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Classical Sculpture - Chapter 1

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Date Added: 3rd January 2013
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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).




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