass and the basic form of the head. By adding one more division you can start to use the Clay brush to refine the individual forms, always checking if the proportions are correct. You can also add a little information on the head, like the mass to represent the hair. At this stage we can see the structure of the model is already done. All the important volumes are in place (Fig.08).
Refining muscles and members
Now you can add one more division and use the Clay brush to continue to work on the muscles and refine the face and head. This is important as we can now see how the expression on his face will look (Fig.09).
For the body we need to create a more natural look by adding more muscle information and by trying to balance the bones, muscle and fat (Fig.10 - 15). This is a good point to start working on the hands and feet. When working on these parts you should try to always use a lot of references, because these parts are very important and expressive. If these elements are not done well the model will not be strong enough. Classical artists spent more time on the hands and feet than the face, because they knew that these parts were important when it came to showing power and emotion.
Now it's time to turn of the symmetry and start to pose your character. You should always finish the structure of the model before you turn of the symmetry and then you can put the detail on each side differently, to show some imperfections etc.
The next part is the bit that scares everyone. This would be very difficult if we hadn't planned before. With our simple maquette made, everything from this point will be easier to do. The first thing to do here is to get our maquette on the screen and do some snapshots with Shift + S. You should get some different angles to help as references (Fig.16).
Create a layer for our pose in Tool > Layers and name it "pose". This is important to protect the original model in case you make any errors. After this press the R button to activate Transpose (Rotate).
With the Transpose button activated we need to create a mask to start the posing. So hold down Ctrl and click on the part of the body you are going to edit. The important thing here is to always create the mask while thinking about how the bones work in the real life. Without this knowledge you can't get a good result using Transpose (Fig.17).
To organize the transpose process better I always transpose by starting with the big areas and moving onto the smaller ones. The first thing to do is transpose the torso, legs, arms and head, but do not try to perfect the pose on the first try. Start by working on the basic form of the pose (Fig.18 - 19).
TIP: It is always important to fix the proportions and muscles when working with Transpose tool, because sometimes this tool changes the model a lot and we need to fix things at the same time. In the image we can see a lot of errors in the proportions caused by using Transpose - like the size of the chest, which is too stretched - so we need to fix these using the Move brush (Fig.20).
After that we start refining the pose, adding more drama in the arms and back, and flexing the legs a little (Fig.21 - 22). When every part is in place you can start to correct the pose of the hands and fingers (Fig.23 - 25). And then do the same thing to the feet. It's important to do these parts patiently (Fig.26).
Adding skin details
With our pose finishing it's time to finish our piece. Using the Clay brush, refine each element. Create the area where the skin compresses on the neck and back etc (Fig.27). Also at this point you should continue to refine his face and expression, and work a little more on the hair (Fig.28). This part of the process is a little complicated and took some time to do, because we need to know how the skin behaves when pressed and how the muscles work in that pose to improve the natural look.
Creating the base and apple
Next it's time to create the base to your model. You should be asking: why didn't I do the base from the beginning? I didn't do this at the beginning because I didn't want to limit my pose to the base. I prefer to try to get the best pose I can without worrying about the shape of my base. So now we can build a base and fit it onto the model. To create this, we want to build a cylinder in another 3D package, bring it into ZBrush and started to push it around using the Move brush to fit it to the model (Fig.29).
After you have done this start to work with the Clay brush and adjust things to add some volume. Then flatten these to make it look like a rock (Fig.30).
Then we can start to use the great Noise tool. This tool will help us a lot when creating the look of a rock. By playing with the curve and its strength you can create a good result (Fig.31).
Using the Planar we can create some flat areas in the middle of the rock (Fig.32).
To finish our prop, get a simple sphere and using Radial symmetry start to create the shape of the apple (Fig.33). With the basic shape sorted turn off the symmetry and bring some asymmetry to the apple.
To do the bite I used Claytubes and carved a hole; for the rest of the model the Clay brush will do the job. The only thing left to try to do is create some kind of teeth marks to create a little realism. Then I used the Noise tool to add a little more texture to the interior part of the apple. This time we need to paint a mask on the external part to avoid the noise being applied to the whole apple. Then press "apply to mesh" to bake the noise to the polygons (Fig.34).
Finishing the model
Almost everything is finished, we only need to put the apple in its place (Fig.35). I decided to add some little veins to his arms, not too much just a subtle touch. We can do this using the Standard brush and then use Smooth to make some areas show up more than others (Fig.36).
We can do more work with the Clay brush by adding some volumes to the skin and use Inflat to compress the skin a little more against itself, for example by the fingers (Fig.37 - 38). And here we have our piece finished (Fig.39).
We can see how we don't need a hyper-detailed model to see great quality in our work. The beauty of this art is that it is in the form not in the details. See you in the next chapter where we will look at how to render this piece.
To see more by Rafael Ghencev, check out ZBrush Character Sculpting