Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A reference and some thoughts about sculpting male human miniatures

I found this pattern on the internet a couple of years ago, and since then I use it extensively. All you have to do is to resize it according to your need in a software like Gimp or , and to print it. I particularly appreciate the combination of "inner" and "outer" views as they help to understand the main volumes of the mini. In particular, there are 3 important types of elements:

1) the 3 primary volumes: the skull, the rib cage and the pelvis. These large and non-deformable parts define the general attitude and the balance of the whole body. They are connected by the spine which restricts their relative motion but still allows some freedom, even between the pelvis and the rib cage. Many sculptors consider these 3 volumes as part of the armature (rigid elements), over which "the flesh" is laid down (soft/flexible elements).

2) the bones: they define the interaction with the outside world, they are responsible for the motion, position, orientation and attitude of the body (and of the primary volumes, as a consequence). Along with the spine, the bones are the natural armature of the body; therefore, the armature of a miniature almost always follows the bones, unless there is a very good reason for it.

3) the articulations: they are the location of the points where the motion comes from, and where the main volumes undergo significant shape changes and distortions. As a natural continuation to the relation between the bones and the armature, the articulations tell you where you have to bend the armature. Often, there is very little flesh around the articulations. Hence, the bending must be done in a very straight, well-marked fashion that avoids too much "rounding" which results in the armature passing by areas where there should be nothing.

Armature, armature, armature... of course, sculpting is not only about making the armature. But it's a step that proves crucial in most of the cases. Most errors on the armature cannot be repaired or corrected a posteriori, you have to re-do everything. And often, these mistakes appear in their whole severity when you have already started putting a big amount of putty.

Also, good armature and primary volumes are really helpful to visualize the volumes in general, and to decide on the position and shape to give to the lumps of putty.

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