Christian Bull explores how to capture the likeness of a life model in ZBrush in this four-part video tutorial.
This tutorial is based off a workflow I developed from running a digital sculpting class at Double Negative - we would have a life model up for 3-6 hours, rotate them every 20 minutes, and do a full figure sculpt in that time.
Having the time limitation forces focus on only the most important things to capture when roughing in a sculpt (gesture, rhythm, large shapes), and leaving out distracting details. I've called this "Gesture Sculpting" to draw a parallel with gesture drawing, where you'll capture the essence of a pose very quickly with just a few lines. It's the same idea, just in sculpture it takes a few hours more!
In parts, I've taken much the same approach that I take when sculpting in clay (the tutorial is recorded from a live demonstration I did for sculpture students at the Florence Academy of Art), where there's a focus on contours. In other parts, I've worked without the life model present, and my approach changes slightly to focus on planes and masses - more akin to if I were sculpting an asset for a film.
Part 1: Capturing the gesture from an initial block in
This part of the tutorial focuses on finding the large skeletal masses to find the big shapes and key rhythms quickly, and with maximum effect.
Part 2: Working without the life model
Here we switch from working from life, to making the sculpt your own without the model present.
Part 3: Final life model session
Part 3 and we're back with the model. Still focusing on the large shapes and movements, but also finding subtler rhythms to compliment what we want the sculpt to communicate.
Part 4: Finishing up
This part focuses on key descriptive areas - face, hands, and feet - and how to describe them when you don't have enough time to sculpt them properly!